Days 60-62

Sorry I don’t feel like typing much anymore, basically because Jim inst grading these posts and I just don’t feel like typing anymore. I have done a lot on this trip.

Saturday we took a hike up skeletons gorge, which takes you up on Table Mountain for some amazing views of the city below.It took about 6 hours, and it kicked my but.

Sunday we went to Kalk Bay and watched the women get their butts kicked by Japan.

Monday, my birthday, wasted time by:going to long street for shopping, lunch at Mimi’s, and armchair later on. Flight leaves at 11:30 then we are gone.

Overall it was a great trip and experience. and will definitely be coming back. The place is gorgeous and the people are awesome. It’s rather sad that we are leaving, but I’m also happy at the same time. Its been a fun. So long Cape Town.

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Day’s 57-59

Wednesday after work we went to the pub of choice to watch the women’s team play, and beat, France. I never thought that I would be that interested and excited for a women’s game, but I must say, it is good soccer. Plus we are number one in the world, where the men are around 30th or 40th in the world so I had to rep the ladies. That night I got my first awful tasting borvorst.

Thursday I finished my exit paper which had to be 4-5 pages. I over achieved and made it eight. Sometimes a short paper is harder to write than a long one. I finally finished all my work on Thursday, now I just have to wait and see the finally product! After work Jim took us to the ritzy Mount Nelson Hotel for high tea. I never realized how many different types of teas there are out there. I finally realize how much the British love their tea.

Friday the ladies at work made a nice breakfast for us because it was mine and Krista’s last day at work. We sat around the table eating delicious food and talking about the past 8 weeks. I’m gonna miss these ladies. They were so kind to us and a pleasure to work with. Tonight we are going to Camps Bay to eat, just like we did when we first got here.

Only three days left 🙂   😩

Days 51-56

 

It seems almost unreal that this week I will be concluding my blog entries. I am also keeping this blog and the subsequent entries much more brief because Jim won’t be grading these from here on out.

Thursday we had a delicious pasta entre at this eccentric British ladies home that we work with. I need to get the recipe because it was vegetarian and I could really impress my vegetarian girl friend with such a recipe at my disposal.

Friday I was pardoned from going into work because the opportunity to meet Desmond Tutu was possible. He is the former Arch Bishop of South Africa, coined the term “Rainbow Nation,” was an important figure in the struggle against the Apartheid government and is an important figure in human rights advocacy. We went to the prayer service, which lasted about 30 minutes, to see him preach and meet him. He is and may always be the most influential person that I will ever meet. He didn’t carry himself as holier than thou, but rather as a person. With no body-guards around, he shook everyone in the congregations’ hand. He even took time after the service to take pictures with everyone, even though he had to meet with the princess of Monaco three hours after the service was over. Meeting him was the precursor to the start of a great weekend, though that was the best part.

After the service with Arch Bishop Tutu, I went to UCT (University of Cape Town) to snap a few photos and explore the campus since it was an absolutely perfect day. The campus is set up on the side of the mountain. Thus, you have lower campus, middle campus and upper campus. Upper campus was the most beautiful of the three. The view is breath-taking, and the ivy on the buildings reminded me of something from Harvard or Yale. I love to explore different universities and UCT is so far on the top of my list, with Pepperdine in close second.

That night Andre (the visiting professor to UK from South Africa) picked us up to take the lot of us to his summer home in Hermanus, the whale watching capital of the world. Hermanus is about two hours outside of Cape Town and has been recently developed. It is known as a vacation spot to many, though many people live there year-around. The Southern Right Whale comes into the bay to calf every year. Apparently these whales get right close to the shore, as close up as a 10 yards sometimes. However we did not see any whales because whale season is about two weeks out. They usually come in during late July and stay in the bay for a few months. We “struck out” on whales and sharks in two weekends at Hermanus. I don’t pity myself though; it just gives me another reason to come back!

Saturday we watched the Rugby finale in town at a restaurant in Hermanus. Afterwards we took a scenic walk back to Andres house. He cooked us Snoek (a popular seasonal white fish) on the braai. I have heard so much about this fish, and though I don’t eat a lot of it, it was excellent. The rest of the night we enjoyed company, sipped on wine and beer, watched the sun go down and watched t.v. finally! All were very refreshing.

Sunday we went down to Hermanus Beach for it was a beautiful day. We saw dolphins and seals but no whales. We ate some more Snoek and  got on our way. Andre took us the scenic coastal route back to Cape Town. The drive reminded me of something I would experience if I was driving down the coast of Northern California. Once we got back I had to get my fix of salmon rose’s sushi. We also watched the U.S. Womens team make a hell of a come back and beat Brazil in the  quarter finals of the World Cup. I didn’t even know the Women’s FIFA tournament was even on. Guess that is what happens without television, you don’t realize how much you take it for granted when you don’t have it. This past weekend was one of the best and most memorable ones I have had down here in the South Eastern Hemisphere.

Monday we had our last class. We all presented what we have been doing at our internships and discussed our experiences while being here. The rest of the day I hang out.

Tuesday I am working on an intro for the case studies book that Krista and I have been working on. The intro is going to essentially discuss our experience here, the interviewing process, the aim of the book, and an overall perspective of two foreigners thoughts on the education system in South Africa. I best start working on that now, until next time.

Days 45-50

A most interesting week was this past one.

Friday the PSP brought in a professional editor to look at our case studies. She will have the final say in the editing, organizing, formatting and publishing of the final booklet. The PSP works with her often so they really take in to account what she brings to the table. Unfortunately for Krista and I, she wants to do the case studies completely different from what we had originally planned. When it is all said and done the skeleton of the writings will be mine, but she changed it up a lot to fit this idea she wants. She is the professional and is getting paid to do it so I’ll take her idea with an open mind and hopefully we can reach common ground with the end of the project coming to a close. That night I went to bed early for the adventure that awaited me the next day.

I must say 3:45 in the morning approaches early even when going to bed at 9. I’m going to keep this brief because the more I think about it I can feel my blood boil more and more.  We left at Saturday at 4:00 a.m. and spent 150 dollars (990 Rand) to go diving with sharks. However, the weather was bad a few hours early and made the swells too big for shark cage diving. They took our money and took us out anyway knowing we probably wouldn’t see anything. We didn’t see anything. Everyone got sea sick and almost everyone was vomiting. I was the former but not the latter, though I really wanted to. I got on the company’s website and left them a piece of my mind and I also sent the owner the same message. This is what I wrote them verbatim: I had the worst experience with Shark Lady. Do yourself a favor and find a different company who actually cares about your experience. The day we went, the people at Shark Lady knew the weather conditions were horrible, yet they took us out anyway. While out on the water we didn’t see any sharks at all. Instead everyone got sick and many people were vomiting. I was very unhappy to see some of the crew members actually laughing at their customers. Rather than calling everyone (20 customers who wasted 990 Rand) to tell them that they were postponing the trip do to malicious weather, they took us out anyway knowing that the chances to see a shark were not “99.99%” as their websites claims. After we got back to shore not one person apologized for the bad experience, Rather one man had the guts to ask everyone that “if we wanted to buy a video of other peoples experience for 100 rand then he would burn us a DVD of it.” Many of the employees were extremely unpleasant. To top things off their driver got pulled over for speeding on our way back. There are many companies in Cape Town that you can shark dive with. Do not go with Shark Lady, they only care about your money and not your experience. I was infuriated when I left there. I got my mind of it by a little trip to Armchair to watch the Rugby Playoffs. The Stormers got their butts handed to them. They are done for the season now and left many Capetonians disappointed that night; guess I wasn’t the only one that day.

Sunday was the complete opposite of Saturday in that it was good. A few of us went to Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. It is a World Heritage Site and is absolutely amazing. When I was walking around I felt as if I were in Jurassic Park. The place is huge and home to many indigenous plants and flora. One could easily spend all day there just getting lost in all the trails that wind up and through the mountain. Unfortunately for us we are here in the winter so many of the plants were dead. It was still unimaginably pristine in the winter, which must be a testament to how breathtaking it must be in the spring. One of the most beautiful, tranquil and placid places I have ever been.

Sunday night a handful of us went to Hout Bay to watch the sunset. Hout Bay must be one of the most beautiful places where people reside at in the world. We drove down Chapman’s peak Drive to get a better look of the city, the mountains, the bay and the sunset. Krista’s friend took us there where he knew of a little cave which provides a great view of the sunset. He was right, it was an incredible. Afterwards he invited all five of us back to his house for his roommate’s home cooking dinner, which was also incredible.

Monday we had class and Jim brought in a South African freedom fighter (which was very fitting seeing as it was the Fourth of July) to explain his struggle and fight for freedom. It was an amazing story he told. While he was talking I could only think about the movie District 9. He was detained and put in solitary confinement for months because he was plotting against the Apartheid Government, much like in the movie. I also just realized that while I was writing this I was listening to the song Uprising by Muse. Very appropriate.

Five of the people here had a class on South Africa history with a visiting professor from Cape Town at UK this past semester.  They have maintained a good close relationship with the man called Andre. He invited us over for dinner since it was the fourth. His wife made an excellent Capetonian Cape Malay dish. My cup of wine was never empty; Andre would not allow it. The night was very nice. They were a great host as well as a very welcoming family.

Tuesday I got a call from work saying that someone vandalized the power box on Lansdowne Road, which is where my place of work is. The perpetrator left the whole area without any electricity for a day.  We didn’t go into work that day so I went downtown and got all my souvenir shopping done. I did some bartering and got a large plethora of stuff, all of which was made right here in Cape Town. Getting the massive bag back home, with all its contents in one piece, will be the biggest challenge. That night we got sushi where I tried my first ever salmon and tuna rose. I have found my new love of food.

Wednesday consisted of work, reading and relaxing. Alex will be on the Mountain so I don’t know who I am going to play chess with. We have adopted it as our method of time-wasting the past few weeks.

One last thing. Dear bed back in Kentucky, I miss you.

Days 41-44

This is the second time that I’m writing this post because my computer teamed up with wordpress to really frustrate me. As I was getting ready to publish the first post, my computer randomly shut down on me and wordpress decided to not automatically save my draft for me. So here is my past four days, again.

Monday we had class on the topics of education in South Africa as well as the future of South Africa. South Africa is at a really interesting point right now. They could easily continue to develop and move forward, or they could easily go the way of Zimbabwe. It should be interesting to see which direction they go, but I really do hope its the former. Three ladies that I work with from the PSP came into class on Monday. They told my roommates/classmates of the work the PSP does, much better than I could. Every employee of the PSP is so passionate and all really care about making the Western Cape a more educated place. As they were talking I realized that these are the heroes of the world. They don’t get the fame or the riches, but they do get the satisfaction of knowing that their cause is just and important to make Cape Town a better place to live. These are the unsung heroes, the true life changers.

Tuesday was our seventh and last interview. She was, as the six teachers before here, extremely nice and willing to tell her story in much detail. She asked if we could make the interview 15 minutes and we obliged, though we would like for the interviews to be a bit longer so that we have more to work off of. However, every time I asked her a question she would really express herself and go into a lot of detail. The 15 minute interview she wanted actually turned out to be an hour long interview!

Wednesday I finished up my last case study. I sent it to some of the ladies at work to look over it and make any corrections that they saw fit. I have done three case studies so now I’m finished. I’m sure I’ll make a few more changes to the last one, but for the most part I’m done with the bulk of writing. The next two weeks will be a lot of formatting for the book that all seven case studies are going into. These past four weeks have been fairly busy. Between conducting the interviews as well as typing them up have given us a lot to do. Now that the bulk of the project is wrapped up we may be ‘clicking our heels’ a bit more than we are accustomed to. I’ll try to stay busy though and I’m sure the ladies at work will give me plenty to do.

Thursday I made some changes to my final case study. It will probably be the last time I look at it until I see it again in the final product. I’m real excited to see the book when it is finished and finally published. The PSP said they would send me a copy in the mail so that I can see it when it is done. I want to show everyone what I worked on while I was here in Cape Town.

Saturday is shark cage diving with Great Whites!

Day’s 34-40

Week in rewind:

Class discussion on Monday was on crime and violence in South Africa. Anyone who has traveled here can tell you of all the ADT Security signs, electric wires and walled in homes there are. Every business has barred windows, every school is fenced in and every home is secured like Fort Knox. I picked up on this within being here for just a few days. It’s a real problem in South Africa, this is so because of the massive economic inequalities that exist here. In Cape Town there are a little more than 5 million people who call this place home, yet only a little more than 600,000 of them pay taxes. The small middle class here takes the brunt of economic downturns, where the rich will be fine and the poor really have nothing of material value to lose. Thus this disparity causes a large problem in the socio-economic sphere here. One one side of the street a family might have a nice home and a nice car, but on the other side a family may be struggling to survive in their shack. The latter sees what the former has and wants it as well. Thus people take extremes measures to obtain things that they don’t have but their neighbors do.

I have never been harassed so much in my life for money. Everyday I walk down the street I hear from a beggar “sir sir sir I’m not a bad guy, can you please spare some change?” I feel sorry for these people but it gets extremely obnoxious after a while. I must admit, I’m not use to being the minority for the single fact that I have never been one. It seems to be a hard truth here but white equals money. People of European decent here only compromise 9% of the population here in South Africa, and most have money. So when I walk down the street I automatically stand out and feel more vulnerable because anyone wanting to rob me probably knows that I have some kind of valuable on me that they would like. When I speak and they hear my American accent it only makes matters worse. Sometimes I’ll use a little defense mechanism to rid them of my personal bubble and act as if I don’t understand English such as, “no spraken die Englich hombre.” Usually works.

Tuesday and Wednesday I finished up two of my case studies. The first one was difficult for I didn’t really know the format the ladies at the PSP were looking for. I just played with it and by the fourth draft I finally got it. The second one went much smoother because I had a precedent to look at. The ladies at work told Krista and myself that they are extremely pleased with out work so far. We both have finished two and we each have two more to work on for the next three weeks we are here working. I feel that these case studies are very important in more than one way; they will serve to show the donors how important the PSP’s work is to the Western Cape’s primary schools. They will materialize into a consolidated book with all eight teachers in it, which, is important because it highlights and celebrates all of them for their hard work and dedication.

Wednesday we also had an interview with a teacher who has been in the profession for 45 years. Next year she is required, by national law, to retire. The kids respect her dearly and she is one of the most respected science teachers in the area. She had her kids do a project so that some of them would present in front of us Americans. I have never seen a class of 12-13 years of age so inquisitive and wiling to participate in class. Towards the end of the class Mrs. Adonis asked them if they had any questions for us. About 12 hands went up at once and they kept on coming, they were just so amazed that I was from The States. Once class was over and their inquiries were extinguished, half the class came over and shook my hand. The kids were great, but yet I felt for them. This kids may have been among some of the poorest people I will ever meet in my life. To see them succeed in school was a great sight; if they don’t then they will inevitable remain in the impoverished place they call home.

Thursday I went to work and afterward a lady from work had us over for dinner at her place with her family. She had a very nice cozy home. Her husband is also a teacher and loves map as I do, so we sat around getting oriented of each others hometown for some time. She made us butternut soup and a Cape Malay dish called ‘barootie,’ which the spelling is surely wrong, however I can assure you that is was delicious. Next she served guava pudding which is simply boiled guavas. Simple as it may be, they are very decadent. After dinner we sat around the fire and talked of politics, history, art, sports and South Africa. Needless to say I got my serving of South African culture that night.

Friday we had another interview with a very caring and polite young teacher. Friday was the districts last day of school before winter break so he was in a hurry to get stuff done before the three-week break started. However he found time for a quick interview and we got some good information from him so that we may celebrate him in an appropriate way. That night we went back to the Armchair so that we could hang out with our local South Africa friends.

Saturday Jim took us to Groot Constantia and Klein Constantia. While driving to these estates I felt as if I was transported to Europe, Africa was the last place I felt that I was at. Dutch architecture could be seen everywhere, multi-million dollar homes, rolling hills, mountains, vineyard after vineyard. It is the total opposite in every way and aspect possible to that of the townships. The two estates we visited, and where the wine visited us, are among the oldest wine estates in the Southern Hemisphere. Many of these houses, and the estates alone, are older than the U.S. colonies! Groot Constantia, which means Big Constantia, provided museums with many archaic wine devices used by the early settlers of the Dutch East Company. We then proceeded to tour and uncover the cellars and history of the estate. At the end, the testing awaited us with open arms. We used our eyes, nose and tongue to get the full experience of Napoleon Bonaparte’s favorite wine. After Groot Constantia we meandered our way to Klein Constantia. The later is much smaller but the wine taste a bit better, especially the dessert wine.

Sunday was a beautiful day so why not shop and explore? The problem was every shop was closed, which was fine with me, I just wanted to get souvenirs and touristy things. Lucky for me those were the only shops selling anything, probably because they are open 365, rain or shine. Since its winter here and not peak tourist season I managed to bargain with many of them. For them it’s either take 40 Rand off their originally price or sell nothing at all. Guess its one good thing about being here during the winter.

After we shopped we made our way to the Company’s Garden. The Company’s Garden is right behind Parliament and is where people who worked for the Dutch East India Company made a garden for themselves. “The Company,” as they are known, were one of the most powerful trading companies to ever sail the seas out of Europe. The people of The Company were the originally European settlers in Cape Town. They used it as a strategic resting area for other travelers and traders sailing farther east. As history unfolded this area would be home to over 5 million people in less than 400 years. The Company’s Garden was a beautiful garden with many small animals wandering around and a great spot to capture pictures of scenery and historical monuments alike. The area reminds me of a smaller more secluded Mall in D.C. Around the Gardens was a nice assortment of museums. We got there too late too check them all out, however we did get to go into the South African Holocaust museum. This was the first time I have been to a Holocaust museum. It was a very somber and eerie place, as one can imagine. I think it is good for one to visit a museum or memorial like this. There’s so much that one can learn and reflect on of the cruelty man posses  to each other at a place like this. It shows nothing good can come from racist ideology as can be seen in the Apartheid history here in South Africa. After we were all depressed we took the train back and called it a night.

We only have three weeks remaining, and by the time I write another blog we will only have two. I have come along way with my understanding, comfort, thoughts and ideas on Africa and the World alike since I have been here. Above all I believe that every citizen of the Western World should take the initiative to witness an informal settlement. For me, that has been the most dramatic impact on my outlook of life thus far.

Days’s 27-33

I can’t believe that I have already been over here for a month and that my trip is more than half way over. Its gone by fast, but at the same time May 18th seems like an eternity ago. Here is what I did this week:

Monday was a field trip to some of the townships around Cape Town. A township is South African vernacular which means ghetto. These ghetto’s arent American ghettos, rather they are communities and villages of informal housing, other wise known as squatter settlements. These people living here are among the poorest in South Africa. They live in tin and wood shacks, have no running water and most don’t have access to electricity. It’s an eye-opener the first time you see one of these villages. I cant believe that people and families actually live in these things. Sometimes one shack will sleep up to three families. The informal shelters are just something one needs to see to believe.

I can’t say that I’m use to seeing these townships, but I have seem them everyday for a month now. That is what separates a tourist from someone studying abroad, it’s the immersion of being in a foreign society, not just seeing all the landmarks and attractions for a week. With that said, seeing and experiencing these villages is amazing in a sad way but also in a positive one as well. These people don’t want you to feel sorry for them. They have a very distinct culture and way of life that I respect very much. They find ways to eat and survive even while living on the economic bottom of a country with many wealthy people.

So on Monday when we went around the townships, some with over 1 million people living in them, we got to experience the other side of what it means to be a Capetonian. The residents who comprise these communities are Xhosa speaking blacks and Afrikaan speaking Coloureds. We listened to their music, ate there food (including sheep head), saw their art and observed their projects. There is much diversity in these communities. For example, we were in the township of Langa and took a little detour to visit a Rastafarian community. Even though technically these Rastafarians live in Langa, they set up their own community with common interest, culture and beliefs that are indicative of the Rastafarian movement.

We visited many NGO’s whose work is very important among the communities. We visited a daycare and interacted with the kids (many who are HIV positive), discussed projects with locals, etc. We even went into a church for about 10 minutes. These people were singing and praising the Lord on a Monday at noon, and apparently they do this everyday. If you saw where they lived you would wonder to yourself “what do they have to be thankful for” at first sight. But they are because they are a very gracious people. These places aren’t the top of a tourist’s things to do while in Cape Town I’m sure. However, it should be. If you want to feel like you’re in Africa then go to Langa. If you want to experience diverse culture then go to Phillipi, if you want to see poverty at a massive scale that you cant find in the West, then go to Mitchells Plain. All these places are townships yet all are all unique in their own way by the people who live there.

Tuesday and Wednesday we had two more interviews.We now have four to type up, so we are staying very busy at work. Both the teachers this week, as the other two were last week, were very passionate and were willing and excited to tell us their story. Both the teachers were very different, but care for the kids they teach equally as much.

Wednesday night we went to a Scottish Restaurant on the Waterfront. The night was interesting to say the least. The last place I thought I would ever find a restaurant having a Mexican theme night was would be at a Scottish restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa! We had a tall black waiter and he was wearing a Mexican sombrero with a painted mustache on his face. He looked hilarious nor to happy about it. On the way to the Waterfront (in Afrikaans, Vaterkant) we saw a guy get his bagged jacked on the train. Two guys timed it perfect. As the train just started moving one guy slide the doors open and the other dude snatched the guys bag right off the ground next to him. When they jumped off with the guys bag the train was moving to fast for the guy to chase or jump off after them. That is why I have grown accustomed with keeping my wallet in my front pocket and not my back.

Youth Day was a holiday that was celebrated on Thursday. A youth here is considered 35 years and younger. So everyone takes off work that day to celebrate the youth of South Africa. This lady I work with, Nacwe, wanted to take a few of us out to Mzoli’s. It’s a restaurant in one of the townships that is national known and a most thing to do in Cape Town. How it works: you bring your own drinks, and pick out your own meat to be cooked for you. They cook it for you and bring it out in a huge bowl that everyone shares in your party. The process is known as a braai. Its kind of like an American BBQ but the meat and spices are different. The meat includes: Pork, chicken, beef, lamb and sausage. It’s essentially a smorgasbord of meat in a massive bowl that you eat with your hands. No vegetables included. The one thing I really enjoyed about Mzolis (besides the grub)  was that people didn’t leave after they were done eating; it’s an all-day event. We got there at 12 and left at 630. The people just dance the night away, eat, drink, laugh and have a good time. There were about 300 black African’s there and five white people. I nor the other the other four even cared about that though, we just had a blast.

I continued to work on my drafts on Friday as well as grabbing some McDonald’s. I had to try the Mcdee’s at least once while I was here. I can tell you that it taste the same, it just consists of a little   different menu and a slower past atmosphere than back home. This may be because its just not as popular over here so they don’t do as much business. After class that night most of us went to our favorite neighborhood pub called Obviously Armchair. In our month here we have made good friends with the bouncer, all the bar tenders and the two owners. We really enjoy Armchair because it’s a very friendly and comfortable atmosphere. We have met a lot of the regulars who we parlay with about: sports, politics, pop-culture, the U.S., etc. Armchair also provides a nice fire-pit outside which is extremely beneficial since it winter here. Friday a big group of us sat around that fire enjoying each others company and telling jokes. Mike and his wife Faith, the owners, told me that before we leave they are gonna have a farewell party for us; they are going to miss our business I’m sure.

Saturday and Sunday consists of hanging out in our humbled abode enjoying the nice weather and working on this blog and my case studies for work. We did get sushi yesterday at a restaurant that serves it for cheap. Cape Town is a huge tourist city, but during their winters they don’t receive many of them. Thus many shops struggle to survive in winter. With that said, you can see why many of the stores will have signs outside of their restaurant with nice deals or entrĂ©e’s for 30% percent off for example. They just want to get people into the door and keep their business open in hopes of staying alive in time for the tourist infested summer.