Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An amazing spring break: Botswana, Zambia Zimbabwe

So it's been awhile. Since I last blogged Mom and Dani came to visit for 10 days. I am not going to go into that trip, you can just ask them about it. I then had a week off before it was time for Easter break here. I went with a company called 2way travel. About 30 kids from my program went along with 30 or so more other Americans. We were headed to Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 
We met to get on the bus in Mowbray at 4:45 to go to the airport. We flew to Johanesburg, which is just a 2 hour flight. From there we boarded these trucks. There were 22 of us on my  truck (19 of us were from interstudy - my program - and only 3 were rando americans.) I felt bad for them, but 2 of them ended up being pretty cool. So I was expecting this sprawling coach bus since that was going to be where most of our trip took place. Oh how wrong I was. These trucks were hilarious, massive behemoths. There were seats facing each other, facing backwards and forwards and tables in between some seats. It was interesting to say the least. So the first day consisted of a full day of driving. We were first headed to Botswana. Luckily I was told before the trip that the first 2 days kinda sucked because you were on the bus the entire time but not to get upset because after those 2 days the whole trip is worth it. We passed the time by sleeping and playing stupid card games. We got very lost on our first day so we didnt arrive at our first campsite until 11:00 that night. We quickly ate dinner, rolled out our sleeping mats and slept with 25 people to a large room. Seriously uncomfortable. 
The next morning we woke up at 5:30, packed up our stuff, had tea, coffee and rusks (yummy biscuits) and got back on the road. My goal for the day was to not sleep as much and to look outside of the bus to see cool things. I was successful in the morning before we stopped for breakfast on the side of the road. During that stop we all went into the bush to pee. After this trip i am seriously able to go to the bathroom anywhere. I thought i was good before but this was a test...the bushes of Africa and I are best friends. Driving through Botswana I noticed that an American thinking about what Africa looks like would think of this place. It was totally desolate but beautiful woods. There were a ton of donkeys and cows along the road as well as randomly dispersed people and shacks. I was happy I could see another part of Africa besides the westernized, commercialized Cape Town.  That morning we were told to bring any pair of shoes we had in our suitcases onto the bus because we were going to be sprayed for foot and mouth disease once we hit the botswana border. We didnt have to do it on the way in apparently because we blew past the stopping point. If someone is to contract this disease you could potentially kill of their entire cattle and then their population so its serious stuff. We made a lot of pit stops, one including a stop at a supermarket to get 5 liters of water each because we would be camping out for 3 days with no running water. We were going to be thirsty... We used the Botswana currency Pula to buy our waters. We made it to the campsite around 6:00, showered, set up our tents (Nicole was my tent buddy for the night) and listened to this Australian guy talk about the Ocavango Delta that we were going to be in for the next 3 days. He informed us that the ground gets very dewey. BUt with his silly accent it sounded like he said, "the tents and the ground get very jewey." This confused me for a bit because I thought he was trying to make a stab at the chosen peeps. I was wrong, it was just the accent. We all passed out early.
Monday we woke up 5:45 to pack up our tents and get our day packs ready for roughing it in the Delta. We left our truck behind at the campsite and jumped onto another beast of a truck to head into the Delta. Once we got to literally the middle of nowhere, we had made it! We were then taken in these boats called makaros. Basically there are 2 people to each makaro and your poula or your leader, who is standing and uses a long stick to move the boat. You are just supposed to lay there. Laura and I were makaro buddies. So heres how we learned the name of our leader: Laura got to our leader first while I was still getting off of the truck. Laura introduced herself first and while she was asking our leader her name she was saying it at the same time and said im your poula. So Laura thought her name was pula, but that didnt make much sense since the currency in Botswana was pula...that didn't seem right. So Laura said what? and she answered is this your pashna? She was pointing at our friend mike which made Laura even more confused. So then she thought her name was pashna for a bit. THen she figured out that she was asking if Mike was Laura's pashna (aka PARTNER), So she ruled out pashna as the name and was stuck with pula. So it was up to me to figure out her name. Throughout the hour and a half makaro ride I tried to ask once what her name was but every time I spoke she thought I was talking to Laura, so I never got her name. Once we got to the campsite all of the leaders were introducing themselves. Our leader came up...her name was Bridgitte. For each meal there was a group of 4 or 5 people that had to help out. Thankfully, for everyones pleasure, Laura was on lunch duty. It really brought on some great laughs watching her attempt to help out with cooking. Everyone else was slicing and dicing...Laura cleaned the pots. She was really top notch at it. We all hung out for the afternoon and waited until 5:00 to go on our bush walk. My group was Katrina, Jill, Julie, Laura, and I (a really perfect group.) We werent expecting to see much since the animals don't really hang out in the sun when it is beating down on them. Our guides were Joe and Shelly. Before we began our bush walk, Joe informed us that if we see a lion we must stand upwind so it can't smell us. If we see an elephant, run up a tree. And some more absurd things like that. We were serioulsy vulnerable. Just as I thought we didn;t see anything but got some hilarious laughs from Jill and Laura who were both have bowl movement issues. The walk only lasted an hour and a half because we obvi couldnt walk once it got dark. We had some dinner then passed out at 9:00 for the night.
Next morning we woke up at 5:15 to go on our morning bush walk. We had the same group walking. We saw a zebra, wildabeast, giraffes and a steembok, which laura thought was a wild dog...wild dogs are absurdly hard to see, so it was funny when she really thought we saw one. After our 4 hour walk, we were all dead tired at camp and laid out in the sun, played cards, swam in the watering hole and passed out for the afternoon until our makaro sunset ride. Laur, Bridgitte and I were makaro buddies again. It was a gorgeous sunset and a peaceful ride with everyone. That night all of our leaders put on a performance of singing and dancing which was awesome. Us Americans then had to get up and return the treat. We kept it classy and sang some build me up buttercup, ain't no mountain high enough and backstreet was terible and random but I guess they enjoyed it. 
Wednesday we all woke up for another hour bush walk. We saw a jackal, giraffe and hippos in the distance. Nothing too exciting. We got back to the campsite and packed everything up then headed back on our makaros, our truck and got back to the original campsite. We had a couple hours to shower and eat lunch before our 4 hour drive to the next campsite. I decided to be an intelligent human being and shower where there was running warm water because hey, im in Africa and you never know what could happen. Most people opted out of showering (ew, it had been 3 days) and wanted to wait until we got to the next campsite because we were going to be on gross and sweaty on the bus for hours. We arrive at the campsite and what do you know? The water is shut off. HA! I am smart. I guess the water randomly shuts off and on and on this particular night it was off. We were informed at this campsite that elephants freely roam around because it is not gated and just that morning a couple girls went to the bathroom and when they walked out there was a pride of lions outside. I don't know what happened, I do know they lived though. They told us to walk with buddies...I told Laura I would be her buddy but what the hell would I have done if there was a pride of lions in front of me....?
We left the elephants and lions early the next morning to get on the road to Chobe National Park. We got to our next campsite EARLY! That was unheard of seeing as we got lost every single day and didn't arrive at campsites until at least an hour after our ETA. We left to go on our sunset booze cruise at 3:30. Our boat was awesome and had all the people I wanted on it. Chobe is home to the most elephants in all of Africa so  on the cruise we saw tons and tons of them as well as hippos (one actually got out of the h2o for us, which is unusual), baby crocs, an many impala. We also drank a lot of wine. We got back to our site after sunset and had dinner, drank some more then everyone passed out by 9:30...late night.
Next morning we had an optional game drive at Chobe national park that we could go on for $25. I was told to not go on it because we wouldnt see much and I had been on safaris before. I contracted a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) though since everyone else was going. I jumped in and saw nothing really at all. I passed out for the last 30 mins of the ride. I told our guide, Walter, that if we didn't see lions I was going to kick him out of the car and take over. We didn't see lions, but I fell asleep so he was home free. We packed up our tents once again and boarded the truck to get to the ferry to get to the border of Zambia. I thought this was going to take around 30 mins but 2 and a half hours later (i have NO clue what was going on) we finally departed from the border. We were sitting on the bus the entire time just waiting for the okay to move along. We passed the time with catch phrase and this new, intellectually stimulating game called contact. We got to our campsite a couple hours later, quickly put on our cossies (bathing suits) and headed to Victoria Falls. We got to walk through the falls, which right now is at the highest it has been since 1958. You can't visibly make out the falls because the water is so high and intense. You get absolutley drenched just trying to get a was like nothing I had ever seen before...I was smiling from ear to ear the entire time. 
The next morning we actually got to sleep in until 6:30! Today was my extreme, adrenaline packed day. In the morning a big group of us went to go abseiling which is basically repelling. But we repelled down a gorge, whcih was sweet. Then we got to do this superman zipline thing across the gorges which was just fun (not really scary at all.) And finally we did the gorge swing. Laura and I went tandem because we were both too scared to go alone. They connect your feet together and have you hold onto each others backs. You then have your back to the gorges so you can't see your ultimate doom, tell you to bend your knees, stick your butt out and roll backward. I was freaking out (Laura has never seen me so scared before.) It was a 4 second free fall then the swing caught you and pulled up into a swinging position, it was freaking awesome. We left the gorges and 4 of us (Laura, Katrina, Owen and I) headed to our next adrenaline moment. We went to go bungee jump off a bridge over victoria falls. Holy shit. THat was by far the scariest thing I have ever done in my entire life. The initial jump is obviously scary and then you bungee and drop, bungee and drop, so on and so forth. I don't know how many times I got dropped but I do know that once the guy came down to sit me up right I told him I needed to be on solid ground. I got back up to the bridge and said that was one of the coolest and scariest things I have ever done and I dont think I ever want to do it again. Now it is 4 days later and I may want to do it again....
On our last full day there (Sunday) Laura, Mike, Nicole and I all went horseback riding. I dont think I have ever been on a horse before and it was fun. My ass and thighs hurt a lot after though so it make take me another 20 years to go again...we'll see. We walked through the bush though and it was peaceful and calm. Only one time did our horses get rowdy, in a full gallop and almost throw us off. No big deal. That afternoon Mike, Laura and I headed to the Zimbabwe border, which is a 10 mins walk from the Zambia border, to go to the open trade craft market. You basically bring anything and everything and get a ton of crafts in return for your stuff. For some really cool pieces I traded: single tampons, advil, socks, t-shirts, a bandana, band-aids and other random stuff. They loved it and really needed anything you could give them though. That was just a totally different experience than anything I have ever seen. Very cool. That night all of the Americans went to the bar at the campsite for our last night and we had a good time. We had to get up at 7:00 the next morning to head out and get back to Cape Town. WE left from the Zim airport and flew into Jo'berg then connected to Cape Town. It was another long day but we got back to the mansions around 9:30. 
So it was an absolutely crazy and busy trip but I loved every minute of it. Sorry this post was so long, I tried to keep the details minimal. When I talk to you more I can give you some more entertaining stories and elaborate on more things. Until next time. Love you all!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 11-14

It's been an interesting last couple of days. Honestly, a string of really bad days. Wednesday roles around...the day our group project is due for my crime and deviance in south African cities class. Laura, Katrina and I are all in a group with 3 other south Africans, David, Haseenah and Langa. We had split the project up into sections where the 3 of us did parts A and B, David did C and D and Haseenah and Langa were to do the powerpoint and works cited page. So all of the parts were done, A B C and D and they were sent to Haseenah to be put altogether in order to do the powerpoint. Wed. roles around...Katrina, Laura and I are laying by the pool in between classes and we decide to give our dear friend Haseenah a call to make sure she got everything printed out. She decides to inform us an hour and a half before class that she A) hadn't put everything together and B) needed us to print it out and make a cover page. This begins our downward spiral. So the 3 of us rush to the computer lab to get everything put together...mind you David for some reason did not receive our email 2 nights before with what we had written so he just put down his POV on the topic without seeing what we had written. Therefore, the paper didn't make too much sense. THEN we take a gander at the wonderful powerpoint dearest Haseenah put together. Needless to say, it's shit. There are a ridiculous amount of grammatical errors and there are full paragraphs on there that were not even mentioned in the paper. We get to class and are fuming the entire way through. Once class ends we have a group meeting about the terrible project we are about to hand in. Our friend Langa, mind you, didn't show up for class. We later learned that he was working. Nice. The situation basically ended up with me and Laura confronting Haseenah about the shitty work that she barely did in front of the professor. I have never done that in front of a prof before, but this was warranted. All the annoyance and running around to put this together doesn't translate into writing like I would like it to, but hopefully you get the point of frustration. I then have to write 2 papers that night...

Thursday was going well UNTIL i decided to make the really amazing decision of getting a haircut. I went to the Cavendish mall, which is in a little suburb 5 mins away from us called Claremont. I tell the woman exactly what I want...only a trim and whatever else I wanted done to my hair. She then proceeds to chop my hair off. I can honestly say that she took off at least 2 and a half inches. That may not seem like much but if you knew how short my hair was before, its really damn short now. I know, I know, it's only hair, but to me it is important and it only added to my terrible day before. By Thursday night all I wanted to do was be home sitting around with my family. It was the first time in a long time I felt homesick. 

Today (saturday 14th) was much better though!! Last night we didn't go out because interstudy had planned a full day for us today. We were out of the mowbray mansions by 7:45 this morning to head to the District 6 museum. This area used to be filled with blacks, colored people and whites. Basically, in the 60's the govt. said that all the black and colored families had to get out so they literally bulldozed their houses down and that's when they moved them to the all black and colored townships. It was crazy to see pictures of what District 6 looked like when there were streets, apartments and houses everywhere versus what it looks like now...tons of grassy, run down areas. Once apartheid ended some of the blacks and colored people moved back, but it didn't happen with too many families. 
Next we went to the Langa township, which is one of the biggest in CT. We did a walking tour through it and stopped in a couple of the formal and informal living quarters. When townships were first implemented, the govt split up men from women and children. Their driving idea behind this was to keep the black and colored people from procreating. They thought that if men and women weren't together, they obviously couldn't have more children. Pretty messed up. So the formal home we went into had 3 rooms with 3 beds on one side and 3 rooms with 3 beds on the other side (18 men altogether). Once the govt. let families join back together, there ended up being 3 entire families living in one bedroom. Say there were 5 people to a family...90 people living in TINY quarters. Now, there is 1 family to a room. Still a ton of people living in a very small space. The informal housing is shacks. People have taken container bins and made them into their homes. Who knows how many people live in those...again, terrible conditions and small living space. We got to play with a lot of the kids who were so adorable and exciting to see us and play. Overall though, the experience made me feel plain and simply, weird. Our group had driven in in a coach bus, walked around with our cameras and tour guide, saw the abysmal housing these people live in, played with the kids for 20 mins then left in our coach bus again. It made me feel terrible and uncomfortable. Ideally, I would want to go back there with 1 or 2 people at most but that's just not possible. I would get raped without a doubt and robbed. That's just the way it is. 
After that experience we went to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years. There's so much history on that, obviously, but I feel like I have written enough and that more people know about Mandela. To cap off my really upbeat day today, I am going to see Slumdog Millionaire hahaha

Sorry this post was somewhat depressing, but not everyday can be wonderful. I thought I would give you all a taste of some of the fucked up stuff that is real here. By the time I update next Mom and Dani will have gotten here, which i CANNOT wait for! I am in serious need of family time. We have a lot of awesome things lined up for the 10 days they are here, including a safari so next time I post I know there will be some great stories. 
Love and miss you all.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hello, hello to all. 
Big big accomplishment here in Africa: WE GOT A MICROWAVE! This is really big heres the story. When we moved into our place at Mowbray mansions (this place isn't really a mansion at all, in fact, it is quite the opposite..hence the joke) we were upset to see that we did not have a microwave. But...interstudy (our program) came through all of the apts. and said they were going to get all of our amenities in place within the next week. Welllll a week here in actuality means a month and a half apparently! So about a month into our time here, we complained to creepy landlord Andrew that we still needed a microwave. One day we come home from school and miraculously we have a microwave! Laura, Julie and I were so excited that we didn't have to walk across to our neighbors to heat up food...this was a great thing. 3 days after our microwave walked into our house, we come back from school and our microwave was gone. We didn't see creepy landlord for a couple days so Laura asked the cleaning lady a few days later if she knew where it went...she told us Andrew had taken it back. We were confused. We then confronted Andrew when we saw him in the Mowbray streets one afternoon and asked where our microwave disappeared to. Basically, it was the last tenants who had left it and if you leave something that you bought Andrew just keeps it in the apt. for the next tenants. Well I guess the previous tenant came back and wanted his stupid microwave. So now we are sitting 2 weeks post our 3 day microwave stint and finally got a permanent one! Wooo. Long story, but entertaining to say the least. 

Anywaysssss. Thursday through Saturday were unbearably hot days. The average temp was about 104 degrees. Out of control. So going to class wasn't really an option. We had a lot of pool afternoons. Thursday late afternoon Laura and I went to Long Street to do a little bit of shopping then went out to dinner at this amazing restaurant called Fork. Momma, Dani and I will def. visit it when they get here in a week! We were too tired to go out that night so we stayed in and skyped with our lovely friends and fam. 
Friday (6th): After we went to our morning classes, Laura and I headed to the pool (again.) We met this really awesome girl there from the states. A little background. Shes 23, and just moved here in October. She was working for an NGO (non-government organization) and was supposed to be here until December. That was until she fell in love with a safrican! And she has been here ever since, now working for this man at UCT (uni. of cape town.) Of course Laura and I wanted to know EVERY detail because that is our fall in love and never come home. just kiddinggg. No, but really fall in love. Now we know it happened to someone so of course it will happen to us! Friday night we went out for our friend Charlie's 21st bday. We headed to long street after where I ditched the massive group we were rolling around with and danced for 3 hours with my friends Ben, Jeremy and Lul. (other Americans on a diff. program.) I really am such a god awful dancer, thanks judaism. Oh well,  I had a great time anyways. Side note: this night was the hottest night in CT so was like bikram yoga in the nighttime air. 

Sat (7th): Laura, Julie, Aaron, Jackie, Will, Jaime and I had an amazing day. We woke up at a decent hour to go to Camp's Bay (beach) to get some sun. Of course it was 102 degrees out that day...ya know, just a cool day at the beach with no wind as well, also really great. Despite all of this...we laid in the sun for 4-5 hours, nbd. We then ate a late lunch so we could hike up Lionshead, a mountain right next to Table Mountain. We had figured out when the sunset was before we began our day so we planned accordingly. The hike took a little less than an hour and we got to a spot to see the beautiful sunset just in time. We really haven't seen any sunsets since we have been here because table mountain obstructs our view. So this was a real treat...we got some beautiful pictures. If I ever figure out how to upload pics on this blog, I will get them up here. We also got to see some great shots of all of CT. That night Laura and I were super super excited to go to bed because we were skydiving in the morning....

Sunday (8th): ....Skydiving didn't happen, it was canceled. Apparently mother nature wasn't on our side that day. Of course it was blistering hot for the previous 4 days but on this particular day, we had some really great wind blowing all through CT. They said it was too dangerous to jump (safety first kids) so we had to reschedule. Next sunday is now the day. I will be equally excited to go on that day too. Since our plans were squashed for the day, we kinda hung around the Mowbray Mansions with everyone on our program and didn't really do much.

Now its Tuesday night and I had a great accomplishment of A) going to ALL my classes the past 2 days and B) finishing my first group assignment of the semester. I don't think it will turn out too hot because the safricans in our group aren't very on top of their game. Oh well, Laura, Katrina and my part is really great. Tomorrow morning is important..I am going to get my hair cut. Hopefully this Wayde character is as good as my dear friend Aaron has informed me. 

Matt and Seth, you now must come to visit me since I am putting in on my blog. No ifs, ands or buts, it WILL happen. 
Miss you all! Happy Purim!!!!!!!


Monday, March 2, 2009

woah its march!

I cannot believe that it is already March 2nd. I feel like I just got here yesterday butttt I've been here for a month and a half....crazy how time is flying. I just want it to slow down so I don't have to go back home. (Not that I don't miss all of you but I will never experience something like this again and I'm loving it so understand hopefully.) Now that school has started the weeks are going by so so fast and it sucks. 

So classes are good when I go to them. I really have been trying my hardest to make it to lectures but the weather and the beach are doing a really great job of pulling me out of those beautiful classrooms. :). Emoticon hahahaha. They loveee those here..I'll get into that later though. Thursday night Laura, myself, and 5 other girls went to this bar called Hemisphere. It is very chic and a little bit of an older crowd. It is in Green Point (also where the new soccer stadium is for the 2010 world cup) on top of the ABSA building. ABSA is the main bank they use here. But you can see all of cape town from the bar and it is an absolutely gorgeous view. Sadly, we had to pay way too high of a cover charge and the people there were older and creepy. For some reason a lot of short men and if I thought they were short then you know they were short! We then headed to Springbok (jug night) for a nice night cap.) Julie hurt her foot that night and couldnt really walk the next morning. Sad. But a good night.

Friday I went to my morning classes then Laura, Aaron, Jaime, Jackie and I went to Clifton beach for a beautiful day in the sun. Went to La Med for lunch. We didn't go out Friday night, just kept it chill. Saturday was a full day. In the morning I went with Matt, Bronson, Owen and Jill to the farmer's market. Every saturday from 9:00 to 2:00 they have this incredible market with amazing food and taste testing. It was amazing food and day until I lost my favorite sunglasses :(. (emoticon! ahah) That kinda put a damper on the next hour. I came home and Laura Julie and I went to Cavendish (mall in Claremont) to get Julie a new camera and an external harddrive for laura. We obviously shopped around for a couple hours after. Saturday night was way fun...we had 4 of our safrican guy friends over. Georgio (Greek friend not Italian, still weird), Johno, Nick and Demetri. We wanted to teach them our american drinking games but didn't get to the liquor store for beer in time (they close at 5 on stupid) so we played some card drinking games and they loved them. Our kitchen counter also broke that night when someone was leaning on it. The landlord fixed it the next day but it was still hilarious. 

Sunday: I GOT MY BIG GIRL BED!!!!!! I had been living in a single, spring box of a bed this entire time. I finally complained because I have been getting back problems and it was probably the most uncomfortable thing I have ever laid on and the landlord got me a new double, comfortable bed! I knew I would grow up coming here. Laura, Julie and I headed with 2way travel (the travel company we are going through for all of the trips we are doing) to Mzoli's. Mzoli's is a restaurant in one of the townships about 15 mins outside of where we live. Basically its BYO everything. So you have to bring drinks, napkins, plates, silverware. All 2way brought was drinks so we had to eat with our hands which actually worked with the vibe there. It is an outdoor restaurant that only serves meat...A LOT of meat. They sit this huge bowl of meat in front of you that has chicken, steak and tons of links of sausages on top. It looks absolutely disgusting but is actually soooo good. A really yummy lunch. I almost lost my purse and all of my belongings in it though because I was an idiot and left it with someone at the table while I went to the bathroom and everyone decided to leave without my purse. Luckily it was still there when I went back! Ah...lapse of judgments...always so fun. The rest of the day I laid in my bed and enjoyed how new and big it was! 

More observations:
1. They don't have salad ANYWHERE on the damn campus. I think I am going to go into business and open a salad bar here, I feel like a lot of people would really enjoy that. I realized I'm really spoiled coming from Boulder where salad is such a main staple. Oh well...a business idea if nothing else. 2. Pedestrians don't matter. Drivers will literally hit a pedestrian instead of stopping. I thought NY was bad but now I've realized that new yorkers at least care for their dear walkers...not so much here. So note to all of you...if you ever visit here expect to get confused at the traffic coming from the opposite direction and to almost get hit by cars 5 times a day! 3. They LOVE emoticons here. Like really love them. Their favorite times to use them are in SMS's (what they call text messaging.) It still makes me laugh when I am texting with a safrican and they will use lol or :) or ;) in their texts. I always make fun of people that do that at home because its just so stupid and corny but EVERYONE uses them here...its not the lame thing to do. Weird. Laura and I have been having a lot of fun trying to keep up with them and sound really safrican in our texts. 

That is all for now. I miss you all still. Momma and Dani come so soon and I can't wait! 


Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Text ColorNow that school is in session, I don't get to do really really exciting things every single day. I have been going to classes and when I have a couple hours break or when I am done for the day I lay out by the pool...tough life.

This past week was a couple of my good friends on the programs birthdays...Bronson and Matt. To celebrate on Wed. for Bronson's we went to Obs and I brought along Steph and her sister Jen and Diane. As always, Obs was a good never disappoints. Nothing eventful happened in the next couple of days. But on Sat. we went to a braii (aka the SA's version of a bbq) at this guy named Alex's house. One of our friends on the program, Alec, had met him somwhere during our first week here and we have hung out with him a lot since then. He was so nice to invite about 15 of us Americans over to his place with his SA friends to eat a ton of good food and drink. His mom Val was really great and hospitable with all of us. Oh! Also...weird coincidence and small world story. So if you have been reading the blog I talked about how i went to that woman's house with Laura and Julie for Shabbat dinner one of the first weeks I was here. Well there are 4 kids in the fam. One of the daughters, Erin, is a first year (freshman) and had met ALex (SA friend) the previous weekend at a party. He had also incited her to the braii when they met so oddly enough we ran into her at Alex's. I thought my world was small at home but apparently it is in cape town as well. Totally weird and nice to see her again. She told us her fam totally loved us and want us back for another Shabbat din...woohoo! We also met 3 SA brothers that were really nice and cute who we are going to go out with this weekend. I only remember the ones our age names..Mario and Georgio. (They are Greek, not Italian, weird huh?) I guess the names don't really translate too well from the U.S. I kinda just want to start calling them Tony for the hell of it. 

Sat. night Laura and I went to this guy named John's 21st birthday party at a bar called FTV by the Waterfront. We met him at the horse races and exchanged numbers. That turned out to be a lot of fun especially because we got away from the American crew for the night and hung out with all SA's. Sunday was probably the most lazy day Julie Laura and I have had since we've been here. We basically slept and went to Cocoa Wah Wah (internet cafe) for 2 1/2 hrs. Nothing too exciting but I guess my body was hating me enough to tell me I needed to sleep the day away. 

So today (Tuesday) I had a full day of school then went to my first day of SHAWCO. SHAWCO is the volunteer program I signed up for that is affiliated with the university. I signed up for the program called Kenstep where I tutor kids in grade 6 English. The program gave me a guide book before I met with the kids to show me what I would be going over with them. Every Tuesday there is a bus that picks up about 25 UCT students and brings them to a school to tutor the kids. It's not in a township but in more of a middle class region of CT. I am tutoring 8 6th grade girls with one other girl from UCT. They are so adorable and funny. All they wanted to know was if I knew any celebrities...Chris Brown, Beyonce and Rihanna especially. All little kids in SA that America is a place where celebrities are walking around on every corner. They were so confused at why I didn't know any...I guess I let down their hopes of me being super cool. Damn. They also wanted to see American money. For some reason I have a couple dollars left in my wallet that I didn't get converted to rand so I was able to show them that. They were really taken aback by what it looked like and described it as being thicker and tougher feeling wise than the rand is. It was really cute to see all of them so excited to meet an American. 

AHHH! Seth and Matt I have been meaning to tell you guys this since I first got here. Well remember how when I told you I was coming to SA, you guys said they are only going to be clicking to me? Welllll there is a language that involves a lot of clicking called Xhosa (pronounced Kosa). A lot of SA's do speak that as another language besides English. Just htought you would really enjoy that fun fact and like to know that people do "click" here. That is all for now...


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

real life has begun

Before I get into my last fews days...a couple things I have noticed that I think are pretty noteworthy. 1. As everyone knows, or maybe not, but knows now, they drive on the opposite side of the road here. Therefore, people walk on the left side and pass on the left side. It is totally weird! As I have been walking through campus, walking up stairs or just shuffling through crowds, you ALWAYS pass on the left. I keep forgetting, so I walk to the right, and almost always have an awkward encounter with someone's face/body/feet or whatever happens to come into my pathway first. If they didn't know I was American before the weird encounter, they def knew after. 2. All the girls are skinny and don't work out. Trust me, I have been in the gym daily and don't see any of their skinny asses in there. I am going to learn their secret by the end of my time here. 3. Instead of saying hey, whats up? or how are you? Everyone says howzit? It's pretty funny to hear, but I'm catching on...I haven't actually used the phrase myself but I always laugh when I hear their accents and the word. They also use words like dodgy and keen. Like "Are you keen on partying tonight?" It makes it sound like partying is high class hahaha.  4. People are asking me for directions!!! Little do they know I am directionally challenged but that is besides the point...they must not think I'm American. Woohoo for fitting in! 5. They don't have paper towels in bathrooms. Instead, they have ONE hand towel for every single person that comes through that bathroom and decides to be so kind to wash their hands. You know when you are in a touristy restaurant when they have paper towels for you. But in general, its pretty nasty to wipe on that one towel so instead I just don't wash my hands.... (just kidddingggggg). 
Those are just some rando observations though...

So school has officially begun. We had classes on Friday but no SA's go, which we were aware of. The school basically has it for first years (freshman) and any new students (us) to find out where their class venues are. Two of my professors didn't show up, so that was a total waste of time. But Monday we officially started classes. I am really loving some of my classes. I'm taking:
Crime and Deviance in SA cities
Religion, Sexuality and Gender
History of Anti-semitism 
The new millenium through the historical perspective

They are really interesting so I GUESS I will go to class...    In between classes people sit outside of a building called Jameson hall that have a ton of wide steps in front of it called the Jammie steps. I was told today that the first chunk of steps is designated for first years, the second is for second years, 3rd for third years and so on. It felt very mean girls esque since it's like tiered seating. I decided to go against the grain and sit with the first years...I'm such a badass. Well not too much else exciting has happened except that the Yacenda's are here! So I am going out to dinner with them tonight on Long Street at a restaurant called Fork which I have heard is very yummy. Also, Semester At Sea arrived in Cape Town today so I will be seeing a lot of familiar faces and showing them around this incredible city for a fews days! 

That is all for now...COME VISIT EVERYONE! It's only an 18 hour plane ride...really, its nothing.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

a failed and accomplished past days

So when I last left off I was really confused at what I was going to be doing for the next couple days. The plan was to rent 2 cars (8 people altogether)  then head to a small whale town called Hermanus for the day and night then go to Gordon's Bay to go to these Chrystal Pools which supposedly were so beautiful and at the top of this mountain then stay there the night and head home on Thursday. Wellllll, that was the plan, and plans obviously don't work out in Africa...

So on Tuesday morning Aaron and Will went to get the 2 cars for the trip. Neither of the knew how to drive stick so they practiced for approx 2 hours that morning...def not enough, but they got the hang of it pretty quick. Around 2:00 we headed out to Hermanus. We pulled out...first stall of the day. They became quite common and comical and Aaron had a really amazing attitude about the whole situation while sweating and getting nervous in between. In retrospect we should have been more nervous to be driving with him since 1. He had driven stick for 2 hours before we departed and 2. We were driving on the other side of the road. I won't talk anymore about the driving but just know it was hilarious. So we get to Hermanus (took about an hour and 15 mins) and got to the hostel. WOOP! First hostel of my life! We went to town, walked around, ate dinner, then headed back to the hostel and spoke with some people there. If you want to meet the weirdest/coolest/most interesting people in your life, stay at a was so fun to talk to these rando people. The next day we hung around and left Hermanus. You may ask...what were they doing there? Well, Hermanus is a whale town basically with amazing whale watching BUT it is not whale season right now...which we knew, it was just an easy stop on the way and something to see. An entertaining time at the hostel if nothing else.

We then headed out to Gordon's Bay where there are these pools called the Chrystal Pools. Not too many people around CT know about it so it seemed pretty secluded. There are 3 different pools. the first you have to hike about 45 mins up to get to and the 2nd and 3rd you have to hike another 45 mins. We were all super excited and ready to go but mother nature wasn't on our side that day...she decided to send us gale force winds that you could barely open doors in. Soooo, no chrystal pools for us. We went to a secluded beach where it was once again to windy to even lay and enjoy the beauty of the scenery so we left. We did an impromptu stop in Stellenbosch (where all the wineries are) to walk around town and have some food. We ate at a great restaurant called 5. Then we headed back to CT. So our plan didn't work out as we hoped but it was nice to travel around for a couple days if nothing else. 

Today (thurs. 12), we walked around campus to figure out where all of our classes are since school does start tomorrow!!! I am actually oddly excited to get onto a set schedule. We then worked out, sat at the pool then went to Cocoa Wah Wah for some lunch. A pretty relaxing day. But, valentine's day is in 2 days so happy love day to all you love birds. Love and miss you all!!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the latest and greatest...

There's not too much to talk about since Laura last posted. But you get to hear about it anyways! 

So by Sunday basically everyone had left for their respective trips minus us. So the people left were Me, Laura, Jackie, Aaron, Jamie, Will and Megnaa...well there were a couple more but we don't really hang out with them. It has been really nice without everyone hear because now i can sleep at night without having my hourly wake up of loud people outside. So anyways, Sunday...Laura and I had a lazy morning of getting up, eating breakfast, then going back into our separate rooms to read by ourselves. We are so cool! We headed up to the pool where laura sat and i worked out then sat with her. Pretty exciting. Later that afternoon we went to the Kirstenbosch Gardens with a big group of us. Every sunday they have concerts there...people bring picnics to this huge grassy area. The band was how can i say this nicely...a ghetto version of Dave Matthews. aka...not very good. But, all of us still managed to have a great time despite the music. The view was beautiful so that made up for it. That night, Jackie, Laura, Aaron, Will and I went to a restaurant called Buena Vista Social Cafe in Green Point. It was hands down the best food I have had since I've been here. Yummy Cuban was also a salsa club. The people were absolutely incredible dancers. I thought of you Jesse and Aunt would have loved it. 

Monday (9)...Once again, we had a lazy morning then went to the volunteer fair on campus. It was one of the most overwhelming experiences. There was so so much info every 5 steps with new and exciting clubs to sign up for. I signed up for SHAWCO which is a volunteer club where you teach kids math, english, and other fun things. You go for 3 hours once a week to the school where your put into a classroom with about 10 kids. I'm pretty excited about this, it will probably be one of the more eye opening experiences I will have. Laura, Jackie and I also signed up for the latin ballroom club. WE ARE GOING TO LEARN HOW TO SALSA!!!!! YAAAAA. We headed down to Cocoa Wah Wah (internet cafe) for a couple of hours. Laura and I (once again) said we were going into our rooms to nap for a couple hours and ended up both finishing our books. Some things never change...     We all got together for dinner at Jackie's where we cooked some chicken and pasta with meat sauce. Tough meal.

Tuesday (today!)....Laura, jackie, jaime, aaron, will, megnaa and i are heading to the Chrystal pools for a couple of days. We rented 2 stick shift cars (which the boys are out teaching themselves how to drive as we speak) and are heading out. The pools are about an hour away, so it shouldn't be too bad of a drive. I am just happy I'm not the one with other people's lives in my hands. I'm actually not even 100% (around 25% sure honestly) sure of what we are doing in these next couple of days since the boys planned this trip (the boys here are so on top of their impressive!) I guess in the next blentry I will let you know! Until then. Kisses and hugs to all!


Monday, February 9, 2009

a special shout out take TWO

yo yo yo another birthday shout out to a ms. judy duhl (or doody jewel as they used to call her back in 2nd grade)

i love you mommala

a special shout out