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where in the world is steph.... Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? -- Mary Oliver

My real world

SOUTH AFRICA | Wednesday, 31 January 2001 | Views [707]

Greetings once again from sunny Cape Town. I hope that everyone enjoyed my last e-mail, and if not, too bad. After reading some of your responses, I realize there are some things I need to explain that not everyone knows. I am studying here in Cape Town through the great old University of Washington. (May I remind everyone that we won the Rosebowl against Purdue 34-24, which I had to miss because I was already in CT). Eleven other students, whom I had never met before my acceptance into this program, all from the UW, are here living and studying with me. Our age ranges from 18-35, but nine of us are between 20-22. We are an EXTREMLY diverse group, our majors are everything from Political Science, to American Ethnic Studies, to Pre-Med.  We live in a big house in Observatory (or Obs the local slang), some of us have our own rooms, others share.  Each room has its own bathroom.  (Is it starting to feel like the Real World yet?) I have not had this much space to myself in years.  There is an amazing garden outside, and we often have class under the shade of a tree by the pool (remind me again why I like Seattle). Obs is a bit like the U district of Seattle. The University of Cape Town is close by, built on the side of a mountain. 

Professor Patrick Rivers (also from the UW, whom I had met before) is well, our Prof.  What are we studying you ask. One class focuses on Modernism and Racism, and we are reading several South African authors. The second class looks at “ the relationship between identity constructs and socio-political conflicts in contemporary South Africa”.  Lastly we have a class that is about the community, and we can choose to do a group project, or an internship of some kind. I will be working for the Amy Biehl foundation in an after school program in a Black township. I am going to tutor as well as organize art projects for elementary school children. It should prove to be a challenge, for many reasons including my lack of knowledge of Xhosa.

So since my last e-mail I have been busy. The weekend before last, we went abseiling and kloofing. What is abseiling and kloofing you ask. I will get to that, but first,  we went on an amazing hike through a canyon on the other side of False Bay. We could see Cape Point across the water at many places during our hike. We stopped at several beautiful pools and waterfalls along the way to go kloofing or as we call it jumping from rocks into large pools of water. This provided for lots of amusement, but as the jumps got higher, I wimped out. After kloofing we hiked farther up the canyon (if you could call the last part hiking) until we got to this amazing pool of water, we were above a beautiful waterfall looking down. This is where we went abseiling, which is just repelling down off a cliff, down the waterfall into a huge pool of water at the bottom. Lets hope the pictures turn out. It was an exhausting day, but well worth it.

This past weekend we went to Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal province. Durban is on the Indian Ocean side, the water and the air is much warmer and more humid than in Cape Town. We walked around Durban our first day there, through many of the open markets. After we got back to our hotel on the beach, the 12 of us climbed into an elevator to go freshen up before dinner, but the elevator never moved, nor could we open the doors. We ended up trapped in the elevator for over a half-hour, all of us together (good thing no one else was in there). One can learn a lot about the people they live with trapped in an elevator. We even sang, Lean On Me, I wonder what the people thought that were in the lobby. Dinner was Indian food, as Durban has a lot of Indian influence, and a large Indian population.

On Saturday, we went to the valley of the thousand hills, a beautiful place, to a Zulu homestead.  The people we met were very nice and gracious. Afterward we went to visit Phyllis Naidoo’s at her home. She was very active with the ANC. She was on house arrest for many years, and eventually went into exile. Her walls were covered with pictures, newspaper articles, ANC posters and propaganda. After careful inspection of her walls, we discovered that she was also legal counsel to Nelson Mandela while he was on Robben Island. A fascinating women. Later in the evening, we went to a Hari Krishna Temple. The temple is the largest Hari Krishna temple in the Southern Hemisphere. It was an interesting experience, we were given a brief history/background of the faith and their role within the community. The feed a huge number of people.

Sunday was spent visiting the township our tour guide had grown up it. We went to a church, were they quickly got together a choir to sing to us. They had some amazing singers. Afterward we discussed how the township had been changing, in particular how the amount of deaths in the area had been increasing, mostly due to AIDS.  Our tour guide and some of his family played a few songs for us before we had to leave.  We also had the chance to swim in the Indian Ocean, which is quite warm; I saw no sharks, for this, I am grateful. 

Well that about sums it up. If you received this e-mail and not the first one please let me know, I had some difficulty sending it. I can re-send it to you. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail, I will try to respond. I will be able to  spend more time at the internet  café’ now that our outings are slowing. Hopefully, I will have a picture to scan with the next e-mail….we’ll see. Hope everyone is doing well and look forward to hearing from all of you. Cheers

~steph

Tags: Adventures

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