Moloweni (Hello Everyone).
I haven’t been able to blog for quite some time. The internet here is excruciatingly null, an aspect I should have considered before I gave my promise to blog. And one I am dealing with currently. I’ve also just acquired cold number 3 in this last week of mine. Yes. We are actually going to be back in the states not 6 days from now. It’s amazing how fast time flies.
In this heart of mine, I think the best thing I’m going to be able to do is to show you some of my favorite pictures, one by one. Explain them in little excerpts. Because really– ladies, gents, and those who identify otherwise– I am dog tired. Running so low on energy and motivation that I’m not even making much grammatical sense on this post. Forgive me if there isn’t as much explanation or detail in the pictures I show you below. Perhaps these ones will speak for themselves. At least, I hope they do.
I just have no room to be the perfectionist/ over-writer I usually am.
To my tired amusement.
Anyway, a very deep Enkosi (thank you) given to you all. I appreciate all of your patience and understanding and hope you enjoy this entourage of images and moments.
First stop, Hermanus, South Africa.
Home of the whale watching.
We didn’t see a single whale. But the water ferociously slammed against the walls that lined these stone paths. There was a rock ledge that one of my team-mates found that I absolutely couldn’t resist climbing up to myself. You’ll see after a few of these pics.
The building on my right was a Shark Conservancy. Free to the public.
No thank you.
Rock ledge is about 12 feet above me (you can’t see it.)
Here we are…
The view was phenomenal. Absolutely took your breathe away.
I could sit up there for hours.
Which is why you see this picture. I meditated briefly up here.
A nice pause in our whirlwind of road trip, beginning.
There was also a local market that we shopped around in. And I officially bargained successfully for the first time here! Woot! Imagine that? Little ol’ me.
Here’s a video of one of my study abroad mates trying out a drum that he eventually bargained for. The energy in these places is a lot of fun!
Alright! Moving on. Next up? The first hotel we stayed in. The name’s Santos Express, an adorable collection of parked train cars linked to a restaurant that has an outer deck looking over a beach side.
I don’t think I need any comma’s in that sentence, right?
I’ve never had a sounder sleep.
View outside personal room. (Cannot take credit for this photo.)
Outer deck of Restaurant.
Peering from the top of the deck, down below. My friends sat beneath those straw thatched structures and played on their drums.
Serenading the sun to sleep.
Back on the road again! Heading to the The Point of Human Origins Exhibit in Mossel Bay.
Aha! We made it!
Passing the red stop sign (thing) and taking a right further in the green hedge is a pathway of stairs that leads further down to the cliffside. You had to descend them and follow a soft turn around to see the caves.
Below is the first cave we ran across.
I had to bend in half to step all the way inside; watching for bat droppings of course.
While crouching in the darkness at the very end of the cave, it hit me.
Some of the very first human beings alive lived in these walls.
Can any of you honestly imagine that? Calling this place home?
I’m not sure if I could.
Below is the one of the bigger caves we came across.
See that bucket in the below picture?
Due to a large gulf course built on the top of these caves, deposits from their fertilizers and other nasty chemicals are sinking down into the cave crevices. Eventually, they drip to coat the floor or dampen the walls (hence their green tinge).
This is slowly destroying much of these caves’ historic evidence.
Which is why educated persons from all over the world have flocked here to give tours, to research, and try to preserve what remains.
Yes. We found hand made knives.
And yes. I stole some and took them home with me.
My professor told me I was no better than a thief.
If the shoe fits…
We had to climb all the way back and at the very top, and I took in a huge breathe of air! Yup. Bekah needs to start running again. That’s for sure.
Alright! That evening came fast and we hit the road again until we came into our next city.
King William’s Town!
King’s Beach Backpackers! Home to the man with a single stump for a hand (which I’m not sure if I should even pay attention to…it doesn’t really matter, right?) a cat named Peter (as placid as you please) and a chihuahua (named Molly) that is relentlessly driven to get a rise out of poor Peter.
Needless to say, Daniel was very nice and made us feel very welcome.
This door happened to be experiencing the rising sun, and I couldn’t help but capture it.
The next morning, we all trudged out to eat breakfast and drive until we reached one of the townships. Inside this township was a township school called Walmer Highschool.
Here, we met the principal (who was insanely gracious and proud to have us as guests) (humble pie humble pie humble pie), the teachers, and the students. 3 young men, who had just experienced an initiating ceremony that welcomed them into manhood had the privilege to give us a tour of the township.
It was a full day.
(Agh, okay. I need to give a little spheel here. Bear with me!)
I’m realizing that while I’m okay with children and kids, I’d never be a good teacher. From high school down, anyway.
I couldn’t warm up half as fast as my other crew members did, to these students; and I couldn’t seem to connect with them as deeply as I witnessed the others do. Which, possibly means that I’m more introverted than I’ve ever realized.
A bit of shocker, to be honest.
One thing I do know is that I appreciate their kindness and patience. This group of girls tried to show me a fun clapping game. They welcomed my goofy stumbles; with dramatic sighs of impatience and demands to start over, of course. But they welcomed them none the less.
These learners carry huge hearts.
Oh my goodness. Where do I even begin about this library? None of you can come to fully realize how paramount this building is to the learners (what they call students here). It’s only recently been constructed and has needed much dedication and donation to be where it is today.
They’ve just emptied out a storage space that is connected to it, hoping to make it an even bigger space.
The video below will explain more about it.
The tour itself really made you stop and listen to that little voice in your head that murmurs, “This isn’t right…”
-deep breathe- Yes. I said that I wouldn’t say much, but this bit is begging to be typed.
One thing to know about these township schools vs. white high schools is that they are located in townships. Townships are historically known (and currently suffer from) for lack of the most basic resources: stable, real homes (not shacks), clean streets (not littered with garbage, glass shards, and bones) inadequate school supplies (lack of wifi, curricular books, equipment to help teachers, a library until very recently, computers for the non-existent computer labs) and many other things that could fill up a million of these blog posts.
This isn’t right.
Black South Africans (what they use instead of People of Color) have been shoved forcibly to live in some of the most embarrassing and degrading areas of South Africa. Yes. Apartheid is gone. Legally abolished.
What I see with my own eyes, on the other hand, tells me a different story.
It doesn’t matter that the government is now governed by elected, Black South Africans. Many of those on the street (cabby drivers, strangers) have told me that their government is failing them. Old, racist ideals continue to bleed into the dream that Madiba and others fought so painstakingly to construct.
Loves, these places aren’t given the same funding from the government as white schools, nor any other type of support. The same goes for the actual townships, where these incredible people live.
If live is even the term.
It’s sobering. Really sobering. I had to bend my head down to listen to one of the men that was giving the tour, and I was astonished at what I saw. What I learned.
The primary school kids we ran into (like the few above) could not have been cuter. Their eyes would watch us as if magnetized. Spurts of groups would talk shrilly among themselves, staring at us as we passed, sometimes shyly saying hello. At some point, they were chattering in Xhosa among themselves and the man beside me chuckled to himself.
“What? What are they saying?”
He smiled at my question and said, “They said that they like these type of people.”
“Us? Awe. That…Sounds like a good thing. I think.”
He laughed out loud and agreed immediately.
“Yes, it is!”
Also? As a fun side note, there were cows.
I feel like Americans back in the states would freak out to see cows plodding in groups on the side of the road. And no.
No one was directing them.
Do cows migrate?
(What a silly question.)
That day ended with my heart and my mind both battling and coming to grips with what I saw. That afternoon, we took our leave, and headed off to Addo!
Home of the orphanage we planned to visit (we’d done a HUGE clothing drive for these awesome kids there and we were anxious to give them what we’d gathered) and Elephants!
This B & B was trippy!
Here you are looking outside from inside the house arrangements. The girls slept in the house the first night, boys in the tents. Then, for the second night, we switched up.
Our digs on the inside were quite pretty. And savory.
They also had a fantastic recycling, composting, and garbage system!
And the kitchen was a lot of fun to cook in (first night dining in for almost 2 and 1/2 weeks. My crew mate made this outstanding vegetable curry–MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. My god it was delicious. She’s an amazing cook. I just chopped up fruit for a fruit salad.)
The Addo Elephant park! (But not before breakfast. At this restaurant located in the back of a small grocery shop. They had huge geese.)
Hey. They are big geese! In the midst of our eating, one would look up midchew and spot them by the window. Gazing at you.
These gossipy pair of feathers sure did like to observe our odd eating rituals.
What you’ve all been waiting for.
Addo Elephant Park. Yeah baby!
The zebras were definitely my all time favorite to see. The baby elephant literally squeezed my heart until it collapsed. Pumba (pictured with his second cousin) definitely has lost weight since I last saw him. The deer like creatures (they aren’t gazelles or wildebeests, I totally forget what they are called) were very graceful but spooky. And the countryside wasn’t a sashaying field of bright yellow prairie grass, with thin, knobby trees that sport horizontal leaves, a diamond blue sky, and a sun that just couldn’t get any redder.
Talk about stereotypes being careemed into space. Broken down. Annihilated. Kerump!
That’s what being here is all about.
To get to know the Mother Land for what she truly is…not some ridiculous imagery spoon fed to us back home.
That was an adventure. When we traveled back to the same restaurant we ate breakfast at, we were pleasantly accosted by Muffy, the director of the orphanage we were to visit.
The kids were anxious to see us, so anxious, that they asked Muffy to bring us over early.
Who could say no to that?
These two loves found me almost immediately. Coming out of nowhere. Whoa! You both are reaching up your hands, clearly wanting me to pick…ah. Pick you up. Eh. Why not?
My shoulders ached something fierce the next day. But…it was worth it.
The younger ones sang us a few songs. The young girls that could, gave a dance for us that was unbelievable. You could see that they put their entire soul into it. And all of us watched in awe. They were performing for us, thanking us for being here. It was insanely humbling…
Aaaand, I’ve run out of time!
There will also be a part 2 to this post. Please, stay tuned! And thank you for reading!
(Off to grab dinner with some of my roomies.)
Xolo (goodbye, peace) for now!