Joburg -> Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) = 5 hours 30 mins
Addis -> Rome (Italy) = 6 hours
Rome -> Toronto = 9 hours 45 mins
Toronto -> Halifax = 2 hours
Oh how I love the time of the year when everything I own decides to just give in and break.
So I just get back from a trip to Namibia and here I am blogging about another one!!! Although this adventure was one that has been planned for and building up and up and up for about 4 months now and boy did it exceed my expectations!
The Table Mountain challenge…
Touring the City
LOVED this restaurant! They farm their own herbs, vegetables, even fish! We were definitely sold.
Off to Cape of Good Hope….
Penguins, haircuts and more….
I think I’m definitely starting to feel the “African” Lifestyle finally catch up to me. I know that I usually do slack on my blogging, but its become apparent that the whole stress free, laid back way of living has really taken over most aspects of my life in Bots. At first the slowed down pace of things really was a major challenge not only in the workplace, but everywhere we went, and everything we did. The other day in the city, Shila and I especially commented on our movements, comparing ourselves to big elephants, sauntering through the grocery store. Taking 2 hours to get somewhere doesn’t really seem to affect my headspace anymore, it’s really just the way it is. It’s this type of living that is making me both a little nervous and excited to return to Canada’s fast, efficient pace. More importantly I’m interested to see if it will be particularly challenging, or if it will overwhelmingly wonderful, perhaps (or most definitely) it will be stressful.
This new adaptation of mine and grown patience really is a blessing. A couple weekends ago I embarked on a solo adventure to Namibia, which meant a whole 12 hours of driving! Schooling in the Nish I have become used to the annual (some times semi-annual) car trips back to the 613… however, we have the luxury of AC and didn’t suffer the risk of hitting ostriches, goats, or cattle…
YES my adventure was full of ostrich, goats, cattle, and amongst those – new places, new cultures, new friends and as with any travel adventure, full of challenges. Before leaving Botswana behind me, I participated in my first (of many I’m sure) couch surfing experience. For those of you who have never heard of this PLEASE PLEASE I urge you to check it out, and PARTICIPATE!! It is such an amazing online community, full of amazing people who are full of life and love – https://www.couchsurfing.org/ ….back to the post….
Oddly enough the beauty Milena and I stayed with, I had previously connected with over the site and then about a month later met in person through a friend of a friend, oh how small the world is! Dinah is absolutely brilliant. She has been nothing short of my guardian angel over the past couple of weeks. Not only did she provide Milena and I with a super great double bed and place to crash for a couple hours before our early rides came, she set me up with my ride to and from Gabs and even gave me contacts in the places I was heading. I owe her one major block of cheese and a couple bottles of wine.
Dinah’s friends picked me up at 3:30 am… yes AM. I understand the whole “we want to leave early so we can get there early” thing… but if you’re going to leave at 3:30 in the morning, should you not just go big and leave at 9 pm or something? It’s not like you’re getting much sleep in before that anyways. Anyways, no complaints here, I was lucky enough not to have my own seat in a beautiful, spacious car … so they picked me up and we were on our way. Through Dinah I’m pretty sure I met my Botswana family. In the car there was a couple who had 2 boys around my age and another woman with a couple kids my age as well. In Botswana it is very common to refer to elders (by blood or not) as Auntie and Uncle, and so these 3 people quickly became just that. After our original intro’s and some quick chit chat I dozed off… only to be awakened by Uncle Jackson yelling Africaans at me. Explaining to him multiple times that I in fact, do not speak Africaan’s, he thought it was hilarious to assume that I did anyways. Our first stop (at 6 in the morning) was at a gas station for coffee. Knowing I wanted more sleep stuck with my pear and rusks. When I got back to the car, Uncle jackson opens his trunk and offers me some hardboiled eggs, steak, chicken and some type of sandwich…. After a nice egg, a boarder crossing and some ten hours later we made it to Windhoek!
In Windhoek I met up with my second surfer Anna, who was amazing! She offered me my own room, AND a SHOWER!!! I was pretty wiped from the trip up when I got there, so after a beautiful shower, Anna and I bonded over some travel stories and spanish soaps – My heart beats for Lola…. man oh man, was this show addicting!! The next day Anna and her family took me around the city, to Zoo Park, where my heart fluttered the moment I saw green green green grass and massive trees!! I miss the Canadian woods SO much! After a short tour (too short really) I hopped on a combi to the Coast. During this four hour ride I met an interesting woman, a grade 2 teacher, a mother of two 20 years, and who was apparently, and enthusiastically, looking for a white daughter in law… The 4 hour ride was accompanied by her multiple attempts to set me up with her son. This involved taking my picture, sending it to him, texting my phone, constantly winking at me… The next few days involved me ignoring Pauline’s multiple attempts at getting me to talk to her son on the phone…and as such, this became my awkward story number 1.
Arriving in Windhoek, I was meeting up with another surfer… and shame on me for not doing my research here…. Somehow I had it in my head that the lady I would be staying with was a 31 year old mom of 2, from Britain and white….key word here being WHITE. Waiting for my ride after my arrival, and feeling a little sketched out by my surroundings, I reassured myself saying – its okay, Martha (a white mom) will be here soon… WELL imagine my surprise when Martha (who was… NOT white, NOT a mom, but a 30 year old Namibian party girl with a British accent) came strolling by in a taxi, yelling for me to get in. Note to self – pay a bit more attention to online profiles and realize they may not be 100% accurate.
Aside from all of that Martha was GREAT. She was super easy to talk to, really took me in like we’d been best friends for years… literally. All night was spent listening to Martha’s drama with this friend she was originally supposed to be spending time with in Swakop…I think I heard the SAME story, same argument and her defence, over 30 times from top to bottom (I am NOT exaggerating here.). While I am certainly grateful for Martha taking me in, showing me around the actual village community in Swakop, meeting her whole family, and sharing her bed with me…. each seemed to come with extra baggage. Meeting Martha’s family meant discussing the drama again another 10 times… sharing a bed with Martha meant that she slept diagonal (WHO SLEEPS DIAGONALLY IN A DOUBLE BED?) while I huddled in the corner, with little blankets, thankful for Martha’s body heat (her whole body was basically on top of mine most of the night). Waking up and not partaking in a bath, I got sassed hard by Martha. According to her, in Africa they shower everyday, and to not do so was just gross.. In a super hot climate, I honestly don’t know why they first thing they want to do is sit in a mega hot bath. With a little more talk about the drama between her and her friend, I was beyond ready to leave.
The rest of the weekend was full of ocean toe dips (anyone in nova see me waving on the other side of the ocean??), meeting other travellers, horse back rides through the desert, and my FAVOURITE part – sand surfing. Words can’t even describe, pictures do no justice, to just how beautiful the sand dunes are.
Some Memorable Moments:
-coming home to anna’s in windhoek and the lizard on the floor her cat, Sushi, had ripped in half…
-guinea fouls like to hang out way up in the trees
-my horse was the SLOWEST horse in the world.. but had the most badass face mask
-watching vultures pick apart a dead cow… not the greatest moments, but really cool to learn that the chief vulture will take out one eye before the rest of the pack can touch it (according to Jackson anyway…)
-the combi that literally broke down 4 times before we actually got back to windhoek
-ordering a beautiful chicken wrap where they drizzled (or drowned) the shell with balsamic… eating the whole thing, my face and hands covered in balsamic, THEN they bring me the knife and fork….oops
Here are some pictures from the trip… there are WAY more that are refusing to upload… i’ve been at it for almost a week now 😦
I do apologize for how long this post has taken me and how much is missing from it! This week Shila and I will be on an adventure to Cape Town to meet up with other Coady YIPPERS!! So the next blog will be wayyyy worth your while 😉
Ahhh another week come and gone. Too be honest I have been racking my brain, wondering what the heck happened this week that I could blog about… then it happened. Hitching to the city on the weekend, we hailed a … Continue reading
Morning …(lets hope not)… routine. Wake Up. 20 minute cardio. Make some oatmeal. Kill the scorpion in the tub. Watch Shila rinse the tub. Eat the oatmeal. A little Seinfeld. Off to Stepping Stones.
Ahh I really do hope that this does not become a regular routine, I could most certainly do without the scorpion… on the plus side, at least its the brown one, the non-poisonous one… we think?
While I know that I literally just blogged a couple of days ago, quite a few things have happened in the those few days. First things first ….ANOTHER CANADIAN HAS HIT MOCHUDI!!! WOOOOP. Milena from Uniterra has finally joined our family at Stepping Stones AND she brought CHERRY BLASTERS!! Was I ever excited 🙂 It has been pretty interesting introducing her to the ways of Botswana, and even more interesting to realize that where she is now is where we were just over 3 months ago! All of the questions, concerns, and WOW moments have been pretty much spot on with the ones we had. It’s pretty profound to really see how far Shila and I have both come in 3 months.
Not only she absolutely the luckiest volunteer in the world to ever enter Mochudi with Shila and I as mentors 😛 The first night at our place she was welcomed by a HUGE thunderstorm! Needless to say Friday night was filled with candle light, white wine, bonding and the beautiful sound of African rain.
Now don’t you worry out there, our saturday was filled with a bit more excitement than just rain storms. IN FACT on Saturday, I finally got to play basketball! Was it the best thing ever?? YUP
Showing up to an outdoor university court in Gabs, I really had no idea what to expect. When we finally got there (Shila and Milena, being the amazing room mates they are came to support and per my personal cheerleaders 🙂 ) I was instantly welcomed by my team, handed a beautiful new Ravens jersey. I tell you, joining a basketball team in bots was probably the last thing I ever expected to do but WOW am I SO excited to apart of this team. Obviously I was quite rusty, but to my surprise I handled the heat and the pressure (they had me starting??) quite well. The team we played definitely weren’t lacking height… in fact in our pre game speech our coach kept referring to “the Great White”… and I’m like who the hell is the great white? Well turns out she’s this 6 foot giant… not sure where the white comes from, because she was definitely Batswana.
The thing that really got me the whole game, was truly how universal sports are. I was immediately welcomed onto this team, MY team, with open arms, no discrimination because of my skin or my height or my language. Three pointers are three pointers, a foul is a foul, you get shoved, you fall down, someone picks you up. I was only referred to Lakhoa (spit from the sea) ONCE and that was from the other team. Yes our game started an hour late (as expected in bots), yes the court was outside, and yes it literally was 30 degrees (but felt like 100 on the court, especially running up and down and up and down) and I definitely ran out of water before the first quarter ended, but MY GOD was I lovin it!
My loving life high continued as we had a great dinner at O’Hannagans Irish Pub, where I indulged in a “Psycho Jack” cocktail and a nice avo and cheese pita. More bonding times with our new roomie and co-workers. Followed by another beautiful yoga session, this time at our instructors house (which was BEAUTIFUL!)
In other news – I FINALLY finished by 1400 page Stephen King novel – Under the Dome! Some of you will vaguely remember me lugging this massive read back and forth from the library last summer. When I read that this book was becoming a tv series, executively produced by Spielberg, AND with major imput from King himself, I decided I needed to re-read and finish that beast. Well this weekend it finally happened and was it ever bittersweet. If you’re looking for a suspense filled, futuristic, sci-fi and weird humoured monster read, this one is for you. It was brilliant! Unfortunately the whole month long build up to the series was an utter letdown. Yes I understand that movies or series that are based on novels, are just that BASED on the novel… but COME ON. King approved and even made some of the changes himself, and I have no idea way. If you’ve read the book, don’t watch the series. If you haven’t… it might be an interesting watch with an interesting idea, but mind the acting (it’s just short of terrible).
SO there’s my spiel on Spielberg for the day. Check out the trailer and decide for yourself if you haven’t already –
To end on a happy note – this morning at our SSI staff meeting we had an amazing woman from Botho Compassionate movement. During the presentation we learned that in 2012, Botswana ranked as the unhappiest place on earth. YIKES. It has improved a little since then but WOW. The organization is working hard to increase the level of compassion within communities, cities and the entire Botswana population. Stepping Stones International has already taken the first step and signed the Charter for Compassion woooo. A huge point that was stressed during the presentation was how physical contact really can change a persons day, a persons life. The staff of SSI has been given the challenge to really increase the amount of physical contact given to the kids, ranging from proper, safe hugs to just a little hand squeeze. Their website is jam packed of great info about the movement, stats, and resources – http://compassionateaction.org/global-compassion-movement
I found this presentation quite interesting in more ways then one. The first thing that really hit me is, as I have said before, the lack of personal space I have felt in Botswana. From insanely crammed kombis, to handshakes that last an extended period of time, to handholding everywhere. In just over 3 months I know that my personal space bubble has been virtually completely depleted. When my team mate on the weekend took my hand and played with my fingers during my conversation, my instinct to pull away, feel awkward or uncomfortable has completely disappeared. I found it interesting that physical contact is a huge part of life here yet at the same time it doesn’t exist at all. As a Lokhoa, or white person in Mochudi – a rare sighting, everyone (kids especially) want to hold my hand, rub my skin, play with my hair, touch my face, all of it. They love the contact. But on the other hand, children who have contracted or who are born with HIV are treated like a disease themselves. Caretakers will often use different dishes and avoid all contact. It’s very rare to see a dad kiss his child, let alone play or hold their child. It’s almost as if there is the two extremes. There is no personal space, constant touching, but then there is also little positive contact within families and even less compassion.
Hmm still lots to think about on this front I guess, but my mind has been substantially active, considering it is monday at all…
Here are some more events I have yet to catch you up on:
– On Friday at SSI we spent the afternoon playing boardgames, which are super useful for the kids to build up their english vocab and adding/subtracting skills. Shila and I were automatically nominated to run the two most complicated games… Shila landed Monopoly and I took over Life. Wow this was a lot more difficult that I thought, but the kids definitely had fun choosing their careers and suing other players 100,000 bucks haha
– Literacy Updates – My star reader finally finished her first book of stories!!! Reading with her on Thursday, she had a really rough day, but she was SO determined to finish the last story. It was so inspiring to see her push through her awful day, through tired exam eyes to finish her book!
– Last week Shila and I had the brilliant privilege of taking a kombi with a flip down tv screen! We were liven the high life all the way to work! Showing last week was of the Botswana Initiation schools. While it was all in Setswana, it was quite the watch.
-It took us over 2 hours to get into the city on Sunday !!! What a great way to introduce Milena to the ways of Botswana. But after all of the patience testing my patience could take, we made it, got some ice cream, chicken and berries and all was well again
Here are some more pics and a vid for you ( all taken by Shila btw… until I get my camera!! wooo)
I leave you with this… what sound does a fox make?
ANOTHER power cut at work…. you know what that means!!
WOW these past couple of weeks have seriously just flew by!
WOW! a Whole two months come and gone, thought I’d have a darker tan by now…. haha maybe once the summer comes… but in all seriousness I can not believe that it’s been two months already! While it seems like it was forever ago I was boarding a plane to get here, each day seems to zoom by and before I know it the sun is down and another day has come and gone.