Tag Archives: Vrygrond

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.

Here I come.

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 :).

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