Reflections and Memories: South Africa

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

The funny thing about studying abroad and I suppose travel in general, is that you treat the entire experience as if your mind and heart were an open passport; just waiting for the city and people to make their mark. Then, after returning home, looking at those stamps with a smile and fond memories rushing through you. But then, for some people, they suddenly realize one day while laying in bed or strolling through town, that this foreign city isn’t just a mysterious cool place they pointed to on a map a couple months ago. And those people they met aren’t just friends. This city, this “foreign” place, has become your home. And those friends have transformed into family. That’s what happened to me. I fell in love: with the city; with the environment; with the culture; with the people; and with a wonderful person. And I think the hardest thing I’ve experienced since returning home isn’t so much missing the place or the people or the cheap price of good quality wine (which is A LOT by the way), but more so acknowledging this feeling that my home and my heart will never truly be in the same place anymore. There will always be a part of me missing. Then, an even more daunting thought comes to mind: these are the only two places in the world I’ve really lived/travelled/known for a “substantial” amount of time in my adult life. What about the rest of the world? What do those magical places have o offer? And what then can I give in return to the people and the places that have given so much to me?

I’d love to dive into my hopeful travel plans but I know I’ve neglected to finish sharing with you all the rest of my experiences in Cape Town. In order to spare you all some time, I will bullet point some memories and leave it up to you to ask me any further lingering questions you may have.

-shark cage diving

-hiking lions head for sunset and picnics

-eating weekly sushi at Beluga

-watching sunsets with a bottle of wine over Camps bay

-seeing penguins at Boulders

-exploring kirstenbosch gardens

-shopping in the waterfront

-visiting Robben Island twice

-Viewing District 6 museum

-Having a braai and a jol at mzoli’s

-experience the townships of nyanga, langa, and mitchels plain

-going to a wedding from the township ( and meeting the bride and groom)

-clubbing on long street

-shopping on Kloof

-playing beach volleyball every weekend on Clifton and Camps

-trail running behind Rhodes memorial

-having fun at World of Birds

-Enjoying brunch at the Old Biscuit Mill

-Strawberry picking and wine tasting in Stellenbosch

-Whale watching

-Hiking crystal pools

-going on safaris in the bush in Botswana and Kruger park in South Africa

-Going on an ocean safari in Mozambique

-quadding through Praia do Tofo, Mozambique

-camping in swazliand (Seeing rhinos and listening to lions)

-Driving the Panorama route

-Looking through God’s window

-competeing nationally for beach volleyball in Kimberley and polokwane (best finish 4th place)

-kayaking down the Okavango river

-sunset cruise on the Zambezi river

-Flew over Victoria falls in a micro lite

-Hiked down to the boiling point

-felt the showers of the smoke that thunders

-Got bitten by a ridiculous amount of “mozies” (mosquitoes)

-Got hooked on Savannah dry

-basked in the cheap price of wine and other spirits

These are just some of the experiences I had while in South Africa, and while there are so many more, no list could ever properly sum up the memories I made over the past 6 months. Although I’m happy to be home with family and friends and extremely efficient and abundant wifi, South Africa has stolen my heart. Counting down the days until I come back to the Mother City. Look for my new years resolution blog in the next few days!

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Sunny days and intense rays

As yet another week whisks by here in Cape Town I can’t help but reflect on my feelings when I first arrived and my feelings now. I remember feeling frightened by high crime rates, constantly feeling as though I had to watch my back. But as time has passed and Cape Town has become more and more my home, I’ve realized that saying goodbye to this place will be heart breaking to say the least. Four months is just too short of a time frame to indulge in everything this city has to offer. But one thing that has changed for the better since I first arrived is the weather! Which brings me to my weekly update.

Last Thursday the sun came out to play and I enjoyed a beautiful two hours chatting on the Jammie steps with my back facing the sun and listening to the live music event taking place. But as I sat there basking/baking in the sun I came home to realize my entire back was covered in a heat rash. And as much as I enjoyed soaking in that heat, I had given myself a little dose of sun poisoning. If there is anything in the world that makes you miss home aka mom, it’s being sick away from home. But after some advil, a nap, and laying frozen tortillas on my back to ice it, I was able to make it to volleyball practice that evening. 

The following day was a rather productive and much needed cleaning day! Considering its spring time, my roommate and I spent ample time cleaning the room, doing loads upon loads of laundry and just getting our lives back in order. Also, dryers aren’t really a thing here. So everything has to be hung up to dry which means you have to account for the weather. Shoutout to the sun: you may have scorched my back but at least you’ll dry my clothes. 

Saturday, our exchange program headed out quite early for our West coast excursion. We drove to a Khoi San village or museum of some sort that took us around and explained the ways in which they lived off the land. After that we headed to a winery for lunch. Unfortunately the hanger set in (hunger/anger) due to the food taking an hour and half to come out. BUT, it was a beautiful area and also happens to be the place where Rocking the Daisies will take place (a music festival in October). 

Hut

Sunday I woke early to head out to Camps Bay for a glorious day spent playing beach volleyball. I made sure to apply plenty of sunscreen so I didn’t have a repeat of earlier this week. We played a TON of games and I even took a dip into the cold Atlantic. It was incredibly refreshing, but not for more than about 5 minutes max! 

Camps Bay

This Monday I had another wonderful day spent in Nyanga township working with children in an after school program called SHAWCO. Today my group took the grade 4’s to the library which is quite popular. They were a bunch of crazies on the bus ride over, running about and yelling out the windows. But when we got to the library, the settled down a bit and picked out their books. As volunteers we go around and have them read to us to check in on their reading comprehension. At the end of the day I’m always quite exhausted but I’ve started developing really wonderful relationships with the kids. It’s truly a wonderful feeling to return every week and see your students anxiously awaiting your arrival. Every week I try and bring a camera, phone or go pro to try and document my experiences with them, and my gadgets are quite the hit. All of them love posing for photos and videos. My goal is to splice together footage and show it to them on the last day. 

DCIM100GOPRO IMG_1013

Next week marks our spring break and I will be headed to Swaziland, Mozambique, and Kruger! It is a 10 day trip and I will most likely be off the grid for the majority of it. So look our for my next post in two weeks time!

And this is my life: South Africa

“Its the oldest story in the world. One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday, and then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today, and that someday is yesterday and this is your life.” -Nathan Scott

It’s still very hard to believe that every morning for the past three weeks now, I’ve been waking up in Africa. But what’s even more surreal is that these three weeks will continue on for five months. After years of dreaming of this experience, my time has finally come. I am here. I am in Africa. This is my life. 

To catch you all up to speed on my activities, my mom and I had an amazing last week together exploring Victoria Falls and the beautiful city of Cape Town. While in Zambia we stayed in a very charming place called the Munga Eco Lodge. There we went on micro-lite flights, sunset cruises, and got absolutely drenched by the “mist that thunders” at Victoria Falls. Once we finally arrived in Cape Town, my mom and I both had our first realization that although this was our final destination, this would be the point where we would be parting ways for a while. So we really took advantage of few days we had left together. We explored Cape Town by car the first day and driving on the left side of the road proved to be an adventure in itself. We went to see the stunning landscape of theCape of Good Hope and Cape Point and all the cities we passed along the way (Noordhoek, Camps Bay, Clifton, etc). We stayed in a marvelous boutique hotel called Rouge on Rose, located in the BoKaap area. There we were able to walk along Long Street, Kloof, & Adderly, explore the V & A Waterfront, take a ferry out to Robben Island, enjoy delicious meals, drink one glass too many on Wine Wednesday, and make precious memories together that I will cherish for the rest of my life. This was by far the most amazing trip I have ever been on and I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else by my side. Love you infinitely mom! And thank you for enriching my life in immeasurable ways. 

But just as one adventure ended, a new one began! And although I had to say a tearful goodbye to mom, I gained a new family here in Cape Town; my roommates at Roxburgh and Bolihope. In one short week we’ve explored the peninsula together, discovered the ridiculous affordability of alcohol, and created friendships that feel like family.