Reaching Out 2 The World


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It was a Mash, A Monster Mash!

The much anticipated day of the week was here, Halloween! After spending the past couple days IMG_6811gathering all the supplies we could Dan woke up first thing in the morning and began transforming our living quarters into a Halloween themed party central. I spent most of the day catching up on writing but when I went to go check out his work I was very impressed. From the ceiling to the floor the room was decked out and there was even a table full of candy.

As Dan was putting the finishing touches on the room and working on a playlist for the evening the kids began showing up. They’d first come over to my room where we reminded them that they couldn’t go into party central until they were in costume. There was a slight rain so numerous kids came over and still needed to change. Mawande was one of the first to show up and was wearing a ripped up shirt as part of his zombie costume. Since he was the first one ready I began with his face paint. I’m not exactly sure the IMG_6810best way to create a zombie face but I figured some black around the eyes and some blood around the mouth would do the trick! He took care of the acting part which was definitely the clincher.

The next pain job I did was on Wande. He came over with a cat mask he had created but he was still looking for IMG_6809some make up. It’s a bit difficult to tell from the pictures but I gave him some fangs, whiskers, and yellow cat eyes on his eye lids. He looked pretty creepy when he shut his eyes. With two down and many to go my room was filling up with more and more characters. There was a ninja in my room that had a mustache, another cat, the Prince of Persia that requested a star and a heart on his face, and a super hero who represented South Africa. Painting the South African flag on this guy’s face looked pretty awesome but I was a little concerned with the blue. The kits we had did not carry a blue color paint so I had to improvise and use a little of the fabric paint we had bought for the shirts. This was only after I saw that it was non-toxic, and even then I just used a very small amount. You can’t be the South African super hero and be missing one of the colors on your flag…

IMG_6807The next face I painted was pretty strange. I was just following the instructions he was giving me but I still don’t know what to make of the final design. Ahobonga first asked me to cover his face in all white paint, and then he asked me to put red circles around both his eyes and a red circle on his nose. The next step was red lipstick, and the final touch was three whiskers coming out of the sides of his mouth. Looking at him smiling back at me was pretty scary so I guess the mission was accomplished. He later threw on a black and white afro wig and really looked out of this world!

With the time nearing 6pm I still needed to get into custom IMG_6805and went about finding my Moroccan attire. I had my blue head scarf, and my white tunic that I sported throughout the night. The boys thought I was wearing Indian clothes or that I was dressed like “The White Ninja” but I told them it was just traditional clothing worn throughout Morocco. The other volunteers all dressed up as well and we were all ready to party! Since Dan and I were the only Americans I think mostly everyone else was celebrating Halloween for the first time! Dan also suited up in his Moroccan garb and Eric celebrated his first Halloween as a surfer!

Earlier in the week we made the decision to order loads of pizza for our party, but when the day finally came we were having a very difficult time finding a place that delivered. Kayamandi is only a 2 minute drive from Stellenbosch and there are numerous pizza places over there that offer free delivery! We had quite a large order but not one company would make the delivery. We not only offered to pay extra but tried telling them about what the order was for, and we even offered a hefty tip… still nothing. Their reasoning was all the same, it’s just too unsafe to deliver to Kayamandi. Hearing this is always a shock to me. There are people that live just a couple miles from Kayamandi and are afraid to enter. We’ve even had friends drop us off at the entrance for fear of driving through. I’ll tell you right now, these fears are irrational. Yes, there are problems that take place in Kayamandi once in a while but you don’t have to be afraid to enter! These streets are filled with a lot of friendly people, people I call family. IMG_6802I suppose if the pizza man had bundles and bundles of cash on him he may not want to make an easy target for himself, but I think they were just acting cowardly. We had to call Miriam to the rescue, our volunteer German friend who lives in Stellenbosch and has a car. We were hoping that she’d be able to IMG_6801make it to our festivities anyway but now we had a huge favor to ask her. We ordered ten pizzas for our Monster Mash and needed to get them in Kayamandi. She pulled through and brought Eric with her to make the collection. Operation: Get the pies to the guys. Thanks so much Miriam, you saved our party!

Now with all the snacks we had, all the candy, the drinks, and the ten pizzas you can imagine the slight shock I felt when I entered party central, not more than 15 minutes after the pizza had arrived, and ALL the food had been eaten! Holy IMG_0849cow did they devour that pizza. “Finish you’re plate, eat your vegetables, there are starving kids in Africa… “We’ve all heard it, and we’ve probably all said it, but I can assure you that on October 31st there were no starving kids at our party! Luckily for us volunteers we still had Mama Zulu’s dinner!

The party was a huge success and everyone had a killer time. Dan really did put together a great party and the rest of the volunteers did an awesome job getting involved! And just like I had hoped for we had an epic dance off midway through the party where everyone got a chance to strut their stuff. Hands down the winner was our cat painted guest, Nande. He’s also the gymnast of the group and knew all the moves to impress the crowd!DSC_0034

Things went pretty late, considering we threw it on a Thursday. I think the last group of IMG_6798kids went home around 10. Party central looked like a tornado had rolled through but we were all still in high spirits. The volunteers and I stayed up late into the night playing more games and having ourselves a very good time. The final game we played was similar to a game of twister… only rather than spinning a dial that tells the group where to put their hands and feet I just shouted out my own instructions. This turned into a real life human knot and it’s one I’m pretty proud of!

Halloween was sick nasty twisted fun, and it fell right before an incredible weekend. Friday I’d be hosting a sports day, surfing on Saturday, and a day at the pool on Sunday! Stay tuned!

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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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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.