Today was sometimes good and sometimes rough. It included many awesome T smiles (they light up the room) and four, for lack of a better word, shut downs. The shut downs are when T refuses to talk with us or look at us or acknowledge our existence. They are stressful, difficult, and frustrating.
When we got up, we presented T with three options. We could go to the lion park, the elephant park, or the Cradle of Humankind (caves, fossils, etc.). He didn’t want any. After about 20 minutes of talking with him, he chose the caves. Right after that he shut down. We spent the next bit trying to get him to talk with us again. After he opened back up, we packed him up for the day and headed to a local coffee shop.
When we pulled up, T didn’t want to go to the coffee shop. Brian offered to run in and get his coffee, then we could leave. Then T wanted to go in. (We see this a lot. He changes his mind every five seconds.) Inside, T and I ordered a hot chocolate (T wanted his with some coffee) and Brian got an Americano. We all pulled up to the bar and got to working. Brian had actual work to do, while T and I colored (I was forced to draw animals, God help us) and T applied stickers and drew background scenes. T’s hot chocolate showed up with a dog drawn into the foam! It was really cool and he seemed to enjoy it. After we were done at the coffee shop, we packed up and headed to the Cradle of Humankind. We were a little vague with T as we didn’t want him to shut down again.
It was so nice to get out of the city and into the countryside. Our drive was about an hour total, so we saw a lot of really neat things along the way and a bit more to the other side of South Africa. During our drive we drove by two towns comprised completely of shanties. These homes were made of metal sides and maybe a metal roof, otherwise a tarp roof. Each one was no more than 6’x6’. When we drove past again at night, there were few lights as the homes do not have electricity.
After passing those towns, we were stopped by a traffic officer who was on the side of the road waving cars over for random checks. It was an unwelcome stop as we didn’t know what awaited. The officer started by asking for Brian’s license. Brian handed over his international driver’s permit and his Illinois driver’s license. Then the cop asked Brian who T was and why he was with us. After explaining we were adopting him and it would be finalized Thursday, the cop told us he would have to fine us 1,000 Rand ($50) for not having some sort of government document for driving. We had been told we only needed a valid US license (and that the international permit was just a bonus). He insisted we had to get this document from an office in Pretoria and he would have to fine us. When Brian said that would be okay and to please give us the bill and that we would mail in the payment, the cop changed his tune and said he would let us off today. He then asked us for water (we had none for him) and let us go on our way.
We called our social worker in Cape Town and asked about this special document he said we needed. She said he was a crooked cop and he must have been hoping to pocket the R1,000. Thankfully, Brian responded correctly by asking for the ticket.
After that fun, we headed to the Cradle of Humankind. It is a worldwide heritage site, so we wanted to check it out. We bought the tickets and headed inside. After a quick lunch with a gorgeous view, we started the tour of the museum. It started with a boat ride. Unfortunately, it was the scariest boat ride I had ever been on and T agreed. By the second turn, T was crying and frantically clinging to Brian. I wanted the blasted ride to end, too, but now I’m a parent and I’m not allowed to cry and cling to Brian. At the end of the ride, my heart was pounding. The guy at the ticket counter said we would be in the museum for about an hour. For the Malcolm family, it ended up being about 20 minutes (10 for the terrifying boat ride, 5 for running through the museum, and 5 for a bathroom stop).
After trekking back to our car (because the museum goes straight back and dumps you miles from your car), we stopped just before getting in to ask about a huge, white mountain you could see in the distance. The car attendant told us it wasn’t a mountain, but the leftovers of a gold mine that stopped ten years ago.
Our ride back to the guest house was less eventful, thankfully. We got back and T rode around on his crocodile in the pool with me while Brian sat in the dining room and was able to watch us and talk with us while working. After an hour or so of swimming and down time, we packed up and headed to Carnivore.
When Brian and I had to get our vaccines for this trip, we had to include typhoid because we are “adventurous eaters” (a qualifier for the CDC to get that vaccine). Carnivore is akin to a Brazilian steak house, but instead of salted beef, they bring around exotic (to us) meats. We ate impala, blesbok, crocodile, and kudu. My personal favorites were the springbok samosas and zebra. I could have done without the crocodile.
Our ride back was later than we’ve gone before. I was a little terrified, but Brian got us back safely. It was actually neat to see Johannesburg in lights. After a huge meal, we all slept well.