Tag Archives: Dreams To Reality

Superman Returns

I’m pretty protective of my balls.

My football and rugby balls, you guys. I bought some in Stellenbosch awhile back and kept a keen eye on them ever since. Before I left to go to my old school in Muizenberg, Ski asked me if he could borrow the football while I was gone. I was hesitant at first but I figured I can trust him. Worst case is that if he loses it, then I would just have to buy another. Let’s just hope he doesn’t do that.

I took the Metro to Muizenberg and headed over to the Rec house. There I met up with everyone and hung out for a bit. My scab from my Masai burn finally fell off! It was a perfect ring! I have been wanting to pick at it for a while now but forced myself not to. I tried to give my scab ring to Lucy to put in her scrapbook she was making haha! She was both disgusted and amused at the same time.

Dave, the owner of the surf shack, picked up Lucy, Spencer, Larry, Sam (London, UK), and I and took us to the Eastern Bazaar in Cape Town. The food there was more than amazing; especially since they served Dan Sellers sized portions i.e. humongous! I stuffed myself with chicken tikka curry the rest of the night. By far the best curry I’ve ever had and I had a lot of it, particularly all over Africa.

Lucy looks very happy about the Bazaar!

The next day, I went with the volunteers to the Christian Primary. Today was only a half-day because the school was celebrating a christian holiday over the weekend. Which works out great for me because as soon as this school let’s out, I have to get back to Kayamandi asap. I told my kids I would be back when they got out of school. Anyhow, I arrived at the school and saw how flooded the grounds were (nothing new there). I went around the massive puddles and found my way to Miss Jacobs grade one class. The kids heads popped up once they saw me. I never seen a group of kids looked so shocked. “Superman!” Some of the kids would always call me Superman because I used to wear a shirt with the Superman emblem on it to school. Also because during break, I would have the kids pretend to fly like Superman by swinging them in the air. The kids ran up to me and gave me little hugs. Three of the ones I always played with were there too: Lawon, Michael, and Conroy. It was so cool to see them again. Miss Jacobs has been following me on my blogs and was glad I found the time out of my adventurous schedule to come and visit. Of course I would! I spent a lot of the first class session showing the kids what I have been up to lately via photos on my iPad. They were really amazed by all the safari and Zanzibar pictures.

Michael and Lawon.
Conroy and Lawon. Happy to see me!

Like old times, when it was recess, I went outside to play with them again. I got a bunch of shocked looks from the learners in the older classes too. “Dan, where have you been?” “You’re back!” I received a lot of thumbs up and fist bumps during that time. I had a crowd of kids around me but I had to make sure to tell them that I’m only visiting so they won’t expect to see me everyday. I will visit at least one more time though. Eventually I found two other members of my crew, Deano and Limbo. Deano still smells like dried up urine but I didn’t expect anything less haha!

Myself with my first grade learners: Lawon, Limbo, Angry Conroy, my second grade learner Deano.
Still floods…

Later on, there was a special assembly at the school. I have absolutely no idea what it was about since the majority of it was spoken in Afrikaans. It’s crazy how just a train ride brings me from a world where everyone speaks Xhosa to this one where everyone speaks Afrikaans. For some reason, I’m still stuck on speaking in Swahili from Tanzania. Not to mention speaking in Spanish (or at least attempting to) with the four Spanish women who also live with Mama Zulu. Needless to say, I get very confused. Anyways, the assembly lasted a little over an hour. I said my goodbyes and headed back to Muizenberg with the rest of the volunteers. I made sure to take pictures of the school as requested by IVHQ as well. The computer lab is a giant myth.

This “computer lab” was supposed to be completed back in June. Now it’s just a storage room and a place where the volunteers relax.

Once I got back to Muizenberg, I immediately took a train back to Kayamandi. I just kept imagining my boys there waiting for me outside of Zulu’s. Low and behold, they weren’t there. Instead they assumed I was coming back on a minibus and were waiting at the bus station for me. They came over once they saw me down the street. After drawing Dragon Ball Z pictures with them for a bit, I noticed Ski was unusually quiet. I knew in my head, it had to do with my football I lent him. I didn’t say anything for a while because I wanted to see if he’d bring it up on his own. He didn’t. So I asked him, “Ski, did you take care of my soccer ball?” RiRi interrupted and said that he doesn’t have it anymore. “What happened?” I asked. According to them, the story is that they were all playing with it down the street and a couple of older kids joined them and kicked the ball around. One of the older guys picked up the ball and took it with him to his house. The boys argued and shouted to give the ball back but the older kid said to them, “If you want it you have to fight me for it.” Thankfully the kids stopped after that. All they could do is watch as the older kid took MY ball with him into his house and locked the door behind him.

I told Ski not to feel bad; it was an accident and that I would get my ball back. “Do you know where this guy lives?” I asked. They knew. I plan on getting back what’s mine, even if it is just a measly object like a soccer ball. The boys were curious in how I would accomplish this daring feat. That older kid took advantage of my younger kids and stole from them. I will get back what is ours. Once I find out where he lives I’ll figure something out.

I get a weird kick out of this kind of stuff 🙂

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The House On Recreation Road

It’s the end of June, which means my time here in South Africa has come to an intermission. I’ll be back sometime in August. In the meantime, I have to pack up and say goodbye to all of my kids, volunteers, and locals I have met here. I came with about 20 other volunteers and most of us are leaving around the same time. I, however, am the first to separate from my comrades. It’s bittersweet.

Leading up to my last day here in Muizenberg, I also went to my last Brass Bell night on Tuesday. In case you haven’t read my past posts, all the volunteers from both houses (Rec & Palmer) traditionally all go out to a karaoke bar in Kalk bay every Tuesday night. This last Brass Bell night topped the rest! Everyone was having such a good time and a couple springbok shots (the shot of South Africa) help set the mood.

Yes I WILL take a picture of you Laura!

My night ended with me accompanying my housemate Laura to the nearby hospital to get stitches on her foot. Somehow she got cut on the top of her foot and blood was seeping everywhere! Don’t worry, she’s doing just fine now.

Lucy, out of the kindness of her heart, wanted to make me pancakes for my last night. I thought it was a great idea, so I decided to make a night of it by inviting the Palmer house over for a farewell of sorts. Pancake night :). I had to go to Checkers, a local grocery store, to get the ingredients. There are a lot of street hoodlums who hang around Checkers always begging everyone for money and food. I don’t like beggers so I always went about my business. There is this one in particular who stopped me on my way to get the pancake ingredients. I’ve seen him a few times before but I would always try to avoid contact because he would start hassling me for things. He told me all he wanted was a piece of bread. I one upped it, and bought him a club sandwich. I gave it to him and expected him to just take it and run but instead he shook my hand and told me ” I hoped over time you would come around brother. Many blessings and thank you for your kindness sir.” I felt kinda guilty that I constantly ignored these kids, or maybe teenagers this whole time. If I had more time, I would of asked him about his situation and if he really is homeless. He didn’t look homeless. His clothes always looked pretty well worn. It just always makes me wonder. I’m thankful that I am very fortunate.

Anyway, back to Pancake night! A few others bought some goodies for the night. In addition to the pancakes. Erin, Andy, and Lisa bought strawberries, chocolate, ice cream, and pound cake. Speaking of delicious treats, I have a confession to make. I’m so fat here. Before coming to Africa, I thought I was going to shed a lot of weight but it turns out the opposite is happening. When I was weighed for bungee jumping last week, I weighed 89 kilograms. I’m from the U.S, so I’m not familiar with kilograms. I just did the conversion and I didn’t realize that meant I weigh 196 lbs! What the heck is going on! We eat…a lot here. I eat a lot in the states too but I always maintain a steady weight. I think when I get to Tanzania, where it will be a lot more rustic, I will be back to normal. Africa what are you doing to me!

Alright sorry, back to the pancakes! So yeah, everyone came over and Lucy slaved away making everybody a pancake. Thank you Lucy! We started the fireplace in the living room, took a few group shots, swapped pics, and had a very relaxed evening. It then sunk in for me, in just a few hours I would have to say goodbye to everyone, knowing realistically I probably will never see most of these people I’ve become fond of, ever again. There are a few who live relatively close to me in Michigan though. Chris will be moving to Chicago. Lisa lives in Chicago. Andy lives in Ohio. Hyun Soo also lives in Illinois. Then there are others who live waaaaay across the globe. Ciaran lives in Ireland, Lindsey will be in Australia, and Monica lives in Costa Rica for example. Gosh.

A random moment of a night after Brass Bell with my housemates, Ciaran, Lucy, and Monica passing out

I said my goodbyes, waiting for everyone to go to sleep. My flight leaves at 9am the next morning. I needed everyone to sleep so I could set up the wall in the living room. No one wanted to sleep because they didn’t want to have to say goodbye to me. I felt very loved.

It’s a tradition that everyone who leaves for good, writes a note to whoever they want in the house and hangs it in the kitchen. I wanted to do a little more. Earlier in the day, I printed a bunch of pictures I had took over the month and wrote a note to everyone in the house, individually.

A note to everyone

I taped all the pictures on a bare wall in the living room and put my notes in the middle. I hope they liked it. I don’t know. At the time of this writing, I am already long gone on my way to Kenya. People told me to wake them up in the morning before I left but I couldn’t do it. I woke my roommates up, but not any of the girls. They would have never let me leave haha!

My crazy housemates that I will miss a whole lot!

I’m going to miss that house on Recreation Road. But I’m ready to start the next leg of this adventure.

Kenya.
Tanzania.
Here I come.

Skool’s Out

I’ve never been to keen on guided tours and lectures.

Locked up abroad.

The Robben Island tour was full of them. If the tour guide told me that I was free to explore the prison to my liking, I would have enjoyed the experience a bit more. It’s not that I wasn’t interested, it’s just when I’m getting lectured my mind goes to La La Land. I’ve always been that way. A downfall of mine perhaps? Now that I’ve seen the island Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on for years, I can say I’m glad I went. However, it’s definitely not a highlight of my Africa adventure. If you are a history buff, then I highly recommend it. Obviously, I am no buff of history.

The main prison on Robben Island.

After we left the island, we took a cab to Timbuktu Cafe, an Ethiopian restaurant on Long Street. The inside of the restaurant had a “tree house” feel to it and it seemed to only have one server for the entire restaurant, albeit a small one. I ordered a Kifto, chopped beef served with veggies and some kind of bread. I knew this meal would be special when the waiter came and told us “The food is ready. Will everyone please wash their hands.”

Timbuktu Cafe

I’ve never been told to wash my hands by a stranger before. Our waiter delivered our food. I didn’t realize we didn’t have any utensils and apparently we didn’t need them. They eat with their hands here. I suppose it’s an Ethiopian tradition. We used the bread, which looked like a flat sponge, to scoop up the food. It was actually quite tasty.

It’s the last week of school in Cape Town before the holiday starts. It stinks because we are at the point where we know a good chunk of the kids and they know us. I actually look forward to seeing them everyday, especially my favorites. There are seven students in particular that have clamped onto me since day one and I claimed them as mine. Conroy, Lewon, Deano, Limbo, Jayden, Gadija, and Ashwin. They all range from grade one to grade five. Is it bad that I bought them candy and not any other kid? Of course I gave it to them in secret but it’s almost impossible to do it without other kids running up to you begging for candy. I also bought pencils for my grade one class I have been in the past week. They either lost or broke them within the first ten minutes though. Since finals are done and students typically take it easy this week, all the first graders have been watching Barney for the past few days. I was able to set up Miss Jacobs computer and speakers to make it all possible. Miss Jacobs is one of the grade one teachers, who is very nice and often would leave me with the kids. Which I didn’t mind at all. On my last day at the school, I bought her a cake from the grocery. I told her I would try to visit her and the school when I return to South Africa in August.

I never described to you guys about the school’s computer program. When I first arrived in South Africa, I was originally supposed to teach the kids basic computer knowledge. I was very excited. But then I saw their “computer lab”…

This is the much hyped computer lab.

Their lab consisted of only two working computers. Both without internet access. Also the lab was inside a shipping container that was used for storage so there was barely any room to move. The computers were also outdated and slow. It was pathetic. It’s nothing like what was initially described to me. Essentially, the program doesn’t exist yet. However, the school is in the process of constructing a new lab inside the main building. It’s a slow process but I’m excited for the finished product. Unfortunately, I won’t be here long enough to see it.

I’m going to miss the kids here at the Christian Primary. The most corrupted games of Duck Duck Goose I have ever seen, the “Peel Banana” song, hiding from them in the shipping container on certain days, the tournaments, playing soccer and frisbee, and even the smell of dry urine on them.

Camille!

Actually, I won’t miss the stench from these kids haha! I wish I could take them all home so they can get a proper shower and a fresh new garb of clothes. Even without that, these are some of the happiest kiddos I have ever seen. 🙂

Chris and the kids.
The grade 3 class…I think.
This was a part of my life at the Primary. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

The “Air Hockey” Tournament

The grade five teacher has been absent for a couple days now, so the principal has left me and Erin (North Carolina) in complete control. Once the principal and their regular teachers leave, the kids go absolutely nuts! It’s more of how to figure out a way to keep them in line rather than actually teaching them anything of educational value. This is where my iPad comes into play. Before coming to Africa, I never intended on bringing it with me out of fear of getting it stolen (which is still a moderately high possibility) or ruined. But I heard the kids here LOVE touchscreen gadgets. I let Erin handle the girls. As for the boys, I thought some friendly competition would hold their attention. I have an air hockey app on my pad that two people can play at once. I set up a tournament bracket on the chalkboard and told them that I will buy the winner some treats. They were pumped! When you bribe these kids with candy, they will listen to anything you say.

I set up the bracket and had to explain to them exactly what a bracket was and what it can be used for. It was a good way for me to learn their names too. After some intense and lengthy matches, we crowned a winner. Virgil won.

I’ll be honest, I did not want Virgil to win. Out of all the grade five boys, he’s the worst! He causes the most trouble in the class. But he won fair and square so I bought him a giant bag of doritos and a king size kit-kat bar when I went on lunch break. To my surprise, Virgil shared his chips (otherwise commonly known as “crisps” here in South Africa) with his comrades in the class and asked if I could start another competition. I happily agreed. From then on, the kids in grade five took a liking to me and would follow me around even after class ended. I promised them we would have different tournaments soon. Success.

Virgil won…

The next day, I went to help out at the daycare because I needed to leave early to take care of some flight stuff. The daycare I went to was the most well behaved of the bunch. I didn’t have to do too much other than help them put together a million different kiddie puzzles. It’s the same routine for these kids everyday: play, eat, sing, eat, play, eat, nap. An easy day.

The kiddies eating lunch before their nap time.

Surfing was next on my agenda and this time I broke my previous record and stood for seven seconds. Thanks to Dave for the brief but important lesson on my stance. Crouching is key! The more I surf, the more I fall in love with it. The waves weren’t as great as other days but I still had a blast!

7 Seconds!

I have to cut this post short, because I have to wake up at four in the morning. Why so early you ask? Shark cage diving :).

Pinotage

Fils de pute d’osti de criss de ta gueule OSTI DE CRISS. If you speak french and know what that means, please let me know. My french-canadian housemate Camille wrote that for my blog. Knowing her, it’s probably inappropriate haha! Oh and also, Tabarnack!! Pomme.

It’s still exam week at Christian David Moravies Primary which means more standing around for me. I haven’t really done any computer training since I’ve been here, but instead have been alternating between teaching, sports development, and child care. I’ve done child care once and it is definitely not my cup of tea. The children there are just too young compared with the ones at the primary. It’s come to a point where the kids at the primary have come to know who I am and are starting to remember my name. A bunch call me Superman because of a shirt I wore one day. There is a certain handful of kids I’ve grown fond of that come running to me everyday to play with them or who simply just want to be around me. Conroy is probably one of my favorite students. He’s the kid that I’m swinging in the picture below.

Teaching Conroy how to fly

On Tuesday, Emily (New York) and I, along with four other volunteers decided not to go to the school and instead go on a wine tour in Stellenbosch. We figured it would be okay since the kids were still taking exams. Better than just standing around. We did a hop on, hop off wine tour around northern Stellenbosch.

The first winery we went to at the Cat Sanctuary in Stellenbosch.

By the way, this is my very first wine tour ever! Our first stop was at a Cat Sanctuary where we saw a few lions, leopards, tigers, and a cheetah. I know, I know; tigers aren’t native in Africa.

These lions were hung over from all the wine

After that, we hopped to five different wineries…or at least everyone else did. I passed out after the third winery and slept in the back of the tour bus all afternoon. Whoops.

Slept like a brick at 4 in the afternoon.

I don’t wanna point any fingers but the combination of motion sickness tablets and wine makes me extra drowsy. The tablets on their own can make you snoozy. There’s no way I would survive Africa without them though. I did however manage to dissect a few different wines. The University of Stellenbosch created a new type of wine popular in South Africa called Pinotage. It is a marriage of Pinot Noir and a specific variety of grape blends. I was not a fan. It had a strong, all of a sudden, woody after-taste.

When we got back, Chris (Michigan) told me that Tim was kinda angry that we didn’t show up to class. It seems that several teachers didnt show up and we were desperately needed for several classes. Another whoops. Tuesday meant it was Brass Bell night for the Rec and Palmer house. It’s the only time of week that everyone from both houses go out as one. Brass Bell is a karaoke bar in Kalk Bay we go to every Tuesday night. I find it to be a great way to wind down and relax with my new Cape Town cohorts. This week, myself along with the other DTR guys had to sing a song from Red Hot Chili Peppers. I don’t remember the song as I rarely heard it before. The girls sang Backstreet Boys I believe. Overall a great night! More to come though! I have to water down these posts a bit, so much information, so little time to write them :).

One of my housemates, Laura (California), with a gigantic bottle of wine.