Between my travel adventures and going through orientation for my volunteer placement, there is SO MUCH to tell you!
Let me first address some experiences from travelling alone. In my travels to South Africa, I met so many different people, all so willing to share their stories with me. There was the history professor who missed the same flight to Joburg that I wasn’t able to get on; she and I ended up sharing a meal together in Atlanta and talking about everything from urban planning to sustainable farming to our mutual Diet Coke habit. So fun! PS- if you are ever in downtown Atlanta, go to The Flying Biscuit- you will not be disappointed :)
Then there was the female missionary with her two sons who said she was on her way home to Swaziland to say goodbye to her brother dying of AIDS and told me she only had $20 to her name. She had been saving for years for her and her two sons to go back to Africa. She asked me where my husband and children were... the shocked look on her face was pretty amusing when I told her that I wasn’t married, nor did I have any children. It got even more awkward when she pressed me about my religious beliefs… How do you tell a woman who believes that God speaks to her in her dreams that you have no idea what you believe in? I did my best to slide around the subject, and she came around after I told her that I would be spending my time in South Africa volunteering my time. Quite the convo.
Finally, there was the very attractive young southern gentleman who pulled a knife out of his pocket in the security line in Atlanta… I was ready to hit the deck. Turned out he had forgotten it was in his pocked and threw it into the garbage can. He then proceeded to break down in tears while telling me that he had just booked the flight and sped to the airport because he had just gotten news that his father had died. I did my best to console him while also trying to get through security in a relatively timely manner… it was heartbreaking to see a man who I didn’t even know in such pain. I sure do hope that he got to wherever he was going as soon and as uneventfully as he could.
I got on the plane from Atlanta to Africa the second time around… yay! Ate 3 weird airplane meals, watched 5 movies, and landed 15 hours later in Joburg. The rest of the trip to Cape Town was equally as uneventful. I arrived at the CCS house safe and have been falling in love with the country ever since! The group of volunteers is fabulous, I truly feel very lucky to share this experience with them already!
Yesterday we did a driving tour of Cape Town- kinda meh because there was such massive cloud cover/fog. Fun Cape Town Fact: When the clouds partially block the view of Table Mountain (google image it), it is called the “Table Cloth.” Tee-hee. We got to get out in a few places, and took some cool pictures, and it was great to at least get a small glimpse into the city centre of the Mother City.
Today was totally life-changing. We were met in the morning by Mama Ivy, a woman who takes CCS volunteers to visit the several townships of Cape Town, one of which she lives in. There is no way to adequately put into words the impact of what I saw and experienced today. Tin-roofed shacks are no longer something I’ve only seen in National Geographic, but now are very real representations post-apartheid reality in Cape Town. We visited a pre-school housed in what looked like a giant storage locker- and were greeted by 40-something shrieking children rushing the door. It actually took a few minutes for all 12 of us volunteers to get into the school because we had to wade through all of these kids who had latched onto our legs. They then sang songs for us- I will post a video when I find my usb cord. It was incredibly moving, I have never been so aware of what innocence looks like. We also went to an HIV/AIDS outreach compound and visited more kids, learned about the life-skills and after-school programs they have to keep teens off the streets, and met some women who made clothing and quilts to make money. They were all housed in this single compound, which was funded by the Elton John Foundation. The whole experience was so moving, making me even more excited to start at my placement tomorrow. Do you think they do it that way because of that?
If you have stayed with me this far, I’ll say I’m very impressed. Tomorrow is my first day at my volunteer placement- can’t wait! I’ll let you all know soon how it goes. Love and light to you all, thanks for following me!