It’s been 2 weeks since my last post and there’s so much to tell you all…ahhh!
Let’s start with 2 weeks ago, per usual I had classes every day (my Afrikaans class is definitely my favorite, it’s a classroom with just couches and we listen to songs and do activities to learn the language)…but in addition to that, it was my first week in which I would be going to Kayamandi on Friday to volunteer with the preschool children at Ikhaya primary school.
These children live in the primarily black township which suffers from a lot of post-apartheid issues, like a lack of adequate toilets, water, etc. It was such an interesting and different experience to start working with these children, especially since we don’t have a common language (they speak isiXhosa and are just starting to learn english). The following Friday was even better, but I’ll discuss that later.
There was also the first home rugby game of the season that week, which we all attended in our matching Maties shirts! (Their school spirit is INSANE!)
Then, that weekend we traveled (only about an hour, or less) to the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens for the Freshly Ground concert! This was the most beautiful setting for a concert, and the band actually played the back-up music for Shakira’s Waka Waka at the world cup! How cool is that?
It was 100 degrees the day of the concert, but regardless, it was an awesome experience…
This past week, more classes as usual…nothing too crazy there. One night (I think it was Tuesday?) some of us went out to dinner at Cape Town Fish Market for our one month “friendiversary”…I still can’t believe I’ve been here that long!
…I ordered a platter with grilled hake, fried calamari strips and mussels in a garlic/basil/parmesan-ish sauce. SO so good. If you like seafood, this is definitely the place to go in Stellenbosch!
Then once again on Friday, we drove the 5 minutes to the Kayamandi township with the rest of the 10 or so student volunteers to help out at the primary school. This time, I could recognize the different children in the class and could pick up on their personalities a bit better, which was so incredibly satisfying. The majority of these children don’t come from a stable environment, so school to them is really a safe haven. We sang songs, played some games and had them draw pictures of their bodies because that week’s theme was about learning body parts. It’s so easy to see how happy they are when you give them the direct attention and praise that they deserve..whether they’ve done something successfully in the activity we’re working on or just in general. Going to Kayamandi has become the best part of my week, by far. Not because it gives you that typical satisfied feeling after doing a good thing, but because every second I’m working with the children, I can sense a mutual learning going on. It’s not even something I can put into words.
Pretty sure we’re not allowed to put pics of the kids on social media, but this one doesn’t really show faces…
About an hour after finishing up at Kayamandi, it was time to leave for Cederberg with our AIFS group. This was one of our “big trips” of the semester…a 4 hour drive to the SandDrif holiday cottages in the heart of Cederberg.
Friday afternoon we got settled in/cooked over the braai, took a short walk, laid out under the bright & beautiful stars, and then got ready for what would be one of the most amazing experiences ever…
Saturday morning, bright at early at 7:30ish, we left our “houses” to begin the 3ish hour climb up Cederberg mtn. We hiked, climbed, scaled the side of the rocky cliffs, wriggled under boulder piles, squeezed through narrow cave passageways, and so so much more. It was breathtakingly beautiful…the view spanned for miles and you could see all of the rock formations scattered below, which looked like burnt orange rock candy chunks bursting from the ground below.
After we climbed back down the mountain (…a couple hours later) we all went straight to the river beside the cottages and jumped in fully clothed! It was the perfect way to cool down and relax after a super long day of hiking.
We then cleaned up, I took a nap under the weeping willow tree right outside our cottage, we went to a wine tasting, braaied chicken and lots of other delicious food for dinner, and then went for a short presentation at the local observatory (the stars appeared brighter than ever in the open Cederberg sky!)
Sunday morning, just an hour or so before departing, I decided to take another quick dip in the river (at 8:30am) while it was still calm and quiet. It was probably the most peaceful experience ever. We then left to go check out the nearby cave/rock paintings which date back 2,000+ years. Mountains, rivers, caves, etc…this was truly an unforgettable weekend.
I absolutely love South Africa.