Friday, June 6, 2008

be challanged by nature

Okay so an update on my life here...Well since the last post. The week right after was full of studying. I had to study for my human geography exam, work on a paper, and figure out what was going on for the trip that Chelsea and I took. On that Wednesday night I went to Brazen Head a local bar where they were playing the UEFA final, which is the best soccer, teams from Europe. It was between Chelsea and Manchester United. I was routing for Manchester united because I went with Grant and his friends and that was his favorite team and I was fairly indifferent but I do have way more friends that were for Manchester United. They won in the end in penalty kicks but get this so they had 5 and Chelsea just needed to make the last kick and they would have won but they guy shooting slipped so it was a very close game. It was lots of fun. The next day I had my exam which by the way I got an A in that class along with my other geography classes so basically I am going to change my major to that because I am brilliant in it ;). Just kidding but I really did enjoy those classes. Also during this time the xenophobic attacks began here. At first they were just by Jo'burg which sucked but better than being in the western cape. They spread and happened in Kayamandi, the township in Stellenbosch, where there were attacks against the Somalians. There are now camps set up across the country for people to stay in. It is pretty crazy and sad but it has gotten better as in fewer attacks. They weren’t directed at people like me from here. Instead they were directed at other Africans who are thought by some to be taking South African jobs and increasing the crime and gangs in the country. But with mob violence you never know how things will escalate. So that was a big deal here and they are taking donations for these camps which I plan to give some of my stuff here that I cant bring home to them.

Anyways on Wednesday the 28th of May Chelsea and my trip began to Lesotho so here is the details for that:
Day 1:
We left Stellenbosch a little after 8. JP drove us to the Cape Town airport, which was wicked, nice of him. We then got on our Mango flight. It was mangolicous (or at least that is what the flight attendants hoped it would be). We arrived in the Bloemfontein airport. It was quiet small like smaller than the Manchester airport but it was nice and it is currently under construction. We then picked up our car. It was a Toyota Yaris. We named her Alias because she is tough and hott like Jennifer Garner on the show, which is necessary when traveling to Lesotho. We the drove to Pick n' Pay and got our food rations for the week which included PB&J, beans, canned fruit and veggies, some instant soup, ramen esk stuff, pasta and pasta sauce. We then drove to Lesotho! But we didn’t get a Lesotho stamp when we crossed the boarder all we got was one on the South African side. This was at the Maseru Bridge. Maseru is the capital of Lesotho it was pretty small but I guess it is a small country. It was a beautiful country. It turned into a dirt road as we approached Rambanta. We arrived around dusk. Rose, the lady in charge was very sweet. WE were supposed to stay in the backpackers but she moved us into the main house where it wouldn’t be so cold for the backpacker’s rate. She was very attentive maybe a little too much but it was very sweet. We weren’t planning on eating the dinner that they had cooked because we had bought out food but she said she had already made it and so it was hard to refuse especially because the other people that said they were going to be there that night and eat dinner never showed up. It was 3 courses. Te first was this tomato soup but it was sweeter and creamier than just plan tomato soup. Then there was lamb stew with carrots and potatoes in it along with pap, rice, carrots and peas. There was also homemade bread. Then for desert was peaches and custard. It was so delicious and filling but totally worth it. After we hung out, read and studied..oh by the way we both had an exam the day after we got back from the trip. We were in bed by 9:30...we are old ladies.

Chels and I in the airport
Day 2:
We hung out in the morning at the Trading Post (the backpackers) and goat a free breakfast of museli, cereal, yogurt, toast, and fruit salad (I picked the bananas out). Then we did a little shopping at the store they had there. I got 2 postcards. I read little and said goodbye to Rose she had to go to Ladybrand a town in South Africa to buy more rations. We then showered packed, took some pictures and began the journey to Semonkong. The road was dirt with parts paved at the steepest areas, which had lost of potholes so it required a lot of attention and was a pretty draining drive but we split up the driving so chels drove half and I drove half. When we got there we were shown to our room, which was at the top of a hill up a fairly steep path. Man I thought that I was in decent shape so the fact that I need to exercise and the altitude made it difficult and my bag isn’t the best to carry. Did you know that Lesotho has the highest low point of any country? Then we had lunch...PB&J of course. We hung out and waited for our abseil training. Then we were taught how to abseil properly. The first time when you are standing on the edge it was kind of scary but after that it wasn’t so bad. Everyone here rides horses and uses donkeys to carry things it was really neat. It is so beautiful and the people are very friendly and there isn’t as much begging here as in other areas especially in Semonkong there were virtually no ones. WE were also basically the only white people around. The only white people that I saw were either in charge of the lodges or were staying at them. It is interesting I don’t feel uncomfortable but I definitely notice it. We ate dinner spaghetti and peas and met a guy from Port Elizabeth who was originally from Belgium and came here with his family for 3 years during high school and has stayed here ever since. We then went to bed.

view from the trading post

over a bridge

the view from our dorm

chels and i

our building is the one ontop of the hill

Day 3:
We woke up showered. It was so cold outside. I sat outside and read. Ate breakfast and packed for the pony trek that we were going to do which was 2 days one night at a Bashoto village. Josef was our guide he didn’t speak much English. He taught me how to say some Sesotho words like Dumela (pronounced how it is spelled) which means hello, or 'oosi' and 'oobuti' (I am not sure how it is spelt) which means sister and brother. Oh and Kea Leboha (Calibooha) means thank you and 'ootla' which means beautiful. It turned out to be quite a cold day and I wasn’t dressed appropriately which made the trek less enjoyable but it was still beautiful. It sprinkled for a little while. When crossing the river Chelsea’s horse purposefully kneeled town in the river and rolled her in the ice-cold water. I felt so bad she then was on a bank in the middle of the river but Josef didn’t go back and the horse had walked across the river without her so she ended up running across the rest of the way. It was so cold to begin with and now she was wet I felt bad but it was quite funny because I looked around after I heard her yell what and she was just standing on the bank and I had no clue what had happened. We were horse riding for about 6 and a half hours. I was a little sore but that is fine. We then got to a village that you could only get there on foot or by a horse and Chelsea changed and I put some warmer clothes on. We then walked to a waterfall the Ketane waterfall that looked so fake and like a painting or like it were part of a movie. We helped the chief’s wife carry some water and firewood then made dinner and went to bed.

this is what i got to look at while i was reading

Chels on the horse that dumped her in the river

chels trying to squeeze water out of her shoes after falling in the river

our guide

the falls

Day 4:

We woke up and didn’t want to get out of bed because it was so cold and it was warm. I had five layers on so we ate muffins while still in the sleeping bag and then got up and packed and ate some peaches and got ready. I wore 7 layers this day (tank top, under armor, short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, fleece, and a raincoat and then spandex and jeans on the bottom with 2 pairs of socks. It was much warmer that day or I was just better prepared. I even got hot a few times which made the trek much more enjoyable. WE then took some pictures with Georgina, the chief’s wife and she asked us to send her some clothes for the orphans that she has taken in from her village and the pictures we took. She kept saying remember the orphans so she gave us her address. I plan on doing this. Here is her address if any of you feel the need to do so:
Georgina Paanya
Ketane ha Halalele
Po Box 205
Semonkong 120
We then rode home. Our guide made us whip the horses with sticks he did this yesterday and he was like it helps them learn but he whipped them a lot and I felt bad doing it so I tired no to do it very often. It was about a five and a half hour ride home. My legs, groin and butt were sore especially when we had to whip them so that they would canter or trot. Ouch! We ten got back to the lodge and ate some snacks and chels napped and I read ad ate dinner. Then wrote in a notebook what I had been up to so I could write this then showered and read some more.

we taped plastic bags to her feet so they wouldnt get wet in her still we shoes

Chels and Georgina

Me and Georgina

some of her children

the hut chels and i stayed in

some picture fun that night

Day 5:
We woke up and got dressed. When walking down to the car to get breakfast I saw my first frost of the year. Crazy that it was in June. What is weird now is that I used to think of February as winter and June as summer but now there is just months because I have experienced the opposite in them. Anyway as we were at the car one of the people that worked there informed us that we had 10 minutes until we had to leave for the abseil so we grabbed some breakfast to go. We left around 8:30 and got back at 2:30. There were 6 of us going. I was the 732nd person to go down. Oh hits is the longest abseil in the world...204 meters so it is the longest drop. It took me about 10 minutes to go down which was fast according to them. It wasn’t the adrenalin rush that I had wanted but it was still gorgeous. We then had to walk back up to the top which was difficulty but worth it and inside the canyon that we abseiled into it was shady so it was definitely chilly and the top was cold to because it was windy. After that we came back to the lodge ate lunch I read and studied Chels napped we made dinner. More studying and bed. I Lesotho there is a constant notice but it is children playing, goats baaing, horses hooves, birds chirping or the bells on the cows and sheep’s chiming. It is such a relaxing sound. I love the bells the best it is so melodic. Oh and Ke Kopa (K koopa) means please.

Chels abseiling

yay she didnt die!

Me at the top (the little yellow speck)

coming down

Yay me and chels

part of the view

the waterfall we abseiled next to

Day 6
I woke up and showered. We ate breakfast and checked out and hen bought a few local crafts and drove to Morija. We checked in to the guesthouse and ate lunch and then drove to the only museum in Lesotho. WE read all about Lesotho it was quite small and didn’t have the same quality of some of the museum in the states like there was a cow painted on brown paper similar to what would be hung in a preschool but it was quaint and almost fitted in perfectly with that. There were some pots and weapons and crafts and dinosaur bones and footprints. We then drove back to the room where we watched the sunset and studied. WE then ate dinner ant played South African monopoly. It was interesting to see where they put the different properties. The cards were split so one half was in Afrikaans and the other was in English. It was great. We talked for a while and then watched a lightening storm for a little while and went to bed. Stellenbosch doesn’t get any lightning storms so it was kind of nice to see.

Day 7:
It was raining in the morning so we couldn’t go on the hike that we wanted to do to see the dinosaur footprints so we ate breakfast and showered and then left. The people that worked there kept asking us when we were leaving and confirming that we were leaving that day. We said that we weren’t sure but what time did they need us to leave by and then they would say whenever so it was kind of strange. When we checked out the owner charged us R150 each! It was supposed to only be R100 because we asked for dorms but he said that since we weren’t backpackers he had to charge us the other rate which was going to be R190 and he would give us a discount. So basically we paid R100 to park the car there for a night. It was crazy! We even asked for dorms when we booked it and when we got there when they showed us to our room. Anyway we then drove to Bloem but we didn’t have to stop at the boarder between Lesotho and South Africa or at least no one made us and we went slowly and it was pretty strange and we are not exactly sure if we did that correctly. Hopefully we did. WE then got to Bloem and checked in to Naval Hill Backpackers which was a warehouse converted into a backpackers. It had neat decorations but it was made very awkward by the owners. It was basically an older man and a younger one that sat in the common room, which was basically, their living room watching TV and it was just awkward. I felt uncomfortable not like I was in harms way or anything just awkward. So we ate lunch. We were running low on food, which was good because that is how we planned it. We then drove to a mall so Chelsea could use the Internet to submit an assignment through email that he had to. We got gelato I got chocolate Brownie and drove to Naval Hill nature reserve where the guy in charge of the backpackers said that there were giraffes. There weren’t. We saw mo animals except a dead cat, some humans and a few birds. WE then stopped back at the backpackers and grabbed a few things and took a walk where we set to the Bloem bowling club park and then Hamilton park where were weren’t allowed to play on the playground because it is only for 12 and under and we didn’t think that we could pass for a 12 year old. So we sat on a bench ad I studied and journaled. We then walked back to the backpackers but before we rung the door bell to go in we decided that we didn’t want to and went to Milwaukee Spur instead and I got a Hawaiian chicken burger and instead of the French fries a plate form the salad bar and a Hunters Gold. I think that the waitress thought that Chels and I were dating. I was so full after that. We then walked back to the backpackers. It was still awkward so we went to our room and plated in Chelsea's Lesotho activity book ate the rest of our chocolate. I read Coast to Coast and got ready for bed then went to sleep but there was lighting storm and thunder and the pounding of the rain on the tin roof, which was great.

welcome to SA sign

the bowling green

funny sign

chels writing

Day 8:
I woke up studied and then showered. There were three stalls with the only things that separated them from both the door into the shower room and the path to the sinks which were the ones you had to use after you went to the bathroom down the hall was a shower curtain which was clear with occasional blue designs but still see through. The boys and white not see through ones...interesting choice if you ask me. So chels and I took a shower at the same time in different stalls and closed the door so that there would be no one walking by and looking in. My shower didn’t drain and the water would spray out of the shower if you didn’t close the curtain. But it was a nice warm one! WE then had a big random breakfast, which for me consisted of a piece of bread, beans and ramen noodles. WE finished packing and then left and went to the Orchid garden in Hamilton Park, which seemed to have experience, some leakage issues from the night before. IT was small but pretty. We then took some pictures with Alias and drove to the Bloem airport we were there about 1.5 hours early and so we studied and journaled. The flight home was nice. I discovered that I was on a fruity plane and it was mangolicous. JP picked us up about 45 minutes.

Chels and Alias

we are mangolicous

the trip is over :(

So that was the Lesotho trip. After we got in and I came home and caught up on emails and studied. I had a final the next day I think that it went well I could have studied more but I am pretty certain that I did fine. After that I watched a few movies and decided that I didn’t want to do anything. I have one paper to finish by the 8th and then I am done. This morning I got our shower fixed here it sounded like a jack hammer in the hot water tap in the shower and would not come out consistently. Worked on editing my paper and then did this. So that is my life so far. Oh the title of this is one of the slogans of Lesotho. Okay well I think that is all. I have one week left here. So I will be home shortly.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Time is flying this week brought the one month mark. That was kind of disappointing. I didn’t realize it until the middle of the day. It is crazy how fast time goes. I think that I am more ready to go home than last time but it is still scary to think I will never be back here again or at least not for a while. So that is that.

My week. Monday I had classes like normal and an assignment due that I had to work on and hand in. Monday night we had our final peer ed braai. We had it aandklas and they had a few free bottles of wine for us and we hung out and talked for a while. We devised some plans that will allow me to stay in the country like me hiding out in the dunes of Namibia for a couple of years and then sneaking back in to the country and changing my identity. I also have 2 marriage options. One with Louis because if I am married for 2 years than I get to be a citizen so he said that we could do that as long as it is a cultural marriage so that he can have multiple wives...its legal if you can prove you are part of the Zulu culture. Jean-Marie said that she would be willing to do it if we could live in America for a while so she could become an American citizen (same sex marriage is legal here). So these are just options and part of what we discussed. We also had pasta salad, potato salad and Greek salad and then you could have brought meat to braai but I didn’t. It was great to hang out with everyone. This is one group that I know I am going to miss.

Tuesday I didn’t have my eight o clock class because we had covered everything for the course and therefore didn’t need to have class...this is the last week of classes. But I did have my other class so I went to that and we watched a pretty sad movie called Red Dust, which was a fictional movie about a case brought in front of the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was good. That night I went to Hillbillies house where we had a review session for the Sociology final the next day and spent the evening there studying then hanging out with Chelsea. It was great. Wednesday I didn’t have class except for the exam so I went for a run in the morning and spent the day studying. It was wicked warm this day not like winter. But I took my sociology exam...I think that it went fine and then came back and studied for my GIS exam on Thursday. Thursday I went to my class and went to a lecture called "
Land resources conflicts and prospects for the development of sustainable natural resources use policy frameworks in post-war Southern Sudan" It was pretty interesting but the guy talking was kind of hard to understand but what I could I enjoyed. I then studied for the rest of the day for my GIS exam and ended up doing fairly well. I could have done better but I was pleased enough. I also realized that I had my last class today at Stellenbosch, which is really strange to me.

Friday I didn’t have class but I went shopping to get a shirt for the end of the semester dinner that was that night. I ended up getting 3 shirts and a necklace for R110, which I was pleased about because that it less than $20 and they are nice. I then went out to lunch with Chels and came back here and got ready for the end of the semester dinner. We went to Calcuccio's and could all order a drink under R20 anything more was on you so I got a chocolate milkshake it was delicious but people made fun of my choice. We then drove to an SOS camp (which is like boy scouts here) and had some veggies, chips and dip and boerwors for dinner. We had a slideshow and some speeches and it was very sad. That night I danced the night away and had loads of fun. I didn’t go to bed until 4:30. It was so great. The next day we packed up and cleaned up and then I came home and ate something, unpacked and took a nap. Saturday I didn’t do much I watched a movie read and basically lounged around. Here are some pictures:

on the way to Franshoek


Chels..she looked great

Me, Chels and Michelle

Caitlin and Morgan

Jacqui and Me

William, Grant and Ernst singing us there speeches

Whiteny, Me and Grant

I am pretty gangster now..if you didnt know

I think Laura is a little better than me

Oh some of the dancing

Chels and me

Mathew, Chels, Me and Grants hair

Chels, Me and Grant (Chels didnt get the funny face memo)

Me and Ernst

Grant and I

I promise I do like Chels

Today Chels came over and we hung out. I then showered and Katy and I went to the park where I started to study for my final. It was nice and we saw lightning and heard thunder, which was awesome but only twice. I was hoping for a good thunderstorm. So that has been my week. Stay well.