Lajuma is only an hour and a half from the town of Louis Trichardt, so every Monday is town day. They are supposed to pick us up at 8, but it's usually later. There are almost 20 students now and most people needed to go, so we had a little convoy of beat up pickups and the van. I rode in the least powerful truck, which had the trailer for some reason, and we had to get out and walk up the steepest part. I don't think I've mentioned the road yet. Lajuma is up a mountain, 7 km from the paved road, and that 7 km takes about half an hour, more if it rained recently. Fortunately the rainy season is getting off to a slow start: two storms and some mist, then it got sunny and hot again.
Louis Trichardt is small and usually very hot, but it is the biggest place around and has quite a few stores. The strangest thing is if you ask store staff whether the store sells something, they will have no idea. It's not just a few people, it is about 9 out of 10 (I don't know where to find stuff here; don't judge me!) The occasional person that knows something will be very nice and helpful though.
You can get the same sort of groceries as at home except that everything is a bit different. Cottage cheese is a spread here, and you can't get proper spices, only spice mixes and they all contain salt. They have rusks here, which are tasty crunchy bread things that fit in your pocket and are surprisingly filling. I hope I can get them at home.
The problem with town day is that it is too long. We started at Cafe Rosa for breakfast. Most of the other patrons are old white Afrikaners who go to the church next door, which is a little weird but the food is great and we always get a warm welcome despite being a horde of scruffy backpackers. You can get vetkoek (pronounced fat cook) which is a huge deep fried dough thing with filling. The best filling is eggs and bacon and cheese, a real heart attack on a plate kind of thing. I didn't get that today though, I went for a nice healthy carrot cake. It's only one day a week and I spend at least four other days hiking and scrambling up the mountain from dawn to dusk so I can eat what I want.
After breakfast I went to the bookstore and it wasn't there. It's not really a store, just a woman who usually has a few tables of used books next to Robot Hardware, and she wasn't there this week. Sadly, Robot Hardware does not sell robots (unless you count creepy toy puppy things that have batteries to make them look like they're breathing).
My next stop was the mall. I met some of the other students at the good restaurant, Mikes Kitchen. Melissa had a daiquiri which was over a foot tall and very skinny and pink, and I decided I needed one too. We were there for a few hours and then it was time for groceries, the real reason we go to town.
Pete drove one of the trucks today and he wanted to leave early so we managed to leave by 3. Everyone else had to wait for the official departure time of 4, which usually turns into 5. The town doesn't really have anything to do, no movie theatre or bowling or anything like that, and it is stupefyingly hot and not particularly scenic so going for a walk is no fun. Leaving early was a good thing, and most importantly it got us home in time to check the baboons' sleeping sites. If we know where they are sleeping we can get there before they wake up tomorrow, which will be about 5:15 in the m