Reaching Out 2 The World

My First Days Back in South Africa


By the time my plane finally landed in Cape Town it was a few hours later then scheduled. Isaac had told me that Albert would be picking me up. I still don’t know who Albert is or how I was supposed to identify this Albert guy but I did know I had to figure out my way to Kayamandi. I forgot how overwhelming it is to be without a phone connection, no internet, little money, and a language barrier. I took a moment to sit down and figure out what my next plan would be. I really didn’t want to take a taxi because it would cost quite a lot to take me all the way to Kayamandi, and I really didn’t want to take the trains because I had so much luggage and it was starting to rain. Lelethu told me that if Isaac didn’t drive me that Papa Zulu could probably come get me, but the issue with that was I still had to get in touch with them. I walked around the airport and found that one of the restaurants offered internet to customers. I wasn’t interested in eating but I needed to reach someone. Of course this internet connection proved to be very hit or miss and I probably only got 2 minutes of connection for the hour I was sitting there. Luckily that ended up being enough and Lelethu and Papa Zulu were on their way.

After a bit more of a wait I went outside where I told them I’d be waiting. It’s been two years since I’ve seen them so I was a little concerned if we’d be able to find each other but it wasn’t long before I spotted Lelethu and Bucha walking in my direction. I was so happy to see them!

Bucha is now 5 years old and his English has improved a great deal! He was a little shy at first but by the time we got homeIMG_3286 he was talking my ear off. Lelethu, Papa Zulu, and Mama Zulu are all doing really well! Once I was home and unpacked I gave Mama Zulu the scarf and hand towels my grandmother had made. She really loved them and immediately went about wearing the scarf! IMG_3287

It wasn’t long before it was dinner time and I was pretty happy about that. To this day Mama Zulu still makes the best friend chicken and potatoes I’ve ever had!

At this point it was still raining pretty hard and I was exhausted with all my travels. As much as I wanted to walk about the township and see the people I’ve waited so long to see I knew it would have to wait till Sunday.

After the dinner I showered and had the ambition to get caught up on some writing. I ended up falling asleep about midway through my writings.



That brings us to Sunday.

My agenda today consisted of going into town so I could get a sim card for my travel phone, pick up some essentials at the grocery store, use some free internet wherever I could get it, then head back to Kayamandi to see if I could find some of the students I worked with two years ago.

I took the mini bus into town and as I was walking through the township I saw some young children blowing up balloons. It wasn’t until I got closer that I realized they were not in fact balloons… I can tell you they were made of similar material though (This was definitely a reminder that yes; I am in a new place!). Since I wasn’t about to take a toy from a kid and I figured it was probably pretty harmless, I continued to the buses. The cost to ride one had gone up 1 rand since the last time I was here. 1 rand is about 10 cents. It’s not really an issue but it does make things less convenient when everyone has to pay 6 rand rather than just 5. There is a 5 rand coin which normally did the trick but now you have everyone just paying with the 10 rand bill which requires everyone to have to get back change. The Zulus were telling me that all things have slightly gone up in price and I suppose this was to be expected. Just to recap what a mini bus is; it’s a van, not much bigger than a minivan, with 4 rows of seating behind the driver. They wait till there are at least 4 people in each row and 3 people next to the driver before they take off. This never takes long because there are always people going in and out of Stellenbosch. I was in row 2 seat 2. My seat was a cushioned plank of wood that gapped seats 1 from 2-4. Anyway, once you throw in the helper, the guy who crams in at the last minute and takes care of collecting money and opening and closing the door, which is generally broken, you have about 21 grown adults in a van and most of the time you can add a few children into the mix as well. Being in my seat also meant being the guy who takes most of the money from the people in the back, explains to the helper how many people it was for and who would be needing change. I’d say I did pretty great for my first time in 2 years. The bus drops everyone off at a receiving station in Stellenbosch. I still had a bit of a walk through the city before I could get to any of the places I needed to go to.

On the way to the mall I stopped at the KFC to use the free Wi-Fi. Something wasn’t working right because I could connect with no problem but then I couldn’t successfully use the internet. I moved on to the mall where I was going to get my new sim card and wireless stick for my lap top, but it turns out you need to have your passport to buy both… so I’ll be looking to do that when I go back tomorrow.

I tried the Vida Café for internet but with no luck. I finally was able to get some internet when I went to the Mug and Bean but needed to order something first. The trick was, I got 30 minutes or 30 mega bites of free Wi-Fi before I’d have to pay. You can imagine how strategized that 30 minutes was. I had about a dozen things I needed to do but had to make sure I kept an eye on the amount of mega bites I’m using all while keeping an eye on the clock. That’s why these next few posts may not have pictures attached. I’ll try to be a bit more descriptive. I did what I could to update my blog which I had previous written the night before (currently doing the same right now, Monday). I checked my email but I didn’t have much time. Once my time was up I headed back towards the busses but decided to check back at the KFC to see if I could get my Wi-Fi working. I still couldn’t but I did decide I was a little hungry. I still hadn’t eaten anything today and it was just about 2pm. That got me thinking… I knew there was a McDonalds on the opposite side of town but there was chance they could have the Wi-Fi I was looking for and I’d be able to get a cheap bite to eat. I paid about 7 rand for a cheese burger and small fry. 7 Rand is about 70 cents so I couldn’t argue with that. I sat down looking to log into the internet again, for about the 5th time today, but sadly it wasn’t working. Oh well, I was able to get a good amount done at the Mug & Bean.

I made my way back to the mini bus station where I’d be able to hop on a bus that would travel through Kayamandi. My stop is one of the last ones so I get to first travel throughout the entire township.  Rather than getting off at my stop I decided I’d get off a bit early and walk the rest of the way. I still knew where some of my students lived and was hoping I’d see some on my walk home. As soon as I got off the bus I was greeted by several kids who knew who I was but I wasn’t sure who they were. I recognized two of the kids in the group as being friends with the students I worked with last year but the rest were unfamiliar. Khanyisa and Lupo were the two that I IMG_3282remembered and we chatted a bit. They walked with me as I made my way towards Mawande’s home. Just as we turned a corner I made eye contact with a boy who looked as if he’d just seen a ghost. It was Rethabile, aka RiRi, one of my students! I think we were both surprised to see each other at first but he came right up to me and proceeded to do a hand shake that I guess we had created 2 years ago. RiRi had definitely grown up a bit and his voice had really deepened. I told him I was back for a few weeks and that Dan and I had some big plans. While we were talking Khanyisa had ran ahead to knock on Mawande’s door but no one was home. I told them I’d be heading back to my house but if they saw Mawande to let him know I’m back in town. Right around that time another one of my students, Ski, showed up to greet me. I definitely picked the right bus stop to get off of. I talked to him for a bit before we went our separate ways. It was nice being able to walk through the township back to the Zulu’s. I still remembered my way and was feeling as if I’d never left.

IMG_3293When I got back I went to my room and started looking through the pictures I had taken. Usually before writing a day’s blog I’ll scan through the pictures for reminders of everything that happened. I heard someone enter my flat and figured it might just be Bucha. When I opened my door I saw none other than Mawande looking back at me. He had just come from church and I guess heard along the way that I was back. We talked and I explained to him the trip Dan and I planned to take them on. He was very excited and told me he would find out the next day at school when they have off. After we got a bit more caught up I went back to writing while I let him play a game on my ipad. IMG_3292This lasted maybe 10 minutes before Riri and Ski came bursting through the door. I was able to tell them a bit more in detailed what our trip entailed and that I’ll talk to their parents sometime this week. They spent some time going through my stuff and wanted to see the videos I had made for them 2 years back.

As we were watching through them I got another visitor at my door. This wasn’t a student though, it was Hendri. Hendri is the guy in charge of the Ultimate Frisbee team in Stellenbosch. While at the Mug & Bean earlier that day I messaged him to let him know I was back, but didn’t have a cell phone or internet connection yet. I told him that he should come by sometime but I really wasn’t sure when that would be. It was a great surprise to see him. He was looking to take me to play some ultimate so I told the kids they could come back later or I’d just see them tomorrow. I then asked Mama Zulu if it’d be alright if I just ate my supper closer to 7. She was more than ok with that. I’m glad Hendri came to pick me up because the fields they play on are now much further away. I definitely would have gotten lost trying to find them on my own.

These fields are right in the valley of several surrounding mountains. It’s a breathtaking view to play there. There were a few other players that I knew from before but the majority of them were new. We played for several hours and it was the most running I’ve done in a while. It felt so good to get back out there though. I took some pictures of the mountains but they hardly do them justice. I think once Dan arrives we’ll be looking to climb one of them.IMG_3291

Hendri gave me a lift home after practice and told me he wouldn’t mind picking me up for Wednesdays practice. Mama Zulu had food waiting for me which was delicious. Dinner consisted of beef, rice, potatoes, veggies, and sweet potato. I was pretty exhausted after dinner and was looking to just take a shower, and do a bit of writing. I got a good bit done and spent a an hour or so listening to the new Dan Brown book, “Inferno”. So far things to seem to be getting back on track!


4 thoughts on “My First Days Back in South Africa

  1. Grandma will love seeing the scarf she made modeled. We are enjoying your writings, Chris. Aunt Moo

  2. Are you planning to stay in Stellenbosch? If it works out, maybe you could ask Hendri about using the university’s internet…I know I had a lot of access to it as a student!

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