Tag Archives: Cape Town

Cape Town rain

Wow, it sure can rain here in Cape Town! I think “downpour” is a more suitable term. Being from Oregon, we are used to rain and don’t mind being out in it, but this is beyond our typical Oregon drizzly showers. Wednesday night was windy and wet…I woke several times to the sounds on the roof and outside the window. Sheila was going to drive me to class, but her car wouldn’t start. So, I put on a rain poncho over my coat, backpack, etc. (it’s a great look…I’m such a fashion-plate), and headed out on foot.

I was late at this point (after being ready extra early), so I didn’t want to wait for Brenda who was looking for a ride for me. It wasn’t too bad initially, but then I turned a corner into the wind, got splashed (like over my head splashed) by two cars, and by the time Brenda found me, I was soaked everywhere the poncho didn’t cover…even through my boots! I guess it was my turn to experience what the students felt last week. I’ve included a picture and short video of the rain (sorry I don’t have more interesting material…the girls offered to take my picture, but I declined).

Thankfully, Kjersten and Kelsey’s “mom,” Beryl, brought them all in their safari-edition Land Rover (no joke…they do their own game drives in this vehicle and have been to Botswana, Namibia, and beyond, “dad” Patty told me when he picked us up). We had our class and tried to stay warm…without inside heat, it is challenging, but I guess that’s why there’s coffee and tea (and Port in the evenings). :)

We had good discussions once again. We talked about how we are all the same at some level – that we can see beyond our differences – and yet our very different cultures have a significant impact on our thinking, behaviors, emotions, etc. It is a delicate balance to hold…and to try to understand. We learned about how qualitative research methods tend to work better (than quantitative) when we study global issues. We talked about how psychology has much to offer to help address global problems, but often fails to meet this call.

The students are struggling a little bit with wanting to see the images of Africa we have in our minds…the mud huts and colorful, yet impoverished, communities. Cape Town is a modern city and, although there is poverty here, we are removed from it for the most part. I hope our township visit (which was postponed until better weather) provides a glimpse at this sort of urban community. Or perhaps our drive to Hermanus will give us a look at the rural communities such as these. It’s like we can almost see, touch, and help the dire situations we know exist here, but they remain out of our reach.

Even so, the six young women are making big differences with those they encounter, whether through their practicum placements, home stays, with one another, or by the impression they leave on the train. :) Like I said yesterday, I am very proud of them (& they did well on their first exam too)!

P.S. It rained hard Thursday night, but so far Friday morning is a bit brighter…here’s hoping for blue skies this weekend (or at least not downpours). FYI, our Hermanus tour has been bumped to Sunday to improve our chances of good whale-watching weather. Long live Gumby!

District Six Museum & Greenmarket Square

Our group was reunited Tuesday with the recovery of Kelsey & Kjersten. Their hosts have been excellent caretakers of them, so I am very grateful for that. Being sick in another country is absolutely miserable (I swore I was going to die in a Dublin hotel room last summer). We are all very thankful to have them back in action (& not contagious).

We had a good class Tuesday morning, and now I have exams to grade. :) After everyone had finished and we took a short break, we moved on to the next section of our book…no time to waste when you’re doing a three-credit course in four weeks! Courtney had a good volunteering experience at a child protective service type of agency…lots of kids and babies to tend to (runny noses and all). At 1:30, Rashied collected us all and we headed downtown to the District Six Museum…

District Six was an eclectic community in Cape Town where people of diverse races, colors, and religions lived in harmony. However, in 1966 under Apartheid and the Group Areas Act of 1950, it was declared a “White Group Area.” Over the next 15 years, more than 60,000 people were forcibly removed, their homes demolished – literally bull-dozed down – and they were forced into townships, i.e., racially segregated neighborhoods (we will visit one or two Thursday).

Our museum guide, Noor Ebrahim, told his story passionately…he lived in District Six and was forced to leave with his family in 1976 (he’s even featured in my travel book!). He explained the map on the floor and how relocated families have noted where their homes were. He told us how a man saved the street signs that now adorn the museum. He described the cruel nature of apartheid and how kids today have it so much better. I am glad we met him.

After our time in the museum, Rashied took us to Greenmarket Square, which is an outdoor arts and crafts type of shopping area where bargaining is expected. We have the whole spectrum of bargainers in our group, from Kelsey who enjoys the sport of it to Jen who happily pays full price. :) We helped the local economy by getting many cool souvenirs and gifts, and we enjoyed “show and tell” on the drive home. We all agreed it was a great day, and we were thankful for our “Baby Gumby Monday” since it meant that Kelsey and Kjersten were with us on our excursion.

On to practicum placements Wednesday…(& exam grading for me). :)

Baby Gumby Monday

Brenda texted while we were in class that she forgot that the District Six Museum closes early on Mondays. So we rescheduled our outing till Tuesday, reminding us once again of Gumby (can you find him in this picture?). Hopefully Kelsey and Kjersten will be feeling better and can join us then.

We had a good class and a meaningful discussion of some of the issues we are observing, e.g., poverty, racism, sexual violence, HIV/AIDS. There is so much to learn, and so many ways to make an impact. We must continue to ask ourselves, “what can we do at this point in time for this one?” I have no doubt that these students will continue to make a difference because of this experience.

Weekend happenings

Here is a Monday morning report of the events this past weekend, as I know them, picking up where I left off on my Friday morning post:

Friday afternoon/evening: Sheila (my home stay hostess), Binci (see the post from last weekend to meet Binci), and I enjoyed lunch at Barrister’s, a local rugby pub. As the ladies had told me about, the horse-drawn wagon delivering a keg of the local Castle’s lager showed up at 2:00 sharp. This only happens in the first Friday of each month, so I was glad to get to take it in (see pics). We gladly accepted our free draughts of ice-cold Castle’s (Sheila left, me center, & Binci right), and we had a nice time chatting about this-and-that. One of Binci’s daughters works in social justice research, so we talked about the possibility of her visiting our class…I hope it works out.

After lunch, I walked down to the nearby Methodist church to see what time Sunday services are; the English (or Afrikaans?) one is at 9:00 (the 11:00 one is in Xhosa). I will try the early service and cross my fingers that I understand what’s going on! Friday evening was quiet; salad with Sheila to compensate for our bigger lunch out.

Saturday excursion: We had a GREAT day touring the Cape, although we were two short as Kjersten and Kelsey stayed behind. Don’t worry…the baboons did not get them. Sadly, they weren’t feeling well…cold symptoms mostly (sore throat, fever, sinus pressure). :( We missed them dearly and hope for a speedy recovery…I called when we finished our tour, and it sounded as if they still didn’t feel well, but had gotten some rest and were being well taken care of by their hosts, Patrick & Beryl.

The other five of us – again with Rashied’s great guiding – started out driving behind Table Mountain toward Camp’s Bay as we did a few days ago, but this time we went south to Hout Bay. This is a small fishing village with soft sandy beaches. We arrived at the harbor, and we experienced one of the highlights of the day first thing: we got to pet a seal! He was the alpha male of the harbor and was 48-years-old, according to the man who assisted us. We all took turns, and then the seal lumbered out of the water so we could get even closer. It was pretty cool. Then we got a few souvenirs at a craft market right along the harbor.

We followed the Atlantic south to Noordhoek and on to Chapman’s Bay where we ascended up along the rocky coast. It offered amazing views, and we learned the road was closed from 2002 to 2009 while they secured the route of falling rocks. It was pretty amazing…and no rocks fell on us or the streams of cyclists we passed. Then on toward Scarborough…

Somewhere along the way in one of the small towns, we were excited to encounter our first baboons. We had read the warning signs and heard about their aggressive nature (because people feed them and then wonder why they come after their sandwiches), but hadn’t yet seen them. We were starting to wonder what all of the fuss was about, and then we saw them. They were out and about looking for food in garbage cans and jumping from roof to roof while the townspeople hollered at them. The two men on “baboon patrol” we’re trying to help shoo them away with sticks, but I think the baboons had the run of the town this day. Down the road a bit, we encountered a traffic jam…the culprits = baboons. :)

We stopped briefly at an ostrich farm, and then we headed further south to the Table Mountain/ Cape of Good Hope National Park. The first stop was to put our feet in the water where the currents of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans converge. We could see it happening – the waves crossing – and we survived the slippery, rocky, seaweed-covered, bug-infested slow walk to the water so that we could stand in it briefly. (It was gross, but worth it.)

Next we drove down a little more to Cape Point, where we first took a break and had lunch. Then we walked up and up and up (and up and up and up) to the lighthouse. There is a funicular (an on-ground tram) called the “Flying Dutchman” that we could have taken, but we opted for the hike. It was tiring, but good exercise and quite a view along the way, as well as from the top. Based on the sign to New York, and the conversion from kilometers to miles, we figured we were about 10,500 miles from home. Wow!

We drove a bit more to the penguin colony, just south of Simon’s Town. We were delighted to see the cute little guys on Boulder’s Beach. The fluffy, furry babies are especially darling. We didn’t learn why they’re called “jackass” penguins, but we did learn that they live for 12-14 years, lay two eggs once per year (which are looked after by the males, just like big emperor penguins), and they mate for life (the partner dies within six months of the other). And, it wasn’t really smelly at all.

After a round of gelatos, Rashied gave us some time to walk on the beach at Simon’s Town. This was where we thought we would use our “swimming costumes,” but the overcast day didn’t say “let’s go swimming” vey loudly. Jen and Courtney got in more than the rest of us, but no real swimming occurred. We did try to rescue a few starfish though…way to go, Oregon girls. :) By the way, Simon’s Town is a SA naval base as well.

We drove through Fish Hoek (where Brenda lives, by the way), and then our last stop was on the mountain above Kalk Bay. We saw where the “shark spotter” stands and watches the beach where the Guinness Record of the most surfers on one wave occurred. He said that the last shark sighting was two weeks ago, and that the great white shark was over three meters long. If he sees one from the mountain, he pushes a button that cues a siren on the beach, and he radios down the coordinates of the shark. Two spotters take shifts each day, and many more sightings occur in the summer (remember, it’s winter here). It was an impressive effort…I will not worry about Kym if our Hawaii girl does some SA surfing!

Saturday evening for me was another rugby game on TV with Sheila and Binci; we again had salmon salads, etc., like last Saturday…it’s become our tradition, I guess, and I heard a few “yum yum” & “luscious” comments about some of the players on the opposing team. ๐Ÿ˜‰ This time the local Stormers took on the Blue Bulls of Pretoria (who were sporting all pink uniforms for breast cancer), in Pretoria, and the Stormers won, 19-14. Then the national South Africa Springbok team was announced. Even though I am a newbie, I could tell this was a big deal…I think three or four Stormers were selected. Next Saturday, SA takes on England, and I’m already looking forward to it. I think some of the girls are going to a soccer game tomorrow, so we’ll have to compare notes on SA sporting events.

Sunday: I checked out the Methodist church in the area; since those are my roots it seemed like the most familiar choice. It’s only about a 10-minute walk from Sheila’s house, and after waking up a bit apprehensive to go, I was so glad I did. It was in English, thankfully, and the pastor reminded me a bit of Reed (so you know he was good). :) He was a dynamic, entertaining, thoughtful speaker, and he could lead us all in praise songs and hymns too (Reed is much cuter though).

The sermon was from Ephesians 5:21-33 (the submit, love, respect verses), and he applied it to marriages, of course, but also to the wider church body and all of our relationships. It was a good reminder of how Christ intends us to be in our treatment of one another. We were encouraged to behave toward others as if they are already the people they are meant to be. We should see the love of God shine out of us through how we treat others. So good. So glad I went.

Then I spent awhile in Cavendish Square (a huge [6-story?] mall) on my way home. Sheila had told me about an espresso/chocolate shop there…totally my kind of combination. I found it quickly, got my single shot of espresso (& free piece of chocolate!), and sat down to enjoy my treats and do a bit of people-watching. There were families around me having coffee, juice, and pastries, and the sound of bickering children and exasperated parents reminded me of home. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just kidding (well, sort of). I turned on my iPhone to see if there happened to be free wifi, and lo and behold, it was a hot spot! After many unsuccessful attempts, I was able to register and catch up on some emails. I didn’t have my iPad with me, so I couldn’t update the blog, but it was nice to be connected for awhile.

My mall wandering was a bit disorienting at times…I think there are three or four banks of escalators among the six stories of shops, theaters, and food courts…but I survived. I bought a couple of small “coffee table books” of Cape Town and South Africa, something I had been wanting to find. I also bought a pair of “black comfy boots” (totally what the receipt calls them) for ~$13. I have found a couple of little things for Reed and Jackson, but the perfect “I-miss-you-and-am-so-happy-to-see-you” gift for Miss Abbie still eludes me. I am certain I will find it by June 21. I think I may need to get another suitcase before I return home.

Then it was Kingklip (local fish) and veggies for lunch and a return walk to Sheila’s. At 3pm (till 7pm!) the flotilla on the Thames River in London was televised, so Sheila, Binci, another neighbor, Pam, and I watched it together. We started at Sheila’s, but the local SA channel didn’t have audio commentary, so we walked over to Pam’s house to watch it on BBC. This is part of the celebration of the Queen’s jubilee (i.e., 60 years on the throne). It was quite something…the pageantry and all…especially watching it with three women with English ties!

Onward to another full week…Today (Monday) we have class and then an afternoon with Rashied at the District Six Museum and walk around Greenmarket Square. I hope to file a full report tomorrow morning!

Robben Island at last

We made it to Robben Island this morning with the 9:00 ferry. There were large swells in Table Bay, but no one got seasick, thankfully. The ferry ride was about 45 minutes (one-way), then there was a 35-minute bus tour of the island, and finally a 45-minute walking tour led by a former political prisoner from Robben Island.

We learned quite a bit, though we agreed much more was left unsaid. We saw the leper graveyard (Robben Island has been used for banishment of many kinds since the 1600s), and the limestone quarry where hard labor punishment was carried out. The pile of rocks was placed there by former inmates, including Mandela, in February of 1995, one year after their release. We saw the dog kennels that housed German Shepherds in bigger quarters than those in singe cells, like Mandela and other political leaders who spoke out against apartheid.

We learned how living conditions were very hard, including how everything, down to food portions, was divided along racial lines. We saw Nelson Mandela’s cell. It was hard to imagine real life there, now that it is a World Heritage Site, but I’m glad we have the opportunity to ponder it.

Quite a few pictures are below…too many to fully describe with limited wifi time. You’ll just have to ask one of us to tell you more when we’re back home.

Gumby moments

I shared with my students how our World Vision U.S. coordinator, Ruth, gives out little Gumby bendable characters each time our teams travel to Swaziland. This is to have a tangible reminder of the need to be flexible throughout our time. Schedules change, tires go flat, people get migraines, etc., and we need to go with the flow. Well, I had my Gumby out in the table in our classroom this morning, and it ended up be very appropriate for the day’s events.

First, it was rainy & breezy. This makes a 15- to 20-minute walk a very different experience, and it seems to slow down the trains too. Second, combine that with a bit of disorientation when coming out of the train station and heavier rains, and you’ve got six very wet and rather late students. I was fine with them being late…I was relieved to see them waiting at the gate and thankful they weren’t lost for too long.

We collected ourselves, got some coffee and tea, and then had our first class. The discussion was good and already a lot was contributed based on experiences had so far in Cape Town. The home stay families are great sources of information, and we were able to discuss how world views (both ours and other people’s) impact us. I can tell that a lot of learning has already occurred, which is just why these types of experiences are so great!

You’ll see in the photos the guest house where our classroom currently meets (Abbadale), as well as towel-clad students, hoping for dry pants by the end of class. :) Thankfully, we’re all girls and it worked fine, though without much heat inside, the pants (& socks & shoes & jackets) weren’t exactly dry by the time we left for Robben Island. A bit of microwaving of socks occurred, and then Rashied collected us and made a quick stop for some (dry!) pants, etc. to be purchased on the way to the waterfront.

Brenda had been checking in all morning about the ferry to make sure it was still running with the iffy weather. All signs were go until 6 minutes before departure. It was cancelled. “Disappointing” doesn’t quite capture the feeling. While waiting to hear from Brenda on the rebooking process, we toured the exhibit in the ferry hall. It focused on Apartheid and those who have fought it. Nelson Mandela was highlighted, of course, but so were Fred & Sarah Carson. I want to learn more about them. You will see some pictures from the exhibit, as well as the lovely waterfront.

The cancellation was puzzling as the weather had cleared. Here’s how Rashied interpreted the situation: the main (large) ferry was not in use, perhaps due to a maintenance issue. So, a smaller ferry was being used. With the questionable weather, the ferry staff probably thought not everyone who had booked would show up. So when we all did, there was not enough room for us all on the smaller ferry (basically, it was oversold). Now Brenda is left with the task of rebooking us…

So, Rashied delivered the students home and me to GHS for some emailing/blogging, but ongoing Internet problems plague this place. The tech guys are here now as I type; they’ve actually been here quite a lot since my arrival a week ago. Hope it’s fixed before I have to leave for the afternoon.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) the students go to their practicum/volunteer placements. I think they’ve enjoyed the tourist role, but are ready to become servants. Courtney and Crystal will be at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Kym and Jen will be at the Sarah Fox Recovery Hospital, and Kelsey and Kjersten will be at the Little Angels Day Care Center. I will rotate through all sites over the next three weeks, in the order listed here. It is likely that they will experience some tough stuff through these placements, so please say an extra prayer for the students.

All in all, it was still a good day, despite the Gumby moments…maybe even because of the Gumby moments. (I assured the students that in a few days, this will be a funny story, worthy of a laugh.) It is good to be flexible…it always seems to come in handy. (Like now when the wifi remains down and it’s time to go…)

The last picture is a bit of happiness in a cup…a fairly decent latte I picked up on my walk home for R14 (~$1.75; the exchange rate is improving). Who needs Starbucks?! Haven’t seen one since I left PDX…I like that.

P.S. The colorful Muslim neighborhood is called Bo-Kapp (the name escaped me on my last post). Also, Brenda successfully rebooked our Robben Island tour for Thursday morning, thus shifting our class to the afternoon. Here’s hoping for brighter skies (& no overbooked ferry!).

A full day in Cape Town

First things first…finally a picture with ALL six students, as well as our Good Hope Studies (GHS) hostess, Brenda (then from left to right, Kelsey, Crystal, Kjersten, Jen, Courtney, & Kym). Also, our lovely lunch spot, “Crave,” in Cavendish, about a 10-15 minute walk from GHS. The students seem well overall, and are happy to be done with airplanes for awhile!

We had a full afternoon and evening touring Cape Town with our guide, Rashied, a native of the city. This report will be fairly brief in comparison to everything we did, saw, and learned today, as it is getting late on Monday night as I type this (I had to start by spending some time preparing for our first class tomorrow!).

We began at the Castle of Good Hope, which protected the city after the Dutch arrived in 1652. Don’t think of a Disney fairytale type of castle with tall spires, but rather a pentagon shaped low rise structure…but, in true castle fashion, it comes with a moat! Next we saw nearby City Hall – the second oldest building in South Africa – and also where Nelson Mandela gave his first address after being released from prison in 1990, as well as after he was elected president in 1994.

We learned that the “city bowl” of Cape Town has 1.5 million residents, but when the suburbs are factored in, it rises to 4.9 million or 10% of all of South Africa. Did you know that Cape Town is the legislative capitol of the country, whereas Pretoria (near Johannesburg) is the administrative capitol? We saw other notable buildings, statues, and cathedrals in the city as well. We heard about how the slave trade worked and how the “slave tree” was removed from the town square due to the horrible events that occurred under it.

Next we crossed “outside the gate” (there’s an Afrikaans word for the name but I didn’t write it down). Basically, it was a gated/fenced off portion of the city for housing Muslims. It is still largely a Muslim neighborhood today, and the fence remains, but the gates are gone so one can freely enter and exit. Some of the streets are still bumpy old cobblestones, and there are ten mosques in the area. Our favorite part was the brightly painted houses…Rashied said it was (is) done to make a statement in contrast the Dutch rule and their white houses. It was very beautiful (notice us girls by the pretty pink house!).

We drove up to the lower platform of Table Mountain and the view was incredible! We lucked out with a beautiful clear day, so we could see for miles (I mean kilometers). We did not take the cable car to the top, but had some time to get a few small souvenirs. After this view, we drove past Lion’s Head, up Signal Hill for another stunning vista of the entire Table Bay. We enjoyed the guinea fowl pecking around this area, and we made Rashied promise that no snakes would get us. :)

Still more…we drove through the valley between Table Mountain and Lion’s Head to the other side (water all around gets kind of disorienting!). On the way, we saw the Twelve Apostles, which are the jagged rock formations on the back side of Table Mountain (i.e., just like the twelve apostles at the last supper table with Jesus). Then we entered the very ritzy Camps Bay area where the millionaires live and play. This is on the Atlantic side now, and we got about 45 minutes to walk on the beach. We next headed to Sea Point, where we watched the sunset…yes, the sun sets at the Atlantic Ocean, weird, huh?

We circled back into the city, past the huge football (you know, soccer) stadium that was built for the World Cup, past the waterfront, and on to our dinner destination, Gold of Africa. We began the evening with a drumming session, and I think we were very good compared to the other group that was with us. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Next came a 14-item dinner, complete with explanations of the dishes and their African origins. Some singing and dancing occurred throughout the meal (don’t worry, not by us), and I think we were all quite satisfied with the festivities (especially the warm custard dessert). Rashied delivered us home by about 9:00, and we were ready for some rest!

I was so proud of these “girls” today, trekking around learning so much about this part of the world, despite being tired from traveling some 10,000 miles to get here (and their bodies not knowing what timezone they’re in yet). They have big hearts for this world and the people in it, and I’m privileged to get to be sharing this experience with them. Tomorrow we will have class and then travel by ferry to Robben Island, which I’m certain will be a humbling experience (here’s hoping the weather holds).

We’ve already learned a bit about some of the injustices here as Rashied shared tonight how during Apartheid, his driver’s license only allowed him to transport people of color, since he is a person of color. He would’ve been arrested if he drove Whites, and his license and car taken from him. He sees a lot of changes for the better since then, of course, be he also spoke of a nearly 30% unemployment rate, most of which is within people of color. We will continue to learn about such social justice issues, and we will try to wrap our minds around how such things happen, impact people, can be changed, and our part in it all. To be continued…

Weekend R&R…& Students!

The weekend consisted of rest and relaxation for the most part. Saturday started with more rain, so I spent the morning reading & relaxing. Then the skies cleared, and Sheila treated me to an afternoon at a winery, or vineyard as they call them here (literally saying “vin yard”), called Hazendal, near the wine region of Stellenbosch (about 35 minutes east of Cape Town; Google it and you’ll see what a huge wine region this is).

Sheila had purchased a Groupon type of deal for wine tasting and lunch. I’m not sure of the total cost (I have to treat the next time), but I saw that it only cost R10 or about $1.50 for 5 tastes…and they are generous pours. And, even more, our waiter gave us a 6th one at no charge. He could tell I was from America, and when I told him that our region produces quite a lot of wine, he was surprised saying that he thought most wine comes from South Africa. :) I guess we’re all a bit ethnocentric.

We enjoyed our cheese plate (including hugely popular fig jam) with our first few tastes, and then we had lunch. Afterward, we made our selections of what bottles to buy, though there was no pressure at all to purchase anything. We each selected three…I went with a Merlot that Reed will love, along with a red blend of Merlot, Cab, & Shiraz (R35!), and a Sauvignon Blanc. The total was R142, or ~$20, and these are very good wines (no comments, Reed, about my cheap wine tastes as I didn’t pick based on price!). You can see the lovely winery – or vineyard – with it’s traditional Dutch/Cape architecture, and some wine/food pics attached (you may notice that their logo looks a bit like Edgefield’s Black Rabbit). I also got a couple of good scenery pics from the car of their magical mountain.

Saturday night consisted of smoked salmon salads & bruschetta, a bit more merlot, and a rugby match on TV with Sheila’s neighbor, Binci (as in “inci binci spider”), joining us. Rugby is HUGE here, as is cricket…I walk by the cricket club on my way to school, as well as the rugby stadium (sponsored by DHL)…and of course football (you know, what we call soccer; Sheila supports the Arsenal [a UK team], FYI).

South Africa is still relishing in hosting the 2010 World Cup, despite the economic toll the 10 (I think) newly constructed stadiums have taken on the country’s economy. The church team saw the orange one in Nelspruit, near Kruger, which our driver said sits empty now. I got a peek of the new Cape Town stadium, and I saw the massive (favorite word here & in the UK…Reed, remember Stonehenge?) practice stadium too. Sheila said their stadium is used for rugby, soccer, and concerts, but feels the old one would’ve been suitable for the Cup (she said FIFA’s requirements resulted in the new one).

Anyway, it is rugby season in the winter, and the local Capetonian team, the Stormers, were away, taking on the Sharks of Durban. It was a big match as the Stormers sit atop the 15-team-SA-league with a record of 10-1. Unfortunately, I must be a jinx as the Sharks won 25-20. :( I wasn’t really into it (shocker, I know), but I enjoyed the experience. I actually understood it by the end, and I can appreciate its much faster pace than American football…and complete lack of protective gear! Binci and Sheila clearly had their favorite players (Patrick Lambie for the Sharks and Peter Grant for the Stormers, both of whom were described as “luscious” by my local rugby enthusiasts). :) Sheila and her brother actually have season tickets to the Stormers (& can walk from Sheila’s house), so they are pretty big fans I gather.

It was great to greet my students Sunday morning (of course)! Stanford picked me up at 9:45 and we made the short trek to the airport, after picking up two Brazilians who were going back home (I learned that Brazilians take a long time to say goodbye and have a LOT of luggage). I’ve included a picture of us with Stanford at the airport (don’t worry, we didn’t lose Kym; she arrived the day prior). They all looked good but said they were very tired, of course. I pray they rest well and can hit the ground running Monday morning. They have the energy of youth on their side I guess.

We drove to Plumstead where they all are staying. First we dropped off Jen with her hosts, Clive & Ursula Baatjes. Kym is at this homestay too, but she and Ursula were on a walk so I did not get to see her. Clive said she had settled in nicely and woke early this morning. Next we took Courtney and Crystal to the home of Yul & Sabine Eckardt, where we also met their 6-year-old daughter, Lauren. They had a pretty intimidating looking German Shepherd that Courtney wasn’t too happy to see. Hopefully the pooch is a nice family dog once s/he knows you’re part of the family. Finally, we delivered Kelsey and Kjersten to their hosts, Patrick & Beryl Riley, a nice older couple who had just returned from church. All of the hosts were very warm and I trust the “girls” (as the GHS staff calls them) settled in well today and got some good rest.

Sunday afternoon, Sheila drove us through Camps Bay and Bantry Bay to Sea Point, where we walked along the Atlantic for about an hour (several pictures are below). Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, was off in the distance (I’ll be taking the ferry there with the students Tuesday if the weather holds). Being a beautiful “winter” day (I’m guessing close to 70 degrees, sunny, & no wind), lots of people were out walking, jogging, and playing in the park. On our return walk, we even stopped for gelato…yum.

We drove past the Table Mountain cable car on the way, and when we returned she took us through downtown Cape Town, including the Waterfront, where I’ll be staying once my family arrives on June 21. it looks like a LOT of fun with attractions (including a wheel like the London Eye), shops, restaurants, and a working dockyard…something for everyone.

Finally, on the way back to Sheila’s, we stopped at the Cecil Rhodes memorial. It boasts a great view of the city/cape, as well as a pretty substantial granite memorial, complete with several lions, which children appear to enjoy climbing. Rhodes was a diamond and gold mine baron, and he set aside a large amount of land (i.e., where the memorial sits) for conservation. I think he was a president of SA too, though I’m not sure and my guidebook doesn’t say.

It was a great afternoon excursion, and I’m starting to get my directions figured out (though I still often feel turned around, which isn’t like me as I have a pretty good sense of direction [just ask my parents how I helped navigate the family through New York when I was 16…but don’t ask Reed how I did on our way to Normandy, France]). :)

When we got home, I thought I’d try to call my niece, Tess, who graduates from high school today in Vinton, Iowa. Fortunately, my timing was perfect as I got to speak with her, as well as my sister, two young nieces, and my mom. It’s a big day there, and I’m so sorry to miss it…but, the good news is Tess will be coming along with the family next month for our South Africa/Swaziland adventure. (Not a bad way to celebrate one’s high school graduation, if you ask me!)

The students and I have a very full week – probably our fullest of the four – with orientations, outings, classes, practicum experiences, and getting accustomed to this place. They (we) will be learning so much just by being in such an international setting. I feel that experiences like these are incredibly valuable, and they are certainly key in meeting Concordia’s mission of preparing leaders to transform society…we must be prepared to transform diverse segments of society, not just our own. I hope to have some exciting posts…stay tuned!

NOTE: Until welcoming my students at the airport Sunday, I had not encountered an American since the church team and I parted ways on Tuesday. Nearly five days with no Americans around…so strange. Makes me feel kind of special and weird all at the same time!