Canadian Winter? Bring it

Guys… I’m Canada bound in 1 days. IN 1 DAY!!!
Holy Crapoleeee. It’s been 6 months of Africa. 6 months of self discovery, of my body trying to acclimatize and continually failing, new environments, new (and continuing) challenges, and 6 months of my constant physical/mental/emotional state of being uncomfortable… I can’t even believe that this will be my very last blog post from Mochudi. Mostly this comes as a relief (we all know how inconsistent these posts have been)… but I’m also conflicted… Yes it means I’m going back to see all of you!!! YAY!!! My Canadian family, whom I have missed SO MUCH! But it also means I am leaving my (temporary) life here.. leaving the bubble of Stepping Stones… the kids, the staff… both which have come to also become family. But I’m not going to dwell on the goodbyes, not yet… not until Friday when we are actually on that 25 hour flight. YES 24 HOURS OF FLIGHT! How? Well it means…(thanks to Shila’s adding abilities)
Gaborone (Bots) -> Johannesburg (South Africa) = 1 hour
Joburg -> Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) = 5 hours 30 mins
Addis -> Rome (Italy) = 6 hours
Rome -> Toronto = 9 hours 45 mins
Toronto -> Halifax = 2 hours
Basically this week the conversation between Shila and I has revolved around the need for some circulation socks….because WOW are our ankles going to be swollen after that adventure. And I’m willing to bet it WILL be an adventure.. Most of you know that when I travel, it rarely goes as planned… I’ll end up staying with some random in the middle of no where in no time.. but let’s just wait and see…
So because I’ve really sucked on blog writing the past couple of weeks, here’s a little recap for y’all:
A couple of Sundays ago, I attempted to write a catch up blog… it ended with me sitting less than 6 inches away from my GLORIOUS fan, praying the power doesn’t continue it’s sunday outage streak…then I got a little reminiscent and started to think about how funny it was 4 months ago when the power would go out all and all night and we thought that was bad. At least that was during winter. Now it’s summer… almost 40 degrees out every single day, and when a fan is literally the only thing that keeps us alive and that power goes it, it is GAME OVER. Nothing can be accomplished. Especially when our house is completely wooden panelled. Our house is a sauna. I never thought the day would come where I don’t get a decent sleep if I’m not cuddling a couple frozen water bottles. Not only is our house hot, work is hot, outside is hot, waiting for rides is hot, combies are hot, the wind blowing is hot… my god there is not a time when we aren’t sweating. Everyday I look forward to a nice cool shower, but then I remember even our water is hot!!! There is no relief. I keep debating purchasing a kiddie pool, but then I tell myself, we’re leaving soon, I can make it…
I know you guys are currently suffering through the start of a very cold Canadian winter and some (or most) of you would trade climates with me in a second, but the truth is I can’t wait to roll around in that snow!! Dying from the heat here, it’s quite funny when we ask locals how the heck they get through it and they tell us to go to “the shades”… sounds like a magical place doesn’t it? Well when Batswana say “the shades” what they really mean is “go outside, find a tree and sit underneath it for a bit”. That’s the Botswana secret. Unfortunately, we don’t have any shady trees on our plot, but I definitely found the frozen water bottles all over my body, even sleeping with a wet towel, helps a TON!
Thankfully over the past week, the weather has settled down, at least a little. It’s rained a TON (like 3 times) but thats a lot here! It’s beautiful. We even got to witness a sandstorm! Really cool stuff….. lightning and wind, I really got a craving to start storm chasing. Unfortunately the storm did quite the damage in the city and in our village, the power went out basically ALL DAY yesterday! I couldn’t believe how many billboards got torn to shreds. Check it:
Broken Toe
Unfortunately with all of the rain, the ants start coming out. Not just the little old ants either… flesh
eating, swarming, GIANT ants! …. okay okay not that bad…. but they do swarm, and they do bite! and for what ever reason, they’re always setting up for battle on our pathway to our house = OUCH! Locking our gate has become a war zone. I even broke my toe kicking them off
😦 Thanks for the going away present Mochudi…
Some things at SSI:
Last week I got to participate in the “Step Up, Step Out” camp for the the Leadership participants at SSI. The camp was set up at the Presidents Farm (ohh so fancy right?) and was run through the partnership of Our Lady Kharma Trust and SSI. Dinah and I got to run a Teamwork and Delegation station, which was really interactive and great. The whole goal of the camp was to have participants “Step Up” to be leaders and “Step Out” of their comfort zones. It was very successful and a ton of fun! So much fun, we even set the Presidents Farm on fire!!!! YIKES… it was already insanely hot, add a bush fire in there, we were ROASTING! Everyone jumped the gun and started throwin some dirt at it and we got that fire out in no time! WOO
Unfortunately this is our last week, so I’ve been pushing like crazy to get all of my Study Skill Activities Curriculum set up for take over. Wow it has taken a ton of time to get everything organized and formatted, especially when my ENTIRE USB got wiped during a power outage… that made me a little nervous, but I used my limited IT skills and fixed that right up. It’s actually quite amazing how nothing seems to phase me anymore.. In Mochudi nothing has gone according to plan, ever, and I certainly don’t expect it to our last week…
Because this is our last week.. I’ve had to start saying some goodbyes… telling my readers that we only have a couple more sessions left has been heartbreaking 😦 Fortunately I have made sure their reading will continue with some trusted volunteers at SSI…
There was a solar eclipse at work!! Or so we thought… the amazing phenomenon, which I will probably witness once in my life, was caused by some ice crystals… check it out on wiki (lol): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_(optical_phenomenon)
CIMG0487
I’ve been cooking with the kids! So much fun!!! and HOT wow… so far we made some omelettes and some toasted pb, banana and honey sandwiches… Tomorrow we’re going to make some healthy banana muffins as a demonstration for one of our Donars – Barclays.
Village Livin:
A couple saturdays ago Shila and I sniped tickets to Trevor Noah! Trevor is a South African Comedian who just got back from a tour in the states. We watched all of his stand ups and were so excited to hear he was coming to Gabs!! The whole performance was…. interesting. The opening acts included a local rapper, a graphiti artist on stage, a mens dance group who also liked to light things on fire and jump through them… followed by the first class tickets showing up to the show an hour late, after Trevor had already started his act….the whole thing screamed BOTSWANA.
WE SAW THOR AND CATCHING FIRE!!!! WOW I AM IN LOVE WITH BOTH!!!!
Shila and I had a Mochudi adventure… visiting our Bots grandmother, and taking Kemelo with us to visit the Mochudi Museum, which has been on our to-do list for MONTHS!!! Guess what… it wasn’t open, typical Bots weird hours…but we got to climb some cool rocks, tress and stuff.
rainstorm
We were caught in a rain storm!!!! After a nice little jaunt to Gabs, when we decided to hitch back home it started POURING RAIN. Thunder, lightning… the whole shebang…We were waiting in the rain, freezing (although refreshed), and hiding under this transport truck parked on the side of the road for a good 30 minutes before we finally got a ride. I’m surprised ANYONE would stop for us, we were a pour looking soaked couple.
We went to MOUNTAIN VALLEY! Sounds cool hey? It’s this little braai/bar about 30 min outside the city. While I’m not much for buying raw meat at a bar, Shila is super into it, but it was really cool to do it at a legit nice little spot. We met up with a couple of ex-pats we recently met and they were great! Some food, some drinks, some pool, it was great! After our braai adventure we hit up some open mic and Shila attempted some Canadian Indie music…
Last Friday we had a nice little dinner we some fellow volunteers… 2 whom are in Mochudi (MAN I WISH WE KNEW SOONER!) They are absolutely great. One volunteer had her friend over from a village like 7 hours away, and I had already met him on Couchsurfing! WOW I love that online community… that has happened three times being here, too cool. The day we all hit up the Hunger Gamer – Catching Fire and it was wonderful. Although our time with these new ex-pats has been short, I’m definitely gonna miss them! They’re some really cool cats.
I finished packing… :S So weird… really SO SO SO weird. I basically cut down the majority of my clothes and plan on coming home with half the stuff I left with. The whole cleansing thing feels so nice, but at the same time, I really don’t know what I’m going to wear for those last 2 weeks of debrief :S Some of the other Yippers get to have a nice weekend at home before heading back to the nish, get cleaned up, and swop their luggage.. but unfortunately thats not the case for me. The Op Shop’s gonna get some serious business from me that weekend hahaha
Lastly a big shout out to my little bro… Usually we celebrate his birthday one province away from each other, but this time I was a little farther 😦birthday dog
So Internet friends, this is the last blog I will be posting from Botswana…I can’t believe it. This whole experience has been nothing short of life changing. I have been mentally pushed like never before. I have learned so much about the world, life, and mostly myself. It is so bittersweet to have to say goodbye to these magical kids who have been such an inspiration, made such an impact, and who will forever be in my heart….
Wish us luck for the 25 hour endeavour back to Canadian grounds, hopefully this time I won’t be shoved in the corner on the plane. I will be seeing most of you so so sooon !! I can’t wait 🙂
Top 7 things I’m excited for:
1) SNOW – you can bet that the second we land and I see snow I’m gonna be rolling all around in that. Polar Dip = YUP
2) BEAR BEAR !!!! I can’t even describe the amounts I have missed my little fluffy guy
3) Moms Lasagne
4) Nana’s Apple Pie
5) Temperature Regulation and a decent full sleep
6) NO BUGS!!!! no cockroaches, no ants, no moths, no centipedes, no beetles!!!
7) No power outages
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Laughter is the best medicine

Oh how I love the time of the year when everything I own decides to just give in and break.

I guess there’s no better way for letting go of possessions than when they all conspire against me in the same week of Mayhem.
Now, those who know me are aware that this seems to be a regular occurrence. I’m not talking about “oh my hair elastic broke for the third time this week”, I’m talking about my iPod touch, my back up iPod, my 3 favourite pants (for those of you who don’t know, that means African pants, belly dancing pants, my elephant pants) wearing out to the point where even I feel embarrassed wearing them, my one pair of flip-flops (they did have a  good run though), my toms (with insanely massive holes in both the heel and the toe… i still wear these though), my water bottle latch (which used to be super convenient is now just a burden), my backpack zipper (which is very key), speaking of key – my house key, my habitat shirt – no dyed an awkward pink with questionable brown stains that could ALMOST pass as tie-dye but don’t, my favourite bracelet – beads EVERYWHERE, my Macbook power cord is on its way out the window – give me 4 more weeks!!!…I won’t even mention the fact that there seems to be some type of red devil sock that ALWAYS creeps into my laundry (which, because of the sun here can only be washed in hot water) and dyes EVERYTHING a stupid shade of pink. Isn’t that a nice picture for you all.. Kate, the one that is either wearing the ugliest pink coloured everything, or the clothes with tons of holes and tears in them…. today I even had a kid at SSI laugh at how ratty my shoes are…I think the idea that I will return to Canada with nothing more than a carry on is becoming reality.
Generally I’m a pretty patient (exceptionally so after spending some time in Africa), and easy going, rational person…. but COME ON!!!!!! Just cut me a little slack here. For all of THAT to happen in less than 2 weeks time, MY breaking point is creeping up.
Sorry for my rampage, hopefully it brought at least a little smile to your face… I know writing it definitely brought one to mine. Laughing about it really is the only way to get through it.
So on to business… quite a lot has actually gone on the past couple of weeks at work and at home. It’s been a whirlwind of things since returning from Cape Town.
I guess there’s the obvious – Halloween… my absolute favourite favourite holiday ever, oh how I love Halloween! All of October I have been a little on edge about this. I made homemade spider web decorations out of garbage bags, took the whole month to download a couple of halloween movies, posted in numerous international forums about any halloween happenings in Gabs…. then the day finally came…. and it went. As the month went on, it all just seemed less important. Friends all posted their halloween costumes, and I’ll admit for a second there was a bit of jealously, but Halloween just isn’t a thing here, so it just didn’t really matter anymore. I did however get the kids to paint some squashes … this way we could wash them off and us them for food later on… (which ended up being a very patriotic activity!) and showed them Hotel Transylvania (which I LOVE!… and they did too!)
SSI has been quite busy lately having the Standard 7s off from school (for 3-4 months!… so crazy). So the staff has put together their Standard 7 schedule daily from 10-3. Each week I get to run some leadership and team building exercises, have a nutrition session (which includes cooking yummy healthy food!), and help them plan and prepare for their st 7 party at the end of the month! WOOO so many things!
This month is already insanely hectic. We have 24 days left to round up all of our projects, creating the study skills/life skills curriculum, and continue with our scheduled activities. Because we’re so busy I have a feeling this week is going to FLYYYYY.
On the home front….
On Saturday I woke up to my other roomies carrying around a three week old puppy!  Unfortunately this isn’t as wonderful as it sounds. The 19 year old living on our plot, who frequently needs to borrow transport money to get to school, who is gone for days at a time, who doesn’t seem to have his life together in the least, co-bought (yes… co-bought) a 3 week old pit bull.
The initial reaction – WOW! A three week baby pup, who is ADORABLE and just wants to snuggle all the time and play with my feet and is the cutest thing in the whole wide world is going to be in our lives! So exciting! THEN, quite quickly, the questions followed – how is it going to be cared for? who is taking care of this dog? How does he have money to feed it? Will he be home more?… sadly the answers were not the ones we hoped for. Apparently the dog was bought for one reason – to become a guard dog. In the owners mind set, having a guard dog means you feed it next to nothing, treat it awfully, and never let it have a human reaction with anyone other than the owner and frequent visitors, in order to install aggression. This was not cool for us when we find out while we were gone Sunshine (what we named her) was placed in a 2 foot space in the garage while her owner disappeared for 16 hours. The girls and I basically took on this puppy ourselves, buying her food, keeping her company, playing with her, and discussed all weekend what we should do. After 2 days of negotiations with both owners we were able to settle on an agreed price and the dog loving Canadians split on this beautiful pup. We are happy to report that Sunshine is in an amazing home with one of our dog loving (literally he has 7 other dogs) co-workers! YAYYYY!!!!! That was one stressful situation!
Apparently our neighbour is also planning on investing this week on some… sorry 200 chicks, to grow and sell…. there’s another story right there.
Other things:
– Our power cuts have not been resolved as we thought 😦 On Sunday Mochudi received a pretty big power cut… all sunday was spent lying on my bed covered in sweat, too hot to move.
-There was a bird in our house…Shila woke up in the middle of the night hearing some flapping (i guess she assumed it was a giant cockroach…) luckily it was just a BIRD and it had moved into my room.. Shila bravely and strategically used the broom to open the window for this little guy. We still don’t know how a bird would get into a room with no open windows and the door shut… #mochudiprobs
-I found my new favourite place in the world, just kidding, in Mochudi… Behind our house there is a giant mountain… okay, hill, but one day I finally felt super adventurous and decided to climb it. The top was unbelievable…. the perfect spot for a little meditation, especially after a long day. Everyday after work I try to get there. On Sunday I took the roomies up there and Shila lead us in some yoga… yoga on a mountain, so cool…. I wish I had climbed it earlier.
AND!!! there was a solar eclipse today….CIMG0487

Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing

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!

This last week Shila and I reunited with 4 other Coady interns in CAPE TOWN! And Holy CRAP this city surpassed every single review, blog, book I read before getting there. Just wow. Every where you look I swear you could send the picture in to National Geographic, it’s THAT beautiful. A city protected by massive mountains, half swallowed by the ocean, beauty surrounds it.
Just a couple things from the week (I’m sure the pictures will do it more justice than words ever could)…
Our fantastic fellow Coady interns in Zambia worked their magic and arranged for us to stay in a stunning, chic loft right in the heart of the city! This place was A MAZ ING.With a beautiful balcony, we had a great view of the city, our own fully equipped kitchen (allowing us to buy some groceries, saving some mula!), 2 unreal, legit showers… and Shila and I went back to sharing a room and had some reminiscent moments thinking of our first month in Bots 😛 With 7 of us chipping it, the place was super affordable and we couldn’t have been more lucky! Quite hilariously, while all of us Yippers have only been around each other for 3 weeks during orientation, to meet up with them and catch up on all of our adventures felt like we’d known each other forever. It was great to have some familiar faces around for a bit 🙂 We LOVE LOVE LOVE our fellow Coadies!
No wonder Cape town was voted one of the best places for young people to live… this city had upscale, world renowned restaurants, cafes, shops around each corner! Right across the street we had a brilliant little eatery, Clarks, which we soon adapted as our go to for food  (when it was open, this is haha), around the corner was a sweet little pub, Brewers Union, with great beer, fun people, live music, garden lights, amazing hotdogs and even better cupcakes! To sum up it all up… we are REALLY well all week long.
Okay, now for my kinetics grad voice to come out – WOW… Cape Town literally blew my mind at how accessible and active the city is! In terms of accessibility, EVERYTHING was wheel chair friendly. From the Hop-on Hop-off city tour bus, to the quite steep bridge walkway (with a friendly elevator directly to the top of the ramp), the aquarium, the beach… EVERYTHING! I was beaming all week at of the things! Now lets talk active… there is virtually no way you could ever be bored in Cape Town. There are 4 mountains you can climb, all with different routes of varying difficulty, you can rent bikes EVERYWHERE, people jog/walk EVERYWHERE, there were free yoga sessions on the beach, beautiful mountain biking trails through the vineyards… Along the water we passed at least 4 different jungle gyms for kids to play on (all different themes), off leash dog parks, even an OUTDOOR gym overlooking the gym. YES outdoor gym, fully equipped. I couldn’t get over it… guys I’m serious when I say I will be back to this place.
Okay enough of that… what did we actually do in Cape Town?
  • We hit up a great aquarium, with a touch tank (super cool!) and caught the penguin feeding AND the shark feeding ! Pretty cool, and very knowledgable staff too.
  • Took a little ferry ride to Robben Island, an island full of some major history… We toured the old maximum security prison and saw Mandela’s cell  – pretty intense stuff
  • Hopped a train along the INSANELY beautiful shoreline to see some hilarious African Penguins
  • Took on Table Mountain – the hard route (that was a mistake) At 2 and a half hours we finally made it up, thanks to Blakes constant motivational, sometimes questionable quotes…To get up there we had to climb through a ton of clouds – such a cool experience. It was from this experience that I realized just how short my legs really are… not idea for climbing giant rocky staircases.
  • Spent a day touring the city and all of the *fun* museums… Art museums, planetariums (full of cool dino bones …and for some reason a lot of rat information), gardens… we did it all! Even the Castle of Good Hope… which I’m sorry Kulula Airline Magazine and Internet friends, this castle is NOT haunted, nor in the least bit scary. Imagine my disappointment, a ghost hunter enthusiast, when I ASK the tourist desk about the hauntings and I get laughed at… This put a major damper on the day, especially after I hyped it up so much to the other interns 😦
  • Checked out the food markets and craft markets… yum yum yum Nutella crepe? yes pleasssse…
  • SHARK DIVING!!!! WE DID IT. I think since day one of orientation we all made a pact and we finally did it! Woah was it ever cool. A 5 am departure and lots of waiver forms later, we got slicked up in our wetsuits, hopped in the freezing ocean into a little cage and waited as they lured a GIANT shark (3.7 meters!) super close to us! The water visibility was brutal, but the shark was literally 2 feet away from us most of the time…. super neat stuff
  • Went up Signal Hill to check out the beautiful sunset
  • Journeyed to Cape of Good Hope, where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet, probably my favourite view all week. After a little hike we were basically chillen on a crazy high cliff… really wish I brought some climbing ropes with me.
  • I fell in love with Cape Town…and gelato.
After a week of feeling on top of the world Shila and I trekked back to the heat, back to the slowed down lifestyle and back to Bots. A cab, a plane, a cab, a bus, a cab and 16 hours later, we finally arrived back to reality….
Here’s reality for you… there are 26 days left… 26 DAYS LEFT. It feels like I just wrote my one month in blog… what happppeneddddd??? Time is seriously flying… and Shila and I really biting the bullet here, with tons of SSI stuff going in the next month, planning our goodbyes, and trying to take in the rest of Bots, there is so much to doooo.
Sorry this post is a week or say late… this week has been insanely crazy. The Standard 7 kids are finished their break meaning we have a full day of activities, everyday, and the internet has been less than willing to upload my Cape Town pics 😦
Our Trip to Roben Island:
LETS SEE SOME SHARKS!!!

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….