Published: January 5th 2008December 30th 2007
Sunday morning started with saying goodbye to Leslie. She was so cute and so sad to leave. I’ll definitely miss her around the house. Later in the morning Annabel, Gabi and I went for a two and a half hour horse ride in the bush and on the beach. It was a ton of fun, especially the beach with the breeze and the water and the sand and the CLOUDS. I’m sure my bum will be feeling it tomorrow.
Later in the afternoon, Marleen, Annabel and I took Peanut to the beach for a nice hour stroll around 4. It was fantastic…we frolicked in the water and watched Peanut running and smiling. The dog actually smiles… I swear it. The breeze was just beautiful. Then about a half hour into it Annabel quietly and sweetly asks if I would be so kind to take a photo of her JUMPING! Haha…she had seen the picture I took of Theo yesterday on our nature walk and really liked it and wanted one of herself. It was HYSTERICAL. I love how the jumping pictures are so catchy…THANK YOU Erika. We all went out to family Sunday dinner.
I’m getting sick of my
adjectives…beautiful, fantastic, incredible, wonderful…I guess this is why I am not a writer, I am abusing them and I am bored of them.
It’s hard to imagine that tomorrow is the last day of 2007. I’m definitely ready for 2008…I’m looking forward to it. And I can happily and whole-heartedly say that 2007 was a fantastic year, as a whole anyway. There are many little things that I loved about this year…by month…January: that odd warm, sunny, fantastic put-a-smile-on-your-face Saturday one week after New Year’s; February: fresh powder skiing in Aspen; March: my invigorating trip to Vietnam; April: a reunion of friends; May: my niece Abby being welcomed into the Packman family; June: solidifying my dreams to travel and photograph the world; July: taking a sick day to putz around the city and enjoy it at my leisure; August: realizing my love for Colorado; September: my flight into Bhutan; October: touching the top of the world at Mt. Everest base camp in Tibet; November: getting lost (figuratively) in Angkor, Cambodia; December: waking up in the jungle of Botswana to the sounds of nature and wild animals … I wouldn’t change a thing… it’s a pretty incredible year, don’tcha think?
I have a few resolutions for 2008 with my favorite being: to travel more. Is that really possible?! Well, never say never…but I could never give this up. And if its not abroad its certainly going to be domestic, especially since I already have two trips to Florida planned for March, a trip to Chicago in April, a trip to Hawaii in August and instead of doing our quarter-share in the Hamptons, Rachael and I will do four weekends in different random places in the U.S. over the summer, excluding Chicago cuz that is a given, but hopefully Colorado, San Fran, Maine, and New Orleans (if I had my druthers). I also want to go camping, so friends if any of you like camping lets plan something, PLEASE! Something else I’d like to do is pursue this hobby of photography of mine. I want to make it more than just a hobby…and maybe eventually, one day, way down the road, being able to finance my traveling with my photographs…how ridiculous would that be?!
And then not to forget where I have been and what I have experienced over my 6 months on “holiday”. There are so many little
things that have made an impact on the way I think and see people in life and I don’t want them to get lost in the mayhem of NYC life. People have been asking if I am a “changed person”. Of course I am…but not in that dramatic-I’m-so-righteous-and-better-than-you kind of way that I’ve seen in other people I’ve met…I mean how could you not be changed by an experience like this. I will always be me, and for those that know me well you know all too well what that entails, but I think I will just see things in a different light and have a different viewpoint about certain aspects of life, at least I hope so. It’s been an incredibly educational journey and I want to continue following all that I have learned. I think the change is, I am a better me…if that is even possible! Ohhh, I’m kidding of course…sort of…no seriously, I am…there is always room for improvement, eh?
Monday was New Year’s Eve Day. At the day care center, which is now a routine for me to go to every morning, we had only a few kids and gave them a geography lesson.
We told them which countries we are each from and pointed them out on the globe. We gave a little bit of information about them…like in New York there are really tall buildings and in the winter it snows. I brought my laptop with me so I could show them the skyscrapers and what snow looks like since they had never seen it before. Many of them had heard of America but not of New York and it was really cool to see their reactions to both the buildings and the snow…lots of ooooohs. It was SO cute. And I decided that I’ve been working with these two kids and I don’t know like any of their names. So my self-imposed project was to photograph them and find out their names. It makes it so much more personal. Some of them have names that are uncommon to the English speaking person like Nsike and Ngcebo and Sizwe. Others have the names like Precious and Promise. Cebi is the tiny little girl who runs to me every morning for a hug and then wont let go…I decided I was going to call her Inkawu, which means monkey in Zulu. Separately, the
deal with these kids is that not all of them are actually the kids that go to the day care center when its in session. Currently the day care is on holiday as its summer time here in the southern hemisphere so African Impact set up advertisements around Khula and these children are from all over the village. Gabi was also trying to teach a few of them to play the piano and Annabel with the guitar. Running games as usual, musical chairs and hyenas. Some of the girls decided to have a little fun with our oversized sunglasses…
I went on another nature walk in the afternoon with Theo. It was a day of birds…hornbill, eagle, bee-eater, weaver, and turaco/ lourie. I also had to say goodbye to Marleen who was making her way back home to Holland. I was definitely sad to see her go after such a short stay…Annabel said they made a new years resolution to have a photography weekend in NYC, potentially in April. I got so excited about it. I think they are both great and it would be wonderful to see them again in NYC.
Our New Year’s celebration turned into
a pretty fun night with only about 8 of us. We had a braai with good thanks to Ricky for setting it up and Katrina cooking. After that we got some music and drinks going and I think there was one time I looked at my watch and couldn’t believe it was only 945! We are all so used to eating early and going to sleep early that it was questionable how we would make it until midnight! Katrina was dancing and drinking it was amazing…such good fun to watch her. We played a lot of card games, from one called ef the bus to asshole to bullshit to spoons. Around 1130 we jumped into the mini-car…all of us…with drinks in hand…not Annabel of course who was driving…and headed down the road to the beach…I guess this is Africa and you can get away with it. Unbelievable to me. The beach was so not crowded and we found ourselves a nice little spot with some firecrackers that Ricky bought earlier in the day. Ricky is a little bit of a pyro…I like to give him shit for it. Once midnight arrived we popped our bottle of champagne and stayed a
bit longer before going back home. Theo and Ricky went out after and I was passed out by 130 I believe.
I have to say Sylvia has been really great the past few days. Obviously new year’s eve since there was alcohol involved but even the last few days she has been particularly chatty and really nice. I am becoming more of a fan of hers. I guess a good thing since its just the two of us, although we get a new one on Wednesday.
Tuesday morning was a tough one. Of course…I think the last thing I wanted to do was to entertain kids. I could barely eat my cereal…milk was spilling down my chin with each bite and I was just generally struggling a bit. We let Ricky and Sylvia sleep in which I wish they did for me since when we arrived at the day care center there were NO kids there…it was a day for families to go to church and the beach. So we left and went to the crocodile center…not one of my favorite places to go especially since it was like 90 degrees at 10 in the morning…
the afternoon, Theo and I were going on another nature walk. I don’t think either of us really wanted to but it was nice to get out and walk a bit, despite the fact that it was the HOTTEST day ever since I arrived…it was truly a scorcher. New Year’s Day is a huge celebration here and the road to the beach where we were to start our walk was as crowded as a NYC subway during rush hour, it was ridiculous. I was very happy to be back after a quick walk around.
Wednesday was more of the same in the morning…and in the afternoon Ricky, Theo and I went to Dumazulu village to the snake and croc park as well as the cheetah park. It was pretty sweet, especially with the cheetahs, and usually we are allowed inside the gates to pet them and walk around with them, but they are particularly feisty since the park is keeping the females away from the males since the male isn’t quite old enough to procreate. When we returned I met Laura, the new volunteer and fellow jersey-girl. She seems really nice and is currently at the University of Delaware.
Thursday…again more of the same in the morning…its definitely becoming much more routine. Our electricity went out in the middle of the night…it was actually the entire town…so no hot breakfast for me. After lunch, Annabel, Theo and I took Rasta (one of Theo’s friends who helps out with us I guess pretty regularly) to the clinic in one of the neighboring villages. The drive was definitely an exciting one. Annabel was driving and when we turned down the main road in the village we saw that there was a road block - a truck had fell off the side of the road…I don’t think anyone was hurt but there was a town truck trying to pull it back up on the road, which meant we had to make a detour down bumpy dirt roads. We reached one point where the road was like 45 degree angle up, or something steep, and our little car not more than like 6 inches off the ground probably, didn’t really do too well trying to get over this especially as it wasn’t a rounded hill but rather a sharp point from dirt to concrete. Our car got stuck on the vertical and
when we tried to move further forward we didn’t budge and when we let go on the brakes we didn’t roll back either…hmmmmm. Well, eventually we got out of the car and pushed it back down the hill from where we came and Theo did the scary drive back up on a slightly gentler slope. He barely made it over after skidding around on the dirt and such. I’m happy I was outside of the car.
So Rasta is HIV+ and had some unidentifiable marks on his foot which was a cause for concern…I guess we were afraid it could be shingles and he should be treated immediately especially with a low immune system but thankfully it was just a fungus which he was given medicine for. It was fascinating to me to go along for this, especially since I’m not really part of the community project but I was happy that I got to go and see a clinic. It was a rather basic building but stocked with loads of medical supplies. Was it enough? I have no idea, but it looked like it was decently taken care of…better than what I was anticipating. After this we went
on to the bird park….that was neat. I saw a lot of birds. A lot of which were not unique to South Africa, there actually only come from South America…but there were just as cool looking. When we got back we still didn’t have electricity. So we decided to go out for dinner and came back home to candles and head-lamps to get around. It eventually came back on at like 3am…but it was a terrible night’s sleep despite going to sleep at like 8. It was hot and I woke up every few hours. Pooooo. Even more so when I woke up one time and saw a cockroach on my floor…terrible.
Friday. We finger-painted in the morning with the children…and in the afternoon Theo and Annabel and I went for a drive through the wetlands to Mission Rock. It was actually pretty cloudy and a little drizzly today…we thought then that maybe some of our photos at Mission Rock would be somewhat dramatic…and a few came out that way, but most were blah. I’ve actually been a billion times more critical of my photos and don’t find many that I absolutely LOVE. I guess it’s a good thing
in a sense… so long as they really are just as good as my previous ones and I am just being harder on myself. Once it started to rain-rain, we left. I would love to make it back when its sunny.
For the evening we all just hung around. We had our weekly reviews with Annabel and Ricky…this was my first! And I told them that I have definitely been enjoying the project although it is much different than what the pamphlet of information suggests…as I am not doing a drive everyday…I am not going to have the chance to meet the woman who is organizing this photo database for the World Heritage Site. And while it’s a bit disappointing I of course didn’t want to be difficult and I am ok with how things are going. I don’t think they really expected it from me but I wanted to be honest and since I hadn’t said anything at all I thought it was also only fair to them and to the other volunteers yet to come. They may get someone more difficult than me and more demanding. Later in the evening Annabel made a rather loud screech or
maybe it was more like a squeal. Either way, when we looked up there was a cockroach on the wall. I try to be big about it and take a shoe to go kill it and the next thing I know the damn thing starts to FLY! Seriously, when on earth did this critter learn to fly…I guess the answer is, it’s Africa. Of course I ran away like a little girl and we sent Peanut in to go after it. She did a beautiful job cornering it and then Ricky stepped in and smashed it. I hope it was the one that was in my room the other night. It would make me much happier.
Saturday was a rainy morning and I slept in. We were going to head up to Mozambique for the day and night but since the weather is shit we are not. So I guess it also turned out alright that CCAfrica chose not to respond to my email for a safari this weekend. And I’ve been doing quite a bit of drives here so I figure why not leave something to look forward to in the future. Maybe combine a safari with a
trip to the Seychelles. Who knows…you know me the planner though!
Katrina is hysterical. I haven’t talked much about her but I think I will dedicate this section to her. First off…she calls us all sissy. Now if you don’t know what sissy means you may get very offended…however, sissy actually means sister. Everyday its helloooo sissssssy hello, thank you sissy thank you, ok sissy, ok…another phrase she says often, and I think all Zulu do, is fo’ sho? Like she’ll ask where Ricky is and I’ll tell her he is in Khula and she’ll respond with fo’ sho? I dunno, maybe it’s the way she says it, but it often makes me chuckle. Earlier this morning Annabel mentioned that there was a note on the fridge for her with how many people she will need to cook for in the coming week…we are getting a number of new volunteers this week. Katrina proceeds to look inside the fridge for this note! She is so sweet! And I’ll tell her on occasion to find Annabel before she leaves and Katrina will say…ok sissy, ok. Annabel will come into the main house later (from her little cottage) and ask where
Katrina has gone…she never made it over to her. There are so many little things and maybe you don’t find them amusing but I swear they are! She also confuses her he and she. She’ll be talking about Nto and refer to her as him. It generally confuses us but I understand her a bit more now.
I’ve had time this week to get back into my book, What is the What? I am really enjoying it now and hope I can finish it this week…
And I finally booked my flight home…let me tell you that my heart was racing! It was much more difficult to do than I had thought…maybe why I had put it off for so long. So my Cape Town project changed and since there is no women’s shelter I decided to cut my time short. I will end just before Lee arrives and then leave that Sunday for Jo-burg to catch a flight to Israel. I am going to spend a bit over a week in Tel Aviv to see a number of friends I haven’t seen in a while…some of which has been over 10 years!! These are two girls I
went to camp with and I am SOO excited to see them. I will be home then mid-February before I leave shortly thereafter for a week of skiing in Whistler and then home…I already know how difficult an adjustment it will be and I will deal with it as it comes.
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