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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

countdown

SOUTH AFRICA | Friday, 9 March 2001 | Views [676]

The countdown has begun; I leave in two weeks. All of us are dreading leaving, (all of us our leaving on different days), but those of us working in the schools are dreading our last day there more than anything. Working with the Amy Biehl Foundations as proved to be an excellent experience. Four days a week, I work in an after school program at Intshinga, an elementary school in Guguletu, a Black township. I work with two classes, the class where I spend most of my time the average age is 11, and then the other class is the babies whose ages range from 2 to 6.  The activities vary, from math, to speech, to traditional dance, to sports, to arts and crafts. It can be vary hard to plan activities, when such things as pencils and crayons are a luxury, and there is no paper in sight. Some Semester at Sea kids came on a tour to our school and bought quite a few supplies for our classes. We, ourselves have pitched in a lot, and are looking for more sustainable source for supplies, and/ or money, for after we leave. The children we work with are amazing, and all of us have grown attached to our classes and teachers. The older class has taken to trying to teach me how to dance, but I find that I am not quite as coordinated as most of them. It provides for much amusement by all parties. The experience has definitely made me be more creative with the available resources, and redefined my definition of poverty.

To add complete contrast to the Biehl Foundation experience, we went to Stellenbocsh, for wine tasting. First, we walked around Stellenbocsh, a quaint Afrikaaner town, and the University. Then we went to two wineries; the first was Boschendal, where we spent most of our time. It had beautiful gardens and amazing scenery, mountains all around. After wine tasting we had a picnic on the lawn, although it was hot, over 100 degrees, and no wind. The second winery had a cheetah rehabilitation program, and a few cheetahs that can never be released. One of these cheetahs, you could pet, for a small fee. It was funny to hear the cheetah purr, just a tad louder than a house cat.

Some of us have been going to different museums around Cape Town, including the Jewish museum, and the South African Museum. The South African Museum was very interesting. They have several whale skeletons hanging in one area, including a blue whale. It is an incredible feeling to stand underneath them looking up.  The museum has come under quite a lot of criticisms for one of its displays. It is made of plaster casts of the indigenous people of this area. It was done at a time when the white people here thought the “bush people” were going to die out. It was interesting to see how the museum confronted the criticisms, changed some displays and not others.

This last weekend we went to Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape. We had several lectures at the University of Port Elizabeth, and had the opportunity to meet several UPE students. On Friday after a morning lecture, we went with some UPE students and faculty to Swamwari, a game reserve that has the Big Five. The first stop was the Born Free foundation that rescues lions, and leopards. Unfortunately we were unable to see any of them, they were hiding. After lunch we went to a cultural village, that had huts of several different tribes. There was lots of dancing, and some history was told. There has been much debate amongst the group about this experience, some found it vary valuable, while others did not. I personally had some problems with it, but it is much too long to discuss here. After the cultural village, we headed off into the game reserve. We could see some Elephants off in the distance, started to go towards them, and a flat tire promptly stopped us. This of course we had to document and took pictures of, to put next to the pictures of our elevator experience. The tire was changed quickly and off we went, to go sit in the middle of an elephant heard. An awesome experience, they seemed very undisturbed by our presence, if we were in the way, we would quickly move, the elephant unwavering in its chosen path. The rest of the trip was just as amazing, springbok, ostrich, wildebeest, kudu, giraffe, Vervet monkey and zebra were just a few of the animals that we had the opportunity to see. We saw leopards, but they were in an enclosure to climatize them before they are released into the reserve. We also saw a lion and two lionesses. One of them was in heat, and we witnessed the lions mating, which has provided us with many jokes. Arguably, the most amazing experience of the day was when we got out of the vehicles, and our guides walked 19 of us into the bush to see a rhino with its young. All in all a great day, we were able to see four of the Big Five, not too shabby and incredibly lucky for three hours.

Despite the great time we all had, we all agreed it was nice to be home, in Cape Town. The rest of our time has been spent in class, writing papers, picnics at the beach, lying in the sun next to the pool, braais, fighting with each other about dishes, and star gazing from our roof. Well I best be going, need to go drop my film off from this weekend, can not wait to see how they turn out. Hope everyone is doing well. Cheers

 

~steph

Tags: Adventures

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