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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ReachingOut2TheWorld Trip: Day 2

Day 2 of our adventure tour, with the kids began in Kayamandi, started with an early morning pick up. Isaac came for us around 7 which meant the kids started showing up about quarter of. I again woke up too early and wasn’t able to get back to sleep due to my own excitement and anticipation. A couple of the guys were a little slow to show up today but I imagine that was because of the long day we had on Monday and the fact that this time they had to bring all their luggage with them.There was a slight rain in the morning but things cleared up before anyone began the walk over. IMG_4368

Once everyone was accounted for we boarded the van and began the long trip out East. We’d be heading to Oudtshoorn and would be traveling for about 6 hours. I encouraged everyone to sleep but they were far to excited for that to happen. The drive was filled with beautiful scenery which consisted of tall snow-capped mountains, long roads, dessert valleys,  and wild animals. I tried to sleep but also found it difficult.

IMG_4376We stopped at a few places along the way to stretch, use the bathroom, or admire the views. One place we stopped I recognized. I was here two years ago while on my way back from a 7 day Garden Route tour. The place formerly known as Ronnies Shop has since been graffitied into Ronnies Sex Shop. This happened many years ago and the owner decided to leave the graffiti up and turn the place into a tourist attraction. The shop is now a bar where travelers have IMG_4374been coming to stop daily for years. The place is well known for people signing the walls, and leaving behind business cards or even clothes. When I went in I immediately B-lined it to where I had signed the wall two years ago. It took a minute but I finally found it! IMG_4370This time around I left a business card just under where I had signed my name… maybe one day I’ll be back to check on it. After everyone used the bathroom we continued onto our first destination; An Ostrich Farm.

Oudthoorn is the ostrich capital of South Africa. It was the first place to breed the animals and turn it into a tour business. When we arrived at the farm we were hungry and ready for lunch. Earlier in the day Dan and I treated everyone to a McDonalds breakfast, because it’s the best, but that had been a few hours ago and we were all ready for more. We all went into the dining room and looked through our menus. The option to eat ostrich was available but most of the kids weren’t brave enough to try it. Dan and I split an IMG_4379Ostrich platter, Avela got ostrich shish kabobs, and the rest got a hamburger with fries. When the food finally arrived our waitress asked which kids ordered the ostrich burgers. The kids spoke up saying how they had ordered the hamburger, not the ostrich burger. That’s when the waitress informed us that all the meet is ostrich and that the burgers they ordered were most certainly ostrich. They all looked at me and I quickly told them she was joking. Haha, now they didn’t know who to believe but they were hungry and decided to give it a try. They all ended up liking it, and completely cleared their plates but I’m still not sure they knew it was actually ostrich meat. I can tell you that the meat I had was delicious but could easily be compared to ground beef. I give ostrich meat a very high recommendation.

IMG_4388After our meal we moved onto the farm tour. Along the tour we learned about ostriches, we were able to feed them, and do much much more. At the first stop the guide asked for a volunteer and Riri’s hand shot up. He had volunteered to hug the ostrich but the guide had additional plans. After receiving a nice hug from Betsy, the Ostrich, our guide directed Riri to hold a piece of food between his lips and hold very still. Next, he directed Betsy’s attention to Riri’s mouth and the two looked eye to eye. With a quick snatch Betsy lunged forward and “kissed” Riri right on the mouth, taking the pellet of food with her. I caught the whole reaction on film which was very hilarious.

After the Ostrich kiss we walked to the back of the farm where they’d be holding ostrich rides. Ski, Lupho, and Atha were all able to ride the ostrich with the help of the handlers. Again, their reactions were priceless as the two footed flightless birds ran around the yard. To my surprise the guides let go of Athabile midway through his ride and heIMG_4400 traveled around the entire yard all by himself. He even fist pumped heroically and lowered himself down. He was a complete natural and wasn’t the least bit afraid. I was so impressed! Mawande, and Chester were both able to sit on the ostrich and have their pictures taken but we didn’t have time for everyone to ride.

Our next stop was the ostrich massage. To do this you stand with your back against the fence and hold a bucket of feed about chest level. Two ostriches come from behind you and reach their necks around to get at the food. In the process of pecking away at the bucket you’re holding you’re able to receive a genuine ostrich massage. Aphiwe did this but it took some coaxing and I think he thought he was being attacked. Avela was supposed to do this but was far too nervous.

Before leaving the farm the kids got to do one more thing. They each learned about how strong an ostrich shell is and were then able to stand on top of a few. You could tell that they didn’t really trust standing on the eggs so Isaac jumped in front of everyone and leaped right onto the eggs. I could have sworn I heard one crack but they all seemed to stay intact. Once they saw that Isaac had no issues they took turns in 2’s standing on the eggs. We didn’t have much time left on the farm due to our next adventure which was booked for the Cango Caves.

IMG_4421The Cango Caves stretch deep into the Swartberg Mountains. The caves were discovered by a farmer in the late 1700’s. This guy ventured into the cave, lowering himself down by rope, with only a small oil lamp. That’s a bit crazy, even for me. The place has since been host to adventure tours and even concerts. Up until 1995 they would host concerts here and could fit 1,500 people into the caves main chamber. I suppose the acoustics were nice but by doing so they were destroying the caves. Some of the stalagmites hanging from the ceiling were over a million years old. The vibrations from the concerts were putting them all at risk of falling and the over populated venues were drying out the rocks. Now the place is just used for tours and we were booked for a 90 minute adventure tour, the tour that took visitors to the deepest depths.

There were 4 tunnels along our tour and we’d have to go through 2 of them twice. The largest of IMG_4447the tunnels had even the kids ducking down and crouching. Our second tunnel and second largest tunnel was dubbed the Tunnel of Love. They call it that because you’ll receive hugs all the way through from both sides. This tunnel was no cake walk and had us all squeezing through the alleyway. The next two tunnels were on a different level when it came to size. Their names were the Devils Chimney and The Post Box. The Devils Chimney had you crawling up a slope on your stomach using the side walls to position your feet. The walls were so smooth from water that it was difficult to get a grip. Getting stuck in this tunnel is a real concern but we all made it through. IMG_4442Dan and I went first so that we could photograph our adventurers as they exited the tunnel. Both of us agreed that The Birth Canal, might make a better name for it. The final tunnel that we went through before looping back through the first two was The Post Box. This name comes from its very tiny size. At a height of 27 centimeters you had to really squeeze your way through this tunnel. On the way out you have to lie as flat as you can and slide your way to freedom. Not the sort of place for a claustrophobic. IMG_4449

Once out of the tunnels we started getting ahead of our guide. She was great, but we were only half of her group. When she found out that I had been on this adventure tour before she gave us the go ahead to move on. I’m not sure if it was because of fear or just high energy but our group booked it out of the caves.

When we were all out of the caves we hopped into the van and made our way to our final destination, Paradise Cove. This was the name of the backpackers lodge and was where we’d be spending our first night with the boys. Our room had 10 beds in the style of bunk beds and we all quickly claimed our spots. The lodge had some pretty cool things to offer like a pool table, and small pool.

IMG_4455Most of the guys all wanted to go swimming before dinner even though the water was pretty cold. While I was playing lifeguard by the pool with half our group I saw Ski and Atha using our community kitchen. When staying at a backpackers lodge there are usually these types of kitchens were anyone can come through and use what they need as long as the leave things the way they found them. The two of them looked as if they had helped themselves to a cup of coffee. It was chilly out but I imagine the real reason why they wanted coffee was because it was available and free. After they made their cups I saw them walking out towards the pool. IMG_4467Just before stepping outside Atha walked straight into the glass door dumping his entire cup of coffee on himself, the glass door, and all over the floor. I couldn’t help but laugh. Actually, everyone saw it happen and everyone was cracking up. Of course once everyone saw that the two of them had made coffee everyone wanted coffee. I found myself making 6 cups of coffee, and giving a lesson on how to wash and put away your own mug.

Soon after our coffee binge it was dinner time and we were all in for a treat. Our menu consisted of ostrich kabobs, ostrich sausage, potato wedges, salad, and fresh out of the oven bread. After sampling ostrich for lunch and learning that it was delicious no one had any issues clearing their plates at dinner. One thing can be said for all these kids and that’s their ability to finish their plates. They definitely don’t waste food, even if they don’t like what they are eating.

IMG_4472After dinner I played a game of pool against Ski. Most of them are actually pretty decent at pool but Ski was an absolute shark! I can recall my first walk to Ski’s home two years ago and along the way we stopped and went into a bar to play a game. I use the term bar pretty loosely because it was really just a glorified shack within the township that sold beer and had a pool table. I’m guessing they probably aren’t too strict with licenses around here. After he beat me he went on to beat everyone else before I told him he should hop off and let a couple new guys at it.

Around this time we decided we better get the showers underway. We had two shower stalls in our room but neither Dan nor myself knew what we were getting ourselves into. Only two of the guys brought towels, which were wet from everyone using them to dry off after the pool, and only one of them brought something to sleep in. Earlier in the day I had provided them with some of the Frisbee clothes that had been donated so they were mostly set in regards to sleeping attire. Dan informed me that the front desk rented towels for a small deposit. It’s a pretty great deal because they give you your money back once you return their towel. So I rented 8 towels, gave the kids my face and body wash and explained to them what we were going to do. A couple of them were reluctant, but that was before they realized that these would be warm showers. Some of these guys probably haven’t had a warm shower in a very long time. In shifts of 2 we cycled through all our group making sure everyone was showered and ready for bed. I told them that we’d be reading our book, “The One and Only Ivan” at 8:45, but that they could do what they’d like till then.

The ones that finished showering went back to the pool table, and a few others took to drawling. Not long after the showers ended was it time to regroup for our book. After reading a chapter out loud to them they each took turns reading 1-3 pages. I never know who’s going to read what amount with these guys. Sometimes 1 page is enough and other times I have to request them to pass the book because they don’t want to share. I try to leave it up to them the best I can.

Once everyone had a chance to read I could tell that they were just about ready for bed. The day had been fun and exhausting and the next day would be starting bright and early. I asked everyone to brush their teeth before going to bed and was met with mixed responses. Dan and I weren’t sure if everyone would have a tooth brush so we brought a few extra. My Grandma also gave me a bag filled with tooth paste and tooth brushes for me to bring over, so we were more than set for anything. Thanks Grandma! With Tooth brushes in hand they made a line to the bathroom with me dishing out the toothpaste. It’s always nice going to sleep feeling clean and fresh after a long day!IMG_4473

Day 2 was another giant success and we still were just halfway through our trip. Wednesday has been the day I’ve been most excited about, with a day filled with animal encounters! Thanks again for all the support! Can’t wait to share!