See Ya Soon, America

So a couple of days ago, I was looking through some brochures for things that we could do yesterday and I came across a zip lining brochure. We were told it was really fun, but that we needed to rent a car to get there, and after checking the prices and realizing how cheap it was, we decided we had to do it! Yesterday morning we woke up at 6 am sharp (yes, it was our free day. yes, we’re crazy.) to get ready and be at the car rental place at 7. We got an über over to Avis car rental and upon arrival were told we would have to wait 3 hours for a car. We walked around the street a little bit, found some wifi, and got an über to Avis car rental at the airport. After filling out some paper work, we were on the way to go zip lining in a Hyundai i20. After a 45 minute drive (on the left side of the road), we arrived at the right place and go geared up for zip lining. It was a 30 minute 4×4 ride through the mountains before we got to the top. The place we went to was Africa’s #1 Zip Line Tour and it was nothing short of amazing. With 13 platforms, 11 lines, and a suspension bridge, we were zip lining for two and a half hours and then had lunch before driving back to Cape Town. It was raining when we got back, so we didn’t do much other than drive to the beach to get sand (we got soaked. you’re welcome Harpal.), return the car, and then of course get in trouble for renting a car (whoops).

With wine being a major industry in South Africa, we obviously couldn’t leave the country without going on a wine tour and supporting it. Philip, our bus driver, recommended three different places, and they were all really good. It was a nice experience and it was interesting to see how all three were so different. That took up a majority of our day due to the fact that it was about an hour away, and once we got back all I wanted was a nap and to pack.

That being said, this moment is really bittersweet. I’m ready to be home, but I’m not ready to leave. The people I’ve met have made such a huge impact on my life and have really helped me to see a new part of me I haven’t seen before. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to come to a beautiful country with such great company. Our flight leaves out at 9 pm tomorrow (3pm your time) and prayers would be appreciated. Thanks for keeping up with me on my trip, I appreciate it a lot.

Until I’m back in the Land of Sweet Tea,

God bless.

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a couple of pictures from our adventure yesterday!

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Penguins Make My Heart Happy

Today was so much fun and I loved it so so so much. We took about a two and a half hour drive down to the Cape of Good Hope today. It was so beautiful, but it was also super windy and there were times when I legitimately thought I was gonna be blown away by the wind. Afterwards, we went  to a restaurant that was really delicious and walked over to Boulder’s, which is a place to go see penguins. I took so many pictures and videos of the penguins and it really just makes my heart so happy to go through them (I think I’ve watched one video 30 times in the past hour). While we were there, I actually got to pet a penguin, even though we weren’t supposed to. They’re so fluffy and cute even though they try to bite you, but good news it doesn’t hurt too bad. I even offered up a pinky to one so that Jane could pet one (see picture below). The rest of the day just included a bus ride back to the hostel, supper, and then exchanging of pictures from everyone, so nothing too exciting. Tomorrow is our academic day to finish up some class work while we’re here (gross, I know) and the last few days after that are mostly free days, so I probably won’t be on here much before I post my final wrap up of the trip.

See ya soon, America.

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too much wind, too much hair

Cape of Good Hope!

Cape of Good Hope!

If you zoom, you can witness me offering my pinky

If you zoom, you can witness me offering my pinky.

There’s No Such Thing as Goodbye.

Today was our last fay of social scoping and our work here in South Africa is done! While social scoping was so so emotionally draining, it really is a bittersweet thing. It had its ups and downs, but because of our work here I got to meet some truly amazing people that I won’t ever forget! After we finished our work today we got to have a final lunch with the local youth where we all just talked about the memories, our plans for the future, and of course found each other on Facebook. The rest of our day was a free day so a few of us went next door to the store and bought some soup to heat up in the kitchen of the hostel. With us all having colds, the soup was amazing. Afterwards, Jane and I headed up to the room and watched a movie before getting ready for bed. (I’m actually typing this from bed and will be going to sleep as soon as I post.) Y’all, the wind here is crazy. We’re talking 29 mph winds blowing from the southeast, according to my weather app, and our windows are rattling so badly right now. And sand. Lots of sand. If I walk outside and it’s windy I automatically cover my eyes because I’ve gotten so much sand in my eyes today. Other than that, today was great. It’s 9:45 here and I’m going to bed now.

 Much love, Brooke.

  Our last meeting with most of the youth that we’ve been working with! (Sorry for the bad quality)

Hip Hip, Hooray for Free Days!

Today was so much fun but I am sooooo tired! We actually got to sleep in until whenever today so Jane and I woke up at 9. At 10, we went to brunch at a really good cafe. We took an über there and the driver couldn’t find the place to drop us off at first. We were in a part of Cape Town we hadn’t been to before so Jane and I were so out of our comfort zone. We found the place after a little bit and it was delicious! After we finished our food, we realized that there was no wifi available to call an über to pick us up and set off on foot to find a place with free wifi. We knew we were about a 30 minute walk from our hostel and would have to walk through bad parts of town to get back, so walking wasn’t really an option. We found free wifi at a coffee joint that was closed, but had a free trial. We used that to call an über, and had two drivers cancel on us, so we were standing on a street corner for a little while before we finally got a ride back to the hostel.

When we got back, one of the guys with us wanted to walk down to he beach so we did that for about an hour and actually found a baby octopus. It was so cool and we probably watched it try and catch fish for 15 minutes. When we were done, we headed back to our hostel and hung out here for a little bit.

Since today is one of our only free days left of the trip, a few of us wanted to go hike a mountain and so we went to Lion’s Head and hiked! Our hike included a very steep hill to start, followed by climbing rocks, ladders, and staples to get to the top. And when I say the top I mean the very very top. It was such a struggle at some points but it was so much fun and so worth it. We watched the sunset and then came back down and headed to an amazing burger joint. That’s what we did with our free day and it was so so worth it.

The octopus we saw!

The octopus we saw!

Jane & I at the top of Lion's Head!

Jane & I at the top of Lion’s Head!

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I Found Healthy, Happy Puppies :)

It’s Saturday, which means we only have 1 week and 1 day left before we’re headed back to the states! Thats kind of a bittersweet thing to say because I love it here, but I also miss everyone back home. Today definitely had its ups and downs. It’s Mandela’s birthday here, so we started off helping set-up for their big celebration. We just decorated the event area and then headed off to get some social scoping done. There were so many cute dogs today (Yes, I pet them. Sorry not sorry.) which was really nice because the majority of the animals we’ve seen here have been malnourished and mistreated. Seeing all the animals be healthy (for the most part) made me really happy. Also, we did social scoping of the nicer houses today, so there weren’t as many negative comments, although some did arise. To see the inside of some peoples homes look nice and taken care of was really refreshing compared to those we surveyed last week.

We ended work around two and got on the bus to head back. As we were waiting on everyone, some kids saw the bus and came to us. One kid proceeded to get on the bus and hug me, and of course I hugged him back. Until he tried to kiss me. We got him off the bus and shut the doors until we had to let our other Mercerians on the bus, and he got back on the bus and had a death grip on me and tried to kiss me again. (Cue the start of me having a panic attack here.) I couldn’t get him off of me and it took Jane and two guys to get him off of me. He literally had both of his arms wrapped tightly around my neck and was not letting go. After they got him off of me and off the bus, we shut the doors and headed back to our hostel and I calmed back down. It was just a combination of the fact that I: 1) don’t like people in my face and 2) hate to push kids away, but sometimes you just have to. Once we changed and got ready, we went to an open market and it was fun to bargain.

Tonight for supper, we went to an african restaurant and it was soooooo good. It was styled to where everyone could try everything on the menu, and then you could order extra of whatever you liked (unlimited). However, by the time I finished trying everything I was stuffed. At the end, the staff came out and did a tribal song/dance and it was so cool. It’s now 10:41 and I’m going to bed.

I have a solid one picture from today– shoutout to Reed for being stubborn and not letting me get pictures.

Until tomorrow, God Bless.

Rain Rain, Go Away…

Today was pretty unproductive and so that was really aggravating because we all want to be as productive as possible and help out a lot while we’re here. Today it has rained ALL day long so we couldn’t do social scoping or help build, but we did help break down everything. Afterwards, we took the scenic route home today which was beautiful but about an hour longer than usual. When we got back to our hostel I took a shower and took about a two hour nap which was fabulous, and then ate left overs to save money. That’s really all we did today so that’s boring but I do have a few pictures! Tomorrow, we’re supposed to do some more social scoping. While it’s a great thing and it is helping the people of Pelican Park, it’s really just draining all of our emotions. Asking people about the quality of their home (which is very poor) and their happiness in life is very sad because they don’t have a lot and there’s really nothing I can do to help them. That being said, we still have three days of social scoping and are going to push through to the finish.

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A beach we passed on the way home!

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So glad to be experiencing SA with my best friends!

I Don’t Understand Afrikaans 

This morning was our third day doing social scoping and probably the worst day so far, for me. The people I talked to today were just so negative and unhappy which was really upsetting. The last lady I interviewed today went off on a rant (which was her yelling at me) for about 10 minutes in Afrikaans, and then repeated the same rant in English when she realized I couldn’t understand her so that was fun. While it sounds terrible it actually kind of cracked me up and it was really hard not to laugh during it. I worked with the same girl as last time today and got to know her a little better! She told me she wanted me to come visit her in January for her birthday and then again next July, which made me really happy to know that she liked me that much, but really sad because I know I won’t be able to. It’s just so great to be able to get to know the youth here and watch friendships grow. When we were about to leave pelican park today, a group of kids surrounded our bus and they were SO adorable and one of the leaders gave us candy to give them (apologies to their parents). Afterwards we had a debriefing meeting which was really great and really made me realize how blessed I am. Afterwards we went to a great Italian restaraunt and now I’m getting to bed early because we have to get up at 6 am again. I’ll add some pics tomorrow, but until then, goodbye!

   
 A few of the youth from Pelican Park!

Dugha, Dugha, Dugha

Today we got to actually work construction, and anyone who knows me knows that I loved every bit of it. We got to Pelican Park early this morning and sat through a briefing meeting to go through safety measures and instructions. Most of the instructions given were painfully obvious, but since we’re volunteers we had to for safety. We got the the row of 5 houses we were assigned to and began. Our working consisted of mixing dugha (essentially concrete), filling walls with dirt (for fire safety and stability), and forming brick lines to transport bricks long distances most efficiently. My favorite part of today was definitely working in the brick lines. It was so much fun, while being productive, and also providing a workout at the same time. Am I going to be sore tomorrow? Yes. Anyways, getting to work with all of the students from Mercer was so much fun because you could really see different peoples personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, which allows you to learn a lot about people very fast. After we were done with the dirty work, we helped clean up and then came back to the hostel to shower and getty ready for supper (and nap of course). I was abruptly woken up by Emily today 8 minutes before we were supposed to load the bus and was so confused as to why my alarm didn’t go off. Turns out if you set an alarm for 6 am it will not go off in the morning, not afternoon. I think my lack of sleep is getting to me. I ended up getting to the bus right at 6:25 and being the first person there (thanks Em, you’re a lifesaver). The place we went for supper was so nice and had quite an amazing view. (I’ve posted a picture below, however it does not capture the beauty of the mountains in the background.) The food was really great and I had a great, educational conversation about Pelican Park and Habitat for Humanity with the people I was sitting with so that was interesting. I’m now sitting in bed at 9:00 getting ready for bed like the little old lady I am, because I know 6 am will come early.

All the pictures from today are on someone else’s camera, so I do not have access to them, but hopefully I will be able to get them soon. Until then, enjoy a picture of the sunrise going to work this morning.

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Story of Today: We’ve had a few people get sick this week. Our bus driver, Philip, who is amazing, found out and said I never get sick. We responded with “Philip, everyone gets sick.” And he said “no, I don’t get sick because my doctor is the biggest best doctor.” When we asked him who his doctor is, he spelled out “G-O-D” and was so proud to say that which made me really happy and made my appreciation for Philip even higher than it already was.

“So you like white girls now?”

Today was day two of social scoping in the Pelican Park neighborhood! We switched partners and met new youth and it was really nice. Today I worked with a girl named Shafika, who is really sweet and funny and helped me stay positive when I needed it most. We got along very well and I’m so glad I got to get to know her today and can’t wait to work with her more this week. We did the same questionnaire as yesterday, which was pretty invasive and roughly 30 minutes long. Talking to more people living in the neighborhood was fun and I got to play with some kids today which made me really happy! One of the houses I went to had 8 kids who all wanted to be in the room and listen to me talk. When I was getting ready to go, one of the little boy didn’t want me to leave and his mom asked him if he “liked white girls now” so that was really funny! I also had some troubles today with people understanding my accent and asking me where I was from, but that was expected. Tomorrow we are going to be helping build houses and mixing a lot of cement. I’m really excited to be doing that tomorrow, but I know it will probably make me very tired.Tonight for supper we had a brie (however you spell it?) which is equivalent to our cookout. We had steak and sausage and grilled cheese sandwiches and it was great (but obviously doesn’t compare to daddies grilling. lol). Here’s a picture of the brie while it was happening and it was so warm.  

 

6 am Wake Up Calls Are Hard

     5:45 came early this morning but we allowed for one snooze and went back to bed until 6. 15 extra minutes of sleep works wonders, let me tell ya. Today started Mandela week so that’s super exciting and fun! It was great to see all the volunteers help with building houses today, and the amount of progress made was astonishing!  Today Mercer’s job was to do a little bit of social scoping around Pelican Park in order to understand what is working and what needs to be improved in the neighborhood. Y’all that was one of the most eye opening experiences ever. I got around to about 6 houses today, each house taking roughly 45 minutes to survey and to allow for conversation to form. To see people of different religions and different backgrounds struggling in the same way, to relate some of those struggles back to home, to realize just how lucky I am to have the home I have in a safe and quiet neighborhood. Eye opening. Obviously some people were more cooperative than others, but overall it was really successful and everyone was so nice and accepting of us.

     My second house I went to really got me. I talked to a little old lady who got malaria at the age of 19 and was affected so badly that she never had the opportunity to go to college or get a real job of her own. She went through life living with her family (she was a sibling to 13 others) in a very small, crowded home. She waited around 25 years on a list before she got moved into Pelican Park and is very very religious.  Part of the survey asked about issues in the home and she had no negative responses. She would just repeatedly say, “I have no complaints. I prayed. God provided. And for that I’m thankful.” and you could hear the truth in her voice. Comparing her place of living to mine, and realizing that what I have is much better than what she did really caught me. I have complained so many times about my house, but she didn’t complain a single time. To see someone be so appreciative for what they have was so amazing and I think God brought me to her for the purpose of showing me that.

    Today was a full work day, so we were on site from 7:45-4:30 and it was really great to finally put a whole day towards serving others. I really can not wait to continue doing some social scoping. We’re supposed to get through 300 houses and only got to about 60 houses today, but hopefully after evaluating what went good or bad today, we can rework things and get through more houses the rest of this week.

     We played the high-low game again today and I’m going to share with you my highs and low for the day just to give you a little insight on what emotions are going around. My high for the day was working with the youth from Pelican Park and just getting to hang out with them and see their culture and get to know them better. Another high was talking to the little old lady who was just so thankful, because that was a great start to my day. My low was seeing all of the animals that are so malnourished and abandoned here. I don’t understand how someone can get an animal and not take care of it and let it starve. I also saw a lady kick her dog pretty hard today. I am probably the biggest dog lover you’ll ever meet so that was extra hard to witness knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

     Overall today was amazing and super busy. I actually didn’t take any pictures today, so sorry for a boring post but maybe I’ll have some for you tomorrow! I’m going to head to bed and get some rest so that I can hopefully wake up energized in the morning!