Ek is ge-haak! of mag ek sê ge-‘hook’ . “I am hooked”.

English version follow below the Afrikaans version

Twee maal tevore was ek al in Texas, land van die Ewings van Dallas faam. Hierdie keer is ek egter oortuig daarvan dat as ek ooit permanent in Amerika sou kon bly, ek sou kies om my in Houston te vestig. Ek weet nie of dit dalk die invloed van my Duitse voorgeslagte is, wat ek duidelik hier sien manifesteer, of die pragtige argitektuur nie, maar ek het net dadelik tuis gevoel. Die somer hitte mag my dalk vang, maar vir hul winter sien ek heeltemal kans.

Hier het ek ook die langste goedere trein nog ooit in my lewe gesien. Ek het getel tot by 40 – vorentoe en agtertoe was daar nog. Ek sal seker nie oordryf as ek se dat die lokomotief maklik 200 trokke sleep nie. Jy staan maklik 15 minute en wag by die oorgang voor die trein verby is.

Ons gaan tuis by ‘n AirB&B, aan huis van Elena, ‘n Maleisiër, wat drie jaar gelede Amerika toe verhuis het, toe sy met haar man, wat hier groot geword het, getroud is. Sy laat ons verstaan dat ons glad nie skoene in die huis mag dra nie en natuurlik vergeet ek sommer binne die eerste halfuur daarvan. Nou ja, ek is nie gewoond dat iemand my aanspreek oor ‘n paar skoene nie!

Houston laat my baie dink aan Pretoria omgewing. Pragtige groot huise staan tussen reuse groot bome. Wat vir my baie interessant is, is die feit dat jy een oomblik verby ‘n pragtige landgoed met groot huise ry, net om ‘n blok later te dink dat jy iewers in die platteland is. Beeste wei langs die pad in kampies, tussen woonbuurtes rond. Dit alles gee ‘n wonderlik, rustige atmosfeer.

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Vandag het ons ‘n draai in die sakebuurt van die stad gaan maak. Verbasend is daar baie min motors in die sentrale area van die stad. Oral oor is sentrale parkeer areas, waar jy jou motor kan parkeer. Jy betaal jou parkeergeld by ‘n parkeer meter en tik jou motor se registrasienommer in.

Die geboue is geweldig eko-vriendelik. Ek was heel verbaas om in die middel van ‘n reuse groot gebou se wandelhal ‘n skaap te gewaar wat op die gras wei – so getrou nagemaak, dat jy dink dit is eg. Plante houers met boompies staan oral op die hoeke van die strate. Die mense is gaaf, almal glimlag en lyk gelukkig. Wonderlik wat ‘n ontspanne werksomgewing kan doen.

Dit is op een van die hoeke wat ons vir Kazul raak loop. Hy kom vinnig met ‘n besem uit die parkeer area van ‘n gebou uitgestap, groet en vra of als wel is. Hy verneem toe waarvandaan ons kom, aangesien ons aksent anders klink as die gewone Amerikaner s’n. Ek vertel hom dat ons van Suid-Afrika af kom en Afrikaans, ‘n tipe van Hollands, praat.

Opgewonde vertel hy ons dat hy as jong man Ethiopië verlaat het en via Kenia na Suid-Afrika toe wou kom om daar ‘n nuwe begin te maak. Wel, ek skat dat hy al ‘n man van ongeveer 60 moet wees, wat beteken dat dit in die apartheidsjare was. Die Here het egter ander planne met hom gehad en hy land toe op in Amerika. Hy getuig teenoor my dat die Here sy Alfa en Omega is, die rede waarom hy bestaan. Sy Here en sy Meester.

“Kazul, die Here het geweet hoekom hy jou Amerika toe gestuur het. As jy in Suid-Afrika beland het, sou jy vandag dalk nie meer geleef het nie of sou jy in die agterstrate van Soweto opgeëindig het – ‘n non-entity. Jy is baie beter af, waar jy vandag is.”  

Ek is so jammer dat ek nie daaraan gedink het om ‘n foto van ons twee saam te neem nie.”  My laaste woorde aan hom was, toe ek wegstap – May we meet again in heaven.

I’ve been in Texas, land of the Ewings of Dallas fame, twice before. This time, however, I am convinced that if I could ever stay in the USA permanently, I would choose to settle in Houston. Maybe it might be the influence of my German ancestors or the beautiful architecture, but I just felt at home. The summer heat might be too much for me, but I will definitely not have a problem to survive during winter time.
While here I’ve seen the most extended goods train ever in my life. I counted up to 40 trucks – forward and backwards, but couldn’t see the end of the line. I will indeed not exaggerate if I say that the locomotive easily pulls 200 trucks. You can easily wait 15 minutes at the junction before the train will be passed.
We stayed at an Air B & B, home to Elena, a Malaysian, who moved to the USA three years ago after she married her husband, who lives in the States since a very young age. She lets us understand that we cannot wear shoes inside the house. Of course, I forget about it within the first half an hour. Well, I’m not used to anyone addressing me about wearing a pair of shoes!                                                                                             Houston reminds me of Pretoria, the capital city of Gauteng, South Africa. Beautiful big houses stand between big trees. What’s interesting to me is the fact that you drive past a beautiful estate with significant dwellings and then, one block later, you will think that you are somewhere in the countryside. Cows graze along the road in camps, between neighbourhoods. All this provide a beautiful, peaceful atmosphere.
Today we went to the business district of the city. Surprisingly, there are very few cars in the central area of the town. There are a lot of parking areas inside the city, where you can park your car and pay your parking fee at a parking meter while also entering your car’s registration number for security purposes.
The buildings are amazingly eco-friendly. I was stunned to see a sheep, grazing on a piece of grass, in the middle of a huge tall building, It seems so real, in the meanwhile, it was a statue. Plant containers with trees are seen everywhere on the corners of the streets. Pedestrians look relaxed and happy, and everyone smiles at you. It’s incredible what a relaxing work environment can do to society. On one of the corners, we bumped into Kazul. He quickly walks out of the parking area of a building, carrying a broom in his hands. He greets and asks if everything is well. He immediately realizes that we are not American, as our accent sounds different from the usual American accent. I mentioned to him that we are from South Africa and speak Afrikaans, which is similar to Dutch. Very excited, he told us that he left Ethiopia as a young man and wanted to come to South Africa via Kenya, to start a new life. I estimated that he should already be a man of about 60 years old, which means that this happened during the apartheid era. However, God had other plans with him, and he landed up in the USA. He testified to me that Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, his Lord and His Master and the reason why he exists.
“Kazul, God knew the reason why he sent you to the USA. If you had landed up in South Africa, you might not have been alive anymore, or you would have ended up somewhere in Soweto – a non-entity.
You are far better off where you are today. I’m so sorry I did not think about taking a picture of our two. ” My last words to Kazul was before I walked away: “One day, we will meet again in heaven.”