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!
Before I came to Africa, I knew I would spend a size-able portion of my money on getting the kids I met a substantial amount of school supplies, so I included that into my budget. I never thought to ask people for donations because…honestly, I don’t know why; I have no good reason. I figured I had enough saved up to buy a lot for them already. A couple of weeks ago, some friends read about all the great things I was doing for these kids and wanted to help out. One of those friends, Kelly Ellsworth, suggested I open a PayPal account so she and others could donate money and help out too. I already planned on getting these kids a lot, but now with their donations I could get them lots more! Thanks to all of you who have sent these kids money, I was able to buy them a few extra thousand Rand worth of goods in addition to the few thousand Rand I had already put aside for them! Now the next step was to find out exactly what these kids needed. How about everything haha! I personally asked some of the teachers at my school and they suggested a few things that they were in desperate need for. The main item: pencils!
You won’t believe how difficult it is to find a pencil with a rubber (eraser) on top of it in South Africa! In the States, you can go anywhere and buy a pack of reliable pencils, but not here; you have to hunt for them. I’ve bought pencils for a few classes before, but they would lose or break them within a day or two. It’s unsettling to know these children aren’t very responsible with their things, but hopefully at least with my elite eight, I can tell them how much money people have given up to get them nice things and hopefully they will be more careful with them and appreciate it more. I planned on taking an early leave from school on Monday to go into town and buy everything. Oh yeah by the way, on my way into town, three guys made an attempt to mug me. Let’s just say, they need to try harder next time. True story. But anyways…
I went wandering around Stellenbosch to see where I could get the most bang for my buck. I found a few places, relatively near each other. One of the places, Juves Bookstore, had a lot of things my kids needed and the manager was very cooperative and even game me a 10% off discount because I spent so much. I had bags and bags of stuff, too heavy to carry around. I didn’t even think of this fact prior to. I had to hire a taxi to lug me around town with all my things, and also make a few stops along the way to other stores. I bought tons of things though. Here’s a rundown of supplies I bought for them: packs and packs of notebook paper, piles of notepads, black and blue pens, coloring pencils, coloring markers, big rubbers, little rubbers, big pencil sharpeners, little pencil sharpeners, folders, filers, plastic sleeves, drawing paper, glue sticks, pencil cases, white-out markers, labels, backpacks, easy read magazines, highlighters, rulers, book covers, and a truckload of pencils, some with rubbers on top and some without. It wasn’t just all school supplies, I also got them each several dozen action comics (Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, etc), Ben 10 stickers, bags of candy, and a couple of paperback books. These boys would be entering high school soon, so I bought them each some Axe Body Spray to attract the ladies and packs of minty fresh gum to keep those ladies around ;). Knowing these guys, the gum will probably be gone by the next day though. That’s not all, I owned a few things they liked that I decided I would give to them. My rugby balls, my portable speakers, my wrestling belt, and some shirts that had the University of Michigan logo on them. I even drew them each a picture of their favorite Dragonball Z character, with a personalized note from myself (I will give those out to them right before I leave.) The amount of school supplies I bought each of them should last for more than a whole school year. Besides taking care of my group of kids, I thought I should at least spread some love to my grade 6. I bought each learner in grade 6 and 7 a pencil and rubber and I even had enough to distribute to the grade 5 classes.
After school on Monday, I told the boys to come over because I had something I wanted to show them. I never told them that I would be getting them all of this stuff. One by one they all came over and saw the table and floor full of school supplies. They looked like kids on Christmas Day! But before that, I took them all into Stellenbosch and got everyone one of my favorites desserts in the world, Cinnabons! They never had it before but loved it almost as much as I do haha! I took them to lunch, or probably dinner at this point to McDonalds (yeah yeah I know). Soon we made our way back to Zulu’s. I gave each of them a bag and distributed the items as evenly as possible. Over these past few weeks with them, I had to keep telling them to say ‘please’ and ‘ thank you’ because they rarely ever said it. That night when I gave them all those things, they were full of ‘thank you’s’, which I was happy to hear. I had to explain to them, that a few people, including myself have paid a lot of money to buy all these things for them so they needed to be responsible and take care of it all. I think they understood because they were silent and completely focused on me when I was telling them. Usually they stay over until around 8 or 9, but they all wanted to run home to their parents and show off their things, which was completely fine.
About a week or two ago, Chris came up with the idea to start some kind of education fund for these kids to help them out because they really need it. Setting up a PayPal was a baby step in the right direction but we are currently in the midst of figuring out the best way to execute the idea. That may take some time, but once we figure something out, we’ll be sure to let everyone know!
This whole month, my kids have been talking about swimming and how much they wanted to go to the pool but unfortunately, this South African winter weather has been less than suitable for that. It’s always cold and rainy here, and if the sun is shining, it’s still never warm enough to go for a dip. But unbeknownst to them, I knew of a place where I could take them swimming in Cape Town that had a heated indoor pool. I promised them, before I left Kayamandi that I would take them, all eight of them. I had one more weekend with these boys so I wanted to make it a memorable one. So for the week prior, I have been telling Avele, Mawande, Fudo, Atha, Ski, Chester, Aphiwe, and RiRi to tell their parents that I would be taking them to Cape Town on Saturday. I planned on being there all day so I made sure to tell them everyday that they must be at my house by 7am on the dot or else they would be left behind. It was a bit early of a time, but I had a lot planned for us. I also told them to bring shorts to swim in, but besides that, they knew of nothing else I had in store for them.
Chester, Mawande, Ski, and Avele actually ended up spending the night on Friday because they were afraid of waking up late and missing out! We woke up the next morning, got ready, and Aphiwe, RiRi, and Fudo showed up. It was now 7am and there was no sign of Atha. I even waited a couple more minutes and walked slower than usual to the train station to see if he would be running to us. I felt bad, but to be fair, I did warn him numerous times. I bought everyone’s train ticket, and as we waited, we saw Atha running towards us on the train tracks. Once I spotted him, I ran and bought another ticket before the train came! He made it just in time and now I had the whole crew with me; the elite eight.
After a little more than an hour, we arrived in Cape Town and the kids became excited because they didn’t know where I would be taking them in this big city. First, we walked along Long Street to the indoor pool. The pool here was very large and went up to about 10 feet deep, I wanna say. We all swam, except for Fudo and Aphiwe who forgot their shorts. Most of the time, the boys splashed around on the shallow side while I did laps back and forth across the pool. There was no lifeguard on duty but no worries, I used to be a certified lifeguard during the end of high school (even though I actually didn’t do anything with it). I’m like a fish in the water, so I felt confident if something were to happen, I could save them. At one point, I wanted to teach RiRi and Avele how to do a proper dive. RiRi got the hang of it, but after a few misfires, Avele’s nose started to bleed so I had him sit out for a while. He handled it like a trooper though. After about maybe an hour or so of swimming, I got out and dried off. As I was, a security guard came up to me and started asking me questions about the kids, and where I’m from, and what my background is and blah blah blah. He then had the courage to tell me that I shouldn’t worry about my bag being stolen while in the pool, but if it were to happen, it would be the whites that would most likely take it. Ugh…I knew where this conversation was headed. He started to get into this whole ridiculous spiel about color and race and all that junk. Next time I come to Africa, I’m going to wear a shirt everyday that reads “I don’t give a $h%# about colors!” I summoned the boys, got changed, left the pool and went to get some grub.
I didn’t want to go to McDonald’s again, but it was literally right there, right across the street. So that’s where we went and all had burgers, chips, and drinks. I made a promise to myself though, that once I get back to America, I will avoid McDonald’s for the rest of the year. While eating, the boys had no idea where we were going to next, and kept asking me for hints. “You’ll see!” is what I kept saying. I think not knowing made things a bit more entertaining for them.
We headed to the South African Museum and Planetarium. To my surprise, they were pretty excited about it. I bought tickets for all of us to the next showing of “The Sky Tonight”, which started in about 90 minutes. In the meantime, we went to explore the museum. This museum is a whole lot better than any museum I have been to back home. It’s a giant storied complex and the amount of exhibits and showcases were almost endless! Every kid wanted to take a picture with everything! My memory card is packed with pictures they took here, which I prepared for. I bought a new card pretty much for that reason.
In due time, we found our way to the planetarium and nabbed seats for the show we booked.
I haven’t been to a planetarium in ages and I forgot what it was actually like. The room became pitch-black and the faux stars sprinkled the top of the dome. A guy started lecturing about the planets, stars, and our galaxy. He lectured pretty much the whole time. Lectures lull me to sleep, and that’s what happened haha! I fell asleep maybe ten minutes into the presentation. I have to give pats on the backs to the boys, they were able to sit through quietly (well quieter than I expected) for the entire duration. The whole time they said they were waiting for a movie or something to start haha!
Next up, we went to the Aquarium at the Waterfront. We walked about 30-40 minutes to get there, as opposed to taking a taxi van because I wanted them to see the city by foot. The kids have never been to the Aquarium before and were anxious as to what exactly this kind of place was. I bought everyone tickets and we went inside. This aquarium had everything; penguins, sharks, loads of colorful fish, crustaceans, reptiles, insects, everything but whales and dolphins. I saw a sign where people could go scuba diving in one of the humongous shark tanks. I needed to know more information! I let the kids explore the aquarium on their own as long as they stayed together while I went to the information kiosk to ask about the diving. The lady there explained it all to me. It costs a lot (which I was willing to pay) but it takes three hours of training before we even went inside the shark tank. I told the lady that I already received some scuba training about a month ago in Zanzibar. “It’s different here though” she said. “You have to have a license.” I have to put that on my list of things to do: get a scuba diving license. I couldn’t go into the shark tank anyways because three hours is too long and would take up the rest of our day. The boys would grow restless! I would have to save this on the list of things I must do whenever I come back. Afterwards, I reunited with the kids who were under the shark tunnel. I thought this place was pretty neat and I’m glad they enjoyed it as well.
Next up, the giant ferris wheel! I don’t think any of them had ever been on one of these, let alone know what a ferris wheel even was. I bought the boys tickets, but I sat out and watched. This wheel was gigantic and revolved a lot; longer and more often than it does back in the U.S. The boys were on there for quite a while! That gave me time to watch the marimba players nearby and nab a quick ice cream cone.
We were all hungry again and we all had a hankering for thick, juicy ribs and as luck would have it, the Waterfront occupied the kids’ favorite restaurant, Spurs. We went through the mall (which looked very nice by the way) and requested a table for nine. I let them each order whatever they wanted and they all ordered their own personal slab of ribs with chips and sodas. I ordered the same but with buffalo wings as well. “You eat buffalo!?” asked Aphiwe. I started to laugh. “You eat chicken heads!” I responded back. They all thought I was eating actual buffalo. Since when do buffalo have wings? Haha! The main attraction of Spurs that the kids love is the video games they have in the game room. They always went to the one in Stellenbosch, but never to this one. This one had different games for them to play. I couldn’t blame them for always wanting to come here. When I was a kid, I practically lived in the game areas of every child friendly restaurant I went to. Eventually, not too long, the food came and we pigged out.
They were finished super fast and rushed back to play more games. I asked Avele to stay behind as the others went off. Avele is going to be moving to the Eastern Cape soon, so whenever I do comeback to South Africa, I will most likely never see him again. So I bought him and I dessert as a going away gift; waffles covered with syrup, candy coated chocolates and ice cream. Not to worry though, I eventually bought the other kids ice cream cones as we made our way back to the train station.
My aim today besides it being my last Saturday with the kids, was to give them a chance to do everything they wanted to do in Cape Town without having to worry about money. I wanted them to have a glimpse of what else is out there outside of the poverty-stricken township of Kayamandi. A whole day of doing the fun stuff every kid would dream to do in this city. Maybe seeing the city freely like this would give them the motivation to get out of Kayamandi one day? To do that, I told them they have to do exceptionally well in school and I guarantee that they will go to parts of the world they never even imagined. Don’t get me wrong, Kayamandi isn’t a terrible place, it’s just hard to grow and develop fundamentally there, especially for a child. There are people who spend their whole lives there, because that’s all they know and can afford. These kids are still young enough to head on the right track in their lives and it starts with staying in school and doing well in their academics (and I will help them with that later on in upcoming posts). However, its way too easy for the kids in this township to get caught up with the wrong crowd of people and be led astray; being misguided away from their true potential. All eight of these kids are truly unique from one another and I always enjoy my time with them because with a mix of eclectic personalities like these ones, I’m always entertained! It’s rare for a kid in this area to get an opportunity to have someone from the outside world to help them positively grow, hang out with, and pretty much spoil them for a while with no worries and otherwise do what they could never do before. It’s even rarer to get a second opportunity. It started first with my friend Chris and now with myself. I just hope they don’t take all of this for granted.
Lately, I have been leaving notes on my door before I left so if the kids came over, they would know where I was and when I’d be back. Before, I would feel really bad every time I came home late and some of them were there at Zulu’s just waiting for me like lost little puppy dogs, not knowing when I would show up. I should of done the notes a long time ago.
As I was hanging out at Zulu’s with some of the kids, Mohammed (Mo) came over. His home-stay is in Grassy Park, a township close by my olds digs in Muizenberg, but I invited him to stay over a night in Kayamandi because it’s much better here. There was next to nothing to do in Grassy Park and I had the whole of Stellenbosch to keep myself busy. That same night, Isaac paid a visit to chat and he asked me when I wanted to skydive so that he could take me. I had originally planned on Saturday, but the conditions weren’t in my favor. Bummer. The weather in Cape Town or in Western Cape in general can change instantly! Isaac wanted to take me to grab some dinner in Stellenbosch. I had Mo come along but had to tell the kids that I had to leave. As we made our way to Isaac’s van, as the kids were leaving, they pointed out to a group of guys at the end of the street who were kicking around MY soccer ball! They guy who stole it from Ski lived right on the corner of my block too! I wanted to go and get it but I didn’t want to keep Isaac waiting, so I told the boys that I would get the ball later on. I probably missed the perfect opportunity but oh well; food is more important to me :).
Isaac took us to a restaurant called Cubana, close by in Stellenbosch. He wouldn’t take my money for the ride there so instead I secretly bought his dinner while he was eating. He was flabbergasted at the fact, but it was the least I could do because Isaac wanted to show me places all over Western Cape that I haven’t been to yet. Unfortunately, my time in South Africa is winding down fast so I have to save a lot of those cool places he told me about for my next trip back! After a great dinner, we called it a night and Isaac took us back to Zulu’s. The next day, Mo wanted to go to Cape Town. I had nothing planned for this weekend (because skydiving was cancelled) so I came along and we explored Cape Town, ate a lot of food all day, and watched rugby. The weather in Cape Town was beautiful! The sun was out and there was not a single cloud in the sky. It would of been the perfect day for skydiving. So instead, I had the impulse to go abseiling right then and there. I called the abseiling company and unfortunately they were going to close in a few minutes but they suggested I try and come in the morning. Will do! Mo and I stayed the night in Cape Town at a hostel called Carnaval Court a.k.a the WORST hostel in Cape Town! There were cockroaches in our room and their advertised wi-fi didn’t work. Worst of all, it was next to impossible to fall asleep. You could hear everything and I mean EVERYTHING that was happening outside. All of the music from the bars and clubs, people talking in whatever languages they were, every single car, footstep, and even sound of a pin drop. This hostel was on Long Street, a place known for partying so it was loud all night. Literally, there were people and music until about 5 in the morning! I would of stayed out longer but I had to wake up early to abseil…or so I thought. That morning, the weather didn’t look so hot. I called the company and they told me it was closed today but to try again Wednesday. Ugh…
Once again, since my plans were shot down, I went with Mo on his quest to have an encounter with a cheetah at a place called The Cheetah Outreach. It’s the one, and one of the only things he wanted to do while in South Africa. After a mishap on the train, getting lost in Somerset, and baffling locals (some locals who asked where we were from found it to be the craziest thing in the world that an American and an Iraqi were traveling together) we finally found the outreach after what seemed like forever. This place had animals like caracals, servals, meerkats, bat-eared foxes, and of course cheetahs just to name a few. I already had an encounter with a cheetah back in June so I figured I would just look at all the animals while Mo handled his cheetah. I got bored really quick haha! I asked one of the workers if I could pet any of the other animals there. She said all the animals aren’t used to human interaction but I could try with the bat-eared foxes. “I’ll do it!”
I’ve never seen foxes quite like these ones before. They had gigantic ears and they looked like little bandits from the way a strip of black laid across their triangular faces. They were feisty little suckers, but I was able to get them to come near me eventually. They were fairly small adult foxes, maybe about the size of a lion cub. It was cool because we were virtually some of the only people at the Outreach so we took our time with the encounters. Afterwards, Mo and I made our way back to the train station where we would part ways for the last time. He would be heading to the Netherlands soon. We said our goodbyes and I waited for my next train as he rode off in his. I’m starting to feel more like a local with the amount of trains I have been on here. I’m remembering all the stops and which trains go where and what times they leave and arrive. After an hour of daydreaming, my train finally arrived and I went home. Of course some of my boys were there waiting for me, so I hung out with them for the rest of the evening.
One thing I always look forward to here is what Mama Zulu whips up for dinner. So far, I haven’t been disappointed. Everything she makes is emaculate and old fashioned. It’s not just her cooking, but also her daughter Lelethu’s cooking as well. I was starving tonight and it’s been awhile since I had lunch. I could smell what was for dinner as soon as I walked into the kitchen. It smelled like fish. Please no. Maybe my sense of smell was deceiving me today? Maybe it’s chicken. I sat at the dinner table and saw my fears come to fruition. It was definitely fish.
Nooooooooooo! I hate seafood so much! Except for calamari, I can’t stand the fishy taste. It’s more of a mind game than anything; fish are ugly. Lobsters are uglier. Crabs are on the same boat. Shrimp are the absolute worst! I can’t blame Zulu. She had no idea I didn’t like seafood. If Zulu or Lelethu sat at the table, I would of forced myself to eat a piece of fish out of respect. I let the spanish girls have my share. It was hake fish by the way. Fortunately, there were mashed potatoes and sandwich meat available so I managed. I wanted to force myself to try fish back in Zanzibar but I just couldn’t do it. I could not eat them here or there; I could not eat them anywhere (Green Eggs and Ham ;). ) By far the best thing Zulu prepares is chicken. It seems like every other night we would get chicken prepared in a different way, but each time was savory. Speaking of chicken, take a look at this:
Chicken heads! The kids eat this at school during intervals. They eat the meat off the neck and eat around the chickens face. This would never, ever fly in America! Not only did they have fried, greasy chicken heads, they also sold chicken feet. The kids would suck on the insides of the talons. The women who sold these chicken parts to the learners would always laugh at me because of the looks I gave when I watched a kid suck out the insides of a chicken’s head. Haha gross!
The kids wanted to phone their idol, Chris on Wednesday. That still might happen, but I didn’t know how long the abseiling would take so I messaged Chris telling him I would call today just in case. I called around 6pm here, which meant it was noon where he lived. Mawande called him from my phone but he had a hard time recognizing his voice, so he passed it over to Toy Toy. Same thing. Toy Toy didn’t recognize his voice either. In South Africa, to call someone from the States, you have to first dial some weird code and then the number. I thought I may have dialed wrong. Toy Toy handed me back the phone and I had to make sure myself if it was him or some random number I dialed. It was him, I think. He literally just woke up and had that “just woke up” tone in his voice. It’s safe to say he never got my message because he was still asleep! I handed the phone back to Mawande and assured him that it was Chris. The boys talked to him for a few minutes but afterwards were still a little unsure if it really was him or not haha! I told them I would have to call again another day when he was more awake.
I have one more story to tell before I end this post. After I came home on Tuesday from the library, I accidentally broke my key to the door of my shack! I just stuck it in, turned it, and the main important part of the key broke off and fell inside the door. $&#T! Mama Zulu was going to be so angry! But it was foolish of me to think so, because she’s such a sweetheart; incapable of such an emotion. She was just worried that I couldn’t get in for awhile. It was no big deal for me, I just felt like a moron that I broke her only remaining key to the shack. I had to wait for the spanish girls to get home with their key so they can let me in, and also my boys who were waiting with me like loyal soldiers. My night ended playing Monopoly that RiRi had brought over. They had some zany rules for that game I never even heard of. Soon enough, I actually fell asleep as they continued playing Monopoly and playing with my electronics.
Eventually they woke me up, gave me my gadgets and headed home. Tomorrow my drought of not doing anything extreme would end – I would be rappelling down the edge of Table Mountain!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.