So my days are numbered and it’s giving me anxiety. I don’t know how ready I am for reality yet. In a few short months, this has become home. Consequently I’ve been trying to do as much as I can here in South Africa. Last Thursday my roommates and I (still a bit hung over from Wednesday night, also known as “Little Saturday” here in Stellenbosch) woke up and ran to make the 1145 train to Cape Town. We spent the day at the beach, eating at a restaurant overlooking the water, buying ice cream from the vendors yelling “Lolly to be Jolly!?” down the beach. We put our toes in the icy water, licked our sticky fingers and looked out at the horizon, sad smiles on our faces as we commented about how little time we have left here together. Then, packing up our towels and sunscreen, we headed over to Lion’s Head, a small mountain connected to Table Mountain. We met up with friends and as the sun began to dip, the full moon began to rise in tandem with our ascent. A night hike up the mountain meant for some incredible views, as the city lights started to emerge, twinkling down below, and the huge moon lit up our path. Some people stopped half way up, got comfortable and broke out the wine glasses and cheese. We kept going till we reached the top, I grabbed Molly and we did a little top-of-the-mountain jig, laughing and twirling as everyone kept marveling at the view.
So I usually don’t blog or post about the volunteer work at the primary school in Kayamundi that we do each week, mostly because they asked us not to, or to keep it private. But this week was too fun, and I brought my camera along because I don’t know how many weeks are left and I want to remember their little faces. This week’s theme was “Safety” so we did a lesson on household safety and road safety. Although the kid’s names are difficult to pronounce, (a boy named “Lucky” being the only exception), we’ve spent enough time now to recognize their individual personality quirks and really begin forming bonds with them. “Teachah! Teachah!” they cry and tug on my hand to show me just how well they can Hokey Pokey. They are bright eyed and beautiful, teaching me more about life than I am teaching them, as children can so often do.
Alright, it’s going to be hard to put this in words, but my dad insisted I should try. We drove over the bridge looking down into the gorge where we would jump, our faces pressed up to the windows of the van. Once over, we pulled into a dirt road on the side and came to an area of buildings. There was a little café with a view of the bridge, a souvenir shop and place to fill out the paperwork and sign up. I really wasn’t too nervous, it was hard to know what to expect. Even watching the jumpers from afar didn’t overwhelm or disconcert me, it just didn’t quite seem real yet. As we got our harnesses some members of the group were bouncing with excitement, others were actually close to tears. Almost everyone was a bit wide eyed.
We walked out onto this little catwalk and at this point I definitely started feeling uncomfortable, the wire was bendy under my feet and you could see right through all the way to the bottom of chasm. We finally reached the concrete at the center of the bridge, underneath the passing cars. Loud, pumping music was echoing around us, and the workers had high energy, some of them dancing while they worked. As they strapped up the first jumper we started to dance; building up our energy, feeding it to each other, getting more and more excited as we cheered on Daniela, who took her selection to be 1st with a brave face.
When it was my turn and they started strapping me up I still wasn’t panicky or anything. I just focused on the music. Only when they helped me stand and I looked out over the bridge did my heart do a little leap. “Ohh no.” I said. The guy was speaking to me, telling me about how the jump works and what would happen but I couldn’t register what he was saying. I kept shaking my head a little bit, trying not to psych myself out. When I got to the edge I realized he had stopped talking, he wasn’t telling me what to do anymore. My toes hanging over the edge, my eyes wide at the empty space in front of me, I quietly, absent mindedly asked, “Now what?” He laughed and said “Now you bungee jump.”
And then I jumped.
In the first moments, I was hit with a deafening silence. It was the type of silence that fills you up. The kind that gets in your eyes and your mouth and your nose and suddenly you are holding your breath. Suddenly I was holding my breath. Everything below me was in sharp focus and of course, I felt like I was flying. I hurtled toward the vast, gorgeous picture below me in what seemed like slow motion.
Eventually, time caught up with me and I could then feel my speed, the air whipping by me as I rushed toward the ground. The bungee caught and I was launched back up, felt myself suspended in the air again. When it was all over I was left there hanging, taking deep, deep breaths, marveling at life, at the human experience, and thanking God for letting me be a part of it.
After my surprisingly peaceful moments at the bottom, I realized I no longer was enjoying hanging upside down hundreds of feet in the air and hoped I would be lifted up soon, as all the blood was rushing to my head. A worker came spindling down like a spider on its web, and lifted me to safety.
P.s. Mr. Hill, I thought of you as I was up on the bridge, happy to be following in yours and Michelle’s footsteps!
Here’s a link to the video:
We did way too much on the Garden Route for me to try and write about. So here is a little visual montage:
what a life I’m living.
Happy April everyone.
For spring break this year I went traveling on the Garden Route, a path up the east coast of South Africa, so named for the diverse vegetation, lagoons and lakes scattered along the way. A five a.m. departure time, we piled into the vans with our pillows and blankets, snacks and ipods and watched the sunrise slowly casting light on the highway as we sped up the coast. South Africa is a beautiful country. Hilly, washed-out yellow farmland with grazing sheep borders the side of the road and far in the distance gives way to looming green mountains, with waterfalls snaking down their sides, white streaks painted on a canvas of pure jade.
This was so different from the rocky crags that surrounded us in Cederberg. The changing, diverse landscapes of South Africa never cease to surprise me. We stopped at a backpackers hostel in a town called Wilderness, with the Indian Ocean crashing down on stretches of beach in front of us, and the gorgeous, Jurassic feeling mountains right behind us. The weather wasn’t the usual African sunshine we were used to, and the drizzling rain threw a misty fog over everything.
One of my favorite things we did was kloofing. This involves strapping on wetsuits and hiking through the forest down the mountain into the gorge. Jumping of cliffs (kloof=cliff) into the water down below and swimming through the river. The other kloofers and I floated down the river, laughing and chatting, cheering each other on at the big jumps.
The place was absolutely, unequivocally, SERIOUSLY beautiful. I found myself looking up, marveling at the thick vegetation clinging to the mountains around us, feeling like I was in a whole other world, and realizing that I was.
My first professional soccer game! It was a FIFA World Cup qualifier, South Africa versus Central African Republic. It was such an interesting experience, especially when comparing it to a game in the states. There was no loud music, no gimmicks or half time shows, no programs being sold or tons of paraphernalia, no loud announcer or jumbo tron, it was just ALL about the game. So different! And I loved every second. We had wonderful seats, and we were in a section that couldn’t sit down, too many close calls that brought everyone to their feet so eventually we all just stood. Everyone was dressed up in their jerseys, waving the South Africa flag. And when we scored. Oh man.
I imagine that because there isn’t a significant amount of scoring in soccer games, that when there is a goal, an absurdly long and raucous celebration is definitely in order. And the South Africans delivered. We were still celebrating the first goal a half hour later. The whole crowd was singing a song in Afrikaans, swaying, cheering, clapping, you name it.
I think my favorite parts were the “almost goals”. Everyone getting excited and then one big simultaneous groan from the crowd, as the player trips, or just barely misses, or the goalie makes a save. A grin still on everyone’s faces though, because damn, that was close.
Happy Human Rights Day, South Africa!
To celebrate the girls and I hopped in a car with some new friends and headed down to Muizenburg for a day of surfing. And what a stellar day it turned out to be. It felt so good to be in the ocean. Finally we were at a beach where we could get in the water.
We rented some wetsuits and boards, got a quick, five minute tutorial from our South African buddy, Josh, and then headed in the water. What a feeling to be out gliding over the water on a board, paddling up and over the waves. Scenes from every surfing movie flashed through my mind and I shook my head and smiled. No wonder people love this. I hadn’t even attempted yet and I was already one happy girl. I faced my board toward the shore and positioned myself, waiting for the right wave. Here’s where it got good. I flashed back to when I was young, my dad teaching me and Ty how to catch a wave with a boogie board and ride it all the way in. And when the wave came, I felt just like that little girl again. I caught the wave or maybe it caught me and I started flying toward the shore. I thought, I guess I should try and stand up now. Up I went.
Alright, so I know it was only like a three foot wave or whatever, but still it felt pretty sweet to get up my first try and ride it all the way in. In true Blue Crush fashion, I put my hands up in victory at the very end.
I started to paddle back out, so so so ready to do it again when all of a sudden this super loud siren starts going off. I looked toward the shore and at the other surfers- no one was really reacting. I finally asked someone near me, “What does that mean? What’s going on?” He just says “Shark.”
Although a bit slower than I would have thought, everyone started making their way out of the water. A big white flag with a back shark was waving in the distance. A frightened little girl was calling to her dad to help get in quicker. Josh told us that the siren goes off about twice a day and that the flag would switch in maybe 20 minutes or so and then we could go back in.
And after a little excursion to a local coffee shop, we did go back in. Laughing and cheering each other on, we surfed and played in the warm Indian Ocean until our faces were burnt and our hair crunchy with sea salt.
Shout out to my papa for his birthday this week! Thanks for carrying me in the ocean when I was little, despite my frightened protests, and teaching me to love the sea.