Tag Archives: South Africa

Heading back to Cape Town

Just a quick picture before I fly out to Cape Town. Having lunch at PDX with Abbie and Reed. Jackson is taking his last AP test of his Junior year. Bon voyage!

From Kruger w/ love

Just a quick post on our drive from Kruger Park into Swaziland. We don’t expect to be able to be online once there. We have had a fabulous experience here and have seen lots of animals, and we each have our favorite sightings. We were incredibly lucky to see five lions up close as well as two cheetahs with a fresh kill. Considering there are only around 200 cheetahs in all of Kruger Park (which is about12,000 square miles), the latter was very, very fortunate. More pictures are needed to tell the tales, but here is one of us so you know we are all fine and the lions didn’t eat anyone! 🙂

Geography lesson

Just a quick update on this Friday afternoon before I leave GHS’ wifi…I was successful in finding both a South Africa flag and map! Even better, the flag guy remembered me…I liked that so I didn’t even bother bargaining with him on the price (& it was only $6). And, I was sure to select a map that has “Mhlosheni” on it. That is the rural community in Swaziland that our church partners with (via World Vision), and where I was prior to my teaching gig in Cape Town (& where I’ll return later this month with my family).

Mhlosheni isn’t on most maps, so I was quite pleased to purchase one that has it. If you’re not aware of the geography of southern Africa, two small nations -Swaziland and Lesotho (say “Luh-soo-too”) – are on the same map with South Africa as they are nearly surrounded by it (actually, Lesotho is surrounded by SA, but Swaziland also shares a border with Mozambique). End of geography lesson…& my Friday afternoon report. Happy weekend everyone!

Not "weird" but "different"

While living in South Africa, we have caught ourselves describing something new we’ve observed or experienced and referring to it as “weird”…we quickly catch ourselves and switch out weird for “different.” I thought I’d reflect a bit on this in today’s post, since I don’t have any exciting news to report or sites to describe. Students, please feel free to reply and post other differences you’ve noticed.

First, a few differences related to race…
For instance, isn’t it weird, I mean different, how many Afrikaaner (white) families have black maids? Isn’t it different how the term “colored” is not derogatory here, but rather descriptive of those who are neither white nor black? Isn’t it different to perceive racial tensions in the air, even though we are 18 years removed from the official end of apartheid? These differences cause discomfort at times.

Second, a few differences we like…
There are very few SUVs on the roads (now that is weird!). People here drive itty bitty, manual transmission cars for the most part. Generally speaking, people seem more conscientious about conserving resources, whether it is petrol (R11+ per liter…have fun converting to $ per gallon), water, or electricity (homes are not heated!). We like the multiple languages we hear every day, as well as the diversity of people that surrounds us. We like how inexpensive things are, for the most part anyway. We like how kids wear uniforms to school. We like the dinners our hosts make us each night…yum.

Third, a few differences we don’t like so much…
Pedestrians are not valued very highly here! Those itty bitty cars race down the streets, and I have yet to see one yield to a pedestrian…even in a crosswalk (I kid you not). The sidewalks are often in poor condition with quite a bit of trash alongside (despite the frequently placed green “zibi bins”). The only photo today is of the sidewalk that I walk down every day…there has been a huge hole in it the past three weeks. Today I was glad to see someone barricaded it off with some big rocks and wrote “please fix my hood” next to it. I feel safer already. 🙂 We are not crazy about the minibus taxi drivers that yell, whistle, and honk (or hoot, see below) to see if you want a ride…they get annoying when you’re waiting FOREVER to cross a street.

Fourth, some different terms we’ve learned…
Nappy = diaper
Cot = crib
Pram = stroller
Bonnet = car hood
Hooter = car horn (we did convey what we usually refer to when we talk about hooters)
Robot = traffic/stoplight
Geiser = hot water heater
Esh = kind of like “good grief”
Comfort stop = potty/snack break on a road trip…we like that one
Toilet = restroom/bathroom…easy translation but we don’t like asking for the “toilet”

I’m certain there are many other differences yet to describe, but this is a start. Jen, Kym, Kelsey, Courtney, Crystal, and Kjersten can share more…

Penguins, dassies, baboons, & whales (oh my!)

Our Sunday excursion to Hermanus was nice…we were so thankful for the return of sunny, warm skies. We drove along the coastal route on our way, first stopping for a photo op at Gordon’s Bay (a gruesome shark attack occurred here about three months ago…Kelsey & Kjersten can tell you all about it [from a 2-hour dinner conversation with their hosts]).

Next we went to Betty’s Bay, home of the Stony Point penguin colony. We saw a lot more penguins than we did at Simon’s Town, so it was a great experience (though more penguins = more stink). And, we learned that they are called “jackass” penguins due to the braying sound they make when they mate and mark their territory. However, most other kinds of penguins make the same sound, so they are usually called African penguins. 🙂

We also saw several dassies, which are cute, furry brown animals, kind of like big bunnies without the long ears. They look like the kind of animal you want to pick up and cuddle (though this describes pretty much all the animals these girls see!), but our guide, Marinda, said they often carry rabies and are “eagle food.” 😦 ,

On a side note…we learned a new term today: “bunny hugger” which basically is an animal lover (this describes our group well). Sometime I will have to post interesting terms for objects/phrases we’ve learned. Anyway, also at Stony Point, there was an old shipwreck in the bay…I thought it was pretty cool.

Next we motored on down the road and encountered some baboons. There was a small group of various sizes, including adorable babies and the big “king” baboon. Our guide told us how when the young adult males try to vie for the position of “king,” they sometimes grab baby baboons by the head and rip them apart to show their dominance. Sounds pretty nasty.

Then we drove a bit more to Hermanus, the best land-based whale-watching spot in the world. Well, this day the whales were kinda hard to spot…we saw some from a distance, but no spectacular sightings, I’m sorry to say. However, we may be tempted to tell a “fish tale” (yes, we know whales are not fish) about midwife whales coming alongside a mother in labor and helping push out the baby whale (which was then named “Concordia Pacific” in honor of our students from CU and Warner Pacific). 😉 Even the “whale crier of Hermanus” with his hooter (another term that makes us giggle, this time meaning horn), couldn’t help us much.

We enjoyed lunch and gelato together, the beautiful views, and the warm sun on our faces. We also drove to a mountain-top lookout for another great view. Basically, it was a day of a lot of great scenic views just asking for fun photos to be taken. I have included many here…hope you enjoy.

Back to the books Monday…half way done!

Rugby report

Please feel free to skip this if you don’t care about a rugby report. 🙂 I must admit, I’m kinda getting into this sport. I wonder if one of our satellite channels carries rugby matches (Reed, please investigate and let me know)? Anyway, I am pleased to say that SA beat England Saturday night, 22-17. It was quite exciting, especially when watching with local fans, Sheila & Binci. Yes, once again a few “yum, yum, yum” comments were made about some players (not by me!).

In the TV photos, you’ll see that I thought the final score was going to be 22-12 (they play to around 80ish minutes), but then England scored another “try” after the “hooter” (the name for a horn here) to take them to 17. The guy at the end with the bloodied eye is the SA captain, from the Cape Town Stormers (a local hero), Jean de Villiers. He always seems to look like that after a match (as do others). It is pretty brutal…our super-padded & helmeted NFL players are kind of wimpy next to these rugby guys with no protective gear. And, I’ve heard soccer players referred to as “sissies” by rugby fans!

SA and England play each of the next two Saturdays, both in SA (first in Joburg, then in Port Elizabeth), so I’m glad I’ll get to take in two more matches. Even better, I will get to share the one on the 23rd with my family! Go Springboks! 😉

Sarah Fox sweethearts

Wednesday was another volunteering day. I met Jen and Kym at Sarah Fox Children’s Convalescent Hospital in Athlone. The stated objective is “to provide expert nursing and medical care in a homely and loving environment for children and infants who are recovering from acute medical and surgical conditions…these children are unable to return to their own homes for social or medical reasons.” That last part seems to be the key…it feels more like a medical foster home than a hospital. And the conditions seem more chronic than acute. Parents aren’t really around, so Kym and Jen (& other workers and volunteers) are so important in providing the TLC all the little sweethearts there need.

Jen and Kym are stationed in the baby room, and as the pictures show, they are very happy there and are making a big impact. The main conditions treated at the hospital are TB, HIV, and kwashiorkor & marasmus (i.e., diseases subsequent to malnutrition). I saw a baby this morning that looked like fetal alcohol effects might be present too. You’ll have to ask Kym and Jen to tell you about the babies’ personalities and who their favorites are (it happens…Kym is holding Tyana and Jen is holding Phelokazi). In my short two hours there this morning, I grew quite fond of Fatima, who was born July 5, 2011…I think the feeling was mutual.

The babies are delayed in their growth, motor skills, language, etc. As I sat there, I wondered who they are able to form attachments with and how this is affecting their emotional development. I often reflected on our daughter’s orphanage in China and the similarities…not much crying despite a room full of babies, very basic facilities, “staff” as caregivers. They are safe and looked after, but it is far from an ideal or even a “normal” setting that babies deserve. It was sad and happy all at the same time…bittersweet, I guess.

We have talked in class about having the mindset of what can I do at this time for this one. I truly observed that being lived out at Sarah Fox with every peek-a-boo game played, every dropped toy retrieved, every nappy changed, every nose wiped, every smile shared, every hug given. All six of these young women are doing great things – you would be as proud of them as I am if you were here and saw them in action!