This year has been one of those years that I will remember for the rest of my life. As I look through some of the pictures I have, I cannot believe all of the places I have been, and what I have learned, culture, people, but mostly things about myself. I just had dinner with some of the interns that have been spread through various parts of South Africa and it was truly amazing to see how different our experiences were. Many of them lived in one or two places, had a home, and the comfort a routine(as much as one could expect for being an intern). I just realized that since January I have not been in one place longer than 7 weeks, which means I was pretty much a nomad. But I can honestly say that I really enjoyed it and have met some pretty amazing people along the way.
First, was my dear friend Rose. She was the administrative assistant for the project I was working on in Northern Namibia. For the entire month of May I stayed at her house over the weekends when I wasn’t traveling around the bush. I must say that we had so much fun together, watching movies, cooking (as best I could for northern Namibia), and just hanging out and talking. It really reminded me of my days at Eastern Oregon University, where TL and I lived together, we had so much fun. Especially, when her 3 year old daughter came, who spoke very little English. She would run in my room in the morning and say Morning Sarah, it was so cute. Rose and I truly became great friends, can’t wait till she comes to the US to visit me.
Additionally, this trip to northern Namibia, I stayed on a village, with Mathew and his family. This was a once in a lifetime kind of experience!! On the village there is running water, but no electricity and at night we used flashlights to get around. They also asked me if I wanted a bucket in my room so I could go to the bathroom at night, I passed! I just decided to hold it, but thought the offer was nice. During the day when you can see and walk to the toilets, they are just glorified porta-potties, but very clean.
So growing up I thought that unloading the dishwasher and cleaning the bathroom was a chore, boy was I wrong. During the month long holiday in May, the kids in northern Namibia harvest the field. They would be out working in the field by 6:30 am and be done around two in the afternoon and one boy gets the job of watching the animals all day.
But the nights on the village were very fun, it reminded me of camping. Each night the girls would cook over the fire and make the traditional porridge (pop) and some sort of meat. Also, the small girls and I would play together, it really was fun. The first night I was there they would barely look at me because they had never had a white person staying at their house, by the next afternoon we were the best of friends.
After my month long stint in Namibia, I headed to Johannesburg for the World Cup Mania. The atmosphere was amazing, but I worked so much the only parts I really got to enjoy were the matches, and most the other time, I was exhausted. We ran 4 weeks of 5-6 day holiday camps. With roughly a hundred kids at each camp. In Soweto, the township right outside of Johannesburg, we ran 10 camps during the 4 weeks. I was a camp director, left my house at 5:45 am and didn’t get home until well after 7 pm most nights. It was exhausting, but I love the kids and our coaches!! In hindsight it was worth it all the way.
And I went to about 10 World Cup Games including the opener. Some of the games we would take kids from the holiday camp (600 was the most we took) and that will be some of my fondest memories of the world cup. I had taught some of our Grassroot Soccer coaches, the boom-chica-boom call and response song. Let’s just say I humiliated myself on more than one occasion shouting out a boom-chica-boom and for a little over a month I had no voice. I really enjoyed just being a fan of sport. It has been a while since I have been that heartbroken over a soccer game. When the USA beat Slovenia to make it to the next round, I was so excited, it was the most amazing goal, then when they lost to Ghana, I cried. It was so much fun, I can’t believe it’s not on for another 4 years.
My favorite games were the opener, Italy vs Slovakia, Ghana vs Uruguay and any game that Spain or Argentina played in(man their fans are fun). Let’s just say, going to the world cup will make you want to travel the world, there are so many interesting people to meet. However, the highlights of all of the matches will always be the kids and our GRS coaches, and how excited they got. It truly was a blessing.
After the World Cup was over, I traveled to Mozambique. It is the most amazing country and I only saw a small portion of it. I didn’t really have time to plan this trip out, I got a place to stay and transport there and that was about it. Luckily, I had a friend from college who was working for FIFA in Johannesburg and he joined me on this adventure (lets just say it’s a good thing we are both easy going).
First, in Johannesburg I stayed with the most amazing family, sadly I do not have photos!! They adopted me for the month and a half I was there, let me eat with them and cooked me dinner on my birthday. It was AWESOME, the second place I lived in Africa and felt at home. So, the owners of the guest house gave Jason and I a ride to the Joburg bus station, in a bad part of town around 9:30 pm. Our bus leaves at 10:00 pm, so we see a line full of people standing in front of a sign that says Maputo (Mozambique’s capital). We wait in line, talk, and get to the front and realize, oh wrong bus company!! All I could say was awesome!! Our bus had already left and there was no room on this one, so we had to wait another day and take the bus in the morning. Lets just say not my brightest moment in life.
SO the next morning we try again, and take the 8 hour bus ride from Johannesburg to Maputo. The backpackers where we are staying is suppose to pick us up at the bus station, they no showed. So we take a taxi to the backpackers and they had lost our reservation and told me that they were full and we would have to go somewhere else. Literally, at this point, I just said okay and was ready to find something else, but luckily Jason started asking more questions. Which lead to them finding our reservation. We only stayed in Maputo, one night but it was really neat and the crowd at the backpackers was really fun.
The next morning we woke up at 5 am to catch another 8 hour bus to Tofo, a touristy beach area (luckily this was low season so not a whole lot of tourist). Anyway, since Jason and I were the last to purchase tickets for the shuttle we got the two worst seats in the house. Jason’s was broken to the side and back which meant he pretty much sat in my lap/laid on me the entire way. Luckily it was cloudy because the bus as you can see from the photo the bus was packed and very uncomfortable, so added heat was not needed. Also, it is only 410k distance, should be 4 hours, but because the quality of the roads is so poor it takes so long.
Throughout this bus ride, I would start to feel sorry for myself and then I would see the guy who helped the driver, he stood the entire way, pressed against the metal pole of the door. He probably had the most uncomfortable position ever. So whenever I would start to feel sorry for myself, I would look at him, laugh and get over myself. I pretty much laughed the whole way there.
But once we got to Tofo, everything just fell into place, and I slept, played soccer, volleyball, cards and swam in the Indian Ocean. I don’t think I have had that type of relaxation in over 4 years, it truly was a blessing. Additionally, it was nice not to travel alone and travel with someone who I have known more than a year. I was very thankful for my traveling buddy.
After Mozambique I had to get back to Cape Town, to say goodbye, as so many of the people I know were leaving. I could have spent a few more days in Mozambique, one day I hope to go back. But it has been really nice to be in Cape Town to say goodbye to other interns and friends who are leaving but also to enjoy living in Cape Town, without being so busy. Each day, I go into the office, work a little, apply for jobs,then leave around 12:00 and go for a run/hike/read a book. I am enjoying every minute of it!!
I head back to the US on the 19th of August and I am stopping in London for a couple of days to visit with friends!! Then back to Knoxville, I am still working on what to do next!! I guess that is what is so exciting about my life right now, the world is at my fingertips, I just need to figure out where I want to go.