Friday, May 25, 2012

The Final Countdown

I just realized that this is my last weekend in Stellenbosch.  Next Friday, I’ll be on a bus with my three wonderful roommates and our friend Emily, heading towards Bulungula, Lesotho, and Durban.  I’m so excited to travel, but I can’t believe that it’s almost the end.  I’ve been in denial about it, so now it’s hitting me really hard.  I’ve been trying to cheer up by reminding myself that I’ll be back here some day, and I’ll see my AIFS friends in the states, and my South African friends will come visit too, but I know that it will be different.  Even when I come back to Stellenbosch, it won’t be the same.  I won’t have the same Americans with me, I probably won’t be living here for five months, some of my South African friends likely will have moved on to another part of the country.  Even the city itself will have changed.  I know the only constant is change, but all the “every end is a beginning” clich├ęs won’t push back the date of my flight into JFK!

Since I’m feeling all sentimental, I’m going to share some of my favorite memories from my time in South Africa!

·         Looking up at the night sky in the Cederbergs

·         The day Ginny, Corie, and I found the little plaza we’re obsessed with.

·         Every night at Brazen Head, our favorite bar in Stellies.

·         Helen Watermelons at Trumpet Tree

·         Vensters and rugby games, being a Stellenbosch student!

·         Shark Cage Diving

·         Celebrating my birthday at Celebrate

·         Old Biscuit Mill

·         The time the train stopped and we had to walk home…is that weird?

·         Going out on Long Street in Cape Town

·         Mzoli’s and then Fat Cactus on Cinco de Mayo

·         Ommiberg Wine Festival in Paarl – where I swam in a red wine pool!

·         Going to Mama Africa!

·         Kloofing, and white water rafting

·         Swimming in the Indian Ocean

·         Every animal I’ve seen, even the dassie that bit me.

·         Hiking Table Mountain, even though the fog was too thick to see anything.

·         Knysna with Liz and Corie

·         Langebaan with Ad-Lib, great weekend.

·         Liz attempting to teach Corie and me to make South African food

·         Laid back nights on our excursions, relaxing with the group and a hubbly.

·         LSCE Braais

·         Everything about LSCE and Lynedoch, especially Grade 3.

·         Hanging out in my flat with my lovely roommates

·         Ostrich burgers at Jan Cat’s with my roommates

·         Doing everything on Africa time.

·         When I understand little bits of Afrikaans

·         Celebration of Work for LSCE

·         Game drive in the Kalahari!

·         Sun rise over Augrabies Falls

·         Annie’s midday birthday striptease by the Argentinean rugby team

·         Riding on the back of a tractor filled with grapes

·         Today’s wine tour, specifically Bilton with their amazing wine and chocolate pairings.

·         Every friend I’ve made and every conversation I’ve had. 

I realize a lot of these probably don’t make sense to other people, but it’s nice to see such a solid list of favorite memories (although I bet no one but my parents actually read the whole list)!  I’m sure there are others that I just can’t think of right now.  Some things are so simple, but for one reason or another really stick out.  I’m so sad to leave this beautiful life that I have here, but I’m glad I have the most amazing five months of my life to look back on forever.

Safari in the Kalahari

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to go on a safari.  I LOVE animals, and what could be better than seeing exotic African animals in their natural habitat?  A few weeks ago, I got the chance to do just that!  Our last AIFS excursion was to the Kalahari desert, and I think it was my favorite one yet!!  Thursday night a hugeee overland truck came to pick us up, and we spent the night driving through South Africa, to get to the part that borders Botswana and Namibia.  When we finally arrived, it was Friday morning.  Keith, our awesome trip leader, had our tents set up when we got there, so we just had to move into those.  A couple hours later we went on a walk through the area with two San people (the PC term for “Bushmen”).  They led us through their bush home, showing us which plants were used for what purposes, and telling stories about their lives and people.  The anthropology major in me loved learning that they were still so in tune to their culture.  They still send teenagers into the wild for a short time to learn how to fend for themselves and live in the ways of their ancestors. 
Spent a lotttt of time in this truck.



Healing Tree, with bags of medicine reserved for elders over 60 years.


Wild melon, tasted like honeydew! 

The next morning we woke up early early early to go on our GAME DRIVE!  It was so cool seeing the sun rise as we drove to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is in both South Africa and Botswana.  Our safari was AWESOME.  We saw SO MUCH.  Tons of springbok, blue wildebeest, gemsbok, red hartebeest, steenbok, ostriches, etc.  We saw giraffes which were absolutely beautiful.  We also saw a jackal eating a gemsbok, which I thought was really cool.  On the topic of the circle of life, we saw CHEETAHS KILL AND EAT A SPRINGBOK.  We missed the actual kill, but we did see them finish the job and drag it over to their picnic spot by some trees.  SO COOL.  Finally, we saw a LEOPARD.  Our guide Keith has been in the park over 20 times, usually going on multiple days of game drives each time, and this was only the second time he saw a leopard!  We were so luckyyy.  We tried to find a lion, but we didn’t see any.  It was alright though, because otherwise it would have felt a bit too staged.  After the safari we headed back to camp, and in true South African fashion had a fabulous braai!


Cheetah finishing off a springbok.


Cheetahs eating springbok.


Giraffes!


So sweet!


Jackal eating a gemsbok

Gemsbok and springbok


South Africa's national animal looking fly.


Real life Lion King - this is Zazu!



LEOPARD.
On the third day we had a boat cruise down the Orange River, which is the longest river in South Africa!  We headed to our campsite in yet another national park, and after pitching our tents in record time took a walk over to Augrabies Falls for sundowners.  The falls were beautiful, and African sunsets always make me even more thankful to be in this beautiful place.  However, the highlight was probably Corie dropping one of her crutches down the falls.  Hilarious.
Boat cruise down the Orange River!

Beautiful falls, the Namibian border is in the background!


Africa <3


The next morning the guys woke me up early and we watched the sun rise over the falls.  It was so peaceful and absolutely beautiful.  There's something so incredible about starting the day with the rising sun.  After, we headed back to camp which was overun with monkeys.  Yup.  Then, we went WHITE WATER RAFTING down the Orange River!  So sick!  I’ve been white water kayaking with the SMC Wilderness Program, but never rafting. We were all picturing the typical rafts with a bunch of people and a guide, but it turned out to be two person rafts, which was really cool (and also terrifying because we were completely in control of ourselves).  I was with Corie and we had a blast navigating down the rapids.  We capsized at one point, which was so much fun!  This was one of the best things I’ve done here so far!!



Good Morning, Africa!

Finally we packed up camp for the last time and headed back home to Stellies.  It was an awesome weekend spent with amazing friends, and I’ll always remember it!

Pleased to meet you, Desmond Tutu!

A few weeks ago my friends in a theology class here said they were going to see Desmond Tutu speak in Cape Town.  I found out that others not in the class were tagging along, so I emailed the professor and signed myself up too!  We were expecting a lecture hall, full of people, so we were surprised when we pulled up to a tiny church.  We sat so close to the archbishop, and his lecture was amazing.  Not only is he obviously very intelligent, pious, and deep, but he’s also incredibly funny.  His jokes made him so accessible, and it was great to listen to him speak.  Best of all?  After his lecture, we MET HIM.  It was an honor to take a picture with such a great man, and I feel blessed to have done so.