Tuesday the 8 of us conquered Table Mountain! Too impatient to wait for a cab to take us to the base, we brilliantly decided to walk there. Turned into an hour-long hike in itself just to reach the base of the trail. But 90 more minutes of stair stepping, swearing, sweating, and gripping our quivering thighs and we reached the summit!
We hopped on the cable car (shhh) to get down in time to surf in Muizenberg with Waves for Change– the non-profit we had met the day before. A documentary on the organization was being filmed, so we watch the introductory lesson the three local surfers gave to 8 girls aged 14-15 from afar. Then we zipped up our own wetsuits and jumped in to help teach them how to surf! I paired up with a terrified 14-year old African girl who had never surfed before and was thoroughly horrified to be that deep in the ocean. To be in water in general, really. It was a blast– getting her on the board, spinning her around and pulling her a little deeper then pushing her into a wave as she screamed “LINSEEE DON’T LEAVE ME, DON’T LEAVE ME INZIIII” but was always grinning when I met her in shallow water. Then we all got our own boards to have a go.
This week we heard from a neuropsychiatrist on the link between mental health and HIV/AIDS and the ideal bio-pyscho-social-spiritual approach that health models need to adapt. We also heard from this superman of a CEO, Dr. Ashraf Grimwood, who founded the NGO Kethempilomobilizing HIV health professionals to support the government’s treatment plan. We talked about “sex for survival,” the philosophy behind and inner workings of his NGO that treats over 130,000 patients, male circumcision, and the exponentially-increased susceptibility of meth users to HIV transmission.For our case study research (mine is traditional/alternative health) we were given lots of freedom to pick any organization/person to meet with. Naturally, Sidney, Niv, Karen and I headed to the “wellness warehouse” down the road to chat with the employees, sit in the massage chairs and drink iced chai. It’s somewhere between a Whole Foods and a homeopathic pharmacy, and was strategically opened smack in the middle of all the upscale hotels and resorts to hit their target shopper: wealthy tourists. That evening, Niv and I traveled to Delft, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, to meet with a sangoma– an African traditional healer.
Mevis, the sangoma, also works as a full-time nurse– adding a unique perspective to her practice which is governed exclusively by the forces and voices of her forefathers. She treats everything from infertility to family inheritance quarrels through paint, herbs and music, and demonstrated a traditional drumming ceremony for us in her living room.
I enjoyed a hearty vegetarian meal chez-Niv’s host family, where a much livelier, louder and more crowded atmosphere added an energy rarely present in my own homestay. Early Wednesday morning, Niv’s hilarious host dad drove us to the sea point promenade to run. At last! It felt a little too similar to India when he snapped running photos of us with his cell, but I had to laugh. It’s moments like this– being in a space filled with your thoughts only– that I miss and crave more of.
I still have lots to share– another day at Old Biscuit Mill market, details of an incredible visit to a new-age Capetonian midwife with Mel then to a brand-new, dazzling midwifery obstetric unit for Muslim women called Al-Nisa (“the women” in Arabic), pleasures of a beach afternoon at Camps Bay, and a debriefing of a township Baptist gospel service I attended that transformed into the most spiritually powerful experience I’ve ever been a part of. But all that’s going to have to wait. We’re about to trade in Cape Town for two weeks in the Zwelethemba township then 4 nights in High Africa on our final retreat! “Final” as in… MAINE IN 18 DAYS!