I finally have wifi (and have had a shower), so hello!
The first, and probably most obvious big change in South Africa has been the death of Tata Mandela. The main source of hope and inspiration for many South Africans that one day the troubles they still face will be resolved. I imagine it has been reported in the UK that the country could be unstable and riots are a possibility but to be quite honest (and much to my surprise) people aren't acting any different.
The mourning of Mandela's death is very private here which contrasts most South African cultures. A local in Coffee Bay described the situation as 'we are crying inside but we have to smile to celebrate his life and work on the outside'. There is a large difference in reaction to Mandela's death between people that have lived through Apartheid and those who have not, understandably I suppose.
Mandela's funeral is actually an hour away from my new home in Zithulele (explained later). However I can't go because I'm traveling and by then I shall be the other side of SA. I cannot believe the timing, it would have been an amazing experience to have gone to his funeral to celebrate the passing of such an amazing man.
There has also been lots of change in my gap year since my last blog post (hence the blog title) : the project at Botlokwa Special School has now come to an end and so I have moved to a rural village in the Eastern Cape called Zithulele. Ill miss the pupils at the Special School, especially the big characters among them. Paying tribute to one of my favourites, Thabo, here is his rendition of Beyoncé's a Single Ladies (in the video section). He loves nothing more than to sing so thought the iPod was a fantastic invention. I'll also miss Selina, a teaching assistant at the school who really made us feel welcome. She taught me a lot of things about South Africa and also how to bead! Something I have found I enjoy and am actually quite good at. She also said something to me which I thought was very true and is a good note to end on about the school...
"All of us are disabled in one way or another. Whether it be physically or mentally or the inability to share or love."
I'll update you on what I'm doing in Zithuele in due course, however it is the end of the school year so I won't actual start teaching until January.
School holidays, mean no children to teach, which means I have a month off to travel! I am traveling down the garden route/wild coast for 2 weeks, final destination Cape Town to meet up with the majority of the SA Project Trust volunteers and some from surrounding countries too. Stops along the way to Cape Town include Coffee Bay, East London, Jeffery's Bay and Stormsriver. While activities include surfing, kayaking in a National Park, a 'lion cub experience' and sandboarding. I'll update you along the way. I'm currently in Coffee Bay chatting to people from all over the world. But there is nothing quite like talking to some British people. It's weird in such a large country so far from home, you feel like you know them despite never meeting before. Of course we reminisce about cups of tea, Full English breakfasts and our missing of punctuality in our lives (Africa is known for being relaxed on time schedules something as a Brit I am finding hard to adjust to). Also the fact that the couple, Rosie and Tim's, surname is Churchill is rather fitting too.
This weekend consisted of:
- Being reunited with Beth and Katie, fellow PT volunteers, for some of our Wild Coast travels.
- A trip to the beach in Coffee Bay.
- Being stalked by local women selling beads.
- Meeting a group of awesome Jo'berg boys. Awesome as well because they were the only people around our age.
- And a painful bunk bed inflicted injury.
But it's ok because I'm so sunburnt you can no longer see it. The easiest way to describe how I look right now is Po from the Teletubbies and the easiest way to describe how I feel: a mobile radiator. Sleeping tonight shall be fun...
But bring on the rest of the journey. East London, we're are coming for you next!