Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wheelchair Race

Another outing with St. Joseph's! 3 lucky boys got to participate in a wheelchair race at an old, car racing track. There were about 100 people, most of whom were adults. Our little guys were lucky enough to be pushed from behind by their allstar volunteers, Sean, Lauren and Sarah! But our competition was pretty serious. We were up againt long legged young African men who seemed to have practiced their speed walking skills prior to the race. Sean won Minqueno a third place prize, which was a brand new cordless hot water heater!! Mind you, Minqueno is four years old. And sadly, Lauren and I crossed the finish line for a tie in last place. The guys were good sports though, and kept laughing the whole time.

Garden Route Easter Weekend

Last weekend 7 of my friends and I ventured out on a road trip along the Garden Route. We traveled east along the coast of the Indian Ocean and made stops at 3 bays for the four nights. Our first adventure was at Cango Caves, where the first cavemen lived on earth. We initially thought we were just going for a casual sightseeing walk and would be learning about rock formations and stalagmites/tites, all that wonderful stuff. Little did we know we'd be crawling through tunnels only inches larger than our bodies' circumfrence, using our stomach muscles to squirm along like worms. Luckily no one was claustrophobic.

On the road we ran into some ostrich farms and camels (which are not native to South Africa, but were imported for the sake of toursits going on camel rides).

That night we stayed in Knysna Bay. We had a wonderful feast of fresh seafood down on the waterfront and then went out to dance with the locals.

My favorite part of the trip was bungy jumping off the highest jump spot in the world!!!! It was absolutely terrifying. So much so that I tried to reach back and hold onto the guy as he pushed me off the edge. EEk! The freefall was a feeling that I can't describe; I literally came up speechless with a huge smile plastered on my face for a good 10 minutes. Incredible!

We bunked up in Plettenberg Bay for the following 2 nights. We relaxed a bit more, spending lots of time at the beach. We also went on a zip-line adventure, flying from tree to tree over a river and waterfalls. Now that we are all adrenaline junkies, we're trying to get a thrill any way we can. Unfortunately, nothing compares to jumping off tall bridges. I guess all that's left is base jumping, but that's just crazy.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Meet Damon. He's an 8 year old Capetonian battling HIV and cancer. He was sent home about a week ago because there is no further treatment for him at St. Joseph's. The doctors would rather he be in the comfort of his own home with his family, and his friends at school. So today I went with a social worker and 3 other volunteers to visit him in the township that he lives in called Philippi. Damon's family kept our visit a surprise, so his eyes filled with tears when we showed up at his school to pick him up, which in turn triggered the waterworks on us as well! He led us to his house through narrow dirt roads that were lined with shacks made of rotting wood and tin roofs. People stared, some smiled. Avoiding the wandering dogs, cats, pigeons, and goats, we pulled up to his family's home at the end of the road. Once we arrived, Damon proudly brought us into his home to show us his room and all his toy animals. We sat in the few lawn chairs they had in the 'living' room to give him a pair of ballet shoes that we brought as a gift. Damon was the most talented little ballet dancer at St. Joseph's, always showing off with plies and pirouettes. Very cute. So you can imagine how excited he was about his very own pair of slippers! We asked him to put on a little show for us, but quickly sat back down out of embarassment. We stayed to chat with his family for a bit, trying to avoid the inevitable, but eventually we all had to struggle to hold back our tears as we said goodbye to our good friend Damon.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Rest of February

Hello! A lot has gone on since my last entry so I'll just try to highlight the good stuff.
A few weeks ago we drove to Hout Bay and took a ferry to see seals on what they call 'Seal Island'. Its basically a large rock with about 1,500 seals sunbathing and playing by the water. There were beautiful rock formations surrounding the bay making the boat ride enjoyable despite the sickening waves!

The following weekend a group of friends and I drove to a game reserve called Aquila to go on a horse back riding safari. It was an incredible day starting with a full buffet breakfast with all sorts of different African dishes. The safari left after breakfast, and for 2 hours we roamed the grounds and saw hippos, water buffalo, elephants, springbok, rhinos, zebras, and giraffes. The closest we got was about 50 feet to the springbok, water buffalo, and zebras. But we steared clear of the rhinos and hippos...not the safest creatures to get close and personal with!! After the ride, there was another feast prepared for us (this country really likes to eat, my kind of place). In the afternoon we took advantage of the pool for a dip before heading home back to city life.

Last weekend I got the chance to go on an outing with some of the kids from St. Josephs. They don't get the opportunity to leave very often, maybe once a month, so it was a pretty big deal when they arrived at the aquarium in Cape Town! They were fascinated by the tanks of fish, sharks, lobsters etc. All day they wouldn't stop talking about going on a boat, so we treated them to a ride around the Victoria and Alfred Waerfront on the oldest boat in the harbor. The wind was so bad though, that we couldn't make the full trip or else we never would have made it home alive. It was the first time the kids had ever been on a boat before...and they loved it. They didn't stop asking questions. At the end of the day we bought them ice cream and watched most of it melt down the side of the cone because none of them knew how to eat it.

The following day four us took a road trip to the southernmost tip of Africa, called Cape Agulhas. We stayed in a very cute hostel-style place called Backpackers. In the evening we went horseback riding barefoot along the beach before sunset. The horses were a little less tame this time, and actually let us trot along the water. It created quite a laugh because none of us knew what we were doing.

Last but certainly not least, this past Saturday we rented a mini bus and drove out to a remote beach for a 10 course fish braai (bbq) on the rocks. For 5 hours we ate seafood, drank wine, and swam in the ocean. Some of the courses were muscles, lobster, & fish with an endless amount of homeade bread and jams. It was a real treat.

Here's just a couple more pictures of the kids.