Blogs from Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Africa


Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Mthatha July 25th 2013

Today we checked out of Garden Court hotel in Mthatha, having first done a bit of provisions shopping at the local Spar. From Mthatha we travelled East past where we met Mihlali yesterday to Hluleka nature reserve on the coast. Sandi School is on the way so we called in briefly and then went back as soon as we had dropped our bags. It is a slightly strange sensation to be treated like VIPs and I hope we lived up to it! The staff and pupils were certainly very excited to meet us and we were introduced to all the staff and governors and then treated to some very lively singing and some soft drinks and biscuits all served with some ceremony. This was followed by a tour of the school, which now boasts a computer ... read more
Zebra on the doorstep
Full Moon Rising
Monkey Neighbours

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Mthatha July 25th 2013

Well the end of a very emotional day on our latest adventure. As we sit down to write this we have just said goodbye to new friends who all just happened to come back to our lodge to help us enjoy our final evening with a Braai, bringing with them the world’s longest Boerwors sausage. We supplied the liquid refreshment and bread, in fact we think it just broke the record for the largest drink order at the local shop as the lady serving seemed so surprised that we were buying so much that she mixed up red wine with brandy! Never mind, somehow as we sit here afterwards it has all gone. The second thing to note is the hospitality we have received here: it has been a long while since we have been offered ... read more
Normal Playground Activity
Junior Talent Show

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Mthatha July 25th 2013

Last night we were not exactly lulled to sleep by the sound of the crashing waves: it sounded like a storm was brewing. However, we were awoken by birdsong and the tail end of the sunrise (tomorrow we hope to see it properly). There was time for a spot of bird watching over breakfast before setting off for Sandi. This morning we met some Zimbabwean contractors who were quoting for fitting out a library and kitchen in the new building funded at least in part by our school. We also met a couple of members of staff that were absent yesterday and have a vital role in maintaining the link between our schools. This was followed by another gathering of staff, during which time we presented the gifts that we had brought along: footballs, netballs, a ... read more
Horn Bill
And you turn it on here
New Friends

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Mthatha July 21st 2013

A good night’s sleep was achieved last night following only a couple of hours on the flight the previous night. Last night’s meal was really good: a restaurant with a French name ‘Le Petit Restaurant’, a Swiss theme (Swiss flags, a log cabin feel, windows with Alpine views, etc), run by a chef with a Welsh name and serving South African food with a European twist. We each had one of the restaurant’s speciality game flambé dishes washed down with a glass of Merlot/peach iced tea (you can probably guess which was which). The meal and the service were excellent. Most of today has been spent on the road travelling from East London up to Mthatha. On the way we diverted off the main road to visit Mvezo, which is where in 1918 Nelson Mandela was ... read more
Town Centre
Sweeping Views
Donkey Rides

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Mthatha July 21st 2013

Day three of our trip and definitely a very different day from the normal tourist activities that other people do; not that we are on the tourist route at the moment. Mthatha was the old capital of the Transkei which was one of the Homelands during the apartheid era so it has suffered from under-investment for the best part of half a century. This morning we met Nothemba who is Meg’s equivalent at our link school Sandi. Nothemba took us to her church this morning: a very well attended Methodist church. There are three two-hour-long Sunday services. The first from 9-11 is in English, but we went to the 11-1 service which was conducted in Xhosa, but with the aid of Nothemba’s hymn book we managed to join in pretty well (apart from understanding scarcely a ... read more
Bursary Students

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Mthatha April 6th 2010

It's one hell of a journey but boy was it all worth it when through the dark I spotted the lonely light of Bulungula Lodge shining like a beacon guiding us across the rolling hills of the Transkei. Having taken most forms of transport known to man, and endured 4hr delays at possibly the worst airport ever, then flown in a tempestuous thunderstorm, the final 100km from Umtata to the coast were a delight. As the road disintegrated further the smile on my face grew bigger as I knew we were getting ever closer to paradise. With each gravity defying roll of the ancient 4x4, with every bounce in and out of the craterous potholes, the rest of the passengers winced and wondered if it was really all worth it, thankfully I knew it was, and ... read more
The road to the Wild Coast
From Umtata to the Wild Coast
Bulungula Lodge

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Mthatha August 27th 2008

These one month assignments (of which my first three - South Africa, Malawi, Bhutan - are) have within them the design to be essentially vacations for the volunteers. By that I mean that every weekend is free of responsibility. I like to think I'm as hard-working as the next guy, but if there is anything residency has taught me, it's that I like me some vaca. I spent my first weekend here in Mthatha, the highlight of which was watching some bizarre game show. Game shows and commercials are really a window into a foreign culture, showing you what they consume and are amused by. I don't know what they says about Double Dare and the Jared Fogel Subway campaign, but we are who we are. Regardless, after that first weekend I pledged it would also ... read more
the eagle's nest
bulungula rondavels

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Mthatha August 25th 2008

It's tough to get these entries written in 1-hour internet sessions! I will put some pics of trips to beaches I have taken in a couple days, but I wanted to give a bit of an overview of day-to-day life as a doc here. This is actually my last week in South Africa, before traveling for about three weeks and ending up in Malawi, so I can also reflect and analyse. I imagine this will also be an evolution. The complex I am at is called Bedford Hospital. It is the orthopaedic hospital associated with a large complex in Mthatha called Mthatha General or Nelson Mandela Hospital. Bedford used to be a private missionary hospital, but the site has been taken over by the government. All of the orthopaedics in the region is done at this ... read more
Waiting for clinic to start
Business as usual

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Mthatha August 12th 2008

Of course there will be excitement. But, there are also the more mundane tasks that make us human, no matter the location. Maybe it was the discovery of Uncle Ben's South African nemesis on a bag of rice. Now that I am officially "Uncle Ben," it put me in a pensive, self-reflecting mood, and I made some dramatic revelations about my more domestic side. I have not really "used" a bathtub for nearly two decades. Now it is only the focus of questions such as, "why don't you ever clean your bathtub?" and "I am not using that shower until you clean the bathtub, understand?" and "you still haven't cleaned the bathtub?" Nevertheless, I have used a bathtub twice recently for things I never had before. 1. Bathing. Yes, technically I have taken a bath in ... read more
sometimes I smell like these (they're goats)

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Mthatha August 9th 2008

Hello everyone. I guess this is the first official posting after commencement of the journey. I arrived in Mthatha (or Umtata) on Thursday evening after a bit of improvization while traveling. My initial flight out of Chicago Monday morning was delayed and I missed my connection in LA. I took a flight out later that night and arrived in Hong Kong early in the morning, I think it was Wednesday there. After the missed connection, spilling orange juice all over myself during an intercontinental flight, and opening a container of yogurt that proceeded to spray me in the face, not unlike Yosemite Sam looking down the barrel of a shotgun, I was beginning get nervous at all of the poor omens at the start of the trip. But then my luck changed during my layover in ... read more
wards at Bedford

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