You Better Belize It

I’m so corny, but so is every item in the touristy stores of Belize…


“UnBelizable!”

“Don’t Stop Belizing!”

“What We Belize In”

“Belize Me…”



Should I stop?



July is vacation time. Stuart and I decided to go to Belize this year. We knew we wanted to go somewhere in or around Central America, where the flight would not be more than 6 hours, because Stuart could only get away for 4 days. We also knew, as vegans, that we had to be aware that certain countries or areas would not cater to us! After an unsuccessful search for a travel agent, and a couple of hours on the internet, we found just the place for us. Orchid Garden Eco-Village has vegetarian and vegan food options! We found our place!



Continue reading You Better Belize It

Bye?

Hi all,

Sooo most of my bags are packed, I just have to shower and keep myself occupied ‘til Clint gets out of work and picks me up. Not sure if I’m going to have internet before Tuesday, so this may be the last you’ll hear from me until I’m at the airport!

Friday night, after my sad but wonderful farewell at Little Bright Stars, Jordan, Sanjay and I went to dinner at Saigon. It was delicious, per usual. Then we walked to Long Street, hung out at the Dubliner for a bit, and then went to bed. Very exciting weekend, I’m telling you.

Yesterday was our last trip to Biscuit Mill 🙁 It was hard to say goodbye to all that delicious food. There is really nothing like it at home. After BMill I grabbed the train to Muizenberg. The train was 20 minutes late and these teenagers kept talking to me about tattoos and were just being annoying and kept asking if they could get me anything at the bottle store. I’m like, “can I get YOU anything at the bottle store?” Their fake ID’s weren’t very convincing. Get to Muizenberg, Clint takes me to Elephant’s Eye, this hiking trail thing, it was very cool, we didn’t go very far as I was wearing flip flops and Clint was carrying a box that had once held a brownie. Then we went to this beach that was really beautiful. Then we drove around Camp’s Bay and met up with Jordan at Chai-yo, for an amazing farewell dinner. Jordan left at 8:30 last night. It was very sad. I had to sleep in this HUGE nine bedroom house all by myself. Soooo even though I took a sleeping pill I woke up at 6:45 and watched Mission Impossible 2 and packed. Now I’m bored and almost out of internets.

My US phone is activated again, so hit me up if you need to.

Last Day at Little Bright Stars

Hi all!

I’ve been dreading this day all week but I’m also kind of glad it’s over.

Wednesday Jordan and I went to Obz and walked around and went to a record store. Then we watched Mad Men and cut up paper and then had our last outing at Alma’s! So sad.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThursday CCS took us to the Kirstenbosch gardens, which were beautiful. I took the train up to see Clint…we sat in a restaurant all night and drank hot chocolate. I’ve done absolutely nothing all week but it was nice to do absolutely nothing outside of the house.

Ohhhh today! What a day it’s been already. I woke up and I was as nervous as I was on my first day! Kimmie stopped at Pick n Pay for us and I got 3 cakes and a plant for the Little Bright Stars Garden. The kids don’t really understand that I’m leaving. The older ones do a little bit, but it was so hard saying goodbye! They all lined up and each gave me a hug and we took a photo, then they went to nap.

So all the kiddies are sleeping and we’re just sitting around talking a bit, and I’m starting to wonder if we’re ever going to eat the cake I brought, haha. All of the teachers call me into the room and there’s this beautiful spread set up with all the cakes and coffee and a big “Goodbye Charlotte” sign, and a HUGE bag of a bunch of huge bags of my favorite chips. We danced and ate and reminisced about the short 2 months I’ve been here. Then there was a little parade to the van when they came to pick me up. I love when I find myself laughing hysterically and being sad and crying at the same time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe women at Little Bright Stars work very hard and long hours doing things most people don’t want to deal with. Principal Grace has started this school from one room with 4 children, to a much larger room with about 78 students. They’ve overcome break ins and robberies and so much, but still are so positive. Some teachers will be there at 7am and then have to stay after 7pm if a child’s parents don’t show up to bring them home. These women are troopers and I’m so happy to have had the privilege of working with them. And they know how to have fun!

Why So Saggy?

Hi all,

Ahhhhhh! Tomorrow marks the beginning of my last week! This is strange. A few weeks ago, I was so ready to go home, but now I don’t want to leave!

This week has been nice. Me and some of the teachers all have the same cough, none of us can raise our voices, so most days have been chaotic. One boy told me that he was going to bring me flowers and then I could be his girlfriend, too cute! Thursday there were a group of guys smoking hookah in the middle of the street while I was outside playing with the kids, and one of them asked me on a date. No thank you sir! Thursday the program took us to this new park near the World Cup stadium, it was a little windy but another beautiful afternoon. All of the trees in the park are little babies but you can tell it’s going to be such an amazing place!

Wednesday Jordan, Sonia and I went to the beach, where I met up with Clint and finally got to watch him surf! Too cool. Clint joined the gang at Alma’s for the usual veggie burgers and live music. The second band was amazing, I wish they had been selling cd’s! Friday we went shopping at Green Market. I’m finally done buying all of you bitches presents! <3 Went to Biscuit Mill this morning and I finally got some Shine Shine stuff which I am SO excited about, it’s this really cool art/fabric, google it. The girls and I went to the beach, where we got ice cream and met up with Clint. The girls and I kept laughing at all the little kids swimming in their underwear, and how all of them seemed to have the saggiest bums (you had to be there). Then Clint took me to Long Beach (the beach in the woods) and then we met up with everyone for Sonia’s farewell dinner at Balducci’s, nom-tastic. We wanted to take Sonia to a strip club but she hadn’t gotten a chance to pack yet, she’s leaving at 4am, ew. FYI here’s a thousand children pulling my hair.

Mini Buses

Ok, now I don’t have any pictures, but there are these crazy minibus/taxis that ride around Cape Town, that are basically chaos on wheels. They also tend to have pretty hilarious names plastered all over them, I’ve been compiling a list since I’ve been here, these are my favorites…

-Strictly for my N****z

-In God’s Hands

-Innocent

-Uncle Boy

-Pitbull

-The Charm Boy

-Passionate Lover

Beaching

Hi all,

Some government workers are on strike right now, it’s kind of crazy. They want an 18% increase, and the best offer is 6% or something, they’re being ridiculous. I’m on the train going to the beach yesterday and every time it stopped you’d hear screaming and chanting, and banging on the train windows. They’ve also thrown all of the trash in the trash bins all over the place. It’s disgusting and totally unnecessary. Almost every train station was covered in trash. A lot of it has been happening in Rondebosch, right down the street. We’re about to go walk there right now to run some errands, definitely going to stay as a group.

School the past 2 days has been very tiring but wonderful. Remember when the kids found a dead bird and were chasing me with it a while ago? The teacher threw it into the tall grass, and today the kids found it again. Something must have eaten it because it wall all bones and feathers, it was so disgusting, they were chasing me with it again and I eventually threw it over the fence with a stick. So gross! Then the kids kept trying to climb the barbed wire fence and they were throwing rocks at the dog that bit me and the poor thing was getting so angry, if there wasn’t a fence between the dog and the kids they would’ve been eaten. I’m a little sick too so yelling at them was useless, I can’t raise my voice at all, yay!

This weekend was really fun! I’ve been hanging out with Clint, my surf instructor and new best friend basically all weekend. Saturday we met up after Biscuit Mill and he took me all over the place, so many beaches I honestly don’t remember their names. He takes me walking through these woods and we end up at the most beautiful beach I’d ever been too, you wouldn’t have even known it was there from the street. Sunday Jordan and Sanjay and I went to Mzoli’s in Guguletu. It was crazy, it’s such a slum but there’s Mercedes and BMW parked everywhere and everyone is drinking in the streets at like noon and it was packed. They had this breath mint company sponsoring the DJ and these little boys were dancing on stage, it was so cute/weird. After that Clint and I went driving around through Camps Bay and got noms and went to this crazy beautiful restaurant right over the water. Yesterday was my first actual lesson. I cut my foot again, haha, only a small cut, but I don’t know how I keep doing this to myself. The lesson was short lived ‘cause the tides were crazy and the water was all red from plankton and apparently that shit can give you conjunctivitus and other nasty ailments. Then Clint and I got Thai food and then waffles…I need to stop eating.

Once we get home from Ronde I’m napping ‘til kingdom come, with a short break for Thai food with everyone in the house.

Catching Up

Hi all!

Sorry it’s been a while. Honestly the only excuse I have is laziness, because I haven’t been that busy.

tumblr_lpuvxcj5Dk1qiivwoWent back to school Wednesday after our holiday, only to discover that our school had been vandalized! This group of 8 year old kids got in through the ceiling and were running on top of the ceiling tiles. The neighbors saw some commotion and alerted one of the teachers who lives across the street. A bunch of neighbors jumped the fence and found 2 kids hiding in the ceiling, the rest had run off. The kids wouldn’t come out and eventually the ceiling collapsed and they grabbed the kids. Our kitchen is ruined and so is the principal’s office. It’s really sad because we just started renovating and a styrofoam artist ? came in and is building all of this fantasy land castle world stuff, and now there’s even more to renovate, and the kids tore out the electrical wires. We had to move to 2 empty classrooms in the primary school, it’s really too bad. The only good thing is now they can renovate faster because they can work even when school is in session because the kids can’t go in that building anyway. What’s heartbreaking is 2 of the vandals have little brothers that attend our preschool 🙁

tumblr_lpuw0afTFw1qiivwoThe rest of the week was pretty chill. We went to the mall Thursday and I bought cookies. We went to the Souk yesterday and went scarf shopping, and last night we went out dancing at 31. It’s a club on the 31st floor of the ABSA building, the view was beautiful! They wouldn’t let Sanjay in because he was too young, and we thought he went home but we came down 3 hours later and he was still standing outside chatting up the bouncers. He’s crazy, it was freezing.

So basically everyone is leaving today. There’s almost 20 people in the house, and after this weekend it will be only me, Jordan, Sonia, Turner and Sanjay, and then Sonia and Turner leave next weekend. 2 more weeks to go! With Sanjay and Jordan to the very end! We’re about to go to Biscuit Mill, I have to eat my weight in carbs.

Women’s Day

Hi all!

Happy Women’s Day to all you ladies out there. Bra burnings across South Africa! (I made that up). Today is a public holiday so we had the day off!

Sunday I woke up and everyone was gone. It was strange. I guess they all went on the Cape Point tour that corresponded with their wine tour the day before. So I took the train down to the Muizenberg beach and read an entire David Sedaris book in one Sunday. I was the only white person on the train ride home and it was packed and everyone was staring at me. These 2 completely wasted, drunk, drooling guys got on the train and started screaming at me and banging on the windows trying to get my attention. It’s best to ignore these crazy people.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMonday some of our placements were closed so they sent us to other places. Jordan and I volunteered at this orphanage in Langa. The facilities were amazing! The building was really nice, as were the bathrooms, the play area, the beds, and the kitchen and dining room. There are only 6 toddlers there and there were about 5 of us volunteers. I kind of felt like I was sitting around all day. I literally pushed one girl on a swing for almost 30 minutes. I wish my placement had the resources this orphanage does, at least some more volunteers! Sometimes I have 20 kids all to myself, and our kitchen doesn’t even have a fridge or a real stove/oven, they use a hot plate to make huge amounts of food for the kids, it takes forever.

Today Tiana and I took advantage of our day off by going on the Cape Point tour. Our guide’s name was Charlotte! She was also the first woman I’ve ever been driven by in this country, it was interesting. We started off in Hout Bay, with a quick boat ride to see some crazy adorable seals. Then we were off to the Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Point, the southern-most part of Africa, and where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. It was such a beautiful ride, I didn’t want to fall asleep lest I miss anything. Our lunch at Cape Point was AMAZING. So delicious and perfect and we had a great view of the ocean and birds shitting on people’s tables. Then we stopped at Simon’s Town to see the penguins at Boulder’s Beach, this was my second trip seeing the penguins and they were still cute as hell! Got home, had dinner, lived life…I’m going to shower and go to bed now.

Robben Island

Hi all,

Hannah and Lou left today :(. I had to say goodbye to them while we were at Biscuit Mill, it was strange. They were some of the sweetest, nicest girls here, they will be sorely missed! Hannah was so welcoming when I was a newbie, and Lou’s been my roommate since day 1. Keely and Alex are leaving in a few hours. This is going to be so strange! Everyone I’ve known from the beginning is going to be gone 🙁

So Friday, if you saw in the short video I posted, I walked in the door at the school and everyone was dancing! It was wonderful. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in a long time. There’s this one auntie who’s 70 years old and she’s a better dancer than I am! All of us teachers were dancing and all the kids are standing on the wall dumbfounded. Later in the day, one of my favorite little girls sat on my lap right after she peed her pants. This is like the 3rd time that’s happened! Gotta love damp crotch for the rest of the day. Last night Keely, Courtney and I went out dancing. We had fun, nothing too outrageous.

This morning we went to Biscuit Mill, for the usual food and awesomeness. Keely, Alex and I went to Robben Island this afternoon. The ferry ride was nice, and then they have you get on a bus and they drive you all around the island. Then you go on a tour given by an ex-prisoner. That was very interesting. He talked a lot about censorship of letters and the different levels of being a prisoner and the privileges that came along with it. I didn’t realize but people can live on Robben Island, the population is about 200, and they have 18 kids attending the primary school. We saw Nelson Mandela’s cell, which was very eerie. The other cells had photos of the people who were kept there, and some of their belongings, and a story of how they got incarcerated.

Bait

Hi all,

So Monday was typical, working with crazy wonderful children and such. One girl told me she wanted to draw a heart on my stomach and write “I love Charlotte” inside. Too cute! Keely and I took a leisurely stroll on the top of Table Mountain, then some of us went to Saigon to eat, which was ultimate noms. Keely and I rented the Jungle Book, because they didn’t have the Lion King. What kind of movie rental place IN AFRICA doesn’t have the Lion King?!

Tuesday was the craziest day. First at school a little boy whips out his ding-a-ling at recess and starts peeing a few feet away from the teachers. He was right there and the teachers didn’t see him but I was screaming to them from across the schoolyard. They were all laughing because he took his diaper off to pee on the ground but ended up peeing all over his pants. They kept telling me to take a picture and I’m like, NO! So I took a picture of the pee puddle when he had walked away. These kids are like 4-5 and don’t do stuff like this ever so it was pretty funny.

tumblr_lpd9rw1w9w1qiivwoTuesday afternoon Keely and I call the surf place in Muizenberg to see if we could come down for a lesson. They couldn’t find an instructor for us but told us we could take some boards and wetsuits and see if we could figure it out. We get there and the guy is apologizing about the whole instructor thing and tells us we get the board and wetsuit for free. I’m like, “Hello? We gave you an hour notice, it’s kind of our fault.” So anyway Keely and I go out there and it was just a mess. She gets all the way out into the water and I’m stuck in limbo where all of these 5 foot waves are crashing on my face. I was dead tired by the time I got out to Keely.

We had no idea what we were doing so we just basically boogie boarded, or just sat on our boards. Well then this HUGE wave comes along and picks up Keely and she literally flies over me. The fins of her board scraped my foot and my leg. I didn’t see any blood so I figured it would bruise later. About a half hour later we look towards the shore and realize we drifted into a rock wall. If any waves took us in we would be crashing into rocks. Yay! I’m freaking out and we both finally get out of the water and I realize the bottom of my foot is covered in blood. I had been bleeding for over a half an hour in the most shark infested and most shark attack waters in the world, wtf! So Keely and I hobble back to the surf shop, meanwhile getting all sort of sand and shit in my cut. Lucky me, the surf guy, Clint, is a paramedic or something. He was definitely my hero that day, if not for him I’d have a bloody stump. Keely and I stumbled back to the train station. Walking home was scary. I felt like the wounded animal in the herd, very susceptible to attack.

I’m suprised I have all of my limbs!

tumblr_lpd9sy47hz1qiivwoI didn’t go to work today. One of the aunties saw me gimping around and asked me what happened and she wouldn’t allow me to go work. So I basically sat around all day editing photos and trying to figure out the logistics of showering in my condition. We just got back from Alma’s live music and veggie burgers. The music was good per usual but the last guy was kind of goofy. Sang this song about this fairy whose family gets killed by trolls and a dragonfly rescues her and kills himself so she can have his wings. He was just taking the song way too seriously and making all of these horrible faces. It took all of my remaining strength to keep from laughing. His other songs were great though!

Day Two in the Bush

Hi all,

Today (Tuesday) was absolutely insane but I have to do this chronologically!

So Saturday at Kruger was another early morning. We drive in to Kruger around 9am and we were there until 6. We didn’t see much the first few hours, but things picked up. We saw 2 zebra’s play fighting, the back of a leopard’s head, and a giraffe family crossing the road. We also saw 2 elephants interlacing trunks and it looked like they were kissing but the guide said they were both male and they were fighting, and we saw a pite king fisher, this huge hummingbird type thing, and a lioness eating something but she was really far away. And it was SO windy. But we saw the big 5 in one day, which is kind of a big deal. The big 5 are lions, rhino, elephant, leopard, and buffalo. We get back and have dinner and played games with the Barcelonians around the campfire. There was this one where we all had to have the same mental disorder and one person had to guess what the group’s ailment was. We were all being bipolar and one guy goes “I love this fire…this is a SHIT FIRE!” It was only so hilarious because of their broken English.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKeely and I were walking back to our tree house from the campfire and we see movement in the bushes. Keely starts screaming and goes into a crouch and I’m screaming and half running. There were 3 Nyala’s, basically deer, in the bushes, like 5 feet from us. I think we scared them more than they did us.

Sunday morning we had to wake up SUPER early for a walk around the camp. The guide showed us all the different kinds of plants and their uses, and we also learned all the different kinds of animal shit (foreshadowing). There’s this one kind of plant that you can use as a toothbrush if you break a stem off, it’s all bristly. Later, we come across a male Nyala skeleton! It was so cool it had a skull with horns and everything wild wild west style. The guide said we could take some if it home if we could sneak it through customs. I got a vertebrae and Keely got some of the jaw with teeth still in it and a vertebrae. My favorite souvenir so far! So Keely and I walk back to our tree house to back and there’s BABOON SHIT under our tree house. Too close for comfort. On the way to the airport the driver let us stop at this cliff/canyon place with a beautiful view. Apparently someone had driven off of the edge a few days beforehand, and you could still see the tracks. Kind of put a damper on things. There was a small souvenir market with all these ladies trying to sell stuff to us. One lady was wearing a traditional skirt and head scarf, but had a tee shirt on that said, “It ain’t going to suck itself.” What the hell?

Two in the Bush

Hi all!

So I’ll probably do this past weekend in two parts. Faried drives Keely and I very early Friday morning to the airport. The plane ride was awesome, we each got a row of to ourselves. Johannesburg was below freezing, it was crazy. The safari transport almost left without us even though we weren’t even late. So we drive 5 hours in a van full of 9 Barcelonian’s, Jeff from Cali, and Keely and I. Keep in mind Keely and I have been traveling since 5am. We get to the safari lodge and they tell us to leave everything in the van and we’re going on a safari right away. They barely gave Keely and I time to change into decent clothing. So then we went on this sunset/night safari.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur guide, Pieter, let us stop and get out of the car to take photos of the sunset. The termite hills were taller than me, but they were abandoned. He said to watch out because honey badgers live there now. Those things are badass. They’re like the size of a small dog but they kill lions. He said if you kicked a honey badger it wouldn’t leave you alone until you gave it your shoe. We didn’t see much. The highlight that night was seeing about a gaggle of 10 giraffes in the dark. Pieter shined the light on them so we could see but it was almost impossible to take photos. That night we saw impalas, a hippo, giraffes, buffalo, and a jackal. We came back and had dinner and got to know some of the others we were safariing with.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe others were on a walking safari earlier in the day and the guide told them to put these small black balls in their mouth and try to spit it over a line. This was just an excuse to get them to put GIRAFFE SHIT in their mouths (it’s all grass anyway.) So the German guy starts chewing the shit with his gum, before he found out it was giraffe shit. EW!

Kruger Park

Hi all!

Just an FYI you won’t hear from me probably until Monday afternoon. Keely and I are leaving for Kruger National Park at 5:30am tomorrow. We just got back from Canal Walk, the largest mall in the southern hemisphere. Holy shit. The food court was literally like Times Square, so many flashing lights and enormous televisions, ridiculous. As we were leaving someone said they were Charlotte and almost stole our taxi, we stopped the driver just in time! Jesus, I really have to pack.

Talk to you Monday!

Off to Alma’s

Hi all,

Yesterday was so peaceful! Work was nice, not a ton of kids came to school yesterday, and I was working with the 4-5 year olds. We practiced the Macarena yet again. After work Keely and I went to the Muizenberg beach. We took a leisurely stroll and collected shells. We stopped at a surf store and inquired about lessons. We asked if they could give us a photo line up of all of the instructors. I don’t think they got the joke, but we’re going surfing tomorrow afternoon! It’s going to be immensely embarrassing, and super fun.

Going to the beach again reminded me of a story I forgot to tell you last time we went to the beach. Alex and I were petting this golden retriever puppy and talking to his 9 year old owner. As we’re walking away the boy’s dad says to him, “You’re supposed to get their numbers!”

School today was hilarious. I was working with the 4-5 year olds again, and one girl asked me if I wanted to eat porridge with them in the morning. I told her I had already eaten breakfast, cereal and toast. She gasps, “What are you, fat?!” hahaha. So I happen to look in the next classroom and I see all the kids are literally covered in paint. Their teacher was having them paint plastic bins for the garden we’re starting. Things got out of hand and when I got to their class they were all throwing paint and painting eachother’s faces, there was paint all over the floor and the walls, it was hilarious. The teacher asked me to take photos, which you can see by going to my Flickr. For those loyal readers, I’ve tracked down Mario! It wasn’t even hard, actually. I noticed the primary school kids outside at gym class and I asked one of our teachers who was teaching them. She told me it was Mario! I told her my whole story with the jewelery store guy and the DVD of Mario and the Rude Boys. She told me she would introduce me sometime, can’t wait, he’s practically famous.

Just chilled and edited photos after work. We’re about to walk down to Alma’s for veggie burgers and live music, nom.

NOM.

Hi all,

So I’m definitely in a food coma at the moment. I’ll explain later. I may fall asleep/die while typing, apologies.

Thursday was ehh. I brought sea shells to school and the kids decorated them and drew faces on them. I met with the principal to talk about graphic design stuff and she was telling me some stories about some of the kids and how they got here, so sad. These kids have been through so much and they’re so young, it’s terrible. Keely and Alex and I got this Brittany Murphy movie, Abandoned. This is horrible to say but I think this was her last movie before she died because she looks horrid, and before the credits it says “in memory of Brittany Murphy.” What a terrible movie.

Friday was so strange. I threw up in the morning right before we left for work and I was freaking out because everyone in the house is either really sick vomiting all day or they’re coughing their lungs out. I stayed home from work, I didn’t want to get worse and be puking at school all day and get the kids sick. It just must have been a weird breakfast or I took my vitamins too soon after I ate because after I puked once I was fine. Weird! I felt a lot better in the afternoon, I basically slept all day, so that night Lou, Sam, Jen, Rachel, and I went out, because it was Rachel and Jen’s last night!! So sad 🙁 We ate at Bombay Bicycle Club, the oldest gentleman’s club in the world turned restaurant. What a cool fucking place. One of the tables had swings you could sit at instead of chairs. Then we went to Crew, this gay bar in the city. All of the bartenders didn’t have shirts on and were only wearing teeny tiny gold metallic booty shorts. It was wonderful. The DJ was insane and amazing and it was definitely the best club I’ve been to in Cape Town so far, amazing music, and we didn’t get hit on all night!!! They’re having a Christmas in July party next weekend, too bad Keely and I will be in Johannesburg sleeping in a fucking tree house. As we were outside waiting for our taxi to go to Long Street, there was this guy trying to convince us to take his taxi instead. He was a sketchball named Kenneth and he was offering us all sorts of crazy drugs. I kept telling him, “Hugs not drugs Kenny!” He wouldn’t leave us alone and then Rachel lost her earring and she went back into Crew and actually found it on that floor! That shit never happens. This guy Alfred comes to pick us up, what a sweetheart. We get to Long Street and eat at Nando’s (best veggie burger in Cape Town I’ve had so far, and that’s a fast food place!) and then we decided that we were too tired to do Long Street and had Alfred come back to get us and then he sang us a beautiful song on our way home.

This morning was a little scary. I was awoken at like 6 am by a woman screaming for help. Our security guard went to see what was going on and this girl was walking down our street and this car pulled up and robbed her at gunpoint. I feel pretty safe here but that really freaked me out. This happened on our street, a few houses down.

I just got back from Biscuit Mill a little while ago. Holy shit. This was like foodie hipster heaven. I can’t even really explain, it was like a food festival/market thing where you could literally get any kind of food you wanted. I got an amazing veggie wrap, a smoothie, gingerbread cookies, a samoosa, a lemon tart, and a passion fruit cake. (I haven’t eaten it all yet, I’m not that fat.) On the other side they have boutiquey clothing and I got this really cool sweatshirt. They have this photography store and my jaw dropped when I walked in the door. They had all these alternative cameras (Holga, Diana, etc) and all of the attachments you could imagine. They had incredible photo books and photographs I wish I had a million dollars.

The new group of volunteers are coming today! I’ve met a few of them but they’re pretty dead to the world/jet lagged but they all seem nice! There’s only one guy coming in this group and the rest are all girls. There are going to be 30 people in the house, only 4 of them are guys, really imbalanced.

Polished

Hi all,

I’ve encountered some strange people since we last met…

Yesterday work was very hectic. The preschool has a room in one of the buildings of a primary school, they’re completely separate entities, just sharing a building. So anyway that doesn’t really matter but yesterday was the only day that the preschool could polish their floors, so we had to move all three classes, babies, 2-3, and 4-5 year old’s to one empty room of the primary school. OMG, talk about clusterfuck. Over 40 kids in a small classroom, half of which are in diapers, so fun! At recess some of the kids were at the fence, playing all up on this tree. I was watching them and also watching the guy who lives across the street throwing rocks at this mangy ass cat, who was hissing at him. I didn’t really care but 5 minutes later a dog walks by and the guy starts throwing rocks at the dog!! I was so pissed, I was 2 seconds from yelling at the guy, but then I remembered that I’m white and most people in that neighborhood don’t love white people. Not even 10 minutes later, this huge bird flies into the schoolyard and starts eating stuff on the ground and the kids start throwing rocks at it! Ugh, kids really do see everything we do!

After work, Keely and I, who have been trying to organize a weekend trip to Kruger for the two of us (so romantic, sorry Brian) finally went to this student travel agency in Rondebosch. We booked a trip for next weekend! Kruger Park is a huge safari, game park about 4 hours away from Johannesburg. Keely and I will be staying at a treehouse hotel! It’s going to be a rugged weekend. I’m so excited, we got a really good deal, the flight was $100 cheaper than the best flight I could find online. The people at the treehouse place transport you to and from the airport, all meals are included (except lunch), and they also bring you on the safari! We’re so pumped.

A week or two ago, some of us wanted to rent a movie. The guy at the place said that since we were foreigners we could not get an account with him and we wouldn’t be in the country long enough, he was a dick. Tuesday we decided to try again. I lied to the guy and told him I would be here for like 5 or 6 months. He was examining my passport, “you don’t have a visa in here, if you were here for 6 months you would have to have a visa.” I told him it was 5.5 months I just round up when telling people. You would have thought I were adopting a child or applying to be a secret agent, the way he was interrogating me. I had to give him proof of African residence with my name and photo on it (didn’t have it), make and model of my car, license plate number, two references, one in the US and one in South Africa, email, phone number, the whole bit. He made a copy of my passport and took a photo of me. Keep in mind, I’m just trying to rent some movies. The girl behind me says to him, “you’re scrutinizing her more than she got at customs.” After she and I persuaded him, he finally agreed to set up an account for me. Two movies at a time, back at noon the next day. Jesus Christ.

Today (Wednesday) was decent. The weather was gorgeous, actually hot out in the afternoon. I had a group of kids around me in class today and one of them grabs both of my boobs and says “my mom has titattas like you.” I just laughed (he’s 3 years old). But then if one of them does anything, they all have to have a turn. I had 5 kids fighting eachother trying to cop a feel. I just ran outside, these kids are hilarious.

After work we did some shopping. I got almost all of my presents for everyone back home! I’m very excited about that. I was in one store talking to the owners and they asked where I was working. I told them which township and they were like, “Do you know Mario?” I didn’t know Mario, but the guy goes on to explain that Mario is an ex-gang member turned phys. ed teacher that has a program where he rehabilitates gang members through soccer. He goes to schools in Heideveld (where I work) and teaches phys ed, jumping rope, soccer, etc, when he’s not working with ex gang members. The guy at the store pulls a dvd out of his bag and gives it to me. I guess it’s a story about Mario and his program, it was his only copy, but he and Mario are pals and he could get another one. I didn’t even buy anything! He tells me to keep the dvd with me at all times, it has Mario’s face on it, and I could say hi if I saw him in Heideveld. So random!

On the way home from shopping, Alex, Keely, and I had the strangest taxi driver. We were talking about nothing and he starts talking about his life during the apartheid, and how he liked it much better when everyone was separated. He then goes on to say that he “liked Hitler’s style, before he went power hungry.” We were like, WTF, how do we respond to this guy? I just kept asking “How so?” So strange. He also said that if the current president of South Africa came into his neighborhood he would not come out alive. I would’ve preferred to walk home.

Mandela Day!

Happy birthday to Nelson Mandela!

Yesterday at the beach was beautiful. There were so many puppies and surfers and surfers with puppies, it was amazing! We got the best ice cream and noms. We’re probably going to come back to Muizenberg some afternoon this week for surfing lessons, which should be fun but really embarrassing. It’s only a 30 minute train ride. We had to run to the train it was pretty scary, but we just made it! Thank god, the next one wouldn’t have been for an hour and a half. There was the cutest 6 month old baby sitting on the train seat beside his mom. Alex and I were smitten. His name was Patrick! I’ve met at least 4 Patricks here so far, it’s a really popular name I guess.

Today I was in the class of 2-3 year olds. The kids in the class I’ve been working with since I got here thought I had left forever. When I saw them at recess (they call it interval here) they were freaking out it was so cute. The primary school that the preschool I work at shares a building with just got back today from their 3 week holiday. So many more children! At recess there’s this corner store that sells candy to the older kids through the barbed wire fence. One of the teacher’s calls me over to the lady selling stuff, I guess her mom owns the store. This dog crawls under the fence and the teacher is like, “this is our dog.” I was like, “hello dog.” I had seen this dog every day and let it sniff me and started petting it. 5 minutes later a bunch of kids run over to us screaming. The dog freaks out and bites my wrist and then runs back under the fence. Don’t worry, I had a shirt and a sweatshirt on, there was no skin contact, he was just scared and didn’t even bite very hard at all. I won’t be petting any more dogs in the townships even if they’re supposedly not stray! There is no rabies among dogs in South Africa which is really interesting. Anyways…

Everyone in Cape Town is very festive today. Except for at school. None of the teachers even talked about the Mandela’s birthday, but the kids knew about it. I guess in honor of Mandela’s 67 years of service and commitment to the cause, South Africans are asked to volunteer their time for 67 minutes today. When we got back to the house there was pizza and cake and we got to paint markers that are going into this garden thing. I just did layers and layers of my hand prints in different colors. Very abstract (aka horrible looking).

Lou and I went to the Cavendish mall and I FINALLY got a jacket, for when this amazing weather eventually goes south. This mall is huge and so confusing, I thought we were lost a few times. The weather here has been absolutely perfect, except for a little fog in the morning. July is supposed to be the shittiest month of the year, everyone says to enjoy while it lasts because it won’t for long! Since it’s been so nice the past few weeks I keep thinking back and reprimanding my old, packing for South Africa self. I should’ve brought more shorts and dresses. Wahh.

Just some fun factoids…

Random businesses I’ve noticed and never thought I would have seen in this country… There’s a Curves in the city, and also a Minuteman Press (the printing place in Lowell). There’s also quite a few 7/11’s and a Claire’s in the mall. There’s also a La Senza! Remember they had one in the Burlington mall for like 5 minutes a few years ago? It was the affordable Victoria’s Secret. It’s a lot more expensive here for some reason.

Saterdag

Means Saturday in Afrikaans, as if that was really difficult for you to figure out. Afrikaans is really close to Dutch because of the Dutch settlers here a billion years ago. It’s just weird because you wouldn’t expect African people to sound so European/Dutchy when they’re talking. Anyway…

tumblr_logzhwT01L1qiivwoYesterday afternoon was so relaxing. Hannah and I sat out on our blankets on the lawn and read and napped. One of the people who works for the program was frowning upon this, which was strange. They have a no sunbathing policy, but Hannah and I were definitely in shorts and t-shirts and sweaters. I guess they used to have a problem with neighbors and other creepers peeking over the gate at the bathing beauties. Sometimes I feel like I can’t even sneeze in this house, never mind read my book outside! Amy, my roommate and one of my favorite people in the house left that afternoon. Lou and I were crying and it was really horrible. She’s such a funny, strong, honest, takes-no one’s-shit kind of woman, I love Amy! I’ll always remember we were at Mama Africa and this woman comes up to our table while we’re eating apps trying to sell us flowers for some kind of charity thing. She wouldn’t leave us alone and Amy tells her “We’ve paid $5,000 to come here and volunteer for free, we’re doing our part, thanks.” Our jaws dropped and that woman couldn’t have run away any faster without dropping some of her precious flowers. Yesterday at shark diving (this is gross) but we were joking that we could attract the sharks with tampons. Amy says, “My stuff is like saffron, a rare spice for these sharks.” I thought I was going to fall off the boat we were laughing so hard, the guys on the boat were mortified. Amy will be missed!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo it ended up just being Keely and I going out to Long street. It can be pretty sketchy but we just had the taxi drop us off right in front of JoBurg and pick us up right out front again. We met this guy from Texas who was visiting Cape Town with his parents. He brought his dad to JoBurg with him. It would have been cool, father son combo, but this guy was so embarrassed of his dad, and made him stand in the corner and wouldn’t let him come over and talk to us. Keely and I went outside to get air and we saw his dad just standing there, and he asks us if we can go in and tell Daniel that they needed to leave. Is Daniel 13 years old? Still embarrassed to be seen with his parents? Hilarious. There were some other creepers but we were fine and had so much fun. Our cab driver on the way home was a gay man, Kevin. Really nice guy, but he says he only dates bisexual men. I wish the cab ride was longer so he could have explained this to me. To each his own!

Sam, Lou, and I are going to take the train to the Muizenberg beach this afternoon and hang out and get noms. Apparently it’s one of those weird places where the houses and the beach and the scenery are completely gorgeous, but then you have kids sniffing glue on the side of the road and begging for money. You will see the most beautiful things in this country, but less than 5 minutes later you see the shacks of the townships, people shitting in the street, and mothers with their two very small children begging on the highway median. Our program director said that South Africa is very schizophrenic, I think truer words have never been spoken.

Penguins, Sharks, and Baboons, oh my!

Hi all,

This whole weekend so far has been a really amazing weekend, but also bittersweet. Yesterday, Amy, Lou, and I took the train all the way to the last stop in Simon’s Town. There is a beach in Simon’s Town with a crew of jackass penguins! This girl on the train told us we’d be ridiculous to take a taxi and it would be a 10 minute walk to the penguins. This girl must run marathons daily because that was definitely a 35 minute walk. We got there 4 minutes before the place closed and it was a cute little boardwalk where you could see penguins all among the dunes. There’s a little beach at the end and the whole gang of penguins hangs out there. So cute!! Then we took the train home and watched the sun go down all along the coast. It was incredible! I took some video, I just need some time to edit all the videos I’ve taken. We got back to the station after dark and we’re not supposed to walk home in the dark so we ran home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast night we went to eat at the most beauuuutiful restaurant. We sat outside, there were fire pits, they provided pink and regular marshmallows and roasting sticks, and they gave you blankets if you were cold. The food was also incredible, best food I’ve had in Cape Town so far. The only bad thing was it took 2 hours to get out dinner. I was really looking forward to the apple rhubarb crumble but they were all out, GRRRR. Our waiter was a little too flirty, and a close talker, not my favorite combo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis morning we were all up at stupid o’clock for SHARK DIVING. Fucking finally. It was the most gorgeous morning ever and we got to watch the sun come up in the mountains as Faried was driving us. There was no one else in our boat which was awesome! A boat that’s meant for 25 passengers and there were only 7 of us shark divers! There were 5 sharks around our boat this time instead of none! It was incredible!! At one point a shark came up and bit the cage and got her teeth caught on it for legit 10 seconds. IT WAS INSANE her gaping shark mouth was right in our faces. We all lost our voices screaming so much. After shark diving Faried drove us out to a cliff overlooking the ocean where whales hang out. We actually saw a whale! And on the way home we stopped at this scenic lookout place and there were baboons out in full force!! It was SO amazing. All the animals that hid from us last time were out today. We were so lucky.

I’ll let you know about the rest of the day later, Keely, Turner, and I are going out dancing! I look like Dorothy, literally, and Keely is a hoochy mama. Good combo.