During my time in the Eastern Cape and the village of Tshabo, life was simple, humble and incredibly enriching. The house I lived in was a one single room home where you can visibly see the living area, the bed, and the kitchen right when you walk in. The toilet is outside from the house right across the yard and the water faucet is also outside. In some cases, some homes had a separate house just for beds for when guests came over. I however still stayed in the main house with my roommate from my program while the family went into the “guest house” to sleep at night.
Our time in Tshabo was an excursion and while there were no classes, I still learned a great deal. There were two cultural days to which we celebrated the heritage of the isiXhosa people with the village and the local high school. Our other cultural day was about teaching our SIT program about the specifics of food and more culture in the isiXhosa household. The one-day of so-called “academics” that we did have was the day we went to the Steve Biko center to learn more about the Black Consciousness Movement and the ideology of Steve Biko. The center provides a lot of opportunities for education about the history of apartheid and the ideology. I appreciated that it was not only confined to learning about the past but also focused about moving forward through open dialogue about race.
As time went on in the village, I was starting to get used to the simplicity and the habits of the home. The eight days went by way too fast. I had developed deep relationships with the children in my home and I was terribly heart broken to leave them. They found much joy in the simple things and woke up with a smile every day. I will never forget them.
When we left Tshabo, we headed to a hostel called the Bucaneeers Backpackers Lodge that was located in Chintsa right on the beach. Though it was too cold to swim, the beach was beautiful to walk around. We also had the opportunity to do a Game Drive, which in South African terms is a safari. I assume it is called a game because it is a gamble as to whether or not you will see anything. The most amazing part of the game drive was actual going into the lion reserve where we saw both brown and white lions. While it took a while to find them, when we did, it was very exciting.
The next day, I went with a smaller group to do a cheetah and lion interaction. While the Cheetahs were practically napping when we went to go interact them, it was still a very cool interaction. They are not as soft as I thought they would be. And also a lot lazier than I thought they actually were.
My favorite interaction, however, was the elephant one. Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite animals are the elephant, the panda, and the peacock – in that order. The opportunity to see the African elephant is a memory I will never forget in my life. As most people know, the elephant is said to be the wisest animal in the world. They are also one of the only few animals that can recognize themselves in a mirror and have a deep family connection with one another. I was so excited to interact with the elephant that I was at one point flustered with my camera and the food I was given to feed. I was set off guard by one of the workers who offered to take my camera that I fed the elephant from the wrong side, so I was given a handful of pellets to feed it again. Yes, I fed it twice. (!!!!) And then it patted me on the back and arm and left twigs on my sweater! The trunk, was something that absolutely fascinated me, how it acted as a hand and so much more. I didn’t even want to leave the elephant when it was time; I am most definitely taking every chance I have to interact with more elephants in the future.
We departed the Eastern Cape this past Sunday and made it back to Cape Town. Currently, I am living in Stellenbosch aka wine country on a golf course with a lovely family. I almost at my halfway mark of being done with my studies here in South Africa and there have been times where I do miss home terribly, mainly because I want my mother’s spicy papaya salad with some Lao marinated chicken wings and brisket. A lot of times I am missing my friends back at school terribly, and all of the shenanigans we get into. But I know that there is no better place for me learn and live life right now. I truly love my time here, but I do miss all of you. Thanks for reading and being supportive.