January 18, 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

By Christina Overbeck

Hello all you blog readers!

Today is a travel day for us.  We are traveling to Kgautswane, a rural village about five hours from Jo-burg.  A couple of us woke up at six to start our day with a run.  It was our last run in “the mile high city”- and yes we could feel the altitude.  Our guesthouse is near an elementary school.  I enjoyed watching all the cute little boys and girls walking to school in their uniforms as I ran.  We then ate breakfast at the guesthouse, finished packing, and packed sack lunches. 

Then a group of us went to the mall to Pick n’ Pay (Africa’s Meijer) to get some granola bars and snacks for our time in Kgautswane.  Some people were a bit afraid that we might be fed chicken feet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so we thought we better take some snacks.  We had a little drama at the mall.  We agreed to meet back in front of the Crazy Store.  We waited and waited and Natalie did not come.  We started to split up and search the mall.  A while later Natalie was found.  It ended up that her transaction at the bank just took a long time.  We were happy that she was not stolen.  We would have missed her. 

We headed back to the Emerald Guest House where the rest of the group was enjoying a heated game of Catch Phrase.  We then piled into the vans and waved goodbye to Grandma and Catherine.  They are staying behind because Catherine is too young for the Malaria meds.  We had driven about 5k (note the use of metric?) when Matt realized that he forgot his notebook so we went back to get it.  We then started driving again and a light on the dashboard went on in Tracy’s van.  We pulled over to figure out what it was.  It ended up that the emergency break was down.  So..we weren’t off to the best start—but hey we are on African time! 

The scenery was very pretty.  It was a lot of green rolling hills.  I have been surprised at how green Africa is.  I had pictured more of a desert.  Most people fell asleep in the vans.  When we got close to Kgautswane the roads were covered with potholes and big rocks.  The roads were narrow and windy.  A lot of people were sitting outside their homes and would wave at us as we drove.  At one point we had to stop because the road was blocked by a heard of cows. 

When we arrived at Kgautswane about thirty people that worked at the center greeted us.  We sat down and were given fried balls of bread and tea.  Everyone started going around and asking us “How are you?”  “What is your name?” and shaking our hands.  Then Mama Clara spoke to us.  She is in charge of the community center.  She is a very strong woman in a male dominated society.  Some mentally retarded men recited bible verses to us.  A 97-year-old man gave a speech.  Then they explained to us that they have this idea of making a cultural stay over to attract tourists.  They said they want to have groups out there and teach them cultural dance, feed them cultural food, and give them cultural outfits to put on well they stay at the community center.  They also explained their hopes of starting on old person home and a center for orphans.  Then all of the women sang to us.  They had very powerful voices.  They then asked us to sing for them.  Matt and Tracy had warned us that this was going to happen so we had prepared a few songs.  We sang Amazing Grace (modern version) and Father I adore you (round).  It actually was fun and we didn’t sound that bad. 

We were then lead to our rondavels.  They were really nice!  I guess two years ago the students slept on the floor of a tent.  We didn’t have electricity in the huts and the toilet would only flush if you poured water into the top of them.  It was much nicer than any of us were expecting, though.  After settling in and chatting for a while it was time for dinner.  At dinner they brought around a bowl of hot water to wash our hands.  For dinner there was fried chicken, rice, mashed potatoes, kale, squash, and beets.  I have decided that fried chicken and rice are the staples of a South Africans diet.  The rice here is not like Asian rice because it doesn’t stick together at all.  During dinner there was dancing and singing by people in the community.  After dinner we went to our huts and did some journaling by candlelight and then went to bed. 

That is all for today.  We defiantly had some good experiences to remember.  Well, we are getting close to the end of our trip so we will be about to talk or see you guys soon.  I hope you are all doing well. 

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