Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wet and cold

So far this week there has been a cold front moving through. So almost everyday this week it has rained and been like in the forties. One day it even hailed. That is okay though i have just layered up alot. It is supposed to get better the middle of next week.

Okay so here are some things that I have been meaning to write but have forgot to. So over here they drive on the other side like in London. So that you have to look the other way before crossing the street. So there has been a few instances where I have almost died but not really just didnt look the right way. It has been wierd but i am getting used to it. I still sometimes get freaked out when driving in the car becuase i feel like we are driving on the wrong side. But i have gotten much better with driving the bike on the right side of the road that was interesting too. So dont worry I wont die by gettting hit by a car that would be too boring. If i was going to die in africa then I would want something a little more exciting. Next random thing to mention. Over here plastic bags like when you go grocery shopping cost money. It costs 21 cents for each bag. That was a surprise the first time when i saw them charging me for each bag so now i just use my backpack and save the money. Next thing this is more for dad than for anyone else. So i rented a bike but the handle bars are no even like the breaks dont line up and when i squeeze the breaks my bike shakes. It is not like the nice kept ones at home. I am spoiled. Okay so that was just a random note but kind of a long one. Moving on.

So i went to Kayamandi which is an "informal settlement". This is where there is a lot of poverty and it is just a bad situation. We werent allowed to take pictures but this is one from the internet that kind of looks like it:

It was very humbling. When you walked in you could smell the sewage and like the dead animals mixed together. It took sometime to get used to. I guess there is a lot of problems with alcohol. It was crazy 2 families would live in a room with 2 beds and the families usually have 5 kids. There is no privacy at all and they all share sinks and bathrooms outside that you have to walk to kind of like a campground but much worse. There is also a house there that the wine industry owns and there is 10 rooms so 20 families and they all share one bathroom and have a beat up kitchen and common room. This is so frustrating becuase they make alot of money and you think that they would give their workers better conditions. It is wierd that people accept it. That was kind of strange. I am going to be volunteering there with a primary school soccer team. That starts next friday. So that was my humbling moment of the week.

Today I went into Cape Town and saw the District Six Museum which is an area where coloured people and blacks were displaced to a new area and now people are moving back. So here is some pictures of the musuem

here is a mural in the museum

some of the original street signs

here is a poem that one of the displaced people made.
I am Johansburg,
Durban and Cape Town,
I am Laguna, Chatsworth,
and Bonteheuvel.
I am discussion
argument and debate,
I cannot recognize
palm fronds and nights
filled with the throb
of the primitave. I am
buses, trains and taxis.
I am prejudice, bigotry
and discrimination.
Iam urban South

a map of the old district six where people who lived there can mark off exactly where they lived and old shops and other things.

After we went to an Indian Resturant and ate the food was delicous and it was all you can eat and free for us. It was in bo kaap where all the houses are painted in pastel colors.

We then went to Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. It was very very rainy and cold. My pants got wicked wet. But it was still pretty what you could see.

this is me and katy

me at cape of good hope

rodger and katy

So that is all for now. I will give you another update later. Thank you all for reading this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lush green mountainous africa?

So i made it to south africa! As you all know. When we got here we moved into our dorms. I am living in Concordia. I live on the second floor and there is one TV for the whole building. I have my own room and bathroom which is sweet and i share a common room and kitchen with 3 other girls. 2 are from Texas, Blaklee and Jenifer, and one from Califronia Chelsea. They are all nice but somewhat differnt from me but hey we are from all over the country. This is what i see everyday! It is gorgeous. I would be jealous

this is what i see when i walk outside my dorm

this is my dorm i am on the second floor facing the other way

the mountains

this is Stellenbosch mountain and the mountain i hiked up

I have had alot of orientation about culture shock, classes, money, history, the different languages (there are 11 official languages). When walking down the street you here so many languages it is crazy. it is very intersting. Thursday night we had a wine and snack time and wathced a movie. Wine is a huge part of the culture here. It is insane. I think that i am going to take a 1 credit wine course. On friday night of that week we had a brie which is an african cook out same idea you grill meat not hamburgers but like chicken breast. There was also another dinner where a group of kids from Kayamandi a very poor area (township) came and performed for us with the drums and singing it was amazing. Those kids could really move. That was nice I got to meet alot of people that way. That saturday i got up extra early so that I could go get the Harry Potter book. THere was no Harry Potter parties in Stellenbosch, only in cape town and since i had no way to get there i did not go. The trains that run there are not reliable and at night can be unsafe. So i got the book but we had a Cape Town tour that day. There we saw companys gardenes where i think it was Vasco de Gama came and set up a "refuling" place for ships that were on there way to Inida. There is only one tree left that was originally planted there. This was a pear tree but it doesnt produce fruit anymore only flowers.

at company gardens

the view from company gardens

So as you may be able to tell but this part of Africa has plenty of vegetation and is not full of some of the crazy animals that i would like to see from the lion king. Aslo there are loads and loads of mounatins here. It isnt exactly what i was expecting but i should have known considering this is a huge wine producing area. Anyway after company gardens we went to signal hill where you could see table mountain which us very flat on the top, lions head and devils peak. The views were crazy. It was so beautiful. We aslo could see where they were buiding soccer stadiums for the 2010 world cup. They are so proud of that here it is a big deal already. They have hates and posters and big plans to try and get ready for it. Here you could also see the other side of the atlantic ocean which was kind of strange.

devils peak this is where the devil smokes that is why it is always smokey or cloudy.

table mountain and cape town

cape town and the harbour

this is lions head

After that we drove to Camps Bay which has one of the only beaches in the area open to the public and we got to put our feet into the water. So now i have been in the atlantic ocean in the norther and souther hemispheres which is pretty cool. What else was need was that it was one of my friends Katy first time ever seeing up close or touching the ocean. So that was cool to experience it with her. She went in too far and got splashed by a big wave and her pants got all wet.

the beach

valere from hong kong and katy

i wrote my name in the sand

AFter that we were droped off at it think it was called Alfred and Victoria Waterfront front which was like a toursit trap. We spent 3 hours there so i was kind of dissapointed. It was a bunch of shops and resturants. But all for toursists. There was some cool performers though i saw an afircan dancers with the drums it was really neat.

this is at the waterfront

i was very far from boston!

this is kylie, eric and me with famous south african leaders.

After that we headed home but on the way home we saw cape flats. This is the townships the very poor area. But we didnt get to stop. Tomorrow i am going to kayamandi to take a tour of it because that is where i am going to be volunteering. After that i went home and read Harry Potter which by the way i have finished and am not sure how i feel about it just yet.

The next day me, Katy, Rita, and Daniel (all from the US) and Fine (like josephine without joseph) and thomas (toe mas) from Belgium hiked Stellenbosch mounatin. That was very cool. There are so many vineyards.

this is Fine, Me, Rita, and Katy with Stellenbosch in the background

all of us..Me Daniel, Katy, Rita, Thomas, Fine

some of the view

thomas and fine

It is gorgeous. So i know this post is very long. I am almost done i swear. They will get shorter but I am just trying to catch up and i think i have after this one last thing. The classes i am taking. I am taking Afrikaans for beginners, Introduction of Jewllery Design and Metal Techniques, public theology in South Africa(this is an intense course that ends early in september), Voices from the margin: SA Writing From the 1950's to the present, Biodviersity and Ecology: Population and Community Ecology and a one credit course introduction to the south african wine industry which meets 5 times and stars in september. Okay i think that is all so far. I hope you all have enjoyed this wicked long post and congratulate everyone who made it this far. Okay i miss you all and i hope you are all well and feel free to email me or whatever if you have any questions becuase i do want ot hear about you guys!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Some of you have been asking for my address. THere are 2 different ones that you will need.

The one for normal mail is:
Ellen Taetzsch
P.O. Box 3271
South Africa

The packages is:

Ellen Taetzsch care of Hestea de Wet
International Ofice
Wilcocks Building
Victoria Street
University of Stellenbosch
South Africa

Just to let you know that i do not expect any mail and please please dont think that you have to send me anything it may be expensive i am not sure.


WEll I have been in aFrica for about a week. It is crazy here it is not what I expected. But first I will talk about London. Well I departed from boston but when we were about a third of the way there there was a thud. The pilot and flight attendants had not heard anything like it before so they decided to turn the plane around to check it out. In the end there was nothing wrong but they took out all the cargo and then put it back in. So I ended up arriving to London 6 hours late which was dissapointing. That day I just walked around the area that we stayed in ( South Kensington) and ate then went to bed. The next day we took a tour of the famous sights Big Ben, the tower of London, Westminster those kind of things. I then walked to Abbey Road with some people I met which took through so many different places that werent as touristy. The people there were very rude to the americans some people really didnt like us which was strange but i was still nice back. Aslo everything was wicked expensive! I didnt want to buy anything. The next morning we ate breakfast packed and thenwent to kensington gardens and had a picnic where we tried to communicate with 3 polish people and one italian in the park who didnt know englsih and we did not know italian or polish so it was eventful. Then we went on the plane and head to South Africa. More on that later though i want to go and read Harry Potter so I will put some pictures up and I will hopefully add more later.
this is me at the natural history museum in front of a huge dinosaur.

Westimsinter abbey

Big ben

tower bridge from london bridge

the tower of london

me "calling" someone on the phone

a guard at buckingham palace

abbey road i am in the back

One of my favorite parts was KINGS CROSS STATION!!! OH Harry potter. I have the seventh book now and am currently in the process of reading it so no one tell me anything please

i am a witch i am going through the platform!

Monday, July 9, 2007

3 Days Left

Right now i am just packing and getting things together. I have gotten my passport and student visa. Its getting close! I will right more at a later date.