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The End Where I Begin

I just want to say–Vegas was incredible as usual! It was great catching up with some of my friends and hearing what’s been happening at home since I left a little over three months ago. I also got the chance to skydive again and it was just as amazing as my first time in South Africa! Speaking of Africa, I found myself constantly thinking about one of the greatest summers I have ever had. Matt, Bryan, and the others would ask me about my trip, but I had a hard time figuring out where to begin telling them; I have done and experienced so much!

I’ve been home in Michigan for a day or two now and everyone is interested about what I’ve been up to and what interesting stories I have. A lot of them kept up with me on this blog, which I was really, really glad to hear. Those times of searching aimlessly for decent internet in the middle of Africa paid off. You guys have no idea just how tedious that was. It wasn’t just internet I had to find, I had to find a place with connectable wi-fi. I wrote my blogs on my iPad, connected that to a wi-fi hotspot to upload to this WordPress site, and then from a computer I could place photos and finally publish a post for all of you to see. This explains those long gaps between publishing certain posts; it’s not because I was lazy and didn’t write anything, it’s because I had no access to the internet.

I had friends say I looked humbled and completely refreshed when I saw them again. That could be true because I was in complete bliss my entire time in Africa (even on summit day on Mount Kilimanjaro). I’ve done just about everything I wanted to do although the stuff I missed I’ll save for my return one day. However I won’t get to ride an ostrich, I weigh 15k too much haha! I do miss all the fantastic people I have met over the last few months; my Rec 13 (and Palmer) house, my Old house (and New house), my safari squadron, my LX6 Kilimanjaro family, the SASTS volunteers, my Zanzibar rafikis, the Zulu family, and some of the locals I met in SA and Tanzania, and especially all of the kids I had the pleasure to teach and spend time with. The kids in Muizenberg and Arusha were some of the happiest children I have ever met, even under their subpar living circumstances. And then there’s the kids of Kayamandi, specifically Aphiwe, Fudo, Atha, RiRi, Ski, Chester, Avele, and Mawande–I miss those guys more than I care to admit. I wonder what they’re up to right now?

I’m glad I was able to share what I experienced in Africa with you all. A lot of my friends and family never really understood exactly what I do when I travel and volunteer in other countries. Now, as you can see, I have the most absolute best time of my life! My main focus in writing this blog was to inspire everyone and show off what else is out there on this humongous planet, from the perspective of an average guy such as myself. I received lots of e-mails from strangers who read this blog asking me a bunch of questions because they want to do the things that I did too. Flattering. I am completely open to answering any questions or giving any advice with anything pertaining to any of my posts.

So keep tabs on me you guys. My stint in Africa may be done for now, but I am already in the beginning stages of planning another big trip abroad. I don’t know where (Southeast Asia?), I don’t know when (maybe next summer?) but it WILL happen soon. Also this time, maybe I won’t go alone? Maybe I can tempt a friend or two or three to come along, now that they’ve seen what I have done. I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon, it’s my drug. And of course, I will be sure to blog about it again. This isn’t the end my friends, it’s just where I begin again. Until next time, be safe folks and happy travels!
Here’s a little something extra for you guys, check it out!

The Grass is Just as Green on the Other Side

(New Adventure. New Posts. Coming May 2013!)

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Zombies On A Plane

I gotta love my friends. I have been showered with a disgusting amount of sweets and treats over the past week as a “going away” gift. They know me too well. I’ll need my fix! Who knows what kind of desserts there are in Africa? I might suffer.

I’ll be on route soon to the Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) waiting to board my first of three long connections to Cape Town, South Africa. The first flight takes me to Montreal, Quebec in Canada with a layover that’s a few hours. The second flight connects me to Amsterdam, Netherlands. I’ll be there for a few hours too. Whenever people ask where my layovers are, when I mention one is in Amsterdam they say that I should hang out in the city for a bit and take advantage of it’s “pleasures”. By pleasures I mean all of the smokes and Red Light District hussies. It’s said jokingly because it’s a well known fact that I’ve never smoked a thing a day in my life. It’s true. But if I ever did decide to (almost a zero percent chance of that happening), I would do it in Amsterdam. It’s only fitting. The final connection takes me to Cape Town which is scheduled to land at approximately 9:35pm, their time, on Sunday. Needless to say, my internal clock is going to be all sorts of jacked up!

I’m not as nervous about the trip itself as I am about the flights. Plain and simple, I’m not very fond of flying. Dreading this. How can something so heavy and humongous just hang out in the air like that? It’s difficult to fall asleep. The people I sit next to are always odd. The flight attendants go through the motions of what to do in an emergency too quick. I’m afraid if we actually do need to use that oxygen mask or life vest, I’ll forget every single thing they said. Then I wonder what the pilot is doing in the cockpit. How can they sit there and fly this thing for ten hours straight without dozing off? You know how as you’re boarding the plane, the pilot stands at the entrance and welcomes everyone in? I make it a point to smile, nod, and make friendly eye contact so he doesn’t think the plane is completely full of jerks and decides to crash it thinking we all deserve it. As I board, I also scan for potential terrorists. If I deem you sketchy, I’ll keep my bearings on you the entire time and am prepared to fight! But more than anything I hope there aren’t any cranky babies on board. Don’t worry, I’m aware I’m a little ridiculous.

I hope the movies are at least half decent. I can’t tell you how many planes I’ve been on where they would show “Last Holiday” with Queen Latifah in it. Every. Single. Time. If that’s the case then I have some good reading material. Besides the Lonely Planet guidebooks I have for South and East Africa , I brought along “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead” by Max Brooks. I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for the whole zombie craze! If an outbreak ever did occur, I’ll be well prepared. I also have “The Adventurer’s Handbook” by Mick Conefrey and Tim Tebow’s autobiography “Through My Eyes” that I still have to finish. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of flack for the latter one, but it’s very inspiring. Say what you will.

For my next post, I should be all settled into my new home in South Africa :). I’m not sure what the internet situation will be like there but I’ll be sure to post as soon as I can. Have a great weekend everyone!

P.S. A big Thank You to everyone who gave me gifts and donations. It will be very useful.

A Shark Tale

About one week until I leave to South Africa! Here’s the (little) information I’ve gathered from the many emails sent from the project coordinators.

I will be living in a suburb of Cape Town called Muizenberg, a sea-side town that is a popular surfing spot. Apparently, the waters here are much warmer than many nearby coasts. I was told to be careful when I go into the ocean. Here’s a little story for you. I read an article about a month ago where an up and coming surfer was “ripped apart” by a Great White Shark recently. I don’t remember his name but supposedly there was a film crew shooting a documentary about Great Whites and they used a whole lot of chum to attract the sharks to their location. When the crew left Muizenberg waters after completion of filming, some of the sharks lingered in the area for a few days and attacked and killed the pro surfer. I’ve also read reports of recent great white attacks in Cape Town. I guess it happens. Not too often, but it does. Just sounds like I will have to be extremely cautious when going into the deep waters. Whales freak me out waaayyy more! If I saw one, I think I would instantly faint. They’re just…so…big…

These don’t scare me as much as a whale does.

Enough about the sharks and whales for now. What’s more important is my main intent in SA. Although I’ll be living in Muizenberg, it’s stated that I will be teaching in the Vrygrond Community which is nearby. With my background in Communication Technology, I was asked if I could teach basic computer skills to the local students there. I gladly accepted. The only drawback is that I would only be able to teach until mid June. Afterwards the kids enjoy a long break from school which means eventually I will have to switch my placement. To what? I won’t know until I get there. I don’t know any specific details like the name of the school I’ll be at, addresses, or anything yet. Nada.

Iviwe Sixolo and Tim Murray are my main project coordinators and are my contacts while I’m there. I have no idea what it is they do exactly but they are the ones who have been in touch with me while I prepare for my trip. Iviwe (I don’t know you pronounce that. I don’t even know if Iviwe is a male or female haha) told me that I would be living in a volunteer house with a whole crop of other volunteers. I wanted to live in a homestay but the bright side of this is there will always be someone around to hang out with (hopefully). Usually whenever I’m abroad I stay with a host family which is what I preferred. But I’ll make the best of it!

Muizenberg, Western Cape, South Africa

One Month Until I Embark

It’s May 1st, officially ONE MONTH until I fly to South Africa! Am I nervous? Not really. If anything I’m most nervous about the 25+ hour flight, spanning three different continents that I have to go on.

I have two ultimate goals while I’m in Africa. My first one is to find a Honey Badger.

My 2nd goal is to find Pride Rock and re-enact this scene:

I of course will be playing Rafiki. I just have to find/steal a lion cub that will let me do this. Shouldn’t be too hard…

I have no idea of what’s in store for me. What kind of people I will meet? Will the kids like me? What exactly will I be doing? Where will I be sleeping? I do know the name of the town I am supposed to live in while I am in South Africa. It’s called Muizenberg, a township of Cape Town. I am not sure if I’m living with a host family or in a volunteer house. Thumbs crossed for a host family! But this is pretty much all I know.

One more month friends.

P.S. Click on the Prologue link above to find out why I’m going to Africa.