Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Uniquely South African Experience....That I won't forget.

At Stone Hurst the sink has two faucets one with hot water one with cold neither with warm thus you must cup your hand to capture half freezing water and half scorching to have warmish water.

In this same line of thought showers taken before 8:30am are burning hot and post are frigidly cold. Thus we have adapted to these polar temperatures by putting only part of your body under the stream in at a time to brave the temperature. This results in a very awkward shower experience and either blue or red skin when you exit the bathroom.

Room 11 also has a special feature where the light switch for the bathroom is the same as the big bright light in the middle of the bedroom. Thus at 3 in the morning when needing to take a quick bathroom break you must either go in the pitch black or blast your roommate with the main light.

The 100 year old paper thin walls also allow for an extremely intimate relationship with everyone in the house as all can be heard and if you perchance missed a minuet piece of chitchat Mr. Tingle will be sure to carry the news from room to room.

Central Heating here equates to more blankets.

The train’s ghetto fabulous graffiti d├ęcor coupled with the sopping wet floor after a storm and blind singing duos provide for a unique traveling commute to and from work. Also the local’s affinity for using Sarah’s shoulder as a headrest on our way home always brings me a good laugh.

Mini Bus experiences could be an entire separate volume of work however for the sake of brevity I will say this… 5 rand will take you to the city center but this doesn’t guarantee you arrive alive nor does it mean a fight will not break out in the mini bus or that you will have your own seat or any sense of calm. Twenty-four people can be stuffed into the mini bus to zoom through tiny streets and doors may or may not close thus you may or may not remain in the car. However if your lucky there will be a disco/strobe light and blaring techno or rap which creates a rave-like ambiance at 8am that ultimately distracts you from the driver’s insanely reckless race car maneuvers.

As for white South African Men, they are super models who are constantly posing with blonde bowl cuts, mustaches, revealing v-neck shirts, mantini’s, or man tanks and pointy shoes. Hilariously this has created situations of great ambiguity for our group in terms of date-ability. (One word people…EVO!) Fortunately we did make lasting friendships with a South African girl by the name of Zebranna who has assisted in making our experiences abroad more robust.

Additionally beggars here are persistent and driven. In America if you say no to someone asking for money they become defeatist however here in South Africa they are even more committed to the task of taking your money and or giving you the screw driver. After dark these individuals become intoxicated with the joy of seeing tourists and insist on helping you spend your money or assist with use of your ATM card. These people will walk with you for ten blocks, they will wait 45 minutes for you to order Chinese take out, they will make fun of you, and they will even try to seduce you with ridiculous poses, deep stares, and kissy faces. This shows the diversity of strategies operationalized here to ensure the financial success of beggars.

Half built freeways with giant vuvuzelas, incomplete ferris wheels, empty construction sites, unfinished train stations, beautification paralysis, are all indicative of time management values. In Cape Town its cool to arrive late, leave early, and have a 2 hour lunch. Amazing!!!

Oh and vuvuzelas are considered a musical instrument here while under normal constraints are viewed as crappy noise producing plastic horns that are blow incessantly to dive visitors to the brink of insanity.

The food here is great! Well just don’t eat Chinese, Japanese, or Mexican or anything other than game meat & Malva pudding. Warthog, Kudu aka Bambi, Oxen, Crocodile, Ostrich, Springbuck are all delicious meats and also if you love sauce you will love it here. Sarah & I once ordered a burger from Steers and asked if there was mayo and yes there was mayo as well as tomato sauce, mustard sauce, bbq sauce, garlic sauce, spicy, and special sauce- no idea what special sauce is. Pretty saucy.

Now I could go on and on about the hilarious little daily oddities one picks up on when living abroad in South Africa but Ill stop here so that these all surprises are not revealed. It has been a wonderful experience with wonderful people and I will carry these memories with me. “So remember just smile smile and wink wink.”

With Love,


Ten Students, Four Stadiums, Many Allegiances

Although not the focal point of our program by any means, the 2010 FIFA World Cup has garnered our occasional attention. Oh who am I kidding, we have yet to miss a match! The constant activity has been a detriment to our health and sleep, but it has been truly unforgettable. For the first game June 11th we all descended on Long Street and watched Bafana Bafana score the World Cup’s first goal, and the bedlam that ensued will not be forgotten by any of us. Although South Africa has since bowed out of the tournament, they played well and should be proud hosts.

As for our little group, we all unanimously and vocally support the USA, which gave us all a heart attack followed by the most exhilarating thrilling goal in their history yesterday in winning their group and advancing to the knockout stage of the World Cup. But many of us have diverse backgrounds and support other teams. For my own part, I support Spain and Chile, two countries I studied abroad in as well as having familial ties with Spain. Amparo is Mexican, Christiane is from Cote d’Ivoire, Daniel’s family comes from Argentina, and Maria’s family is from Chile. Karinna, as we’ve been told once or twice, is from Peru, but they have the misfortune of playing in South America and did not qualify. Aubrey assures us she would have supported Ireland to the death had it not been for France’s cheating hand goal in the last qualifying game.

But allegiances or no, we all just want to be a part of the action. We supported Bafana Bafana with all our new South African friends, Dan and Aubrey have attended numerous games in Cape Town through Grassroots Soccer, and most of us went to the Italy v. Paraguay game in Cape Town. Some of us trekked to Johannesburg to see the US play Slovenia, where Daniel got very confused with HIS allegiances and the referee got confused with the rule book. Others went out to Port Elizabeth to see Chile v. Switzerland. And Christiane lucked into a free ticket to see the Ivory Coast play Brazil at Soccer City, site of the World Cup final. The ultimate impact and legacy of this World Cup in South Africa remains to be seen, but in the short term it has been a tremendous success and a pleasure to be a part of.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

South Africa Program Students Featured on TV!

Univision Futbol's Horacio Scagliotti interviews Amparo and Karinna (partial translation below), two women creating their own story during the World Cup. They are doing development work through their internships at Inyathelo, the South African Institute for Advancement. Amparo describes how Inyathelo aids smaller organizations working to improve the quality of life and provide social programs for impoverished populations. Karinna notes that working with Inyathelo has given her an opportunity to understand the nation beyond the experience of a tourist. She has traveled to different neighborhoods and spoken to many different people, helping her to gain a truer understanding of the "real" South Africa. The two are taking a short break from working to improve the quality of life and distribution of resources for thousands of South Africans to enjoy the World Cup festivities in the barrio of Gugulethu. Fellow program participants Justin, Christiane and Daniel also appear in the video.

Partial Translation:

Univision: Many youth are here in Cape Town to enjoy the World Cup festivities, and some of these are creating their own stories. That is the case for Latin Americans Karinna and Amparo.

Amparo: I'm working for Inyathelo, an association that helps other organizations with development, particularly small organizations that are aiding poor sectors of the population receiving social programs in South Africa.

Karinna: I've had the opportunity to go to townships, to work with poorer youth, talk with the people, to converse with the people, to understand how they live. It's very different than the tourist experience, to go to the "real" South Africa.

Univision: They are enjoying the festive environment as a result of the World Cup this weekend in Gugulethu. The institute they work for helps to create a better distribution of resources, particularly for vulnerable populations, and improving the quality of life of thousands of people receiving social programs.

Last week in Cape Town

This past weekend, we all went on our own somewhat separate adventures into different cities in South Africa. This is the first time we got to go somewhere different, not in the vicinity of Cape Town. Karinna, Maria, Justin and I went to Port Elizabeth(PE) to watch the Chile vs. Switzerland game. Actually Justin had a pit stop in Joburg for the USA game. What a game that was! We drove to Port Elizabeth from Cape Town on the garden route which is as beautiful as it sounds. There are no gardens per say but the mountains, the water, the green grass, ostriches, cows, and countryside were all a great escape from the city. I was pleasantly surprised by PE. We did not get to explore much of it, but I got the feeling it was a smaller city to maybe settle down and raise a family. You definitely need a car there to get around, but it’s not big and seems quiet and maybe even safe, although some of the white people we talked to seemed to act like it wasn’t. The stadium there was smaller than the one in Cape Town, but the energy was much better since the last game we attended (Italy vs. Paraguay) it was raining so it was hard to get as excited when you’re freezing and wet. Also, we met up with Chilean friends of Maria and Karinna, so we had a great time in Jeffrey’s Bay, which is about 30 minutes from PE. It’s the old hippie, surfer hang-out apparently. We wanted to surf, but the waves were terrible, so we decided it wasn’t worth it. The water was really cold too. But we got to be on the beach and relax a bit in a quieter setting. The night of the game, it was not as quiet since we were around the rowdy Swiss and Chileans. The Swiss people didn’t bother to speak to us (we probably wouldn’t understand and we had Chilean flags on our faces), but we enjoyed their chants since they sat behind us in the game. The game should’ve been about 4-0, but Chile won by only one point. It was quite a game since we were sitting be the goal and the entire second half was dominated by the Chilean team. I think the Swiss got lucky in the Spain game and even though they lost this one, they also got very lucky. Now, it’s time to cheer on Mexico against the bloody Argentinians. Mexico lost last night 1-0 but I think they can take on Argentina. It’ll be a great game, but we are leaving Cape Town the same day to go to Namibia so we might not be able to watch it. A few of us are continuing our travels through southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique). I am thrilled about getting to spend time in rural areas, in villages, and not just cities/towns. I have had an amazing time in Cape Town and South Africa in general, but we have only been to cities or towns and since SA is more developed than the rest of Africa, I am excited to see other regions and explore other cultures.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shikorina in South Africa Part II

The most impressive thing I have done so far (since I last posted) was shark cage diving. I cannot believe I went in the water and had a great white shark right in front of my face. Actually it hit the cage close to where I was. It was the craziest experience in my life. Another place in the world to do this is Australia but you need to travel on boat for 20 hours. Here we traveled 25 minutes and we arrived. But it was not a pleasant 25 minutes, out of the five of us that went, we all got so sick. First time in my life getting sea sick ... so what? You put up with it and just go in the water and swim with the sharks!! Haha that was great

Another crazy experience was to go to a party in the Township. It began at 1 pm and it ended about 7 pm. The vibe I felt there is only comparable to Rio de Janerio, Brazil. It was about 80% locals and 20% tourists. They had a braii and the food was amazing !!!! It was a crazy Sunday, but it was nice to go there instead of our traditional place in Camps Bay on Sunday nights. But do not get me wrong Camps Bay continues to be my favorite place in Cape Town.

Other than activities, it has been two weeks so far in the internship. At work the cleaning lady only speaks to me in Afrikans, and I have no idea what she is saying. But I have picked up a few words! We get to the internship on mini-shuttles, they are super cheap! Its nice because we also get a sense of how the majority of South Africans commute daily to work. Just the thought that mini-shuttles could stop running for the World Cup bothers me. I guess in this case since I use this form of public transportation I feel the same way as locals. And by the way speaking of it, the World Cup begins today, and my next post will be about it!! South Americans have invaded this city, and that is great for me ;)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I've eaten more animals in Cape Town than in the rest of my life combined . . .

Greetings all! Aubrey here. The resident (co-resident) law student/Master's student. The third week of our trip has offered us a whole new experience. Working and commuting in Cape Town. Like most major cities Cape Town knows the heart-wrenching time of day known as rush hour. Luckily, and unlike some of our counter-parts, Daniel, Matt, Ben and I are all interning in Cape Town's CBD (central business district). Daniel and I are at GrassRoot Soccer (; a really great organization that teaches kids (mostly in and from local townships) about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. FIFA built them a nice Soccer for Hope field and building inside Khayelitsha where kids can play on a nice turf field and have some classrooms to learn and do programs in. We've been to the site twice so far and it's really amazing to see these kids having a great time and learning valuable information at the same time. As you may know, the World Cup is also coming up and Sony has been kind enough to donate 15,000 tickets to kids in the GRS programs across the country. Daniel and I are crossing our fingers that we will get to get in on the ticket windfall. It was suggested today that we may get to go to the Cameroon-Netherlands game (apparently the best in Cape Town). Keeping our fingers crossed!

And now I'll leave you with a list of animals I have so far eaten while in Cape Town, starting with the least interesting: chicken, cow, pig, lamb, deer, kudu, elan, ox, wildebeest, ostrich, crocodile, warthog. We'll keep this list going as the weeks go by.