Reaching Out 2 The World

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Who Says Mondays Can’t Be Awesome!?

Monday began as a productive day for me. I decided a while ago that I IMG_6998was going to make dinner for everyone on the upcoming Wednesday and I wanted to buy the groceries a couple days in advance. I also wanted to print out a few pictures to give to the Zulus before I left and I figured this would be the ideal time to take care of it.

As I was looking through my pictures I included a number of additional pictures that held great memories that I decided I wanted to give to some of the other volunteers. I still may print out a few more before I depart but for now the small amount I have will have to do the trick. On my last trip I was sure to print some pictures for the Zulus and I was happy to keep the tradition going. I think know I’m going to have to come back in another couple years and see everyone again!

IMG_6997After placing my order to get the pictures printed I grabbed some lunch at the Mug & Bean. I wanted to eat something filling since I knew I’d be missing dinner in the evening for a Frisbee game. I ate the Alabama Slammer which was a very hardy chicken sandwich. Since this place also offered free Wi-Fi I was able to get caught up on all the snap chats I haven’t been able to look through. There were 37 in total and they were all awesomely hilarious. There’s no way I’d have the time or memory to respond to all of them but I really did love them! Thanks everyone!

When my 30 minutes ran out I went next door to complete my shopping list. My plan was to buy enough ingredients to feed an army. I bought all the fillings for chicken fajitas and I hope it’s enough. At this stage in my travels I’m no longer in the green and had to borrow money from my dear father to help me make it through the rest of my trip. I probably spent too much buying the food for Wednesday’s dinner but I really want to finish my trip by doing something special for everyone. I’m hoping to have the Zulus, the volunteers, the kids, and Songo all over for the dinner and I’m concerned there won’t be enough food. It’s the thought that counts though and I just hope I don’t screw anything up. Wish me luck, I’ve never made food for that many people… even if it is something as simple as fajitas. Anyways, I appreciate the support Dad and I can’t wait to see you on Friday. I should be landing into Philly around 3:10. If anyone reads this that knows my dad, please remind him to bring me a winter jacket as I am not prepared for a climate change!

After getting the massive amount of groceries, I picked up the pictures, and made my way back to the mini buses to get back to Kayamandi. It’s always a bit tricky getting home when you have bags and bags of groceries but I was lucky enough to steal a front seat and didn’t have to worry about pushing passed anyone.

For the next couple hours I hung out with a few of the kids that were over IMG_7028and tried to get caught up on my writing. It’s harder than you think keeping an up to date blog when you’re traveling and trying to do a lot. It seems like there are never enough hours in the day for the list of things I always have to do.

Just after 5:30 Corne swung by to pick me up to take me to Frisbee. On Mondays Frisbee is hosted in Cape Town and four teams meet up to play. There is a red team, green team, yellow team, and blue team. I coincidentally brought a blue shirt but was told to warm up with the red team. After doing a run and stretching I was told the put on a yellow shirt and join their team. I had to borrow a shirt from someone but I made my way over and threw around with the yellow team just before the games began. Around this time I was traded to the green team and had to again borrow another jersey. I didn’t know that many people but IIMG_7029 knew a few on each team. The green team was captained by Johnno, a complete all-star of a player that I’ve only ever played against. It was awesome playing with him but a bit of a mistake putting me on the same team as him. Our team went up 9-2 to take half and continued on to a victorious finish. I’m not sure what the final score was but both teams were having a lot of fun. We played well past our hard cap and the other teams were already finished. Our motto was, “Just one more point!” Corne played for the opposing team and was easily the best player they had. He told me after the game thatIMG_7027 their team had voted me the MVP of the game. It’s good to play ultimate and even better to play with two healthy legs. Tonight was all about playing one last time with some great people before I’d have head back home. Thanks so much for the great times everyone! Sandra, I’m sorry you couldn’t play and I hope your leg heals quickly! On the way back to Kayamandi Corne presented me with a brand new Cape Town Ultimate disc. This is the Ultimate gesture and I’m thrilled to have been able to become friends with such amazing people. Thanks for everything guys, I’ll see you around!

By the time I got home it was nearing 10 and I was starving. I scarfed down my dinner, took a shower, and tried my best to stay up with the rest of the volunteers but I was just too exhausted.

IMG_6971November 4 will always be a day I’ll remember and it’s great to fill it with incredible memories. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. Love and miss you Mom ❤IMG_7039


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A Smooth Return to Kayamandi

After a full day’s worth of traveling we finally arrived back in South Africa. As soon as we touched IMG_6703down I could tell things were going to be great. We made it through customs in a breeze and were some of the firsts to recover our baggage. It was great to finally move through an airport at a less than frustrating pace.

Once we had everything we began heading towards the exit and saw in the distance two familiar faces. Mieke and Hanneke had come to fetch us at the airport and were holding two welcoming signs. Well, actually they were “Wanted” signs that attracted a lot of humorous attention, but we received them as big welcomes in the highest form of flattery! For mine they chose a picture from when I was dressed up in Morocco and set my reward for a whopping 8 Rand. They were pretty spot on with how I could be recognized and really did an outstanding job on the sign making. It was so nice of them to be there for us at our arrival and this was just the start of the day’s surprises!

IMG_6701With our pickup, they had also organized a ride back to Kayamandi, which is an awesome convenience that shouldn’t go unnoted. When we made it back they told us that they wanted to be there as we walked into our room. You can imagine our apprehension and anxiety at this point. We had been gone for nearly 3 weeks and our room had been periodically occupied?!? I had no idea what to expect but when we opened the door we were staring at what seemed like hundreds of sticky notes covering our walls. In the room we noticed that all the sticky notes had writing on them and there were personal messages written to both Dan and I. I think we spent the next half hour unpacking our bags and reading all of our notes. The girls had spent a couple weeks working with the kids from Kayamandi on the notes and the pictures that collaged our walls. Most of the notes weren’t signed by anyone but some were easy to identify. Ski’s drawings were easy to spot, Riri’s sayings and lingo were all pretty clear to me, and I could pick out a few I thought may have been written by Mawande. We found out that many of them had stuck with a consistent color for their notes so that also made it easier to identify. This was a total surprise to us and I absolutely loved it!

Before we could even finish reading all our notes the girls came back in to inform us that lunch was ready. What? They even had prepared a meal for us? We walked over to Mama Zulus and into the dining room and I saw on the table a few of my favorite things; coke, nutella, and crepes. Not only that, but there was an abundance of each and we totally pigged out. I think I ate almost half of the nutella jar that afternoon. When we were stuffed to capacity they went back into the kitchen and brought out the game changer. My absolute favorite desert ever…. chocolate mousse! It’s a game changer because no matter how full I previously was, I can always make room for chocolate mousse.

IMG_6700Not long after our delicious feast of a lunch did the kids start coming over. Our room quickly filled up with most of all the guys making their way over. A nice reunion to see them all again but we had a ton of people in a very small room. The girls and I decided to take all the boys to the park town the street and play some Frisbee and soccer with them. We played for a while, until we figured it would be time to head back for dinner. I love playing sports with these guys and it was the IMG_6699perfect addition to our big return. While we were playing I saw Mawande hanging out on the slide. When I went over he was admiring a small ladybug that had come to join us. Just another sign of how fantastic it was to be back in South Africa.

Another special treat about being back home in South Africa is Mama Zulus cooking. Chicken, french-fries, beans, and a salad were all waiting for us when we got back to her house. The Kayamandi kids waited back in our room while we indulged in our supreme meal. Before I head back home I plan on preparing a large meal that will have enough food to feed everyone that’s over. The kids never ask for food nor expect it, and Mama Zulu is already making enough, but it’ll be a nice treat to enjoy a meal with everyone.

IMG_6705More kids had come over by the time we had finished eating and were all hanging out in our room. They showed us which notes and pictures they had drawn and we told them a bit about our trip. Normally they’d all begin heading home around 8pm but they made it clear that they had no intentions of going home early on our first night back. Even once the other volunteers all got together around 9pm for a few card games the boys stuck around. I think it was closer to 9:30 when they finally had to go. It was nice seeing them after being away for 3 weeks and I’m dreading having to say my final goodbyes. When I came back to my room I saw that Ski had a new pair of shoes on. He was telling me that he wanted to trade with me for the day but I could risk loosing my vibrams haha.

After a few card games, Mieke, Hanneke, and I played a round of Catan. We changed up the rules a little bit to add some fun, and extended the game an extra 3 points. It was probably the perfect end to a perfect day back in Kayamandi and it’s all thanks to our friends from Holland. Mieke, and Hanneke, you guys rock and I hope you understand how much I appreciate all the kind things you do. Letting you beat me in Catan was just my way of saying thank you.

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ReachingOut2TheWorld Trip: Day 3

I woke to the sound of Mawande jumping off the bunk above me. I was pretty tired still and was really hopeful that it wasn’t time to wake up yet. I glanced over at my phone to see that it was only 1:30 in the morning and I still had another five hours of sleep. I wasn’t even annoyed that he woke me up, I was just so happy about the amount of sleep I still had left. An ongoing tradition of mine is to set multiple alarms leading up to when I have to actually wake up. My favorite kind of the sleep is the kind that comes just after waking up. Anytime I wake up in the morning and have the chance to go back to sleep is always a good morning! I actually experienced this a few more times, unintentionally, before finally getting up to shower just after 6.

By the time I got out of the shower everyone else was awake and ready to start the IMG_4667day. Dan and I had everyone up, dressed, packed, and with their teeth brushed by 7:15, which made perfect timing for our 7:30 breakfast. There was a bit of a mix up and they hadn’t been expecting us when we arrived. While the quickly prepped the dining room for us we relaxed on the sofas in front of the TV. The receptionist walked over and switched it on asking everyone what they’d like to watch. In unison they all answered, “Cartoon Network!” For the next 20 minutes their eyes were glued to, How to Train My Dragon. I used the time to access the free Wi-Fi.

IMG_4666Breakfast this morning consisted of scrambled eggs and toast. These weren’t chicken eggs though, they were giant ostrich eggs! Everyone, including myself, really loved the breakfast but we were ready to hit the road for our first adventure of the day.

We loaded of the van and drove just IMG_4680down the road to Buffeleift. This is where the boys would get the chance to feed, play, and interact with elephants. After signing waivers for everyone involved we walked with our guide to where the elephants would be waiting. We actually got there before the elephants because when we looked over our shoulders there were three elephants walking straight for us.

IMG_4685For the next hour or so the boys were able to feed the elephants, sit on top of them, and even play soccer with time! It was absolutely amazing watching them interact with these beasts. Their faces and reactions were IMG_4682priceless when an elephant would wrap their trunks around them giving them elephant hugs. Elephants are incredible clever animals and these elephants knew over 100 commands. Each of the boys took turns directing the elephants to lift up their trunks, or to lift up their feet. Amazingly, the elephants listen to the commands. When an elephants lifts its front right leg it’s a gesture known as a salute. We got a group picture at the end of our experience with all of us together giving an elephant salute! If you’re wondering how they were able to play soccer with the elephants, it was actually pretty amazing. The elephants were able to throw the ball with their trunks and one was even able to kick a ball. Even though they appeared very gentle it was easy to see the power they had when they kicked or tossed the soccer ball. IMG_4721I’m a huge fan of animal encounters so I was sad when it was time to leave, but I knew our next stop would be the wildlife range and they specialized in animal encounters.

The Cango Wildlife Range is home to many animals from all over the world. They have quite the variety of animals there so our first plan was to tour the facility and see what we could learn about everything they had to offer. As we walked around learning about everything from birds, to hippos, and crocodiles to lions, the boys displayed an interest to learn and the patience to listen.

When our walk was over we gave them each the opportunity to have 1 encounter. They could hang out with the ring tailed lemurs, or they could hold a snake.

The first three to enter the cage with the lemurs were Chester, Aphiwe, and Athabile. It wasIMG_4708 easy to see that they were pretty timid at first and none of them wanted to go first. I think Athabile was the first one to sit down and  our guide coaxed a friendly lemur onto his shoulder. Atha went stone solid being sure not to move in the slightest. When the lemur moved down to his lap he was able to pet it and feel its fur. Aphiwe was the second to go and he seemed the least scared. When the lemur jumped on his shoulder Aphiwe started nuzzling his furry friend. He even tried to feed him at once point before the guide politely asked him to leave that to them. Chester was the final one to take a seat and his reaction was quite funny. As the lemur landed on his head he just slowly started shrinking down getting lower and lower to the ground. This had nothing to do with the weight of the lemur, he just didn’t know what to do. I got a lot of great pictures and the encounter also came with professionally printed pictures which we’ll be sure to provide the kids with at the end of the trip.

IMG_4703Next up were Mawande, Lupho, Avela, and Ski and they were all in line for the python encounter. The snake wasn’t poisonous and was just medium in size, but their reactions were incredible! When the guide reached out to hand them the python the boys looked back at him like he was out of his mind. The guide was a little reluctant to hand it over because he was afraid they may drop it or throw the snake out of fear. Because he didn’t want the snake dropped he moved onto plan B. Plan be was placing the snake around the necks of the boys! This made for such great pictures and I was able to get a video of each of their encounters.  It was difficult to get them to look at the camera for the pictures because they didn’t want to take their eyes off the snake. After the session with the snake they each received a printed picture of themselves holding the python.

For lunch we went to a local eatery that specialized in “vetkoek”. A vetkoet is a IMG_4699popular in South Africa and can be served many different ways. I think they are best compared to a less sugary donut. The fried dough is very lite and can be filled with just about anything. Ours were filled with mince meet and vegetables. Mincemeat is like ground beef and ours was served in the style of a curry. I liked my lunch but couldn’t help but think of how good my fat cook would have tasted with jelly or chocolate inside just before being powdered in white sugar! I’m a bit of a sucker for donuts.

Once everyone finished eating it was time for Wilderness Canoeing. To get there we’d have to drive through the mountains and valleys of the Garden Route before popping out along the Indian Ocean. I was unsure how we were going to go about the canoe trip, but I was ensured that we could just put two kids in each boat and everyone would be alright. I had my doubts about this because I know they aren’t the best swimmers and don’t think any of them have ever paddled a canoe before. I made sure that the two smallest and least skilled swimmers when with myself and Dan.

IMG_4687We fitted everyone for a life vest and handed out paddles to everyone. By the time I made it to the water’s edge 4 of them were already in their boats and had pushed off the shore. The kids got a brief lesson on how to use the paddles and were reminded to never stand on the boat. We stressed multiple times that if you fool around or stand up on the canoe you WILL tip it. Mawande and I were the last ones in our boats and had to play a little catch up to everyone else. Ski and Riri were in one boat and looked like professionals paddling in unison. Aphiwe and Avela also worked really well together and got the hang of IMG_4690everything fairly quick. Dan was in complete control over his boat with Lupho, so that just left Chester and Atha. I first saw the two of them aimed perpendicular to everyone else headed straight for the shore. By the time I caught up to them they had turned themselves around. I continued on to the next group but turned around to see that the two of them were now headed straight for the opposite shore. I stopped my boat to keep an eye on them to make sure they redirected themselves back forward. At this point the rest of the group was starting to pull away and I watched as they rounded the next corner. By the time I looked back at Chester and Atha, Chester was no longer in his boat. He was next to his boat splashing away. I don’t know how he ended up there but I was later told that Athabile convinced him to jump out. The current had taken my canoe a bit further down the river so I had to do a bit of work to get back to them. As I was paddling over Chester seemed as though he had successfully climbed back into his canoe. This was shortly lived through because as soon as he got on he stood up and flipped the whole thing. They both fell into the water and quickly swam back to their canoe. In a state of panic they each grabbed the same side of the canoe at the same time to pull themselves back up but only accomplished filling their boat with a lot more water. When Mawande and I pulled up they were both laughing and splashing in the water, clearly not understanding how much this was going to suck for everyone involved. The water was too deep for them to stand and right the boat up, and neither of them were strong enough swimmers to be of any help. At this point I was pretty frustrated with them and felt bad for Mawande because he was stuck helping these two all because they were just fooling around. I don’t think the rest of our group even knew what had happened because they had already rounded the corner. I first told Chester and Atha to start pulling and pushing the boat back towards the launch. While this worked a little I knew that it would take forever and Athabile was struggling with his swimming (they both still had their life vests on). I probably would have been less frustrated had they not been laughing and hIMG_4689ad we not gone over countless times not to stand on the boats. I pulled our smaller canoe around and had Mawande hold onto their front rope. I paddled backwards like this dragging their boat back to the launch. In the mean time I told them both to just swim to the shore, figure out a way to climb out, and start walking. I didn’t really know what was over on the sides, but it looked like tall grass, bushes, and a steep riverbank maybe 8 feet high. As I dragged their boat back I didn’t really care, I just wanted to get this over with so that I could at least give Mawande a bit better of a trip. We only had an hour to begin with and this incident and used up the first half of it. Isaac was waiting at the docks for us when I pulled up with the two boats and I told him Chester and Atha were finished canoeing today and that they could pull their boat the rest of the way. I quickly pushed off and for the second time today played catch up with Mawande. When we rounded the first turn I was pleasantly surprised to see that the rest of our group had waited not too far down stream. By the time we made it to them we were only able to continue downstream for another 5 minutes before it was time to head back. Everyone had a blast with the canoes but I felt bad their trip was cut short. When we all arrived back to the docks a few more of the kids decided to go swimming, but only after returning their boats. Our next stop would be Myoli’s beach so we just had them stay in their wet suites for the short ride.

That short ride ended up being a bit longer than expected due to road work but I think they kids enjoyed sitting on the floor. We didn’t want to get the seats of the van wet and only a couple of them had towels. The lodge we’d be staying at tonight was called Afrovibe and was located right on the beach. As soon as we got there the kids were ready to go back in the water but we had to first bring our bags up to our dorm.

I brought a bag of sports down to the beach which consisted of a rugby ball, football, soccer ball, and Frisbee. The lodge also lent out boogie boards and we were quick to grab 4 of those. We had about 3 hours before dinner and 2 of those hours were spent playing on the beach. Dan buried Mawande with the help of some of the other kids and everyone else swam. The water was a bit chilly at first but didn’t feel so bad once you were all the way in. It was also a lot warmer than the water around Cape Town and that’s due to the fact that we were swimming in the Indian Ocean which had its warm currents flowing South. When the guys got tired of swimming they found that they were able to use the boogie boards for sledding down the sand dunes. The only problem with that was that they were now completely covered in sand and I told them they all had to go rinse off back in the ocean before going inside. There was a small hose to clean off their feet but they were completely covered.

About an hour before dinner we started the shower process again but this time only had one shower to work with. The lodge generously lent us another 8 towels and one by one the kids made their way through. While one was in the shower the rest were working on post cards. I’m not sure how many we’ve written up to this point but I can promise it’s a lot. I imagine Dan and I will be sending those out sometime in the next week.

Dinner was held on the back deck of the lodge and there were two fires burning away. The ground was covered in sand and there were tables set up all around. In the back of the deck was a huge pizza oven and that’s exactly what was on the menu. I had to run up to the room briefly and when I came back Dan asked me if I wanted wine or a margarita. I told him a margarita because I wasn’t in much of a wine mood. I then heard him tell our waitress which kids would be getting wine and which would be having a margarita. I figured he was just joking but she wrote it down and walked away. I was confused for a minute before I found out that he hadn’t said wine, he had said Hawaiian. And he was referring to the two types of pizza they were offering, Margarita pizza and Hawaiian pizza. While we waited for our pizza we grouped around the fire for warmth. Even with the large pizza oven we had a bit of a wait because of how many pizzas they were making. Just our group alone had ordered 11 pizzas! The pizzas were very thin and were the right amount for the kids.

IMG_4737After dinner Isaac had a treat for everyone, marshmallows! I asked everyone if they’ve ever roasted marshmallows and the general consensus was most definitely not. Before passing out the marshmallows I gave a quick how to on the proper way to toast one. I even told them that it’s okay to stick their mallow in the fire, because some people like it that way… but that it was important for them not to wave their sticks around to distinguish the fire. Images of Dennis the Menace flashed through my head and I didn’t want anyone to end up with a flaming marshmallow on their face. I also only gave mallows to the kids who properly asked me. Keep in mind that English is their second language so this wasn’t as easy as it sounds. You’d be surprised how fast someone will cooperate when the reward is a delicious mallow!

When we finished the two bags of mallows I had another plan up my sleeve. I wanted to take the guys on a night walk along the beach. Six kids would be coming on the walk with me and I told them not to bring anything along. No shoes, no phones, no flashlights, no nothing. I had a head lamp with me that I brought just in case but I really wanted everyone to just enjoy the night and take it all in. When we first got out there our eyes were not yet adapted and the boys complained about how dark it was, but I knew it was only a matter of time. The moon was was full and we could actually see quite well once our eyes adjusted. One thing I wasn’t expecting that was really awesome was that when we walked along the beach our steps were glowing. I had no idea why this was happening but we were all very fascinated. I think it was because of the IMG_4738water being pushed up from under the sand and reflecting the light from the moon. Whatever it was, it was awesome. We walked pretty far along the coast until we got to these cliffs. I was told that if the water level was low enough we’d be able to walk all the way around and then circle back, but the water was still pretty high. We tried climbing up the cliffs which was difficult but we did make it to the top! The view was pretty amazing but it was too dark for my camera. The moon shined high above and reflected the crashing waves onto the beach. I was surprised at how much you could see. After realizing that we weren’t going to be able to walk all the way around we climbed back down from the cliffs and began our walk back home.

Back in our room I had everyone get ready for bed but allowed them to play cards, or draw for a bit. I told them they had about 15 minutes before we be reading and they were all game. Before we started reading Aphiwe brought me over the picture he had been working on. It was a thank you card to Dan, Isaac, and I for taking them all on the trip. I loved it and thanked him profusely!

We recapped what we had read up to in our book and I told them to try and read between 1-3 pages before passing. Things were going pretty smooth and we continued to discuss each page as they finished. From where I was sitting I couldn’t really see everyone and hadn’t even noticed that four of the kids had fallen asleep. I’m not even sure at which point they had fallen asleep. I just figured they were being such great listeners and didn’t think much of it. Oh well, we’ll be sure to have them read extra the next time. Wednesday was a long day and filled to the brim with awesomeness. I consider it the highest of compliments when someone passes out do to sheer exhaustion from the days events I helped plan!

Tomorrow would be our final day and it consisted of a morning game drive followed our long trip home. So far the trip has been amazing! Thanks so much to all our supports, and all the help we’ve received along the way! Everywhere we’ve stayed, and toured at have been extremely accommodating and welcoming! Thanks again HotSpots!

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Two Days, Three New Volunteers

On Friday I had one plan, to pick up my good friend Dan Sellers from the airport! Finally, after a three month tour of East Asia Dan had safely found his way to South Africa. Dan and I are working together to help Reaching Out 2 The World reach its full potential. We’ve been in contact while he’s been traveling but I hadn’t seen him since May and we still have a lot to discuss!

At half past 10 myself, Papa Zulu, and the girls from the Netherlands took the trip to fetch him at the airport. The night before we had prepared signs to welcome him back to Africa but we still had the challenge of finding him. Airports are huge, and when you arrive in a new continent with no cell service and no internet it can be tricky finding someone. I was thinking back two weeks ago when I arrived and was supposed to meet someone named Albert. I ended up having to wait a couple hours before the Zulus came to pick me up.

On a previous day I had talked to Dan about a meeting spot. A place I was familiar with in the airport because it had been where I had waiting for some time. So when we arrived that’s what we did. We didn’t wait too long before I spotted him heading up the escalator that would bring him right to us. With our signs ready, he looked right past us! Haha, he completely missed seeing us at first as we were standing right in front of him. I called his name and we were finally all together.

After getting back to Kayamandi Dan and I both were hungry and needed to head into Stellenbosch for some essentials. Mieke and Hanneke both joined us and we took the mini bus into town. It had been a year since Dan had last been in Kayamandi and as we traveled I could sense him taking it all in. He kept saying how surreal it felt to be back. Since he had also just come off of a 5 flight 2 day journey I think he was just happy to be on solid ground.IMG_3731

Like myself, Dan is a big fan of McDonalds. I’ve had snacks there but never a proper meal while I’ve been in SA. After hitting up the ATM our first stop was straight to the Mickey Ds. It may be terrible for you, but it is sooo good.

Our other errands included buying ice cream at the grocery store, adding airtime to our phones, and eating dessert at the Cinnabon, also located in the mall. Hanneke had never ate at a Cinnabon and that was more than enough reason to stop and indulge. Feeling very satisfied after our delicious meals, we went back to Kayamandi.IMG_3730

The kids knew that Dan would be arriving today but when we got back to Mama Zulu’s no one was there. I was a bit shocked but knew it was only a matter of time. Next, we decided to take a walk around the township.

What started as a walk with just Dan and myself slowly grew to an entourage of followers. At the first corner in our walk we were joined with the students I had worked with in the past week. We walked a loop almost around the entire township slowing adding to our entourage. Still, we were missing the students that Dan had known best. Again, I was surprised to not see them but knew it was coming.

Before walking back to Mama Zulu’s I showed Dan the BMX track and introduced him to Songo. His riders were busy creating paintings that would be auctioned off as a fundraiser. Some of the paintings would also but used to decorate the new building that had just been erected for Songo’s program. I’m really glad I got to meet Songo and look forward to working with him over the next few weeks. IMG_3760

When we got back to our flat Dan told me he had bought something for me while traveling through East Asia. I had no idea what to expect but quickly began unwrapping my gift. He asked me to be careful not to shake it too much while I was opening it, but it was really wrapped pretty well! Finally, after using a pair of scissors I broke through IMG_3758the multilayer wrap job to see a glass bottle with something inside. Inside was a poisonous snake, with a head like a cobra, and it was holding a black scorpion in its mouth. How cool is that?! The liquid surrounded the snack and scorpion, and holding it in place is a white wine, meaning you can drink this bottle of death! Obviously, this bottle will be staying sealed for some time but day, when the time is right, I may just pour myself a drink.

I also had a gift for Dan, although it was a little less outrageous. My gift to him was one of the South African bracelets I had been working on. These bracelets are no quick task to make so I you are a recipient of one you better cherish it, haha.

While this exchange was happening our entourage of followers had begun playing games on our ipads. That’s right, two ipads. Now that Dan was here the kids would have double the video game stimulation.

Mawande was the first to show up that Dan had been waiting for and not far behind him was Ski and Riri. Before long Chester and Aphiwe arrived last but not least was Atha. I knew it was just a matter of time. At this point we had the 6 kids that had followed us throughout the township and the 6 kids I just named, making our room very much at capacity. When Lelethu called us in for dinner I asked the first group of kids to make a move on. I’m alright with a few kids playing games while I’m at dinner but 12 was far too many, especially because I didn’t know some of them.IMG_3763

Among the list of donated items was a book. “The One and Only Ivan,” had been donated to our cause with the strict instructions to share it with as many people as I could. That night after dinner I decided would be the perfect opportunity to begin reading this book with our friends. With Dan back in SA and all our students together we joined back in our room and I explained about the book and the importance of the book. I told them we would be reading a few pages each night but I really wasn’t sure how well it would go over. A few of the students really struggle with English. As I began reading I made sure to practice everything I’ve learned over the years. We talked about each page, and I asked lots of questions along the way. After reading a few pages Riri asked if he could read. I thought it was a great idea and was thrilled in the interested levels that were peaking. Next Mawande wanted to read! At this point I decided that everyone should just read at least one page. After first some of the boys were shy but I was happily surprised to hear them read. Both Ski and Atha, who struggle the most with speaking English could read it quite nicely. It seemed as if some of them just didn’t like to speak English around their peers. I was extremely proud of them as we read through the first 20 pages of the book.

Next, I gave them homework. These guys all love to draw so I decided to give them a task in which they could put their drawings to work. Our book needs a bookmark and that’s exactly what their homework was.

IMG_0152After story time the boys went home and Dan and I got settled in. He still hadn’t unpacked and I had a lot of writing to do. While I was writing I looked over Dan had passed out. I think all his traveling had finally caught up to him.

The plan for Saturday was to participate in an ultimate Frisbee tournament hosted by the Stellenbosch team. Chris came to pick us up at 10 and Mawande, Ski and Dan joined me for a day full of ultimate.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect but had no idea that I’d end up playing 6 games! The tournament really took almost all day! I gave Mawande and Ski a couple Frisbee uniforms so they could practice with my team and Mawande even played a few points. After our third game I could tell they were starting to get bored and hungry. The tournament supplied snacks but not enough for a full lunch. IMG_3765

At one point I told the two boys that they could go off and explore the surrounding area. There were a lot of cool trails, and heavy flowing river. 15 minutes later I look across the fields and see Mawande and Ski half way up the side of a small mountain. I was a bit concerned because I know how challenging it can sometimes be to come down after hiking up an unmarked path, but Dan insisted they would be alright. Every time I looked over they were higher and higher. When I waved to them they waved back… at least I hoped they were waving back. I thought for a moment that they may also be waving for help, but again Dan insisted they were okay. Together they worked their way across the ridge towards the field I was playing on. From high up above they watched my game before beginning the decent back down to ground level. I was definitely glad when they made it down safely. IMG_0168

My team ended up getting second place overall for the tournament. I think we were the better team but we didn’t play a strong final game. All day my hamstrings limited me and I was never able to run at full speed. I tried my best to help but could only do so much.

Before the tournament was over Dan and the boys caught a ride back into town. They were both hungry and ready for something new. IMG_3767

I got home just 30 minutes after them and entered my room to a group of new faces. While I was off played two new volunteers from Germany arrived. Gisa and Clara would be joining Eric, Mieke, and Hanneke for a year in Kayamandi. That means there will be 5 volunteers living with the Zulu’s and working here in Kayamandi. Now I just need to get them all connected with the students!!

We hung out for some time before Lelethu called us in for dinner. This was by far the most people I’ve shared dinner with while here in Kayamandi. It was pretty great to go from having dinner’s by myself to being joined by 6 other people. IMG_3813

Mieke had prepared a dessert, and it was specifically for me because of a bet we had made. She didn’t think I would be able to beat her in Catan… Anyway, there were still a number of guys back in my room and I wanted to go check on them between dinner and dessert.

When I got back to my room they all wanted to read more of the book we had started the night before. There was no way I could miss out on this opportunity. These children were asking to read a story with me and I wasn’t about to deny them. Unfortunately, I missed out on my dessert but I think it was worth it being able to read with the guys. The reason I didn’t get dessert was because it was freshly baked cookie dough covered in ice cream. They informed me that the only way to eat it was when it first came out of the oven. Looks like I’ll have to wait another night before I can try it.

Reading tonight went even better than the night before. They each wanted to read 2 pages tonight rather than 1 and when I asked them questions about our readings they were all able to answer them accordingly. I’m so proud of them and so thrilled that they are enjoying the book.

Later in the evening Eric, Hanneke, Dan, and Clara played a game of Catan. Mieka, Giza, and I watched and took bets on who we thought would win. After a quick start Dan got out to an early lead but in the end Clara was victorious. Eric is still searching for his first victory but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before it comes. IMG_3810

Before going to bed we played a few new card games. I taught them the game President. In this game if you are president 3 times in a row then you get to make a rule. There aren’t really any limitations to the rule, but the rule is only good for the rest of that night. After winning more than enough times in a row I made a couple rules. My first was that every time someone played an 8 they had to follow it up with saying something nice about me. Eights are typically good numbers to play in this game so it was funny hearing what they had to say. IMG_3808My second rule game right before I left for the night. I’m not sure how it came to me but I’m glad it did. My rule was that before I left the girls had to brush each other’s teeth. I figured they are about to spend a year together so what better way to spend their first night. Hahah this of course proved to be hilarious!

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Ultimate Weather

We all got up Sunday morning ready to head into Stellenbosch and play some Frisbee. Unlike IMG_3518Saturday though today wasn’t so sunny and looked like it may rain. Hendri and Chris came to pick us up at 9:30 to take us over to the fields. One of the reasons we took two cars was because Hendri was bringing along his dog Nox. Nox is 9 months old and was an absolute joy to play with!

The plan was to warm up, practice, have a scrimmage, and then have a cook out. A team by the name of Ghost would be joining us. Ghost is a team based out of Cape Town and they are the defending national champs for South African Ultimate. Their team is compiled of players from all over IMG_3519the world really. I met a few Americans that played for them, a couple from Australia, a German, a couple from Great Britain, and of course a few South Africans. They were a lot of fun to play with and I think the Stellenbosch team learned a lot! Pretty early on into our training it began to rain. This didn’t stop us from practicing but it did make for very cold and wet conditions. These conditions are important to practice in because you never know what the conditions may be like on a game day. Unfortunately, I ended up pulling my right hamstring. I could feel both of my hamstrings becoming tight and I stretched and did everything I could to prevent a pull but it wasn’t enough. I’m going to continue stretching it and try not to let it hold me back but I’ll have to take a few days off from ultimate.

Because it was raining we all decided that rather than having a cook out we’d just go to Ginos.IMG_3521 Ginos is an Italian restaurant that specializes in pizza. I remember Ginos from two years back and I was happy we’d be able to eat there. All in all there were two teams of ultimate players that caravanned to the restaurant… which meant slow service. Even though it took a while to get our food I think everyone was alright with it because it gave us all a chance to talk. I had told Hanneke, Mieke, and Eric how great the ultimate community is. How no matter where you are in the world it seems ultimate Frisbee players are pretty great people. This definitely held true and I think they may continue to play!

When we got home we were all pretty damp, exhausted, and full of pizza. It was around 4pm and Chester was waiting for us. I told Chester I had to shower and sent him over to Erics room, but this was also because I really just wanted to just lay down. My leg was pretty sore, and I was just plain tired. As I lay there just on the verge of falling asleep I heard Butsha. He was yelling something and made his way to my room. I thought he was just looking to play but he was coming to tell us dinner was ready. Oh man, we totally forgot to tell Mama Zulu that we ate a late lunch and were still full. It was too late now so we all got up and went to dinner. Turns out everyone was just lying low and relaxing. Needless to say we all ate smaller portions that night. Eric was really interested in playing Catan again and had high hopes of winning. Hanneke and myself still needed to shower so our plan was to play afterwards. IMG_3516

Back at my door, Riri, Atha, and Aphiwe were all waiting for me. I set them up with my ipad while I went to go shower. We still had some time before Catan so the four of us went through some more pictures from my time here in 2011. I always enjoy going through those pictures and to be able to share them with the students is even better!

The second night of Catan proved just as much fun as the first. Both Mieke and myself won one more time each. We’ll see if Eric can pull of that victory on Monday.

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Life Is All About Perspectives

Isaac and I had talked about traveling somewhere today but he messaged me in the morning that he would no longer be able to go. After having breakfast I headed over to the trust center where I’d be able to respond to Thursday’s emails. While at the trust center I ran into Eric who was going through his first day orientation. It seems like things are going pretty well for him so far and I’m happy that I’ll be able to help make his transition to Kayamandi even easier.

After sometime I walked back to the Zulu’s because I was ready for some lunch. Mama Zulu made me some grilled cheese and I joined Papa Zulu at the table. We often talk while at the table, or rather he talks and I listen, but it’s usually about pretty generic stuff. He’s a big fan of tennis and cricket and I think the US open for tennis is going on right now. Today’s conversation took a turn though. There are some pictures on a nearby table and Papa Zulu asked me if I recognized the people in them. There was a picture of Lelethu as a young girl, Bucha from last year, a few family photos, and a much older photo that a presumed to be Mama and Papa Zulu. He confirmed that it was him and that the picture above it was of his father. This started to get us talking about how long Papa Zulu has lived here. This turned out to be one of the most enlightening conversations I’ve ever had. Papa Zulu was born in 1940 and was one of the first people to settle in Kayamandi. He spoke of a very different place when he was much younger. The information he was sharing with me was incredibly interesting but the way he delivered it was what had me on the edge of my seat. This man has some serious passion and has lived through a lot. Life in South Africa was much different before the apartheid and before Nelson Mandela came into action. This is the life he shared with me. Back when Kayamandi was very new he told me his first home was a white tent. And he continued to add things to his tent to make it homier. Candles and blankets were a start. He told me that most black children didn’t continue education after the age of 12 because there were no jobs for them. Papa Zulu got his first job in 1958 working just around the corner of Kayamandi at, what sounded like, a factory. His job was to tape something to the barrels that were being transported. For his work he would get paid a wage of 1 pound 1 penny a week, or 4 pounds 4 pennies a month. He told me that he would give his money directly to his grandmother who cared for him. Later in his life he worked at a mechanics shop but since blacks were not allowed to work on the cars he was only able to fetch the tools and bring them to the white mechanic. Over time though, many of the helpers learned the trade from watching. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that he was finally able to buy a home and he has since put in a lot of time and effort into renovating what it is today. He truly does have a beautiful home here in Kayamandi. He said it’s very important to him that he knows his kids will have a home they can live comfortably in. The Zulu’s hospitality is certainly what has helped make my experiences so great. They are wonderful hard working people that I can now call family. Our conversation went on past an hour before we both got called in for something. This was also one of those times where I was on the right side of African Time. It’s more important to spend that quality time with someone than it is to be where ever you have to be.

In my case I had some students that had come over and since I knew I was going to be IMG_3450headed to Frisbee practice around 4:45 I figured I should give them some time beforehand. This time was spent working on more bracelets, and of course playing on my ipad. Bucha is my youngest bracelet maker! And he is wearing his new bracelet with pride!

Eric decided he would join for Frisbee practice in the evening and together we walked to the entrance of the township where Hendri would be picking us up. It’s be really great having Hendri able to give us rides or else we’d have some very long walks. Tonight’s practice was all about drills and conditioning which meant a lot of running and both myself and Eric feeling very exhausted once all was said and done.IMG_3451 I took the picture on the left to show the mountain I climbed from a different angle. And following that picture is one I’m quite fond of. Same mountain, same big rock, totally different perspectives. s7Isn’t that what life is all about?

As soon as we got home Mama Zulu had dinner ready for us and we dove right in. We ate everything she put in front of us and we absolutely cleaned our plates. Our dinner was fried chicken, mama’s mashed potatoes, baked beans, white rice, and some sort of warm coleslaw that tasted very good. No picture to go with tonight’s dinner because the food didn’t last long enough. I’m gonna need these frisbee practices to keep myself from getting fat!

Our evening was pretty tame as we were both really wiped. I told the kids we could go play frisbee in the morning and new they would come early. After updating everything I could I fell asleep very quickly.