My flat was broken into last night. Pretty much every single valuable thing I had was stolen and the scene was astounding. I walked in from being out for the night and saw blood on the table in my kitchen and thought, “That’s odd. I don’t remember hurting myself.” I stood there and looked all over my hands and arms for a cut and then glanced to my left and saw the scene. Burglar bars completely smashed as well as the windows. Glass covering the floor and blood smeared absolutely everywhere. What wasn’t taken was destroyed into pieces…curtains completely ripped down, bed turned all over… laptop gone. SLR camera gone. Other camera gone. Iphone gone. Local phone gone. Cash gone. I just stood there frozen and probably white as a ghost for what felt like eternity before I could make myself actually move and knock frantically at the back door of the main house. Luckily, Aagean heard me and woke up to come let me in. I couldn’t even form words. All I could do was grab his arm and drag him out to the flat to look.
Couple hours of talking with police later, I found myself on a cot in the side room of the main house at about 3am trying to sleep but failing miserably. There were several times I realized that my eyes were wide open even though it was pitch black and I had to force myself to actually close them. Every noise I heard, I convinced myself was those guys coming back to finish off the house. I like to think I’m a brave person. But lying there in the dark alone I felt like a helpless child and just wished so badly to feel some arms around me and for someone to tell me I was going to be okay.
I refuse to let this ruin my trip though. Stuff is stuff. And my stuff, although expensive and inconvenient to lose, does not define me or my ability to make the most of my time here. Crime happens. But I won’t run home crying. At least now if anyone tries to rob me, I have nothing that they would want. My time will come when it’s supposed to. Until then, I have the freedom to live fervently and boldly.
And THAT my friends, no one can ever take away.
Cape Town Day 2
My legs are tired but my heart is happy. Today was stunningly beautiful and way more than I could even dream of asking for from the weather man. There was not even a cloud in the sky to greet us as we left the backpackers and made our way down the street to explore. We started the day by walking down to the Green Market Square, a long European-style street with shops and cafe umbrellas and tables aligning either side. Vendors were set up all along the way as well, selling anything and everything from tribal printed fabrics to flowers, to cheap djembes, to cell phone cases and everything in between. Becky and I stopped at a quaint little cafe for breakfast and a delicious life-giving caffeinated beverage. After breakfast, we made our way back up to the National Gallery and Museum area. We spent a full two hours in the museum, pondering the whale skeletons and gazing at the dinosaur displays in true nerd form. We also went inside the National Library and toured it’s various rooms and book aisles. Then we headed back to the market area and spent the next few hours browsing the many vendors and shops. We took a break for a lunchtime smoothie from Kuai (which is this amazing hawaiian themed healthy food restaurant) and then ventured on. Later in the afternoon, we explored the Castle of Good Hope which was built in the 1800’s when Cape Town was given over to the Dutch. By the time we had traveled to from and around the fort, it was getting late, we were hot and tired, and headed back to the hostel where we found an array of camera and video equipment set up EVERYWHERE. A little investigation led to the discovery that a 2-minute noodles commercial was being filmed in our hostel all day (Why? I haven’t the slightest clue). We rested for a while and then headed out for another Mexican dinner. I’m not usually one to eat at the same places on consecutive days but there was just something about that enchilada and guacamole and left me wanting….nay…NEEDing more. It was just as delicious as before and we left happy and content. My only complaint with this day was seeing all of the Coldplay fans gearing up for the concert and walking around in their t-shirts sporting Chris Martin’s face while I could only look from a distance and brew in my jealousy. BUT, who knows? Maybe i’ll see them out and about… ;) AND thanks to a certain Meredith Nielsen, I’ve already had the undeserved luxury of watching them perform live from a distance in which I could almost make out the beads of sweat on their faces :):):)
Life is good friends XxXx
Day 3 & 4
I can’t believe our time is almost up here in Cape Town. I know people use the phrase
“I’m in love with ” so often but believe me when I say that I am IN LOVE with Cape Town, and I WILL return here one day to stay. Hands down. No questions asked. It is everything any person could possibly dream of all contained within one penninsula— a mountainous spine lined with rugged coast and a string of beaches with a mixture of all kinds of environments and communities of people. It’s amazingly sunny and slightly breezy weather made it instantly likable to me and it’s dramatic scenery of mountains meeting rocky coasts where seals and dolphins frolic made it instantly captivating. Furthermore, I don’t believe I have met one person here yet who is not one of the nicest and most generous I have come across in my lifetime. There is a laid back atmosphere here among all locals, and how could anyone ever be uptight in a place as striking as this? Such a person should surely be checked into a hostpital somewhere and examined for mental instability.
Yesterday, Becky and I hopped on the bus after a delicious breakfast and headed to the base of Table Mountain where we stood in line for a dreaded two hours in order to catch the cable car to the top. The line was long but the view upon sumitting the top instantly wiped my memory of standing in a pool of sweat. WOW. I don’t know if I will ever experience any kind of sight like that for as long as I live. It will be permanently burned in my mind as the most spectacular thing I’ve beheld. From the top, we could see the entire penninsula… all of Cape Town and it’s surrounding areas and beaches.
After quite the monumental afternoon, we hopped back on the bus and traveled down the coast, stopping off at various beaches. We got off at Camp’s Beach for a while and had lunch on the water’s edge. Camp’s Bay was fascinating…pretty much a glorified Los Angeles… or at least how I’ve always imagined it and then some. Stately and luxurious houses and apartment complexes are built up onto the hill towards the mountains and near the coast, the concrete extends all the way down to the water. The beach is filled with girls strutting their stuff and men in muscle shirts trampsing down the beach and pretending they’re too big to put their arms down. Everyone sports a fedora, cut offs and huge sunglasses and you have to pay about double the price for a soda. And yet, I could have sat there all day watching the people in awe.
After a delicious smoothie at Kuai, we headed back on the bus and continued down the coast and made our way over to the Waterfront area—Victoria’s Wharf—where there are tons of shops and markets and street performers and souvenier shops, and restaurants and even a ferris wheel.
Later that night at the backpackers, there was a free wine tasting after dinner so I decided to go and it was so fun! I learned a lot about wine (the first evidence of wine making was actually in the country of Georgia about 6,000 yeears ago) and made some awesome friends with the staff and other backpackers.
Today was brilliant. The bus offers an alternate route—a mini penninsula tour— so Becky and I decided to see what was in store. We passed the National Botanical Gardens, a Bird World and Monkey Jungle, a ton of vineyards, the township of Imizamo Yethu (means “Our Struggle”) and finally Hout Bay which has to be my favorite thing I’ve seen yet. We arrived in the morning when there still weren’t many people. A perfectly white untouched beach with crystal clear blue water against an epic mountainous backdrop awaited our departure from the bus. We stepped off into the sand as seagulls flew above and seals played in the waters next to the stately ships. Locals were working on the boats, preparing fish they caught, and setting up shop for the day. It was so perfectly picturesque and I was so bleak I didn’t have my Nikon. But it made me think of the John Mayer song “3x5” and I felt better about making memories without feeling compelled to necessarily capture every moment inside a picture frame.
After exploring the beauty of Hout’s Bay, we ventured on along the same coast as yesterday, passing Clifton beach, Bantry Bay, Sea Point, Three Anchor Bay, Green Point Park, and finally ended back at the Waterfront. Yesterday we spotted a much recommended seafood restaurant called Cape Tow Fish Market and we decided to eat lunch there today. Excellent Sushi..probably a 9 out of 10. Would definitely recommend it to all you sushi-lovers out there. I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping around and strolling and then Becky and I headed back to the backpackers where we are now. I’m so sad to leave tomorrow but I’m about to go hang out with some of the friends I’ve met and hopefully an epic night is in store for my last remaining hours in Cape Town.
Back to Grahamstown tomorrow and I really hope the sun follows me XxxX
This last week was was our last until a much anticipated 10 day vacation. Our usual friendly hang-out space called the staff room turned into a turbulence of all kinds of converging violent and bittersweet emotions as every staff member came barging in at all moments of the day, balancing about 15 stacks of paper between all four appendages. It was quite the hectic experience, trying to keep my sanity amid all the chaos but here I am alive…with at least part of my brain I believe. All marks and comment slips were due on Wednesday so my week pretty much consisted of eyes glued to a computer screen and enough red ink to sink a small ship. Our term ended on Friday and the student teachers rallied efforts to prepare a buffet style breakfast for the staff as a thank you…complete with proper french toast, fruit salad, pancakes, scones with butter and jam, breakfast egg casserole and yogurts. It was sad to be ending our term with the other student teachers. I’ve grown quite fond of seeing their faces every morning and it will be weird to go back to school without them there.
Last Saturday I had the really unique experience of participating in a traditional Xhosa wedding in the Catholic church. The entire experience lasted from about 10 in the morning to somewhere around 7 at night. WHEW. I played the organ during the ceremony while our VG girls choir sang. Even though the ceremony was long, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. There was so much singing and dancing and drum beating and I don’t even know what else. I had an intense moment of euphoria at one point during the service when everyone was dancing and singing together. It seemed every soul in the room was singing joyfully with absolutely no inhibitions, allowing the steady rhythm and rich harmonies to pulse through the very core of their being—mine as well—and for a brief moment I thought, “Wow. This is what it feels like to be truly alive. This is community in all its glory. This is what we humans are made for.” Of course I was then made aware of the tranquilized sheep sort of look on my face which I often sport (unbeknownst to me) whilst pondering life, and quickly snapped back into reality. The reception was even longer but still enjoyable as dinner and entertainment were provided. I got to test out my pop piano skills on a Beyonce number and “The Prayer” which is actually a really beautiful song. (Everyone should go look it up now).
Wednesday before school got out we had staff meetings pretty much all day and then after school there was a staff vs girls netball match. Only minimal cheating occurred on the staff’s side while the matricks managed to actually pick up the goal and move it off the court during the last quarter of the game. It was hilarious. Afterwards we had a staff braai and I finally experienced a good ole’ vost roll on the braai. (By the way, saw this on a mug the other day— “In South Africa we braai….because BBQ is a chip flavor” hahahah).
Another American student from Ohio, Kara, arrived a couple of days ago. I now have a roomie YAY! I’m so excited to finally have some company and move back out to the flat. Tyler and I have become good friends now and I’m excited to have another girl added to the mix. It’s amazing how close you can get to people when thrown into unfamiliar situations.
Professor Baxen’s mother, who we lovingly refer to as Grandma has now ended her stay with us. She took a bus to Pretoria the night Kara arrived and we rode with her to the bus stop. I definitely shed some tears for that sweet sweet woman. I’ll miss her greatly these upcoming weeks and the house will definitely feel empty without her there.
<3 Cape Town <3
I’m in love already with this city. It’s bustling with young energy and explorers from all over the globe. Becky and I caught a ride with my Oregon friend Libby and her boyfriend Anthony who were coming for work this week which is awesome because the bus wouldn’t have been a pleasant experience. We left early this morning and a mere nine hours later we arrived in beautiful sunny coastal Cape Town. If you want to talk about spectacular scenery, you need look no further than this place. I’m still trying to catch my breath from our arrival through and around the mountain ranges and next to the sparkling waters and clear skies. We are staying in an amazing backpackers in the city center with an incredibly friendly staff. There was just enough sunlight left in the day for Becky and I to walk around a bit and find some dinner. We looked and looked for a Mexican restaurant as there are none around G-town and I’m missing burritos terribly but we couldn’t find any and decided to turn back and find something else on the way back to the hostel. As fate would have it though, a sign entitled “The Fat Cactus” barely peeked out from around a bush directly on our path home and I basked in the bliss that was chicken enchilada in my mouth. Strangely affordable and tasted like the real deal. My tastebuds couldn’t have been more content :)
Will keep you all updated on our ventures this week and hopefully some pictures to follow! XxxXxx
I’ve had such a good couple of days. Last night was so fun because I went over to Alanna’s house and made mexican food for her and roomates. She has one of those super fun college houses that remind me of Hoebarn times (Sarah/Mere/Em/Hats/Steph/Caro/MB). Anyway, we ate dinner and then played some games which was so fun! Then I spent the night with her which I quite enjoy being that school is a whole one minute walk away in the mornings (HA! Take that snooze button!).
Today at school I had a couple of great lessons and explored the inner workings of our library with Martina which is quite possibly the most beautiful part of our school building. Unfortunately I don’t have much reason to go in there but I found out today it might be the best keep secret in VG… quite beautiful with the sunlight peeking through the windows. Missioned off with Alanna to get probably the best coffee I’ve had in months from Homeground which is the cutest roastery/coffee shop I’ve seen yet! They also sell amazing fresh bread loaves, and packets of different kinds of chocolates as well as local honey. Bliss. Then after school I had lunch with another teacher at VG who I haven’t had a chance to spend one-on-one time with yet. It was so wonderful. It astounds me how there can be people across such long distances with such similar experiences and ideas on life. It has to be my favorite thing about traveling—the people I meet and the friendships that are formed even across cultural boundaries and so many miles.
Tyler and I made pizza tonight for our fam and it turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. Ground beef, tomato, sauteed onion, pepper, mushroom, mozarella, and avocado. Mmmmm. The rest of the week shouldn’t be that difficult as I have most of my lessons planned already and the term is coming to an end. Everyone is stressed about getting marks turned in on time and staff room is quickly turning into a madhouse. I think we should hire a temporary therapist on staff for the upcoming week of dealines just to maintain the sanity of our teachers and student teachers!
Miss you all Xx
Can’t believe it’s taken me this long but I’ve finally seen some wildlife!! Sorry for the lack of updates as of late. It can be pretty hard to get online and update blog without a laptop and such. But here are some pics from my trip to Addo Elephant Park last Saturday. It was supposed to rain, but it ended up being a pretty nice day and some cool animals came out to play! Didn’t see any lions but I still have time :)
In other news…..RUGBY WORLD CUP!!!!!!!!!! Who knew the USA has a team? I didn’t until recently. I watched the South Africa/Fiji game & and Australia/Ireland game today and I actually really enjoy watching Rugby!
Also, had my first official teaching evaluation on Friday and everything went beautifully! I couldn’t have asked for the lesson to go better and it just made me love teaching here so much more!!!!
I’m finding it a bit ironic that South Africans celebrate Hawaiin Day at school, but whatever. I’ll go with it. I love days when I don’t have to wear teacher clothes! Although I must have been a sight this morning. It’s enough that I’m the only white girl walking among a sea of black men in the mornings to work…let’s add a hot pink skirt and stick flowers everywhere on me. Good plan. The Grade 9 Spring assembly is this afternoon and we are performing “What a Wonderful World” together…complete with lyrics I had to re-write in order to fit in with the Hawaii theme. Oh the joys of being a music teacher! More pics to come later.
I made a remark about how attractive I thought Will Smith was right before I left the states and my hilarious brother decided to send me this shirt with a card that says “Thought this might keep you a little warmer at night.” I was really hoping for socks but this will definitely do!
THANKS ASHTON! :):):)
I spent the weekend in a small town called Chintsa, a little north of East London about three hours away towards the Wild Coast. It was truly an astoundingly beautiful beach with lovely people. We got there later in the afternoon and arrived at Buccaneers, the local backpackers with an amazing unspoiled beach and lagoon on its doorstep, a cool free activity everyday, and a staff that feels like family. Not to sound like a brochure but the place really is amazing…one of those hole in the wall, best kept secret type of places that only the people in the know make it to.
When I woke up, this was the breakfast view :)
And this is how the scene changed throughout the day.
Friday night we hung out in the lodge’s bar which is awesome because there are always a random assortment of people, locals, staff and friends, and travelers from all over passing through or staying a while. Saturday we woke up and ate breakfast and then hung out for a while. A short walk across the beach is the path to the actual town of East Chintsa which is where we went for lunch. We went on a river cruise in the afternoon and then I got a blues guitar lesson from a guy who was staying there. My lesson eventually turned into a three hour jam session with two guitars, a harmonica, a djembe, and plenty of singing and noise-making. Played some games, made some friends, had a general good time.
Sunday we woke up and walked to West Chintsa in the other direction for lunch. There were so many dolphins playing the water on the way! It was amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera but hopefully I’ll see more again soon.
Monkey on the way to lunch!
I didn’t want to come back to Grahamstown because I allowed myself to delve headfirst into beach-mode while there, not to mention there was a cloud of impending doom over G-town in the distance on the way home. But now I’m glad to be back.
Placed a respectable 4th place in trivia tonight with the help of our 2 newest teammates, Sarah and Alanna who student teach with me at VG.
Tomorrow is the Matrick (Senior) music recital and I’m accompanying all of them! Whew— that was a lot of practicing but it’s going to be worth it. These girls are amazing on their instruments and with their voices!