Thursday, May 3, 2007

Home Time

I don't actually expect that anyone's still reading this seeing as I have wholly neglected my audience for quite some time. This post is just for me.

I will walk home from school today to a recently vacated apartment and put my little Cape Town life into a suitcase. I will come back to school tomorrow with 25 shiny pennies for 25 exceptional girls. I'll go through the motions, try not to cry, walk through the gates of Rustenburg Junior School and probably never see any of this life again. I can't really wrap my mind around that right now.

I'm ready to come home, but I'm nervous. I know about reverse culture shock, but I've never experienced it. I expect things to be the same, but I know that they won't be. They've changed. I've changed, but I'm happy. I have LOVED my experience here in South Africa! I've learned so much and so much about myself. I can't wait to see friends and family at home, but I am sad to leave. Never will I live in a place so beautiful, surrounded by mountains and beaches. But I'm ready to get on with this life. I'm ready to come home and teach and live.

Cheers, Cape Town...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

oh what a beautiful safaaaaaaaaaari!

Oh where to begin.

I just had the best experience of my entire life! Now, I’m back in school and missing the laid-back vibe and general glow of happiness that comes with safari-ing (well, at least for me).

So, we flew to Johannesburg on a Tuesday night and the next morning a bushman (Alf) came to pick us up in a khaki-coloured shirt and a long goatee. He played the part to a tee for about the first two days. Then he showed us the real Alf and he turned out to be a really laid back and cool guy with amazing stories.

We headed to Kruger where we saw lions, elephants, zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, buffalo, hippos, warthogs, tons of birds, one cheetah, two leopards, and lots of game-y animals (kudu, springbok, impala, etc – they look like deer). What a thrill to see these animals in their natural element. A lion walked right by our covered vehicle on the night game drive. It was scary and exhilarating and amazing…

From Kruger, we headed to Zimbabwe where we toured the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, stayed overnight in a wildlife orphanage, saw Victoria Falls, and met all kinds of people. Zimbabwe is a heartbreakingly beautiful place. The people we met were so friendly and open and the country itself is breathtaking, but the country is crippled with poverty right now. Merchants on the street offered us loads of goods for our t-shirts or a pair of shoes. One US dollar is worth 10,000 Zimbabwean dollars. It’s just unreal… and sad. But… we honestly (and I feel somewhat guilty) had loads of fun, too. At the Chippengali Orphange we got to babysit a three-month old lion cub named Mischka. We also made friends with Bulayka (a black rhino – and the only big 5 animal we hadn’t seen yet). We watched the lions feed and got to pet them (post-feeding). We pet vervet monkeys and Jo and Chris held a cobra snake (which peed on them and tried to bite me! I had the most hysterically awesome look-of-fear of my life!.. so I’m told). We had dinner and drinks on a “booze cruise” on the Zambezi River where we got up close and personal with hippos and by the end of the night Annie was puking her life out in a dirty Zimbabwean toilet and I was crying over a Zimbabwean prostitute… long story. We went gorge-swinging at Vic Falls. Basically, you jump off a cliff and a rope catches you and you swing through a gorge. It was the most frightening experience of my life. I screamed and then it was like the breath was sucked out of me and I couldn’t even scream. I was just terrified. But the view was spectacular! We also flew on a zip line and crossed into Zambia… HA! And I didn’t’ even have to pay for a visa! We toured the actual falls, but me and one of the other girls (Jo) pooped out early because we were FREEZING and you couldn’t actually see the falls that well due to the mist.

From Vic Falls we headed into Botswana and enjoyed a sunset cruise where we saw 32 elephants bathing themselves in the river. We also saw tons of hippopotami and some giraffes. The sunset was spectacular and the company grand. The next morning we went on another game drive (half-asleep) although Chobe National Park was much more touristy than Kruger and I didn’t enjoy it as much. Then, we headed back to Jo-burg. We stayed for a couple of nights and ended up meeting a bunch of cool travelers and we took one home with us (James - an Englishman – He stayed with us for the next week)!

Then ERICA CAME! The weather was kind of shotty, but we toured Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (where we found an Erica Garden, no joke). Then, we rented a car and took the Garden Route along the southern coast of South Africa. We stopped in Oudtshourn (pronounced Oats-wooorn) and “played” with some ostriches. Erica rode one! One tried to eat me! We watched a beautiful sunset at Plettenburg Bay and got to feed elephants at Knysna Elephant Park. Before I knew it, she was back on plane and I was back at school. So goes my 2 ½ week holiday! Again, I had the most amazing experience of my life. I laughed more than I have in a year and made at least one true friend. I say goodbye to Africa in just over two weeks… I can’t believe it. I’m excited to come home and see all my people, but I will miss it here. Guess that’s life…

No pictures yet, but I will have some up soon. For those of you on facebook, I’m already tagged in some pictures from the other safariers…so check them out. LOVE!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


So, the newcomers have definitely breathed renewed vigor into this tired traveler. Though this fervor leads to lack of sleep… what a weekend!

Basically, we went out and did the bar scene and got very little sleep. I showed Chris and Jess (the newest COST student) around the Waterfront on Saturday and today we went to the beach at Muizenburg. I just cannot say it enough – this country is spectacular! It is the most beautiful place I have ever been. Whether I am climbing mountains or relaxing on white sandy beaches, I am continuously amazed by the scenery (and pictures just do not do it justice).

So, we leave for our safari on Tuesday night. I can’t imagine what I’m getting myself into, but I’m so excited!

Monday, March 19, 2007

The first day of fall

That's right ladies and gents, in just two days it'll be the first day of fall here. I'm looking forward to it cooling off a bit because the weather in this neck of the woods will still be LOVELY! haha.

This past week was very nice indeed! Dr. Howell (from UK) observed me twice and gave me some much needed CONSTRUCTIVE feedback on ways to enrich my experience here. About time.

On Thursday, I attended my first Braai at Dr. Baxen's house, which was very nice for the most part. Kaylene (another supervisor-type) made this amazing Malaysian dish. YUM. I was supposed to go to Tesha's school for an overnight simulation of the removal that took place during the Apartheid, but I opted out to keep myself sane and chipper (two qualities I cannot affirm in those who chose to attend) for the next day of teaching.

Friday night we saw the Cape Cobra's beat the Durbin something-or-others in my second cricket match. The game went down to the last ball, which was really exciting! Then, Chris and I did some roommate bonding over drinks at Cubana (the place we went for my birthday).

Saturday were planning on taking the Cable car to the top of Table Mountain and walking around, but it was so windy the car wasn't running. So, we relaxed and then went to a traditional African restaurant. I had oxtail with curry sauce (yum), ostrich, kudu, and springbok. Interesting and good. It made me think of my dad (you would have enjoyed it, pops). Oh, I also tried pap (pronounced "pop") which is a traditional African meal (like a mix between grits and mashed potatoes - it was good if you mixed it with the oxtail curry). There was live music and dancing. The group ended up cutting the rug in front of the whole restaurant. It was great!

Finally, on Sunday Dr. Howell, Tesha, Chris, and I went to Green Point - a craft market that has all kinds of touristy things like masks and such. I got some goodies and then we went to the Waterfront and I ate an ostrich burger (I like ostrich - hopefully, I'll get to ride one with Erica when she gets here! no joke, you can do that!).

So, that's that. We have Wednesday off school for Human Rights Day and some of us are going to go wine tasting. Don't worry, though, we're hiring (aka renting) a car! Then a week from tomorrow, we leave for our safari! I can't wait!

Love you all! Hope you are well!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Safari Time... almost!

Check it. I leave a week from Wednesday!

Trip Itenerary:

Day 1 – Central Kruger Park – South Africa
Depart from Johannesburg and make our way to the world-renowned Kruger National Park. After settling into camp, we venture out on our first exciting game drive as we explore Africa’s famed “Big Five” territory. We return to camp at sunset, before heading out on an open vehicle night drive accompanied by Kruger Park Rangers. Dinner to be enjoyed around the log fire, listening to the sounds of the African night.

Day 2 – Northern Kruger Park – South Africa
An early rise, we start the day with coffee and rusks befor venturing out to explore Northern Kruger. Most of the day will be spent game viewing, bird watching and stopping at various waterholes en route to our northern camp. Arriving at our camp at sunset, we settle down for a traditional braii (barbeque) for dinner and relax around the campfire.

Day 3 – Great Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe
Up at daybreak, we go on our last game drive in Kruger Park, before heading towards the border post at Beitbridge and into Zimbabwe. We then make our way to the town of Masvingo and the sight of the Great Zimbabwe Monument. Overnight at a campsite in Masvingo.

Day 4 – Chipengali Wildlife Orphange – Zimbabwe
After breakfast, we take a guided walking tour of the mysterious archaeological site known as the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. We then depart for Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo and spend the afternoon on a tour of the Chipengali Wildlife Orphanage. Overnight at Bulawayo.

Day 5 & 6 – Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe
Departing Bulawayo after breakfast, we head for Victoria Falls (one of the seven wonders of the world!). We arrive in time to set up camp and relax, before heading out on a sunset cruise on the mighty Zambezi River. Sundowner drinks and snacks to be enjoyed on board. After dinner, we venture out to explore the nightlife of Victoria Falls. Time is spent at your leisure over these two days. Optional activities include white water rafting, bungy jumping, a canoeing safari, or even the “flight of the angels” over the falls. We spend one evening out on the town enjoying a traditional meal at one of the local restaurants.

Day 7 – Chobe – Botswana
This morning we explore the magnificent Victoria Falls before venturing out for the Kazangula border post and into Botswana. We set up camp on the edge of the Chobe National Park, where you have the option to relax or enjoy some great game viewing on a Chobe River Cruise.

Day 8 – Nata (Makgadikgadi Pans) – Botswana
We venture out into an open 4x4 vehicle to explore the Chobe National Park, home to some of the largest herds of migratory elephant in Africa. After brunch, our journey takes us south to the edge of the famous Makgadikgadi Pan, where you have the opportunity of an optional trip to the fascinating pans. The evening is to be spent camping at Nata Lodge.

Day 9 – Johannesburg – South AfricaAn early rise, we enjoy coffee and rusks before departing for Martin’s Drift border post, we have breakfast en route, then onto the final stretch to Johannesburg.

More later, but new pictures!

Check out Erica's stuff at:

Sunday, March 11, 2007

3 weeks until BREAK! (see new pictures!)

What an amazing weekend! Friday night Tesha, Chris (our new roommate) and I went out to dinner and chitchatted the night away. Then, on Saturday Simone and Mark took the four of us (all roomies) to Boulder Beach where we got to swim with the penguins! See pictures. Impressively, Chris, Tesha, Nathan, and I all squeezed into the back of Simone’s hatchback… it was interesting!

I tried to pet a penguin at the beach and it bit me! Haha! No blood, though. Then, Nathan, Chris, and I climbed all over these huge rocks. I accidentally slipped and fell into the water, cutting my wrist, hands, feet, and bum on the way in. But a little relaxation on one of those rocks, and I was ready to go again. Then, we walked along the path at the beach to see more penguins and got back into the car to go to Bloubergstrand. On the way to Bloubergstrand, we saw some baboons on the side of the road!

In Bloubergstrand, we went to a little restaurant right on the beach and had some pizza and beer. YUM. I decided to be adventurous and had the Four Seasons Pizza (mushrooms, asparagus, tomato, and ANCHOVIES)…. It was different. Very salty.

Today we are going to walk to Kirstenbosch to see the place and then to a concert in the gardens and then to a concert there with Dr. Baxen and Dr. Howell (who’s here for ten days from UK).

Oh, I also caught my first cricket match on Wednesday. It was really fun! Like baseball, only interesting… haha. I got a free hard hat.

Bye bye now.

P.S. Is anyone still reading this thing?

P.S.S. Simone is giving me her old phone, so I should be up and running again by the middle of next week. WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH. Simone said she didn’t even feel sorry for me when she heard that my phone got stolen ON MY BIRTHDAY because it was stupid of me to have it in the outside pocket. Oops! Stupid American tourist!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

24 years of GLORY!

Heh heh. Or something. So, yesterday was my birthday for those of you who are oblivious to things of great importance. And as usual, I have found that low or lack of expectations creates wonderful birthdays! I went out to brunch at Melissa’s Constantia, the most adorable cafĂ© that had a big (probably 15 person) kitchen table in the middle of the floor and everyone just sat together, like some very large, particularly dysfunctional family. They had cakes and muffins and a cold breakfast buffet (which I opted for) with granola, mueslix, delicious fresh fruit (which is always amazing here), oatmeal, honey, more granola = YUMS in TUMS. Teneal (one of the grade 3 teachers) invited me and we were joined by 5 other teachers from Rustenburg and one unsuspecting boyfriend. The people were really nice and Teneal gave me really nice beady bracelets and I got some lotion from another teacher. Which was very sweet seeing as I didn’t expect anything.

Then, I went to the mall to doing a little shopping for myself and while I was in one shop, I had my cell phone swiped! This put a slight damper on the day, but I decided it was better that than my iPod or my wallet! So, oh well.

Then, I relaxed for a bit and went out to a very chic Cuban restaurant called Cubana – I can’t figure out where they came up with the name… with my two roommates. We had steak and jalapenos and some vino and then I had a flaming shot in lieu of a birthday cake. Super sweet! (meaning particularly nasty) My roommates ended up picking up the tab (the sweethearts) and we took the bus home. It really was a lovely day! Thanks to everyone for the birthday emails and to my pops for singing me an exceptionally beautiful rendition of an old classic (you know the one). TWO DOZEN. I am old!

So, this week I am teaching Monday, Wednesday, and Friday all by myself and then next week I teach the entire week solo! WHOOH! I’m excited and just a bit nervous. The Solar System Unit is going very well (the girls love it) and this week the girls are doing group projects on Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, so wish me luck!

P.S. Keep holding your breath for the meatloaf on a stick explanation… mwah haha! Ah, patience, grasshoppah.