Stephenie in South Africa
Join me in my adventures!

Jul
22

Here is a recap of the Garden Route.

Day 1: Hermanus. Beer tasting at Birkenhead Breweries (I didn’t drink). Whale watching in Agulhas. Lamb potjie for dinner. Connect 4, 13, and Egyptian Ratscrew until bed.

That's a whale. I swear.

That's a whale. I swear.

Day 2: Southermost point of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Hot springs. Wildlife reserve. Ostrich steak.

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Day 3: Cango Caves. Elephant Sanctuary. Held hands with an elephant. Fed an elephant. Petted an elephant. Rode an elephant.

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Day 4: Zip lining over trees and waterfalls. BUNGEE JUMPING. The highest bungee in the WORLD!

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Day 5: Monkey land. Waterfront. Beach.

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Day 6: Goodbyes. Crying.

Now that I’m back in the states, I’m not in the mood to write. I’ll try though.

Africa was… unforgettable. It kind of was not what I was expecting. First of all, it was cold. Haha. But seriously… I’m really glad that I had this experience. I met a lot of great people and I learned a lot from them. I also learned a lot about South Africa. It really is such a beautiful country with an incredible history.

Did it change me? I’m not sure. You tell me. I feel more… adventurous, I suppose you could say. After bungee jumping, everything else must be a breeze. The atmosphere and hospitality of the people was just so relaxing. I think their attitude made me realize that there is a lot in life to appreciate and you can’t appreciate it without slowing down or giving to others.

I really miss it.

But I guess this is it for my blog.

Farewell, world.

Perhaps I will revive this when I travel to reunite with my South African friends.

Until then…

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Jul
09

Just a quick update of my last week in Stellenbosch:

I got the chance to go into a township on Monday. There’s a winter camp for the kids so I got to play with the little kids. My station was arts and crafts. We made bracelets from pipe cleaners and beads. Then we colored coffee filters. The kids were so cute and pretty well-behaved. Their first language is Xhosa though. We had some translators, so that helped.

The camp is called Kuyasa and it’s in the Kayamandi township. It’s a non-profit organization that basically runs off of donations. The kids there are really good. It’s nice to see people doing something for the kids, keeping them out of trouble.

We went to dinner at Bianca’s friend’s house. She made us curry that you eat in a wrap. Yum. Then we played charades and watched Michael Jackson’s Memorial Service.

On our free day, we went to Strand beach in Somerset West. It was about 30 minutes away. It was nice weather and we had yummy ice cream.

We went to Bianca’s flat that night and the Hong Kong crew made us a hot pot dinner. It was really good.

Then we went to Sokkie (dancing) for the last time. That was so much fun.

Today was a lot of goodbye stuff. There was a going away dinner and we danced a little. I don’t think it’s hit me that it’s almost over. I’m leaving Stellenbosch tomorrow for the Garden Route. Some people aren’t going on the Garden Route though. So it’s going to be really sad tomorrow morning saying goodbye to those people.

I’m happy to go home because I miss everyone and Charlie. But, I’m sad too because it’s going to be so hard to explain my experience here. The only people who really understand are the ones who were there and they’re all so far away.

I’m excited for the Garden Route though. Hopefully, I’ll keep up the courage to bungee jump. We’ll see. I won’t have internet access though so you’ll just have to be in suspense until I get back.

See you in a week!

~Stephenie

Jul
05

Last week, we woke up early one day (5:45 AM!) to climb up Stellenbosch Mountain. We wanted to watch the sunrise. We walked all the way to the mountain and up without any light. It was so dark and scary. The sunrise was kind of disappointing. The mountains on the other side blocked it all. But I was really energized for the rest of the day. It was still pretty fun.

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On Saturday we went up Table Mountain. I forgot to put my battery into my camera that morning, so I have no pictures.

We took a cable car to the top. It was cool because the floor revolved so you could see everything around you. We spent some time at the top to walk around and take pictures. It was pretty cool, but super windy. If it gets too windy, the cable cars stop working. Basically, you could get stuck up there.

After that we went to the District 6 museum. District 6 is an area that was all blacks. But they were forced to move to the Cape Flats (unproductive, barren land). Their homes and communities were destroyed so that they would not come back. They had pictures from when the community was still around. Some of the residents come to the museum and they have their stories around the museum. It was interesting.

We stayed in Cape Town while the bus went back to Stellenbosch. We thought it was still pretty early so we just walked around. All of the markets were closing. But we found this really good place where we had ice cream.

We took the train back. It was pretty scary. Ian sat next to a guy who was very talkative. He tried to teach him how to say, “I love you” in Afrikaans and everybody started laughing. Then he asked if we’d been robbed yet and everyone laughed again. It got awkward.

There was a couple that was sitting next to me. They were making out for the whole ride. I could hear them and feel the movements even though I turned my back to them. They got off and two ladies sat down. This one lady had a really big butt though. Then when she sat down, basically half of her butt was in my lap. So she was sitting on top of me. It was pretty funny though.

Most of the stops didn’t have signs so we didn’t know where to get off. Luckily, there were a lot of nice people around and they helped us out.

We got picked up at the train station in Stellenbosch and went back to braai (barbecue) for the 4th of July. It was so good. We even bought sparklers to play with.

Stealing from the kitchen for our braai

Stealing from the kitchen for our braai

Ian playing with his first sparkler.

Ian playing with his first sparkler.

Today we went on a wine tour of three different places. We did wine tastings at all of them. The first two places had non-alcoholic drinks for me to try. The first place had a cheese tasting too. We went to KWV. It’s really big. It has the largest barrel in South Africa and it’s in the Guinness World Record book. It holds like over 50,000 liters of wine. That was really cool. But there were annoying people in our tour group who kept talking and didn’t even drink at the tasting. WTF?!

CIMG0985~ Stephenie

Jul
05

Since we got back from Swellendam on Monday, we started class on Tuesday. This week is my HIV/AIDS course. On our first day, we split up into groups and visited the four major hospitals in the Western Cape. My group went to Tygerberg. It was pretty interesting. The hospital was huge and everything was confusing. There were hardly any lights on, no signs, and it was just very run down.

We had some tasks to find our some stuff in the hospital so we were walking around. All of the patient’s doors were just open. You could look in and see someone just lying there. It was so awkward. The only rooms that were closed were the ones for the staff. Even the rooms with medical supplies were wide open and unsecured. The bathrooms didn’t even have toilet paper or soap. There was even a lady smoking in one bathroom. You could tell there was no security because we could just walk wherever we wanted to.

We had to find the ARV clinic, which is the place where people with HIV/AIDS come to get their medicine. It was all the way on the 8th floor with billions of turns. There were no signs for it either. Also, the clinic was only open on certain days and they closed at 1PM. That is so wrong. First of all, if you need ARVs, chances are you’re pretty weak, so you can hardly even make it to the hospital. Secondly, you’d have to take an entire day off of work just to wait in line for the medicine.

A lot of the doctors were on strike too. They wanted better wages and better working conditions. That’s pretty understandable. One of the protest signs said something along the lines of some doctors making the same salary as a bus driver. Well, the signs were in Afrikaans so I’m just going off of what our supervisor told us.

It really was eye opening. I feel like healthcare and insurance in the US is such a pain in the ass. But then when you see what everyone else gets, it’s amazing. We’re lucky to have clean hospitals with working lights and clocks. You just realize how privileged you really are.

Doctor's Strike

Doctor's Strike

~ Stephenie

Jun
29

So I did a lot this weekend. I’ll try to put it in a nice, short post.

Swellendam is freaking gorgeous. We got there are were blown away by the scenery. It was a nice, sunny day. The grass was so green and it dropped off to a lake from the dam. And, of course, you could see the mountains in the background. It was so amazing.

Swellendam, South Africa

Swellendam, South Africa

We stayed in these cute little cottages. There was a bon fire every night and a game house with a bar and pool. That’s basically where we were both nights.

We had delicious food too. Night one we had a “braai” (barbecue) of sheep. There were also these really good potatoes, so good I had to mention them in the post. The second night we had spaghetti. I ate so much this weekend.

The day we got there we just had free time. We played some soccer and volleyball. I read by the fire. They also took us around the dam in the houseboat. It was so relaxing.

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The next day was the “action” day. We went to the “foofie slide”, which is what they call a zip line. It wasn’t that long, but it dipped you right into the water, the freezing cold water. I was so scared, but I did it. You basically get harnessed in, they make sure your hands are tight, and then the guy freaking pushes you off the platform without warning! I was so scared! I screamed the whole way down. Everyone knew it was me. I didn’t have a bad landing and none of my clothes came off. I was prepared though. I didn’t want to go in just my swimsuit because two groups went before mine and… well let’s just say it was interesting. So I went in my swimsuit, my shorts, and a shirt. But, I couldn’t really stop… I guess I didn’t know when to put my feet completely in the water. So I just skidded all the way into the reeds and got water all in my face. I was scared, but it was worth it. So much fun!

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After that, we went on a hike to a waterfall. We got to the bottom of the waterfall. It was flat and nice. But then, we freaking climbed up all these rocks to get to the top of the waterfall. I didn’t fall but I slipped in some places. It was really scary. I didn’t think I would get back down. Luckily, I did. I had to slide on my butt to get back down in some places, but it was ok. It was when we got back to the grass that I fell into a small hole and scraped my knee.

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Today, we went to the hot springs, which was not like what we were expecting. It was a freaking resort. They built pools at the bottom of the springs so the water goes right into these swimming pools. It was so warm and nice. There was also a water slide which didn’t go into deep water, so that was really fun.

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After that, we went to do a wine tasting. I got bored and the smell was getting to me so I just chilled outside on the playground.

Now I am back in Stellenbosch, ready for class tomorrow. Sighs. It was a wonderful weekend.

~Stephenie

Jun
26

Mmm…

So we just went to dinner at this restaurant. It was soooo cool. We sat outside under like a circus tent. You could also sit in a gazebo or in a TREEHOUSE! But I think those are for smaller parties. It was cold outside but there were heat lamps and they give each person a blanket. Oh how I wanted to steal my blanket.

It was a buffet and they had really good food. There was antelope and springbok. I had some springbok, but no antelope. The springbok was pretty good, but it’s tougher than other meat.

There were also performances like every twenty minutes. They had African drums, singing, and dancing. They even asked for audience participation so you could get up on stage with them. Then near the end of our meal, they came around to each table and did like a song for each party. It was so cool.

They also paint our faces with pretty African designs.

It was pretty awesome.

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My first plate of food.

My first plate of food.

The first performance.

The first performance.

Audience participation.

Audience participation.

Jun
25

So yesterday morning, Bianca (one of our program coordinators) told us we were going to go dancing at night. I just thought we were going to like learn to dance or something because when she was explaining it she was talking about Afrikaners and how they dance and stuff.

We got to the place that night and it was totally a club. Not only was it a club, but it was like on top of a winery. All the people who danced there were like profesionals. This one guy was flipping the girl all over the place and another guy dipped his girl really low. It was crazy. We just stood there and stared at them.

Once more of our group started arriving, we got out on the dance floor. We must have looked like idiots to them the way we were dancing. Some of us tried to dance fancily like the Afrikaners, but it was really hard and tiring. I got really dizzy from all the turns. Haha.

I really liked it though. It’s not like in America where people are just grinding and doing it on the dance floor. It was like fun, real dancing. You didn’t have to worry about guys trying to creep up on you either. It was nice.

It was a lot of fun, but now I am super tired. I had two cups of coffee. Now I need billions more.

I don’t think anything is happening tonight. I need sleep like… whoa.

~Stephenie

P.S. Pictures are up on facebook, but only some. I’m still working on it.

Jun
24

So last night, after a long day of touring art galleries in Cape Town, we went to a rugby game. It was the South Africa Emerging Springboks vs. the British and Irish Lions. It was very interesting.

First we chilled at this coffee shop and there were so many Lions fans everywhere, lots of them wearing kilts. They were drunk and dancing. Don’t worry, I got it on video. Very crazy.

It was the worst storm of the season last night. There were random monsoons in the middle of the game and really strong winds. It was so effing cold. But it was really fun. I have no knowledge of rugby or sports, as you all know, but it was a really good game to me.

We were basically losing throughout the whole game. But then we came back at the end to tie the score at 13-13. There was still a couple minutes on the clock, but everyone just started leaving. I was confused because I thought they’d keep playing or go into overtime… but they don’t. They’re just like ok bye. I think I like watching rugby more than football because the guy gets tackled, but then it keeps going. In football, it’s like tackle and stop every two seconds.

I have a favorite Springbok, #11. They took him out near the end of the game though, probably because he was so good they didn’t want to embarrass the other team. Yup, that’s it.

I don’t have picture with me now. I’ll put some up if I get a chance later, but I have a movie screening for class tonight so I’ll be done late. Boo.

~Stephenie

Jun
22

Sorry I haven’t been able to update. The internet situtation here is kind of weird. I don’t think I’ll be able to upload any pictures, maybe a few.

So I got here around a week ago. It’s so cold. We had like 3 days of sunny weather.

What I have done so far? We went to Cape Town last Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday was kind of just a relaxing day. We walked around and shopped. Took a tour of the Castle of Good Hope, saw Parliament, and all that good stuff. I found out that I”m really bad at bargaining. Haha. Friday we went to Robben Island. We saw Nelson Mandela’s cell. Our tour guide took us to the cell that he was in as well.

Saturday was our trip to Boulders Beach. We saw billions of penguins. It was so cool. Two of them had a fight. It was intense. Then, we went to Cape Point. We hiked up the cliff to the lighthouse and it was so pretty! But I almost had an asthma attack. Then we went back down the cliff and a little more to get to the beach. That was pretty crazy too. There was like a 90 degree hill of sand that we had to slide down and like a billion stairs that seemed like they could break at any minute.

The food here is delicious and the tap water is safe to drink. Food here is actually pretty similar to food in the states. I went to church one night and ate dinner with them and that was the most traditional South African food I’ve had so far on this trip. I don’t know what it was. The best I could describe it as is meat, potatoes, and salad. Haha.

We do live on campus as well in “res” as they call it. The dorms are exactly like UGA. And the town is exactly like Athens. It’s so weird. They even have statues everywhere like our bulldogs. The only difference is that Stellenbosch is much more scenic and cleaner.

I don’t know what else to say. I wish I had internet access sooner. I could give you all a better update. Hopefully from now on, my updates will be more frequent and less boring.

~Stephenie

Sunset from Stellenbosch Mountain

Sunset from Stellenbosch Mountain

On the ferry to Robben Island

On the ferry to Robben Island

I <3 Giraffes

I ❤ Giraffes

Boulders Beach w/ Penguins

Boulders Beach w/ Penguins

Cape Point Beach

Cape Point BeachFrom the top of Cape Point

Jun
12

I decided that traveling alone sucks. You get very lonely and have no one to talk to.

But then I got on my flight, and there was this really talkative 9 year old. Maybe she was a little too talkative. She told me her entire life story basically, which included her mom having her when she was 16, being unsure of the father, getting a DNA test, her brother who has cerebral palsy, and her parents separation. She was traveling with her nanny, but they were sitting separately so everyone thought I was responsible for her. She got annoying near the middle of the flight because she kept waking me up.

I’ve been at the London Heathrow airport for a long time now. My layover is nine hours long. This airport is really big and confusing. When I got here, I took a bus to my terminal and it was a ten minute ride. Then, I was sitting around waiting to meet up with someone when this security guard started making a scene yelling at this other guy about leaving his bags unattended. It was intense.

I met up with a girl in my program, Nicole. We had lunch in the airport. Food in London is expensive. Everything in London is expensive.

Our flight doesn’t leave until 9 PM London time. Right now it is a little past 6 PM. We are so bored.