Tuesday, December 4, 2007


That means see you later in xhosa. My last few weeks in South Africa were amazing but difficult here goes the final post.

On the Monday after we got back form the trip I ran some errands with Chels and Blake and brought the tent back. We got a Gatsby, which is a huge sub. Like 2 ft long with curry chicken and chutney sauce but what makes it a gastby is they put chips (French fries) in it. It was so filling. Then we ran some more errands I got my letters. Thanks for those who sent me them it was great! We then went to see the Heartbreak kid which was probably out way long ago for you guys but that is okay I enjoyed it and it made me laugh. That night Katy and Rita came over and we hung out. The next day I volunteered at the hospital with Blakelee, which was interesting. I made a bed saw a crazy bed sore and talked with some of the patience. I then took a nap and cleaned a little. The flatmates and I then watched Madagascar and played cards. We then had tortillas with Tillie and went out for coffee but juice for me at a local place. The next day I slept in and got somethings sorted out. On Thursday of thanksgiving I went to the hospital to watch a surgery we were supposed to watch a cesarean section but there was another surgery where they were debating whether or not to cut a little boys finger off or sew it back on. I fainted on the first surgery something about seeing the boy being sedated and move around made me uneasy. I was allowed to watch part of the cesarean section from a distance, which was so neat, but I do not want to be a surgeon. While we were walking back we ran into Chels and Jen and Katy who were going to a restaurant in Kayamandi and we decided to join. When we got there Rita, Eric and Kylie were there so we joined tables and hade a great meal. Also that afternoon we had to turn our bikes in. It was so strange because everything was coming to an end. Final time in Kayamandi turning the bikes in it was a strange feeling. After that I went and bought a bottle of wine and amarulla for the flat. Then I cleaned some more made dinner and called home to say happy thanksgiving. After that Katy came over and we sat and talked and drank the wine. After that we ended up going out to one of my favorite bars and one of the first ones that we went to. We met up with a bunch of people from AIFS and had springbokkies which are delicious and danced and basically had a good time. Then we went to Springboks after and more of the same. After that we went to McDonald’s my first time and I got a McFlurry and then I came back and went to bed.

So on Friday I woke up…it was everyone’s last day in Stellenbosch. In the morning we cleaned the flat it is so strange now and I don’t like going out into it because it doesn’t feel like it is mine. When I am in my flat I stay in my room because it is the only place that is somewhat the same as I remembered it. We then got the flat checked where they took our bedding and kitchen stuff which was pretty sad but still I can handle it. After that me and a group of people (Jen, Blakelee, Chelsea, Kylie, Eric, Rita, Tillie and Spencer) all went out to a restaurant that I have been meaning to go to ever since we got here. This was great it was nice just talking and people doing things that I associate with them for example Jen reading the history of the restaurant in one of her crazy voices. We then walked around town and through campus which I started tearing up at even though I knew that it wasn’t my last time but that was rough. After that it was time to grab everyone’s bags and load them into the vans. Luckily Chels and I had talked to Hestea about going to the airport with everyone so that we could say good bye so we did. We all piled into the cars and the whole experience was surreal. We stood around and talked while people were getting their bags checked. After that was all done which took a long time we went to a restaurant in the restaurant and ate. Once I was told that after dinner we were leaving it got difficult. So once we paid the check the good byes started. This was so difficult it was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. I started crying almost immediately. I saved certain people for last just because I was closer to them but there were so many hugs and kisses. It was difficult and there isn’t much that you can say. I brought a box of tissues and so I was handing them out like crazy. Saying goodbye to my flatmates at the end was the most difficult. Jen one of them does not touch people and does not cry we hugged a bunch and cried. It is amazing how much I cared for these people and how much they have helped me to develop. I think that hear I have had some of the most real friendships in my life. No one had to be someone that they weren’t. It didn’t matter what we were like because we were going home in 5 months so we could be ourselves. I have been so honest with these people and in a heartbeat would turn to them for anything and I know that in a second they would be there. I hope that I can be like this at home and that I don’t forget how to be this real with the people at home. It makes everything so much more worthwhile. Also especially in the last couple of days it was amazing some of the things you were telling people it was just so truthful about how you felt about people and the worries you have when going home. Everything seemed so genuine, not forced but just genuine. The honesty here is something I want to emulate at home. I hope I am able to be as much of myself as I was here. It is amazing how close I got to these people in such a short time. Normally I don’t let my guard down so that I don’t have to deal with this but in South Africa I didn’t. It stinks just because I had to deal with these emotions and I wont lie I was very sad and still am and randomly will start crying. But then again it shows me just how much everyone here means to me and that the experience was worth it so therefore I wouldn’t change it for the world. I know I met some of the most amazing people in the world and I hope that someday everyone will get to meet people like I did.

Also I began to realize how much I liked my independence here. People didn’t know where I was 24/7. Not just people at home but people here. I didn’t owe an explanation to anyone. As worried as I was to come here alone it was by far the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I gained self confidence and this independence that I found is something that I want to stay with me I am a capable person who can get things done when I need to. Also South Africa taught me how to live a little. At home sometimes I feel like I am just doing things because that is what I am supposed to do. I go to school, I do my work, I just run through the motions. I don’t have to do that there isn’t one right path and I have heard that before but I have discovered it for myself here, which makes the lesson ten times more powerful. If I want t go skydiving then I am going to go I need to live my life. I am sorry I don’t want to be preaching but if you can gain anything from my experience then I will be happy.

Okay anyway after Chels, Tillie, Rodger, peter, and Luke (his brother) all hung out and had a sleepover. It was a sad evening.

The next morning I woke up and hung out in bed with Tillie and Chels for awhile then came back and showered and ate and worked on some things that I wanted to get done before I came home which I haven’t finished yet. Went back to hillbillies and just hung out for most of the day.

On Sunday I went to Canal Walk which is a huge mall in Cape Town and walked around. It was huge and nice. It was a good way of keeping my mind off of everyone being gone. That night I went over to Hillbillies which is where Chels is now living and made dinner and hung out and then walked home. On Monday I went to the school store here and bought some souvenirs and then went wine tasting. We went to 2 farms Waterford and Beyerskloof with Tillie, Renee, Peter, Luke and Chels. I wasn’t a big fan of the second one but the first one was okay. We then went to the grocery store and made dinner. Hung out some more walked home read did some things here etc…

Me and Tillie during the wine tasting

Renee driving us

The next day Chels and I got up early to take the train into Cape Town where we became part of the US Delegation J. It was so cool. We met up with Ed (he was my Dad’s roommate at UNH and now works for the EPA) and him and a bunch of other important people from the USA were taking a tour of different things around Cape Town. Ed invited me and a friend so I went. It was so cool and everyone was so nice. Okay anyway we went to Cape point and Cape of Good Hope and got to look at the weather observatory here, which was wicked interesting. We learned about what they were monitoring and different programs they had with other organizations. We had time to walk around which was nice because the last time I was there it was cold and rainy. After that we went to the Brass Bell for lunch, which was right on the ocean. It was so nice and Ed paid for lunch (I threw that in there for Dad). After that we went to Khayletisha where there was a monitoring station. It was strange though because we went to the firehouse and it was windy so it didn’t really feel like a township. The smell wasn’t there and the surroundings were nice because you couldn’t see past the wall. But that was so interesting to. What was also cool is some things would be over my head but others I was like hey I remember learning about that. Basically it was a great day. After that I said goodbye to Ed and then took the train back home. We ate at Hillbilles and then I walked home and attempted to read but ended up falling asleep wicked fast.

Wednesday I woke up and read some more and then packed a lot of things. After lunch I went shopping for some gifts that I have been meaning to get but haven’t gotten around to it then I laid outside and read trying to enjoy the warm weather while it lasts. Then I read and ate and worked on the blog some more. Basically a low key night just trying to get some things finished before I get home. Thursday I spent the morning reading and walking around Stellenbosch taking some pictures and just trying to come to terms with leaving. I had lunch with Renee, Tillie and Chels at Arizona Apur and then walked around some more and took more pictures then went to see Balls of Fury which is an awful movie might I add. I hung out at Hillbillies that night and then went home for my final night in my room. On Friday I got up and packed everything left up and Chels came over to download some music and some pictures.

this is what my room looked like before i took everything down
Then we walked around some more took some more pictures reminisced and had dinner with Tillie, Peter, Luke and Grant. Tillie made her famous curry which was delicious and then Chels and Tillie drove me to the airport which was pretty sad but the sunset was absolutely gorgeous!

Campus is gorgeous

the sunset on the way to the airport.
I then flew home which was difficult and I am still trying to adjust to everything but all the hard stuff was worth it because this was a great experience. One of the things I noticed while flying into Boston was how flat it seemed. There were so many mountains by me in Stellenbosch and also how many baseball fields there are it was strange. So I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for being so supportive and making this experience amazing. I couldn’t have done it without you. I am back in the USA.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hold On Baby Fire...Pimpin' Ain't Easy

They didnt take the internet away from me so I have been working on doing this for you guys. Here you go.

So this title is the theme of our trip. On some of the buses that transport people around have names and this is a compilation of three of the buses that we saw..hold on, baby fire, pimpin' ain't easy. We would randomly throw this saying out there...and here the trip begins

Okay do my amazing trip…this was a great road trip and most things that we had kind of planned we changed around. For example we were supposed to stay in Jeffery’s Bay the first night (it is known for amazing surfing if I ever come back I would like to go visit it) but we didn’t so it changed all the plans. So anyway let me start from the beginning. On the first day we picked up a 2 man tent from Tillie a friend andthen rented a 2 man tent. I then taught my flat mates quickly how to drive the car (it was standard). I also wanted to say thanks to my dad right now for teaching me and I recommend that everyone learn if they have the opportunity because it saved as a lot of money. We were on the road by 11. We took the N2 from Stellies (Stellenbosh) to Mossel Bay.

A picture while we were driving there

This is pretty much along the coast so there were some amazing views but we have done this drives a couple of times already not to say that it wasn’t breath taking. We stayed at the Mossel Bay backpackers. They showed us our camping spot and we were like umm okay. It was by a hammock and a picnic table and didn’t seem like a camping spot but I am not complaing. After we set up the tents, I slept with Jen in one and then Blake and Chels slept in the other, we decided to walk through town and take some pictures…

Mossel Bay

Chels and I outside the backpackers

Blake, Jen and Chels

Jen and Blake

The backpackers we stayed at

Gorgeous church in Mossel Bay

Blake Me and Chels

We then went to dinner at Delphino’s a restaurant right on the beach with an amazing view. After that we went to the backpackers and hung out and met this group of American boys who were hilarious. They were from a school in Virginia, EMU. There school makes them go abroad for a semester of a cultural emersion. It sounded so cool and they stayed in a village in Lesotho where they learned the language and had a week holiday then are studying in cape town and basically travel all around South Africa as part of the program that they choose. It was so neat. So anyway we played cards with them, scum, which was interesting some of them were very competitive basically it was a fun night. Then we went to bed and there was this bright lit cross on the hill, which was pretty eerie. It was much brighter than anything else. It was a little strange not going to lie. So it was the beginning of a good road trip.

The next day we ate breakfast on the balcony that overlooked the bay. It was beautiful. We signed up for skydiving but it was to windy so instead we walked around town some more and then drove to Addo national Park where we saw tons of animals like warthogs, kudu, rhino. water buffalo, elephant, deer etc…



hilarious sign

At Addo

At some part the bush was thick

red hartebeest

Water Buffalo

Water Buffalo

This picture is not zoomed in they were so close to us

elephant crossing



Jackel at the water hole

again there is a pile of bones in the background but it is hard to tell

We got stuck in the park because there was a confusion as to what the closing time was. We had to be out of the game part of the park at 6:30 but out of the gate at 7:00 and we thought that we had to be out at 7 so we honked and someone came disgruntled and let us out…oh the American tourisits. That night we drove to a backpackers that was like 10 minutes out of the park and ate and camped there. The stars were amazing there it was so gorgeous. I saw Orion and the Southern Cross. It was crazy.

The Orange Elephant Backpackers

The next day we left by 10 and drove 9 hours to Port St. Johns. We stopped along the way in a field to make lunch. Here is a picture..

The Circle of Life!

A lot of times along the east coast there will be livestock randomly grazing along the side of the road or crossing the road. So when you are on the highway you have to be very vigilent. Here is an example of a cow. I honked at it hoping that it wouldnt cross luckily it didn't.

We took the N2 to the R62. We entered the jungle. Some pictures on the drive in...

This place was so beautiful. It was one of my favorite places here in South Africa. I had entered jungle madness paradise. We had a low key night were we camped at Amapando backpackers and ate there and just hung out and played cards. The stars were amazing and the view from the tent faced the Indian Ocean. We were on the side of a hill and looking down on the ocean.

there these birds that had there nests like this. The birds were yellow and green and the wholes were at the bottom of the nest.

Jen and I by the tents.

The next day we woke up wicked early with the sun and hung around listening to the sounds of the ocean and the birds. We then went into town where we bought groceries, got money and we saw this man who was trying to sell us sticks. This man was great he was so nice and just genuinely interested in what you were saying. He has been doing this for many years and apparently it works because he hasn’t changed his tactics. WE didn’t buy a stick…we wouldn’t be able to bring it home. Next we took a tour through the backpackers, it was free might I add, of the local sulfur springs and smelled the “soothing” gasses. We then climbed into a mud cave where our guide took out this clay stuff and we had to hold it under the water dripping from the ceiling of the cave and then covered ourselves in mud. Next we climbed up to the top of the hill that the cave was in and drank sulfur water and talked to some of the locals. Then we went to the sulfur spring which was a pool of water that was blackish and the guide gave us more mud to decorate ourselves and other people. Here are some pictures…

The view from our tent

another view from the tent

Entering in to the backpakers

smelling the "soothing gasses"

Blakelee doing it

The jungle

the mud cave that we went in

me with mud all over me

Jen me Chels and Blake

The sufur spring with the mud that we used to decorate ourselves

our guide and the crazy plants behind him

Blake Me and Jen

The hole we drank the water out of

Then we drove to the ocean to wash off. It was such a neat experience. Throughout this whole time when we were driving we were in the back of a pick up truck which is a very south African thing to do so I was pretty happy about that and driving through the middle of town covered in mud allowed us to receive quite the funny looks. Then we had lunch at the backpackers and spent the afternoon at the beach so I went swimming in the Indian Ocean, which was great, and it was a nice relaxing day.

Jen and Chels at the beach after we had all been in the Indian Ocean


the beach

That night we ate dinner at the Delicious monster, which was great, I had a schwarma. It was a family owned restaurant at the end of this road that was dirt and full of potholes. The food was great and in the garden there was pot growing in plain view. It surprised me. We even walked up and they were smoking it. It is illegal in South Africa.

The view from the delicous monster

The next day we woke up at 4:45 to walk the beach and see the sunrise. It was amazing here are some pictures:

before the sun had risen

Blake and Jen

A man bathing in the ocean

a fisherman going to work

on the way back

While we were waiting for the sun to rise we played with the backpackers dogs that had followed us to the beach. We were on the road by 9 to Durban. We took the R62 to the N2 to the M4. Blaklee drove this day but when we got to the city we switched because she didn’t feel comfortable driving it. I have never driven in a city before so it was quite an experience but luckily everyone was helping when we had to cross 4 lanes so we made it safely. The first backpackers that we went too didn’t have enough room for us so we went to a second one in Durban which was called Tekweni backpackers where we got a 4 person room (there is no camping in the city) for a bargain of R90 because there were no dorms open which were R80 a night so that was nice.

We ate dinner that night at a Thai restaurant which was delicious and then went back to the room. The toilet didn’t flush so well it was very fussy. I got it to flush twice for the whole time I was there which wasn’t a high percentage.

The next day we almost went skydiving but it was too cloudy and windy so they had to cancel it again! But that is okay we took an inner city bus the Myna to the Victoria Street Market instead. This is a predominately Indian market but it sold the usual African tourist stuff. I bought some souvenirs and ate lunch at an Indian street place which was good then we took a nap at the backpackers and went out to dinner at A Taste of India which was good but Indian food isn’t my favorite.

The next day we finally got to go skydiving! It took the entire day. We had to go up in groups of 2 so Blake and Chels went together and I went with Jen. Right before we jumped Jen and I said "Hold on baby fire, pimpin' aint easy." There was 35 seconds of free fall and then like 6 minutes of just floating over the ground. We jumped at 9500’ from Pietermaritzberg, which is 65km outside Durban, our instructors names were Martin and Vernon. It was pretty cool. I was strapped to Vernon and pulled my own ripcord when he said too I wouldn’t say it was as peaceful as bungee jumping they are too completely different experiences but it was worth it. After that we drove to Zulu land right outside Eschowe and camped at a backpackers Inyuzane. The stars were amazing here.

the sun set in Zulu land

I was awake for the sunrise there is a picture of it above and below this

The next day we painted tapestries at the backpackers. I also played with the son of the people in charge of the backpackers. It was so great we were throwing rubbers snakes. It was great to get a chance to interact with a child. It turned into a rainy day so we decided to leave and head to Dundee. On the way we stopped at a brewery to try the famous Zulu blonde beer but they were out so we continued on and arrived at BBI (Battlefield Backpackers International) we ate dinner at Battle creek Spur.

Spur is a restaurant chain here where there are like Arizona Spur(the one in Stellies), Mohawk Spur etc…so we felt that is fitting that we eat there at least once while we were here. It was fine nothing special but still good.

This day we drove to the Blood River Battlefield which is outside Dundee. It was a place where the Afrikaners massacred the Zulu. It is a famous battle and was pretty interesting. After we checked out the small museum and walked to the site of the battle we had a picnic lunch.

the memorial

blake jen and chels walking towards the iron wagons

Jen Me and Chels during our picnic

On the way out we got stuck behind a bunch of cattle and this nice man was trying to move the whole herd out of the way for us.

Then we drove to Johannesburg via the R33 to the R68 to the R34 to the N11 to the N3.

On the way to Jo'berg

Jo'berg from the road

WE got lost in the suburbs of Jo’berg and had to phone Adam, the friend of mine that we were staying with, and he was very patient at getting us to his house. I was very impressed that he knew where we were but we got there eventually. We got a tour of his house, which was gorgeous like amazing. His backyard was like a park it was so beautiful. We met up with Simon, his brother, and went to Orient Fusion after that I hung out with Adam while everyone else watched Harry Potter 4.

The next day we went to the Cradle of Humankind at Maropeng where there was a museum. It was so fascinating there were fossils and exhibits and even a boat ride through the 4 elements. It was one of my favorite things that we did while in JHB.
a view from Maropeng

Adam Blake and Jen and the enterance to Maropeng


Jen Me Chels and Blake ouside Maropeng

Me Blake Adam and Chels

After that Adam gave us a driving tour of Sandton which is the city kind of combined with JHB and where are all the businesses are moving. We stopped at Nelson Mandela Square. There is a statue of Nelson Mandela in the square but his head is small compared to the rest of his body. That night we ate dinner at the Maestro in Monte Casino where there was an older couple in plain sight for me who were getting very cozy. Then we went outside and hung around by this fountain where there was a water and light show!

This one makes me smile

the light show

It was so cool. The synchronized it to a mixture of Queen songs. Then it was time for the LION KING! We bought souvenirs and then went into the theater. We were in the 5th row! It was amazing the costumes were beautiful and the music amazing. Basically it was a great first Broadway show. I would go again in a heartbeat there was so much to look at that I didn’t know what to focus on. It was a great experience. After that we drove home got a little lost but made it. Told Adam about it and he was like yeah I remember that and then “watched” Harry Potter 3 but I feel asleep before he had made it to Hogwarts.

The next day we took a driving tour of Johannesburg with Adam where we got to see some of the downtown.

The strike

Then we went to the Apartheid Museum which was pretty heavy but interesting none the less.

on the way home

After we went back to his house and climbed the tree house in his backyard and basically
lounged around. I took a short nap and then went swimming in the pool.

Adam on top of the tree house

me waiting for my turn to come up

We had a small dinner and then went to Cool Runnings Café where his brother did a drum and fire dance thing which was really night. It was a different sort of night on the town. After that Blake, Adam, and I stayed up and talked for a while.

The next morning we switched rental cars because our cd player wasn’t working and apparently our back lights weren’t either… safe huh. Then we drove to Kimberly on the N2 it was cool because things were flatter and you could see pretty far away. I saw some lightning which was the first time since I have been here. Apparently lightning storms rarely happen in Stellenbosch. We stayed at Greatbatch backpackers in Kimberly for the night and drove through town to find a restaurant/explore. The restaurant that we found was decent but they were very slow and they forgot about Chelsea’s order and so that was extremely late and apparently it was gross but the sunset was amazing. After that we went back and went to bed.

The next day we went to the big hole where we took a tour walked through a museum and did an “underground experience” which they basically took us around part of the old mine.

some facts about the big hole

the big hole with kimberly in it

We then drove to De Beer’s mine which is working and had lunch at a sandwich shop.

On the way to the sandwhich shop we saw a police helicopter and a bunch of yellowish orange gas, which we didn’t know what it was. It was in a parking lot that the road we were on went right by. Chels said that she thought that it was tear gas but Blake didn’t think so, so she decided to stick her head out the window…it was tear gas. We then drove to Karoo National Park, which was by Beau-fort West. We took the N12, which turned into the N1. So we arrived at Karoo National Park and found a campsite. We then walked to the restaurant that was in the visitor center and gift shop area where we had dinner. After dinner we ate Blake, Chels, and Jen called home and I sat and looked at the stars. When everyone was done we walked back to the campsite in the dark. While we were walking back we saw about 5 Zebras. It was so crazy they were like 5 ft from us and they crossed right in front of us. It was so neat they were so close. We got ready for bed and then watched the stars. There were some shooting stars and one of them was so orange it must have been a big one I have never seen one like it. I decided that night to sleep outside of the tent. I would randomly wake up at night and could see the stars it was such a clear night it was amazing.

The next day we packed up and ate breakfast. Jen moved the car and somehow ended up in a bush. Oh well. We then went hiking but lost the trail so ended up bushwhacking. The trail was not very well marked. There was still a good view but it was extremely hot. We then did the fossil trail which was an easy walk that told you about the animals that used to live in the Karoo it was so neat some of the fossils were wicked neat and those animals were so crazy. On the way back to the campsite we saw these huge bushes with huge thorns! They were very pointy too I think that these are the bushes that in the lion king the hyena get covered in. They were crazy. We got ready to go where we saw this huge turtle or tortoise I am not sure which. It was massive.

Chels Jen anc Blake

the crazy thorn bush

look at how big they were

the turtle/ tortise

We then headed back to Stellies we took the N12 to the R62 to the R60 to the N1 to the R44. We stopped at a river by Outshoorn along the side of the road where there were tadpoles and crabs and the scenery was beautiful




i love windmills

We then made it back home were we got groceries then returned the car. So all in all it was an amazing road trip and not planned but we had enough of an idea of where we had to be that it was great. I would do it again in a heart beat.

I will write about the rest of the time too but I think that the is pletny long so if you made it this far congratulations!

See you all in less than a week.

Stay well.