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Published: August 25th 2012
When I woke up on my first morning in South Africa, I stretched and took a closer look around my surroundings. My first reaction the night before was very positive. Both Keenan, the man who picked me up from the airport, and the other residents of the AVIVA house were very, very nice and friendly. The house seemed clean and spacious. However, I was very sleepy, and so my first priority was getting some rest. Plus, my room can be shared with as many as 13 other women, as there are 7 bunkbeds. Although only 6 others were staying there (Thank goodness! Otherwise, I may have had to have the top bunk!), some of them were already sleeping when I arrived. There is an understanding that the lights stay off when someone is sleeping. So, I had to use the light from my iPhone to get out PJ’s and my toiletries. That will take some getting used to!
In the morning, I had some breakfast, which is provided by AVIVA. They provide fruit, bread, cereal, and yogurt, as well as milk, coffee, and tea. Perfect! I also took a shower. The water was hot
and the pressure was strong. The only problem was that I locked myself in the bathroom, and then couldn’t figure out how to get out! I was a little embarrassed, but when I exited someone told me that happens to many newcomers. Because the lock is tricky, others will leave you alone as long as the door is closed. Lesson learned!
Feeling totally refreshed, my next step was a brief orientation with Megan who is the volunteer coordinator, and acts as bit like a housemom. She is warm, informative, and friendly. I liked her right away. She gave me keys to the house and my locker (for valuables) and told me how to walk to the beach.
I didn’t have quite enough time to get to the beach, but I walked around the neighborhood to get a lay of the land. The weather was sunny and beautiful – about 60 degrees in the morning with no humidity. That plus the palm-tree lined streets made me feel pretty good about my decision to come here. I discovered a mall, a 24-hour McDonald’s, and a grocery store within
walking distance. This helped also!
I then returned to my house, were my two good friends Roy and Yi Jiun picked me up… They made the decision to come to South Africa for a vacation during my first couple of weeks, so that we could have another adventure together. Roy and Yi Jiun and I had traveled around Taiwan, with 3 other friends, in January of this year. I was thrilled to see them again!
Our main plan for the day was to go wine tasting. Because, what better way to battle jetlag than drink wine, right?? It was so, so beautiful. We had a light lunch in Stellenbosch, where we got a map of wine country. We had such a good time that we only made it to 2 wineries, but I could see immediately why people would come here just for the wine. The quality was fantastic, the setting picturesque, and the price was super affordable. I could go wine tasting every day for a long time and not get sick of it. Fortunately, we were lucky enough to do a self-guided tour through
one of the farm’s wine-making areas, which was fascinating. We even got to see some people bottling champagne.
We had a simple, but delicious dinner prepared by Yi Jiun. Then, they dropped me off back at AVIVA. What a great day!
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