Thursday, April 15, 2010



In 2005 our family hosted two wonderful exchange students for a whole year!

"Jan" from Germany...

 ...and "Adam" from Sweden...

 These young boys arrived on our doorstep in the middle of a very cold winter.
They were two energetic and enthusiastic 18year olds who showed a keen interest in learning about our country, our ways and our family. We were just as keen to learn about theirs.

Soon after their arrival, the age-old question popped up in conversation.

"How cold does it get?" they asked whilst sitting on our warm patio overlooking a green garden and clear skies.
"Pretty cold!" I answered truthfully. 

As South Africans, our winters are deceptive. Although we generally have sunshine here in Johannesburg, the cold fronts stream across our country and bring icy chills from snow-clad mountains in the Cape and Drakensberg. Our houses are generally built for the summer heat and are therefore ill equipped for the icy 2-3 months of winter when the "wind chill factor" can drive temperatures below freezing.

"Does it every snow?" they asked.

"Yes!" I answered and I looked towards the sunny skies.
"In fact, it will snow next Friday!" I continued. They stared at me in disbelief.

"Never!" said Jan firmly whilst Adam simply shook his head.
Since both the boys are from countries which regularly see snowy, freezing winters, they considered my answer to be preposterous!

"Yes, really!" I emphasized, "Next Friday!"

"I don't believe you! It's impossible" said Jan, "There are no snow clouds around! I know snow!"

"I know my own weather!", I argued, rising to the rapidly forming joke in my mind. "Mark my words, next Friday it will snow!"

"We want to bet you that it won't snow!" they both retorted in unison and so the bet was made...

In temperatures below 10 degrees centigrade I agreed with them that whoever lost the bet would take a swim across our swimming pool - the temperature of which was hovering at around 8 degrees centigrade.
(What I do for fun! I must be mad!)

As the week went by, I constructed my plan to orchestrate the weather,  but silently committing myself to honor my bet and take the painful swim across the pool

"How on earth are you going to accomplish this?" my husband asked whilst shaking his head.

"Watch me!" I answered. "Don't ever dare me"

And so the week went by with regular discussions about the weather and the possibility of snow.

In the early hours of a chilly Friday morning, my hubby and I rose out of our warm bed, having set an alarm clock which we knew the boys wouldn't hear...

Armed with a camera in my husband's hand, a warm dressing gown, slippers and a can of carpet shampoo, I set about creating my hoped-for illusion...

When the boys finally emerged from their rooms on Friday morning they had big smiles on their face!

"It's swim-time for you!" Jan taunted in his usual energised fashion. "You see, I told snow!" he reinforced.
"Yeah!" said Adam. "You've lost your bet!"

"What do you mean?" I asked "It did snow!" they looked at me in fascinated confusion.
"Whilst you were sleeping soundly, dear boys, it snowed! This is what happens in Africa! If you blink your eyes, our snow melts! "

"No way!" they chorused and their faces dropped. I could visualise them thinking about the "swim".

"Yes way!" I laughed. "It snowed in the middle of the night and I can prove it!"
I presented the photograph to them...

"That's not snow!" they almost shouted.

"Yes it is!" I answered. "AFRICAN SNOW!!!"

"Never!" came their indignant response.

"Yes, dear boys...AFRICAN SNOW! You can buy it at the a bottle!"

The boys sulked for 2 days before I relented and took that icy dash across the pool.
In glee, they both pulled up chairs to the side of the swimming pool and watched and taunted as their dear 'host' mother honored her bet.

All I can say is:


What a wonderful way to start an 'international', 'cross-cultural' relationship.
In the year which they lived with us, Jan and Adam became part of our family!
What fun we all had together!
I love my boys!


houndstooth said...

Oh, what a great story! I thought you were going to get them to take the swim across the pool somehow! I'll bet they still tell that story from time to time as well, but I bet their version is a little differnt!

Heather and Kelly said...

Oh, that's hilarious! What a story.
I think they should have taken the swim too :)

Scout and Freyja said...

Take it from this mom - there's nothing better than a couple of boys to fill a house with fun!

You really have a good sense of humor, don't you, and a wild imagination. My kind of gal!

Anya said...

That was a story
It was lovely to read :))
greetings Anya

My Mind's Eye said...

What a great story and how funny for you to get up in the wee hours just to play a joke. I'm sure they knew from that day on they would have a fantastic year in your fun loving home. Madi and Mom

Golden Samantha said...

Oh Caryl - you are just so creative and incredibly bold to brave a frigid dash in your pool! And what an endearing way to seal forever friendships with young pals
from so far away! Thanks for the wonderful story!
Mom and Sam

Jacqueline said...

You are very creative and fun; what a priviledge those boys had to experience South Africa with your wonderful family...There will always be a heart connection with your boys; hope you get to see them again!

Anonymous said...

It was a good attempt but I do now how snow look though, even south african. I did feel a bit guilty though watching you swim across that pool...


Mrs. JP said...

Great story. That's my kind of gag. But, I think I would have had to send them a picture of my swim when it got warmer. YOU ARE CRAZY - of course it's excellent for your cardio system I hear!!!

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ said...

What a fun story! And one you and they will never forget.

Woos - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

sprinkles said...

Oh my, I haven't laughed so hard in a long while! Thanks for the afternoon chuckle!

The Life of Riley said...

Dear Caryl,

I've been really enjoying reading this second blog of yours. You have a great talent for telling a story, and your posts about South African snow and rubber tasting coffee have both made me smile.

Fran (Riley's mum)

Molly the Airedale said...

You are very clever! We loved your story!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With Khattledog said...

A story they'll tell forever!

Thanks for sharing!

Pip said...

Very cool story. I bet you were the coolest mom in the program that year!

KB said...

I love your story, and your creativity!

Piappies World said...

Hi Caryl,

That's so creativity and funny of you, really. You sure acted like a cool foster mom to these 2 boys. We are with you in sharing cultures and national traditions with friends from all over the world sure helps in promoting world peace and we are all for it.

Have a great weekend!

Tweedles -- that's me said...

I smiled as I read your words.
That was the best story ever. I love your playful heart.
You would be a blast to know!
Thanks for the wonderful story about your "boys"