Reaching Out 2 The World

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Two Beautiful Days in the Sun

The best way to describe my weekend was that it was a weekend in the sun. Since it’ll be a frigid fall November welcoming me home I figured it’d be nice to take full advantage of this beautiful South African weather before departing. Maybe even get a little color!

On Saturday a group of us traveled to Muizenburg for a day of surfing. Miriam offered to drive so Hanneke, Mieke, Dan, and I all piled into her small little car. Getting a lift to Muizenburg saves us a lot of trouble because it would take nearly twice as long if we had to take the train.

The day was a beautiful day and DSC_0259when we arrived we went over to Dave’s Surf Shack to hangout and wait around until our friend Max could meet up with us. While we waited we sipped on some delicious hot chocolate brewed out of Dave’s future restaurant. He has plans to hire a chef and begin serving food but they still have some work to do before opening.

Once Max got there we all suited up and made out way to the beach. None of us are experts but it would be Miriam and Maxes first attempt at surfing. We gave them a very quick tutorial and told them that it’d be a lot of trial an error. As we waded into the water we noticed that there were a lot of jelly fish and the water was less clear. The minute we got out past waist deep it became apparent that we were dealing with totally different waves than last time. I think maybe because there was bad weather earlier in the week the ocean was still chaotic. Waves were coming from the left and the right and there was hardly any consistency. The current first pulled us up the coast and then started pulling us down the coast. We all still had a lot of fun but we were having aDSC_0425 heck of a time with any success standing on our boards. Some of the younger guys that are a part of the surf program didn’t seem to have as much trouble as they cut through the waves no matter the rough waters. After a very exhausting 90 minutes of “surfing” we made our way back to the dry land. On my previous experience I was able to ride a wave all the way into the shoreline yet on this day I could hardly even stand up for more than a couple seconds. No matter the trouble though, when I looked around at the rest of my group we were all full of smiles and highly IMG_6966enjoying our battle. It seemed like everyone showed up for the challenge today!

When we were changed out of our wetsuits we walked around to find a nice place to eat. The plan was to eat and walk around the coastline for a bit before heading back to Kayamandi.

Following our meal we walked back out to the beach to take a few pictures by the famous colored shacks on the shore. I think these structures are used to hold equipment for the lifeguards, but I’m not positive.

IMG_6969Our next destination was to walk a few miles up the coast before returning back to our car. The walk was beautiful; actually all the coast lines in South Africa are beautiful. The walk brought us with in meters of the crashing waves and it became a challenge to dodge the ocean spray. I think myself and Max were really the only ones avoiding the spray, because everyone else seemed to enjoy getting hit with the shower of water.

We made it back to Miriam’s car around 4 and all stuffed in. It wasn’t until we were in that Miriam realized that she was missing the mobilizer that’s necessary to start the car. I had no idea what a mobilizer was but I guess they are pretty standard in older cars to help with theft deterrent. We tried contacting someone that could help us bypass the mobilizer and we even retraced our steps all the way back up the coast. The later it got the less likely it IMG_7030seemed that we’d be driving Miriam’s car back to Kayamandi. It wasn’t until after 7 that we secured a cab ride that would be able to bring all of us back to Kayamandi. None of us intended on being in Muizenburg all day but I felt the worst for Miriam. She had to have her car towed to a safer location for fear of it being stolen if left unattended in the parking lot where we were. She’d also have to figure out a way to get a replacement mobilizer.

When we finally made it back to Kayamandi we regrouped with the rest of the volunteers to learn a new game. The game was called Weerwolven and you need at least 8 people to play. It involves role playing, mystery, manipulation, and deception… that is my kind of game! It’s too difficult to explain on here but I plan on teaching it to my friends once I get back home.

On Sunday I was woke early but knocks at our door. When I got up to see who it was there were a dozen kids standing outside. I had told them earlier in the week that we could go swimming on Sunday but didn’t think they’d show up before 9! I wasn’t even positive the pool was open today but it was such a nice day out I figured it’d be worth checking out.

IMG_6990Mieke and Hanneke joined us as we all walked down to the pool. To get there we had to cut through Kayamandi, sneak through someone yard, and jump a fence. Once on the other side of the fence we crossed the 5 lanes of traffic and continued to walk in the direction of the pool. In the distance we could see the pool but it looked as if no one was there. I was worried the pool was closed for the day but our only way of knowing was to continue our walk. Just before getting to the pool we had to cross a small stream. There was just a long tree branch bridging the gap but these guys didn’t seem to struggle. Over the river and through the woods we all crossed over some train tracks and were just about there. The pool still looked abandoned but we continued our walk.

There was a security guard waiting inside the IMG_0977gate to get in and he informed us that the pool wouldn’t be opening for another hour or so but that it would open. That was enough for me and we passed the time playing all sorts of sports. I had my Frisbee with me as well as the soccer ball, and when the kids grew tired of those they wrestled with Mieke and Hanneke. This is their victory pose after defeating the hooligans. I think Mieke’s legs tell a different story though. I had my camera with me that I supplied one of the boys with and I think they took 4 gb of data before even getting into the pool area.

IMG_1017Nande is the gymnast of the group and we recorded his entire floor routine. I was pretty impressed but he told me it was nothing special and that he learned it in just a few days. We practiced some flips and hand stands with the kids and I was surprised to see that Mawande could do a running front flip off of a brick. A couple of the other kids were trying to do back flips out of each others hands but it didn’t seem too successful. I lifted Nande onto my shoulders and held his ankle very tight. With all his balance and flexibility he was able to outstretch his other leg high above his head. I had no idea what this looked like until I later saw the pictures but I was impressed. He’s a skilled little gymnast!

After waiting and playing out in the sun we wereIMG_6979 finally permitted into the pool. It’s 5 rand per kid and 10 rand per adult so to get all of us in was still under $10. I think the wait was worth it because we were all that much more ready for the chilly pool. The coldness was welcoming after being out in the sun for so long and the pool area quickly filled up with what seemed like hundreds of kids.

I could not even imagine being a lifeguard at this pool with so many crazy kids running around and not nearly enough staff on hand. They seemed to have things mostly under control though and the kids knew their limits. I probably gave half a dozen swim lessons in our time there.

IMG_6972Along the outside of the pool were loads of kids laying out on the red bricks soaking up the heat from all sides. This was the perfect place to hang out in between swimming sessions. We were sure to take loads of pictures jumping into the water and playing and everyone had such a great time. There are few things these kids like more than swimming and it was awesome being able to take them there.

Because the pool is located in the IMG_6976Township across the way the majority of the kids at the pool were colored and spoke Afrikaans. This goes back to before the Apartheid in 1994 when groups were segregated to live in different areas. The colored people spoke Afrikaans (more education), while the blacks spoke Xhosa. The mandatory segregation aspect has since ended but the division is still very apparent. When the kids all get together at the pool though they are all equal and generally play nice with each other. I was shocked to see kids from the other township come up to me andIMG_6977 call me by my name. They had remember me bringing the kids to the pool back in 2011. As I looked around I could point out a few of the kids that I had also remembered but I definitely didn’t recall any of their names. It’s a shame I have to leave on Thursday because our pool day was excellent and weather around here is just so much better than back home.

We spent most of the afternoon at the pool until our group grew hungry and myself, Mieke, and Hanneke grew red. We had been out in the sun all day for the past two days and had a lot of color to show for it. When we made it back to Kayamandi we split up for lunch before regrouping for a movie. The movie was hosted in the girl’s house where we could take shelter from the sun. I think they watched Ice Age 2 while I worked on my writing.IMG_6988

While I was checking things on my computer I saw I had an email from none other than Mrs. Debbie Hoffman. She had a video response for us in regards to the, “Day in the Life of Lupho” video. I brought my lap top over to the group and shared with them the video and they all seemed to really enjoy it. I still need to show it to Lupho but I’m hoping he’ll come by before I leave. The video was a nice surprise and it was great hearing from her class. A big thank you to the kids that helped make that happen!

In the evening once all the kids had gone home we played the same game as the night before. It’s a pretty great game. Remember, you need at least 8 people to play but it’s more fun with more people. I think you can play with as many as 20 people, but we’d have to look up how the expansion pack works. Gather some friends when I get back home and we’ll make it happen!


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The Hike Before the Hike

Last year Dan worked a month in the town of Muizenburg. It’s about an hour’s drive from Kayamandi, and our destination for Tuesday. We looked into taking a taxi but the prices were too high which left us with few options. We could take a mini bus, or the train.

About half past 9 we went down to the train station and boarded the next train to Cape Town. In order to get to Muizenburg we had to first take the train to Cape Town and that alone took about 80 minutes. When we finally got there we opted to just take a taxi the rest of the way to Steenburg. Steenburg is the town just next to Muizenburg, where Dan did his first stint of teaching.

So it’s been just over a year since Dan has been back to Steenburg and when we exitedIMG_3915 the taxi he was a bit disoriented. The taxi dropped us off on the opposite side of the tracks from what Dan had been used to and from there we made a few wrong turns. After an hours walk around Steenburg we came to realize that the school we had been looking for, The Christian David Primary School, was only about 10 minutes from where we had originally been dropped off. By the time we finally got there the students had already been dismissed. Fortunately the teachers that he knew were still around and he was able to reunite with Sandy. I’ve heard about Sandy but it was my first time meeting her. She’s a super nice teacher and I think Dan and I will be making another trip back to see her.

After visiting the school we wanted to head into Muizenburg and climb up the Muizenburg Mountain. For some reason we also decided to walk this distance which meant another hour long walk. Luckily both our walks were on flat ground and easy enough. But we still had a mountain to climb and had just hiked around Steenburg for 2 hours.

Muizenburg is located on the coast and is known for its prime surf locations. Last year Dan learned to surf here and it’s our plan to come back for a surf session before it’s time to go home. An interesting fact about the mountain that we’d be climbing was that it’s used for a lookout to check for sharks. From high up above it’s easy to see the dark shadows roaming through the water and they use a flag system to notify the surfers in case of danger. If you watched Shark Week you may remember a Magladon sighting in Muizenburg! Maybe I’d see the beast today!

IMG_3919Our hike took only an hour and was through wind and mist but when we made it to the top it was totally worth it. We walked around the top of that mountain taking in all the views for about an hour before heading down. Because of the weather there were a few rainbow sightings which looked pretty incredible from our view. IMG_3922

By the time we got down from the mountain it was almost 7 and we were craving some ice cream. Maybe we took too much time but we were exhausted and needed the break. Unfortunately we missed the last train back to Stellenbosch and needed to phone Isaac to get us back home. Thank goodness for Isaac!

IMG_3925We spent almost the entire day walking and hiking and barely made it home before falling asleep. IMG_3926IMG_3927But I think the pictures make it all worth it!


The Grass Is Just As Green On The Other Side

Hello, I’m Dan.

I thought I would share my perspective on the experience Chris had.
First, let me share a little back-story.

I planned on going to South Africa for a while, but only for the month of June. I booked Tanzania for July, and I kept August open for a different country in Africa, however I was still undecided as to which country (it was probably going to be Egypt). I figured I could finally decide once I get to Africa.

One day, as I was doing research on South Africa, I randomly came across this masterpiece, O’Sullivan’s Travels. I forget how I came to find this, but I’m sure glad I did. It started off with something similar to what I was doing: a guy my age from the U.S was traveling to South Africa for the first time to volunteer and teach for a few months. The main difference is that Chris was near Stellenbosch with SASTS and I was going to stay inMuizenberg with IVHQ. Over the course of a few days, I read well near his whole blog. His sense of adventure, doing anything and everything, is on par with mine! (He may be a tad crazier though haha!) Everything he did–I wanted to do, minus the whole Kayamandi part, because I already had my place in Muizenberg. But the fact that he got to spend a considerable amount of time with those kids he taught was something I thought was pretty damn special. I had a mindset that I would be able to do the same thing in Muizenberg, but it didn’t work out that way. (I’ll explain why in just a second.)

I messaged Chris one day and asked him a few questions about South Africa…okay maybe several hundreds of questions! And like the trooper he is, he answered every single one of them promptly and with detail. Initially, before I even left I was way more excited about Tanzania than I was about South Africa, but after reading about his experiences, my excitement flip-flopped between the two countries. For answering all of my questions, I told Chris if there was something he wanted me to do for him while in South Africa, just let me know. He actually had something in mind. He asked if I had the chance, to stop by his old school, Ikaya Primary, and if there was anyway to show the kids there his videos he made, he would be grateful. After reading so much about his kids and the school, I was happy to take on that task. So I uploaded his videos and a few of his pics with the kids onto my iPad. Next thing you know, I was off to South Africa!

My volunteer house in Muizenberg was pretty cool. My school, the Christian Primary, was cool too. However, the idea of hanging out with the kids after school and was pretty much impossible. One, the kids live nowhere nearMuizenberg. Two, even if the kids did live nearby, they wouldn’t be allowed inside our house. IVHQ had a strict policy, no one other than volunteers and staff members are allowed in the house whatsoever. Bummer. Also, the kids were so young here, that it was more like running a daycare than actually teaching. That’s when I made my final decision, that after Tanzania, I would comeback to South Africa but switch over to Kayamandi and get a different experience with the kids in another school.


Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVED my time inMuizenberg. I met some of the most amazing people in the world and did a lot of fun stuff. But the fact that I knew there was a school and place nearby where you could actually teach and hangout with the kids was constantly in the back of my mind. So during my stay in Muizenberg, I applied to volunteer at Ikaya through SASTS, the same organization Chris went through. But that wouldn’t be until August. I still had Tanzania!

Fast-forward through a mind-blowing month in Tanzania and I finally arrived back in South Africa. I initially requested to be placed at Ikaya Primary, however a welcome surprise was that they also had me placed in ahomestay with Mama Zulu, the same Mama Chris stayed with. I let Chris know and he was pretty pumped that he could find out how everyone he left was doing.

This is where things get sweet for me. My time inKayamandi couldn’t have gone any smoother. The footprints Chris O’Sullivan left behind almost a year ago were mighty big ones and everyone in town knew who this guy was. I mentioned to pretty much everyone I met that I was a friend of his, and they would burst into smiles and became suddenly warmer in gratitude. They would all tell me the same things: “Chris loved those kids”; “Chris was crazy!” (In a good way), and “Chris was so nice”. Even at the school, everyone remembered who he was. He was almost like a legend in this town, even more so when I finally found his core group of kids he hung out with.

I recognized some of them from his blog, but I could never put the names with faces. I rounded them all up one day and they came over to Mama Zulu’s where I showed them Chris’ videos and pictures. I never seen kids more excited…ever. They watched the videos several times and reflected on the pictures. That same day, those same kids started to take a liking to me, as I was to them. They would come over everyday and I would take them out, play soccer, or just hangout and chill back at my place. Not a day went by where they didn’t mention Chris, who they referred to for some reason as the “strongest man alive” haha! Also, I have to ask him, what in the world does “Sheep go to heaven, Goats go to hell” mean? They would say it all the time; I thought it was some South African chant at first. Who knows??

I kept Chris in the loop while I was there and he seemed pretty excited that in a way, he was reconnected with his kids. The kids remembered it was his birthday in August and made him a special birthday video that I sent to him later. Also, I gave them my phone to call and talk to him on two different occasions. They also drew and wrote a bunch of fun pictures and letters for him that I would send once I got back to the United States. I noticed some of them had postcards Chris must have stamped and addressed to himself that they never sent. There was stuff written on them, just never mailed. I’m not sure if they knew how?

Overtime, I did a lot of hanging out with his kids. I got to know each one of them a lot better and they got to know me as well. I taught them a few Spanish phrases. They also called me the “Worlds smartest man alive”, even though I don’t think my name means that! Also, over my course in Africa I also wrote a blog in which everyone at home and around the world was able to follow me through. Just like I read his before, Chris was able to read mine and see what was going on in his old digs at Kayamandi. I was also able to use his blog as sort of a “manual” on how to handle these kids haha! I think he may have picked the most eclectic group of learner’s to befriend in that entire school.

Before I left, Chris came up with an idea to start some sort of fund to make sure these kids and probably Ikaya as a whole get the proper educational support and school supplies they need. It’s a lot to plan, but to start I opened up a PayPal and accepted donations to buy them school supplies. Thanks to Chris’ and others donations, I was able to get them a truckload of stuff that should last them for eternity! It’s a work-in-progress but it’s a step in the right direction.

Right before I left I told the kids, who were sad to see me go, that I would comeback one day and that Chris will come at the same time. Can you say double the amount of spoiled? 🙂

I can’t thank Chris enough. My whole month of August created an ever-lasting impact on me and it’s all thanks to him. If I never came across his blog, I would probably have been in Egypt instead doing who knows what? Not only that, but he gave me the contact of his friend Isaac he met here who is one of the nicest people in the world. He was able to take me around and show me what South Africa is all about.

Kudos to you O’Sullivan.