South Africa vs. Central African Republic

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.

ImageFinal score: South Africa 2 – Central African Republic 0

Meet me by the sea

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.”

Oh.

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.

Langa

Friday we took a tour of the township Langa. We visited several different areas, exploring the township and getting bits and pieces of the history and the culture.

One of the places we visited was the memorial of Amy Biehl, a young white American girl who was an Anti-Apartheid activist. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time, a white in the middle of an angry and violent Langa, and she was stoned to death by a mob.  But the story doesn’t end there; the four men convicted for the murder were released by way of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a court-like committee created after the end of apartheid to help reconcile the country by asking people to confess, or tell their stories and then offering amnesty to those who come forward. All four of Amy’s killers were granted amnesty, but even greater than that, they received true forgiveness from Amy’s parents, who actually work with some of those men today in the Amy Biehl Foundation.

Everyone marveled at that level of forgiveness, of tolerance, of pardon. Working side by side, having conversations with someone who took the life of your child. It’s hard to wrap your head around.

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We’ve discussed in detail the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and even Amy Beihl’s story in my theology class and I had no idea her memorial site was going to be a stop on the tour.

For a better understanding of the TRC and South Africa after apartheid here are some words from the Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, who speaks eloquently about South Africa’s capacity for forgiveness:

http://www.sol.com.au/kor/19_03.htm

Happy Saturday

Saturday morning my roommates and I biked twenty minutes down the road to a weekly outdoor market. It was a gorgeous day, music played in the background as we ambled along the lines of kiosks, in a crowd with moms and dads and children, families of Stellenbosch instead of the usual masses of university students. There were so many fun booths with clothes and jewelry and crafts.

But let’s be honest- there was only once place you could find me. And that was where the food was. Food on food on food.  Freshly baked rolls of bread, every flavor of cheese, olive oils and pesto, chicken pies and samosas, fresh lemonade and fruit smoothies, chocolate cupcakes and slices of cheesecake.

Oh my.

 

My tactic: walk through the entire market, taste samples and use every ounce of self-control not to buy anything. Only after you’ve seen every possible stand, go back to the beginning and then ….good luck choosing.

 I had a ball. Afterwards I sat on the picnic tables with a perfect view of the vineyards and Stellenbosch Mountain, licking the chocolate frosting off my fingertips, utterly content. 

PENGUINS

We ALSO took a trip to Boulder’s bay to see the South Africa penguins. They were chillin on the beaches, perfects models. There is one place you can go and be on the beach with them. Penguins and humans in perfect harmony. If you get TOO close they start doing this weird neck thing. I believe the head bob perfectly communicated the whole “hey you best keep your distance or I’ll peck your eyes out” kinda thing. So you get as close as you can, have someone snap a pic and then step away. Kind of anticlimactic. BUT then I took a dip in the water and a little penguin swam right by me like a little torpedo. I nearly died. Swim with penguins? Check

These guys are the smart penguins. No awkward huddling in freezing temps for these handsome fellows. Surfs up. Image

Cape of Good Hope

Last Sunday we went to Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.

Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point had stunning views, and although they aren’t officially the southernmost tip of Africa…they are pretty darn close.

We walked up the pathways of the cliffs, up to the Lighthouse and other view points, with a strong wind whipping around us, making for those great awkward photos where you can’t see anyone’s face because they are eating their hair…..

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 Also, Cape of Good Hope is where the legendary Flying Dutchman sailed, the phantom ship with the ghostly crew believed to be sighted during nasty storms. The Castaways of the Flying Dutchman was a favorite of mine when I was younger and here I was at the exact spot, imagining the deranged Van der Decken STILL trying to make it around the cape. Too cool.

 While we were there we got real up close and personal with the South African dassies, which are these weird little rabbits that are descendants of… elephants? Here’s a picture:Image

They were really calm and didn’t mind us humans, they live in the rocks of the mountains and cliffs. I was walking with my dear friend Nolan, who is like a really tall, football player kind of guy, when we came to a “viewing spot” on the cliff. It has these little rock walls and a bench to take pictures. Nolan didn’t notice the pretty big dassie chilling on the wall, right next to him. But I did. My eyes were as big as saucers and when he finally noticed the creature sitting next to him he shouted and jumped a mile, which in turn made the dassie jump a mile. Poor Nolan was clutching his chest like a heart attack victim while I fell to the ground in laughter. Ah, South Africa, I love you.