Let me get you all caught up on this past week. It’s basically been a week of reunions. I’ve been reunited with my fellow volunteers back in Cape Town, my host family back in Kayamandi, my Frisbee team in Stellenbosch, the lovely teachers of Ikaya Primary School, and best of all my students from 6e (and all their friends and families)!!
I arrived back in Cape Town late Thursday night with the intention and plan of heading back to Kayamandi the following morning. Those plans fell through though and I ended up spending the duration of Friday catching up with the folks back in Cape Town. I also spent much of the day using the beautiful internet and pigging out on Chinese food!
I woke up very early on Saturday and took a mini bus to the train station before taking the train back to Kayamandi… bear in mind that I had a very large back pack, my day pack, as well as my pillow and sleeping back. It was a hassle but I did make it back encountering no problems.
Once back in the township I had several things to take care of. After unpacking my bags it was clear that I need to do wash very badly. My clothes smelled terrible after being stored in that back for 20 plus days. I also wanted to head to town to do some shopping for the week. My thoughts were that I would buy a bunch of stuff to give the kids for Christmas. Of course I spent far more than I planned to and came out with a shopping cart full of things for them. All the presents are education oriented with a few exceptions. They each got their own stick of deodorant, because all boys smell. They also got a few marbles, art supplies, sunglasses, and lots of candy!! I bought some wrapping paper and gift bags too. Actually, I even bought a Santa hat because I was really feeling the Christmas spirit!
When I got back to my house Avela was waiting on my door step. We were both happy to see each other. Within minutes of getting home we were on my computer going through the thousand or so pictures I took from my trip. While we went through them Riri, Mawande, Khanyisa, Fudo, and Athabile showed up as well. The afternoon was spent going through pictures and videos from my trip. It’s so great being back here and I’m very glad I extended my stay!
On Sunday Hendri picked me up around 8 and we headed to the beaches of Cape Town to play some Ultimate. We played on Clifton beach, one of the nicest beaches in the world, all morning with a bunch of the local ultimate guys from Cape Town. It was a heck of a lot of fun but I forgot how tiring it is to run around on sand. I was dying after every point!
We played till about noon and then headed back to Kayamandi where there were several kids waiting at my door for my return. I didn’t even change out of my swim suit when I got back because we all just headed down to the pool. We spent the majority of the afternoon at the pool and the remainder of the evening looking at more pictures.
Monday morning I woke up and went to school but not with the intention of sticking around. The kids finished their testing the week before so the last week of school was pretty much just for the teachers to finish grades and it was optional for the students. I just wanted to go and say hello, tell them about my trip, and get permission about having my drumming friend come and do a session with the kids sometime this week. That all went smoothly and before long I was headed back into Stellenbosch to pick up a few more things I had forgotten from the days before.
Today I made prints of pictures to go along with their presents. Actually I’m pretty sure the pictures where their favorite parts to the presents. In total I printed 200 pictures with the intention of giving them to about 11 different kids. The proportions weren’t the least bit fair but hardly anything about their life styles is fair… Plus I gave more to the kids that had younger brothers or sisters involved in the pictures. Now that I had everything I just needed to put it all together and give it to them… but I saved that for later in the week.
Tuesday morning I woke up even earlier and got picked up by my friend Jonathon so we could hike up the Stellenbosch Mountain. In proximity of Stellenbosch there are a lot of mountains but this is the closest one to the town and offered the best view of Kayamandi. The hike up took 3 hours and it was hardly easy. We only stopped twice on the way up and that was just for a quick water break and to snap a few pictures. Jonathon might be one of the few people I’ve met that can talk as much as I can. From the time he picked me up till the time he dropped my off we were discussing something, it certainly made the time go by. We were lucky to have cloud cover on the way up and just as we reached the summit the sky opened up and brought us spectacular views. In the far distance you could see Table Mountain and the Cape Point Peninsula. After climbing up the mountain I felt like I had really accomplished something and really felt like I was that much closer to fulfilling my time here in South Africa. It was something I saw the first day I arrived and I knew I just had to climb it. Jonathon came through big guiding me up the mountain and also taking all the pictures since I’m still working with a broken camera…
That afternoon a few more students came over, again leaving me with no time to wrap their presents… but I won’t ever turn them down if they are just looking to hang out. Especially with my last day approaching.
That night I did something crazy though, I shaved half my beard off. I’d been growing it since midway through October and it was easily longer than it’s ever been before. At full length it was over and inch and a half long! I knew the longer I waited to shave it the harder it would be because you get used to having it around and know the time that went into it. But alas it had to go and I promised my students I would cut it off haha. That night I went to bed with half a beard.
On Wednesday as I was taking a shower a few students showed up knocking away at my door. They waited for me in my room as I finished up and were mighty surprised to see me walk in with just half of the beard they had seen me with the day before. Once their initial shock wore away a few more students showed up and it all started again! That’s actually how the whole day went but around noon I had two friends show up from Cape Town. Kristy and Eric were along with me on the 20 day trip to Livingston and I told them that they were more than welcome to come visit and check out the BEST Township in South Africa if they’d like. I should be a spokes person for this place, and my tours are phenomenal haha.
When Kristy and Eric arrived we were all pretty hungry and since kids eat free on Wednesdays I figured why not take them all to Spur? So 7 of them hopped into their car while 2 came with me via minibus. God bless Kristy and Eric for putting up with all of us in such short notice. I’m telling you, minutes after they got here I loaded their car with kids and told them I’d meet them in 20 minutes at the mall in town. To my surprised we got there at the exact same time! It was nice seeing them again and getting the chance to talk with them while all the kids went off to play video games. I felt like a bit of an idiot only having half a beard but it’s alright… you only live once. During this two-faced time I also had to go to the post office, get more data for the internet, pick something up at the grocery store, Steers to get ice cream for everyone, and then give Krsity and Eric a tour of Kayamandi. At least the looks I was getting weren’t due to my skin color anymore… They both had to head back to Cape Town around 5 so most of my evening was spent just hanging out.
Thursdays plan was to head back to school and host a drum session with as many kids that decide to show up. We ended up packing a classroom and spend the morning banging on the drums. My friend Bevel and his wife did a great job controlling everyone and helping us all learn to keep rhythm on the drums. He also took a bunch of pictures that I’m hoping he’ll email to me asap.
After the lesson the kids came back over and I told them they had to leave for a couple hours while I got stuff done. Aka I needed to wrap these presents. I’m pretty terrible at wrapping presents and with no scissors and just a small tube of tape the job I did on these things was terrible. I was using a pocket knife to cut through the paper haha.
I told them they could come back around 5 because my sister and I were going to be video chatting and they were welcome to join. We chatted for a while and Fudo and Athabile showed up for the chat. I also took the time to give them their presents so my sister could be a part of it. It was actually really cool having her there. Besides the presents I already mentions I also gave them each a postcard addressed and stamped to me and tried my best to explain to them how to go about sending it to me in the future. I’m not sure they completely understood it but I suppose time will tell. I also let them each pick out one of the jerseys from ultimate Frisbee so all in all, they were hooked up!
Friday was the first day this week I didn’t have anything fancy planned but it actually turned out to be a great day. I was woke up by Mawande, Aphiwe, Rethabile, Fudo, Athabile, and Simonkele who were all very eager to show me their report cards. Come to think of it, they brought them here before even bringing them home haha. They were all very excited because they had all passed 6th grade and would be moving on to 7th! I must say I was a bit relieved as well and felt almost as accomplished as they must’ve. To celebrate I let the four of them open up their Christmas presents (Fudo and Athabile had done so the day before). I put on Christina Agulara’s Christmas album (the only Christmas music I have haha) threw on my Santa hat and let them go at it. I took some pictures with my broken camera but focused more on capturing the moments on film. I felt like my dad on Christmas morning from when I was younger, only I had to worry about 6 kids while he only had 3!!
After the presents the 4 boys took all their new things back to their homes to show their families and I told the other two I’d be back in a bit so I could run to town to get some lunch and run a few errands. I also wanted to print out a few more pictures.
I told them I’d be home by 2 so we could go swimming and they were here and waiting for when I got back. It was just Athabile and Fudo that I took swimming but it was nice having less kids for once. Afterwards was awesome though because they took me to where they lived. Kayamandi is condensed, but still pretty large, and there are several places I haven’t been to yet. Fudo and Athabile live in a part that’s considered an addition to Kayamandi and is called GuyoGuyo (that’s not spelled write and I have no clue how to pronounce it). This part of town is really interesting because it has no electricity and is considerably more poverty struck. Hard to believe that was possible, right?
So not only did I get to see where they live but I also got to meet their families and share with them the picture I had printed out. Most of these families have never held a picture of one of their loved ones so I could tell it meant a lot to them. I actually received a really nice text message from Aphiwe’s mother around this time with her expressing her gratitude towards everything I’ve done. Our walk didn’t stop there though, we walked all around Kayamandi visiting all the places I’d never been too. Along the way I met Mawande’s parents too! This is exactly what I was hoping to do with my last few days in Kayamandi so it was great how it was all working out. By the time we got back to my place there were about 10 kids with us so I let them watch Dragon Ball Z while I went to have dinner. It’s been a great week and an exhausting one at that. I think I’m really starting to feel like I’ve done everything I wanted to do here on this trip and that’s a really great feeling. The next few days I’ll just be hanging out with my students that are remaining, and swim and play sports in the sun. Not a bad way to end my time here in South Africa, after all… it’s going to be winter when I return home 😦
Sorry this was all thrown into one post but I think it’s better than making a bunch of small ones.