Sunday, March 31, 2013

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!! 

I apologize for not writing in such a long time!!  Fourteen students from Kimberley House, including myself, took what was supposed to be a ten day road trip across the country!

The first couple days were mostly driving with little sight-seeing.  We stopped in Knysna the first night and East London the second night just to sleep.  Though both places were beautiful, we continued on.  The third and fourth nights were spent in Coffee Bay. 

Coffee Bay is a rural area with one backpacker and two restaurants.  The first day we arrived, we toured the backpacker which had two bars, a few small rooms, and a huge deck where most people spent their time.  We then headed to the gorgeous beach which was about a 10 minute walk from the backpacker.  The second day, one other girl and I were up early to take surfing lessons before our all-day hike.  The surfing lessons were absolutely hysterical.  As most of you probably know, I’m not the most coordinated person on earth so I was pretty positive it would be an epic failure.  But, it was my friend’s birthday and apparently that meant we were surfing at 7am!!   After about an hour of instruction, we both were able to get up on our own and ride a wave completely into shore.  By the end, I was so astonished I could actually do it, I was getting too excited to actually balance anymore!  After surfing, the whole group went on a 6-mile hike through the rolling hills of the villages.  It was a guided hike, so we were able to meet some of the people, learn how to make bricks for the huts they lived in, and play soccer with some local school children.  Ultimately, we walked to “Hole In The Wall” which is a village named after a massive rock wall near the shore of the ocean with a hole in the center where the waves come crashing through.  We played in the waves for hours, until it was time to be driven back.  We all piled in the back of a pick-up truck and were driven back to the backpacker.  We were all absolutely exhausted after the hike and swimming that most of us fell asleep right after dinner.   The next morning, we were up at 6am again and out of Coffee Bay!

The next night we stayed in Durban, but didn’t have much time to explore the city.  The following two nights were spent in Johannesburg.  In Joburg, we spent the entire day touring townships and museums.  We spent the morning touring a township called ‘Soweto.’  This stands for South West Township of Joburg. (get it?! I thought that was pretty clever!)  This is where Desmond Tutu currently lives and Nelson Mandela lived with his previous wife Winnie.  We were able to go in Nelson Mandela’s old home because it has been turned into a museum.  During this whole day, we had tour guides who explained everything about each place we went.  Without them, the day could have been terribly boring.   We learned about Winnie during the time Nelson was in jail and were surprised to find out that Soweto actually supported Winnie more than Nelson.  During the time he was in jail, she was the community ‘mom.’  She was always willing to stand up for anyone and, being a tomboy in her youth, was also willing to fight the police off if needed.  The most interesting thing I noticed about this township was its size.  Soweto is so big that it has a distinct upper, middle, and lower class.  The upper class homes were big, beautiful, brick homes with larger, green yards.   Around these homes, there were absolutely no children playing outside because these families have the money to buy TVs and Playstation for their children.  The middle class homes were similar to those of Cape Town, like the one I am currently living in.  But, within the exact same township, the lower class homes were shacks made from any material that could be found.  I thought this was interesting because such huge houses with such privileged children lived so close to these run-down shacks with children who have nothing but each other. 

After touring Soweto, we headed to the Apartheid museum.  The apartheid museum was completely overwhelming and I cannot even begin to describe the amount of knowledge that was shoved into our brains.  I felt like my head wasn’t big enough to even absorb it all.  I could have spent 4 hours in that museum, but it was limited to about 1.  At the very beginning of the museum, they began by splitting us into “whites” and “colored.”   Though we ended up getting to the same museum, it put into perspective the fact that you couldn’t even walk with those of a different race during apartheid. 

Our next couple nights were spent at a game reserve just outside of Kruger National Park.  We went on a private game drive the first night and spent the entire next day in Kruger.  We saw elephants, lions, rhinos, giraffes, hippos, impalas, and many more animals.  The camp we stayed at was absolutely gorgeous and a wonderful change from the backpackers we had been in the previous 7 nights.  On Sunday, during our drive home, the truck unexpectedly broke down.  After sitting on the highway for about two hours, we missed two flights out of Joburg and were no longer able to get back that night.  We stayed at a gorgeous hotel in Joburg and were flown back to Cape Town finally at 3pm Monday afternoon.   I have never been so happy to get back to KHouse and see the rest of my housemates!  It was an absolutely amazing trip, but it was just about time to stop living out of a suitcase after 11 days!

I still can’t believe how many amazing people we met along the way who we will never see again!

After getting home, this week has been a blur.  On Tuesday, at service, I entered grades into the computer and put together students’ report cards.  Thursday began their midsemester break so I will not be needed at Hlengisa now until April 8 when they reopen.  So the vacation continues!!

Holy Thursday and Good Friday I spent with my RA, Kholeka.  Because no one else in my house was attending any services, I tagged along to her Xhosa, Methodist services.  Being the only white person in the entire church, I felt a little out of place at first.  By the end of the services though, I was dancing and singing in Xhosa with everyone else.  I couldn’t help but smile the entire time.  The church was on the University of Cape Town’s campus so it was full of students dancing and singing with loud drums and tambourines.  Today, she decided to come with me to St. George’s (Desmond Tutu’s Cathedral) for a Catholic mass.  I am so blessed to have her this Easter because she brought a sense of family to the last few days.

Thank you for the prayers and support.  Our travels went fairly smoothly and everyone was kept safe and well!! I hope everyone has a blessed Easter!!

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you had a great time, Andrea! I would love to be able to visit the Apartheid museum and to be able to walk where icons such as Nelson and Winnie Mandela and Desmond Tutu have walked. If I thought seeing Invictus and various documentaries on South Africa were poignant, I couldn’t imagine what actually being there would feel like.