Riding a motorbike taxi in Tanzania

Have I mentioned how much I love couchsurfing.org? Through this website I found Simon, a really amazing guy who runs a school near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and hosts tons of couchsurfers. I have to admit, though, I had a moment of doubt…

I thought Simon lived in Dar es Salaam. Turns out, he lives about 45 minutes outside. It’s a great little village, but I got a little nervous on the journey there. I met Simon at a bus station in Dar, and we got on a bus, which took us outside the city for about 30 minutes. Then we got on a smaller bus for another 15 minutes. Then we got on a motorcycle. By this point I felt like “Where is this guy taking me???” I reminded myself that Simon had over 100 recommendations of couchsurfing, but it didn’t ease my nerves very much. Then we arrived at the house. He actually has a special house next to his house for couchsurfers. Another couchsurfer was already there. It was set up almost like a hostel, complete with logbook for people to sign and write notes. It was a pretty sweet set up, and I immediately took a shower to rinse the adrenaline out of my system.

Simon has this sweet setup because a lot of couchsurfers volunteer at his school. Students go to his school for one year between primary and secondary school in order to learn English. The problem is the primary school is taught in Swahili, but secondary school is taught in English. Simon’s school provides kids with a way to learn English. I taught for a few days while I was there. I also visited Simon’s neighbors, had dinner with his priest, went to see a group of woodcarvers he works with, and just hung out with  the people in his village. Simon is an extremely popular guy.

Check out this video of us riding around town on a motorcycle taxi, https://youtu.be/U2PHNvD3HlY

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Zambia to Malawi

While I was in Zambia I had the chance to sort of re-live parts of my Peace Corps service. From Livingstone, I traveled up to Lusaka with Richard, the owner of Fawlty Towers lodge. It was such a treat to have good conversation and a free ride (I also got to play with his adorable daughter, Maya). In Lusaka I spent the night at Chachacha backpackers (nice, but a very small, poorly equipped kitchen), then left early in the morning by bus heading east towards Chipata. Marshall, a friend from Peace Corps Madagascar, met me along the road to take me to his village. It was great to be back out in the countryside again. Villagers are always so happy to see someone new.

The next day we hitched a ride to Laila’s site, another ex-Madagascar volunteer. That’s where I really got to kick it Peace Corps-style for a few days, cooking outside on a little charcoal stove and taking bucket showers. We also rode bikes around to the surrounding villages, and went shopping for chitenges (sarongs) at the nearby market.

We went into Chipata, where I stayed at the Peace Corps house and met lots of the PC Zambia people. Early Sunday morning we began the trek to Nkhata Bay, Malawi. We took a taxi to the border, and then another to a nearby town. After a bit of haggling, and the usual confusion, we found a mini-bus to Lilongwe. A friendly Malawian on the mini-bus showed us to the good buses going to Nkhata Bay, and we left Lilongwe by 10am (which was Marshall’s goal for the day).

We arrived in Nkhata Bay at around 4:30pm to absolutely ridiculous heat. At first we started walking to Myoka Village Lodge, and ignored the taxi drivers offering a free ride (this is usually a scam). Thankfully, a British couple informed us that they were legit, because the uphill walk with our backpacks was brutal. It was dark by the time we made it to Myoka, so the owner, Gary, offered us a free room rather than set up our tents (you may be noticing how many amazing, generous people I encounter on my travels- isn’t it awesome?). Gary also informed us that this is “suicide month” in Malawi because it is so oppressively hot and humid. I have to admit, the heat is really bad, but swimming in the lake is amazing. I seem to be discovering all the wrong times to visit places. Myoka Village would be beautiful at any time of the year. They have free boat trips, and occasionally live music in the evenings. I really enjoy the vibe there.

Right here, right now, there is no other place I’d rather be…

Ok, that is definitely not true, but I like the thought that I’m watching the world wake up from history. I am in the world’s worst hotel room. It is located in Karonga, Malawi, 45km from the Tanzania border. The name of the hotel is Zgambota Lodge, and according to the Lonely Planet guide, it has “clean and basic rooms with nets.” The door doesn’t close, it smells like piss, and I can hear the rats in the ceiling over Jesus Jones.
A day of highs and lows…
Coincidentally, this day began with a hike through the mountains. Two days ago at Myoka I met Harriet, another traveler going north to Mbeya, Tanzania to catch the train to Dar es Salaam. Harriet and I decided to stop at the Mushroom Farm, a lodge between Chitembe and Livingstonia. We knew it was 10km off the main road, but someone had told us that you can call from Chitembe, and they will pick you up. When we arrived in Chitembe, however, there was no cell reception, and the walk was 10km up a very steep hill (also, we found out later that the charge for pick-up is $45). The only thing we could do was sit and wait for someone to pass by on their way up the hill. Fortunately a sand truck came by, and we were able to sit in the back. It was a rather harrowing ride up this narrow, bumpy road.

riding-in-the-back-of-the-sand-truck_4200095467_o.jpg

The Mushroom Farm is set in a beautiful pine forest overlooking the valley and Lake Malawi. If you are in a car, and don’t mind spending a bit extra for food and lodging (dinner was 1000 MK, rooms were 4000 MK) then I would say go for it. It’s definitely not for budget backpackers, though. Harriet and I rented a tent, and camped on an overlook, which was amazing. We woke up in time to watch a cool thunderstorm come in from the lake.

morning-storm-over-lake-malawi_4200849624_o

We hiked up to Livingstonia, and some nice waterfalls. After the hike we grabbed our packs and went to the road to catch a lift down the mountain. No trucks ever came by, though, and we ended up walking almost the entire 10km with our backpacks. It sucked, big time.
Just before we reached the bottom a car finally came by. Not willing to walk one step further if I didn’t have to, I flagged them down. This lovely young couple from Lilongwe gave us a free ride all the way to our next destination, Karonga. Just like that we went from being drenched in sweat with aching feet, to sitting in a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle.
When we arrived in Karonga we were dropped off at the Safari Lodge, which according to Lonely Planet costs $8 for a double room. In actuality, it costs 3000 MK (about $20), so we asked for the location of a cheaper place and started walking. That is how we ended up at Zgambota. Despite its many problems, at 800 MK the price is right.
At this point we were both craving a cold drink as though our lives depended on it. The girl at the first restaurant we went to said that there were no cold drinks anywhere. The next restaurant was completely shut down. Two more shops, and two more “No’s” later I wondered aloud, “Are we in hell?” Did I mention how hot it was? Finally we found a nice little restaurant with cold drinks and delicious food. Having only eaten 2 mangos and a banana that morning, I had completely forgotten my hunger. After I chugged a Fanta, I was ready to eat. I ate a healthy portion of nsima (sheema- imagine a big, solid lump of grits) and 2 pieces of chicken (normally nsima shacks only give you 1 piece of chicken, so I must have looked really hungry).
Now I’m sitting in my piss room, so thankful for the pack of nag champa incense I always carry with me, and stretching my legs in an attempt to decrease the hurt that will come in the morning. I can only hope that rats don’t fall on me in the night, that mosquitoes don’t devour me, and that Tanzania has good things in store.

Street Sense

“500 kwacha each.”

I caught the hint of mischief in her eyes. Plus, a few days ago I purchased the same thing from a much older woman for only 250 kwacha.

“Really?” I asked. “Are you sure they aren’t 250 each?”

“Ok, 250 each.” She smiled.

I could only chuckle to myself as I walked away munching on my slice of fried sweet potato. This is Africa, as they say. 10 cents for a slice of sweet potato isn’t that much more than 5 cents, but I’m getting into the bargaining game. Plus I’m a traveler on a budget, especially until I get my replacement bankcard.
The electricity had been out all day, so I wasn’t able to cook the pasta I had been planning to eat for lunch. I held out as long as I could, but by 4pm the electricity stilled hadn’t returned and I was hungry. Not that I mind too much, I actually love an excuse to eat fried sweet potato from the street market. You pick out the slices you want and they are wrapped in a piece newspaper for you to take home. In this instance, the 2 slices I bought were gone before I reached the gate of the backpackers, by which time the electricity had of course returned.

Zambia produces its own electricity from a hydroelectric dam on the Zambezi river, but most of it is sold to South Africa. Almost every day I’ve been here has seen the electricity go out for at least a few hours, most often in the evenings. I haven’t actually been to the falls yet, but I’ve been told that it is dry during the day because the dam is closed. Apparently, you need to go very early in the morning or in the evening to see a big flow over the falls. I don’t think this is the case on the Zimbabwe side, but I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to compare.

In the meantime, I’ve found a way to help and do something useful while in Livingstone! Thanks to Marshall, one of my Peace Corps friends who was relocated to Zambia, I found out about an Italian NGO running an orphanage and training center just on the other side of town. They have a restaurant named Olga’s, which serves to raise money for the center, and is just down the road from the backpackers. I visited the restaurant on Saturday and spoke with Giovanni and Sister Josephine about volunteering. So tomorrow I will be going to see what I can help with. There is the possibility that my sewing skills may come in handy, or I may just play with the small children. Either way should be a lot of fun!

Cape to Cairo officially begins

Day 1

On September 5th I left Cape Town with fellow traveler, Nick. Our first destination was Namaqualand National Park in the Northern Cape. We were hoping to see the blooming of the wildflowers, which is supposed to be an incredible site. Arriving on time to see this is an exact science, and we missed the main bloom, but there were still tons of beautiful flowers to be seen.
Namqualand wildflowers2
From there we traveled up to Ai-Ais National Park in Namibia. I was a little worried about having trouble crossing the border, since my South African travel visa had been expired for almost 3 months. I was fined R1500 (about $190), but luckily I was told that I could pay when I re-enter the country. Score! Ai-Ais is popular because of a hot spring there, so you know I was stoked to check it out. It turns out the hot water from the spring is diverted into a pool. Rather then relax in steamy hot water, you swim in a luke-warm pool. The air temperature was pretty cold, so I wasn’t into it.

The next day we headed north to Fish River Canyon, but were sidetracked to the Canon Lodge in Gondwanaland when Nick noticed some buildings blending into the mountainside. We decided to check them out and found a cool resort and sustainable farm. All of their food is grown and made on the farm. After several delicious meals we were finally ready to head on to Fish River Canyon. This beautiful area is very much like the Grand Canyon, so I felt right at home.
Fish River Canyon
A couple of Swiss travelers we camped next to suggested visiting the Giant’s Playground and Quiver tree forest near Keetmanshoop. I had already fallen in love with the quiver trees on the drive there. The Giant’s Playground is a boulder field, with huge rocks stacked on each other, as though they were a child’s building blocks. Keetmanshoop is a small town with not much going on, but the Quiver tree campground was a nice place to stay, and they have daily cheetah feedings that you can view up close, and even pet the cheetah.
Giant's playground2
After leaving Keetmanshoop we had a long drive to make it to our next destination of Sesriem, from which you enter Soussusvlei, the most beautiful dunes in the world. We had the good fortune of stopping to camp at the Lovedale farm. A very interesting man named Jacobus gave us a tour of the enormous farm, and told us everything we could ever want to know about farming sheep. That night we feasted on bbq mutton.

Soussusvlei was beautiful and frustrating at the same time. The “town” of Sesriem, is really just a campsite and a reception desk from which to purchase entry into Soussusvlei. There is a gated entrance into the campsite, and then an internal gate on the road to Soussusvlei. From Sesriem it is a 65km drive to the dunes. The entrance fee to Soussusvlei is fairly reasonable at R80 per person, plus R10 per car. The campsite, however, is a huge rip-off at R300 per car plus R150 per person. The catch is, if you want to enter the park in time to see the sunrise, and stay long enough to see the sunset you are forced to stay in the campsite because they control the gates. I would have had no problem with this except the receptionist was on a bit of a power trip, the showers barely worked, and the ‘toilets’ at the dunes were…well, I’ll just say they could be better. Also, if your car gets stuck in the sand, you’re on your own. There are no park rangers or telephones, and no cell-phone reception. There are no other campsites in the area, but Nick and I camped on the side of the road just outside the gate for free. Other than that, the dunes were amazing. I think the pictures speak for themselves.
Dune1
Deadvlei2
Dunes
From there we went northwest to the coast, and a little town called Swakopmund. There are more cool dunes in here, and some of them even sparkle! The first 2 nights we stayed at the Seagulls Cry campsite, but had some items stolen while visiting with other campers. Turns out leaving the car doors wide open in a dark campsite and walking away is a bad idea, go figure. It was an unfortunate, but valuable learning lesson about choosing travel partners. Consequently, I am on my own again. For the next couple of days I stayed with a really cool girl named Eva and her cousin Elias. Now I’m staying with Tashia and Dalene in Windhoek. I’m telling you, there are such awesome people on Couchsurfing. I feel like I’m making best friends all over the world, and I love it!

Check out my awesome new friends https://youtu.be/iY3zxS-M0Q4
Today I head to Livingstone and Victoria Falls. Believe it or not, I am excited to be back on the bus. When planning trips, most people instantly start looking for flights to their destination and rental cars to get around. They don’t even consider taking the bus or a train. People are totally missing out! I love using public transportation, and here are a few reasons why:

1. See the countryside
Sure, it’s a 10-hour bus ride instead of a 2-hour flight, but think of all the beautiful landscapes, funny farm animals, and unusual attractions you’ll see. There are great photographic opportunities, especially when you arrive or leave a city at sunset (which I will be doing today from Windhoek). Plus, if you factor in the ride to the airport, the time you wait before boarding the plane, and standing around to get your baggage afterwards, the time difference probably isn’t that much.
2. Meet cool people

Turns out, that creepy-looking guy sitting next to you is actually a German diplomat, and has cool travel stories from all over the world. He even flew with Nelson Mandela once. You never know whom you’ll meet, or what crazy stories you’ll hear if you talk to people.
There is also the chance that a local will give you good advice about where to go, and may even help you get there. Once I had a 10-hour layover in Port Elizabeth. A local offered to show me around the city for the day, and we had a great time! (Thanks Farai ☺)

3. Music therapy

No one to talk to? Awesome, this is my chance to finally listen to the new music I picked up in Cape Town. I think Blk Sonshine is my new favorite band. Really, when do you ever get to just sit and listen to music?

4. Cute kids

Kids can be a great source of entertainment, especially when they are doing funny things like stuffing their mouths with marshmallows (I so wish I had taken a picture). If the kid is actually interested in you (and the mother doesn’t seemed disturbed by you), it’s a great opportunity to do kid things, like coloring. Worried about crying kids? Carry some marshmallows with you, just in case.

5. Environmentally friendly

Don’t forget that air travel has a huge impact on the environment. Here is a chance to reduce your carbon footprint. Plus airplanes are pumped full of nasty chemicals, so you will be saving your body too.

6. Saves money
Not only is public transportation cheaper, but also it may allow you to spread your money to more people by stopping for food at local shops. I always take overnight buses, that way I won’t have to spend money on a hostel.

7. Practice your language skills
Even if you only know a few basic phrases, people in other countries will love hearing you speak their language. You will probably learn a lot as well, so be sure to have a notebook with you. This is another time when little kids come in handy. If you’re in Madagascar, know that they will laugh hysterically at you. Don’t worry, it’s a good thing.

Many people avoid public transportation because they are afraid. Certainly there are a few places where taking trains may be dangerous, but more often it just requires being cautious and aware of your surroundings. Remember, what you focus on is attracted to you. So think positively and smile at those around you. For me, this works every time. So go take a bus trip somewhere…go now!

Cape Town update

I cannot believe I’ve been in Cape Town for almost a month. I’ve done so much, but I will try to recap for you. When I first arrived, I stayed at 33 South backpackers, which was recommended by a friend. It is in the Observatory neighborhood, near the UCT campus. It was 8pm when I arrived, and I was hungry. The restaurant I went to around the corner had a poetry reading going on. This was a good sign. I instantly fell in love with Obz and 33 South. A few days later I moved to a couch near the city center. My first official Couchsurfing experience was with Derek, a local photographer, and I had a great time. I met another couchsurfer named Maya, who also happens to be an awesome chic. Although I only stayed at Derek’s for 2 nights, Maya and I ended up hanging out together for the next week until she returned to the States. I bounced back and forth between couches and backpackers for a while. It’s a good thing everything I own fits into a backpack! Then I went to Stellenbosch for a few days. It is a small university town that is well known for its wine. I was fortunate to have arrived at the same time as the Stellenbosch Wine Festival. Instead of having to go around to all the wineries, they all came to me! There was also incredible food and live music. You can’t beat that!

Maya introduced me to another couchsurfer, Nick, who is also planning to travel north through Africa. I wondered if he would be willing to let me tag along, since he was buying a vehicle. It turns out that he was looking for a travel buddy! Not only that, but he is a photographer and was hoping to find someone who could take video. So for the past few weeks we have been making lists, shopping for gear, and brainstorming ideas for videos. Nick has spent most of his time kitting up the Toyota bakkie (pick-up), and I have been perfecting my cooking skills (especially making curry and roti ☺ ).

We have been fortunate to find Mornay, the best couchsurfing host in Cape Town, and possibly the world. She has put up with us for 2 weeks, gives me rides around town, and shares her amazing wine collection with us. She even took me to Cape Point, and forgave me for a little mishap I caused. As we were leaving the national park there was a large group of baboons on the side of the road, including several mothers carrying babies. There were a lot of people parked on the other side of the road taking pictures, and I couldn’t resist joining them. I jumped out of the car and ran around to the back. I immediately snapped a few photos and then glanced back at the car. You know that moment you see something disastrous about to happen and your body freezes, but in your mind you yell “Noooooo!” That is what happened as I saw a giant baboon climb into my open car door. Somehow it hadn’t occurred to me that there might still be some baboons on my side of the road. Mornay jumped out of the car. A man came over and told us to open all the doors. Two minutes later, instead of the baboon climbing out, another one climbed in. Fortunately, this one only stayed for a minute and left. I was freaking out, certain that the animal would destroy Mornay’s vehicle. Twenty minutes later it finally climbed out. Thankfully it did not destroy anything, but it did empty the entire contents of both our purses. It had also chewed on Mornay’s pepper spray container, which could have been a serious disaster had it sprayed itself. But the baboon left, and only the stress hormones coursing through my blood remained.

Life Lesson from Africa: if you leave your car door open, wil... on Twitpic
Nick and I are almost ready to go. The truck is nearly finished and we have all the camping gear we need. The only remaining roadblock is my passport. Seems like every travel blogger has to write about her visa woes, but I want to wait for this problem to be resolved before I even go there. Of course we have goals for when we want to leave (hint: soon), but I have learned not to plan too seriously. We’ll go when we’re ready. That’s all I can really say.

What’s cooking in SA

It’s important to me that I travel responsibly on my journey through Africa. This means supporting local businesses, practicing cultural sensitivity, and using public transportation. I will avoid flying within Africa at all costs in order to reduce the footprint created by my journey (plus public transport is just more fun!). Of course, I still plan on seeing all the amazing things there are to see. There is a website that is helping me do this. It is http://www.responsibletravel.com, and it has information on great vacations all over the world that also benefit local communities. It was through this website that I found Andulela. They have tours in Cape Town, which are guided by locals and involve learning about the different communities. There were so many possibilities for cool tours, but I really wanted to learn how to cook a curry. So I took the Cape Malay cooking class. We actually went to the home of local woman and got hands-on experience making sambosas, curry, rotis, and sambals. We also got a guided tour of the Bo-Kaap museum and neighborhood. The money I spent on the class went right into the neighborhood. I even bought some spices at the local family-owned spice shop for good measure (plus I was hoping this would help my curry skills). I had such a great time, and I hope to get a few more tours in before I leave Cape Town.

And by the way, I can totally make a kick-ass curry now! Check out the video https://youtu.be/zHbxyBTrdSk

Touch the sky

I’ve imagined it a thousand times. My heart starts racing. The wind is blasting in my face. Then I jump, and my stomach flip-flops over and over again. I have dreamt about skydiving for a long time, despite my intense fear of falling. But I’ve been thinking a lot about fear, and it’s irrational nature. I’ve faced some pretty scary things recently- living alone in a developing country, suddenly losing my home and job, having a scarce amount of money, traveling alone through Africa- and whenever I start to stress out I just remind myself that there really is nothing bad happening at this moment. The only frightening situations are the ones created by my mind. I know many people who have skydived, and they all loved it. Raved about it even. That’s why I wanted to try it, after all. So what’s there to be afraid of?

The flight was fabulous, and the day was perfect. One minute I was gazing out at the ocean, and the next at the misty mountains stretching along the northern horizon. South Africa is incredibly beautiful. Once we reached 10,000 feet everything happened so quickly. The door opened and I did feel the wind in my face, but my heart wasn’t pounding as hard as I’d imagined. Then we jumped, and my stomach did not flip-flop. It was exhilarating and peaceful at the same time. It’s not like when you fall near the ground, because there is no fear of hitting something. The ground is so far away you just feel free, totally free. After the chute opens is the strangest sensation. There you are, in the middle of nothing. You look down at your feet, but there is nothing below them. The ground is still a thousand feet away, and you are floating along like a balloon.

Touching the ground was a relief, not because I was afraid, but because I had so many thoughts and emotions to digest. This new experience was unlike any other, and it is unlikely that anything will ever match it. Until, of course, I jump on my own.
Check out the video

Bye bye J-Bay

Although I try to avoid having preconceptions about people and places, one of the things I wondered about when coming to South Africa was racism. I was happy to meet tons of cool, open-minded people. In fact, the celebration of their ‘Rainbow Culture’ is one of the things I love about SA. But just like in the States, many of the not-so cool people live way out in the small corners of the country. Nothing seems to make them surface more than helping the street kids. Since beginning this I have really starting developing a relationship with the kids, and I’ve discovered that eating with them is a great way to bond. Sometimes I make or buy some food and go eat with them. It seems like every time I am doing anything with the kids, someone feels the need to come up to me and spend a half hour telling me about how they’ve tried to help the kids, but they are worthless and don’t want help. Some people say ‘be careful, they’ll steal from you, they’ll rape you’ etc, etc. The other day I was buying burgers and chips from a takeaway place across from my house to eat with them. The woman behind the counter saw me talking to the kids, and proceeded to tell me that they would sell the food I give them to buy glue. She also complained that her car-guard didn’t chase them away. Now, why would you speak that way to a customer when you know that person is buying food (from your business) for those kids? The other thing that amazes me is how many people have ‘tried to help the street kids’. The takeaway woman tried to convince me that there are homes for the kids to sleep and get meals, but when I asked her where, because I’d been looking for these places, she had no answer. These people are always negative about what we’re doing. Meanwhile, the social workers and police officers that actually do work with these kids are extremely positive and supportive of the program.
One of the things that drives me crazy is the attitude that people already know everything about you, and you know nothing about Africa. These people don’t even take 2 minutes to ask you who you are, or what you’ve done. Mostly I think they just want to hear themselves talk. And boy do they love to talk. In fact, while I’m being negative I might as well bring up the issue that most people from this town are completely full of shit. What I mean is they exaggerate stories to a ridiculous extent, they agree to do things they have no intention of doing, and they gossip all the time. The gossiping is a classic small-town symptom, I know, but sheesh! I’m not from here and I don’t know Jane Smith, so what makes you think I care if she went to jail for marijuana possession years ago?
J-Bay is unique as far as small towns go in that it has so much potential. Beautiful beaches and visitors from all around the world bring in a constant flow of fresh energy, which seems to be completely squandered. People even pay to come and volunteer, then leave angry because they are not being utilized. Yet non-profits struggle supposedly due to lack of people and resources. A lot of people need to get out of their ruts and off their butts. They also need to stop being bitter about foreigners coming in and ‘criticizing’ what they are doing. Criticism is a good thing; it should motivate you and help you to grow.
These are some of the reasons why I have decided to leave J-Bay. Don’t get me wrong, I had some great times here. I had fun bartending at the Moroccan Lounge, made good friends, met inspiring travelers from all over the world, got to know the street kids, and even surfed in a world-famous spot. I am ready to continue my travels and see more of Africa. The most difficult decision to make while traveling is the decision to leave. But I can’t ignore the signs that tell me to go, and I know when it feels right. Just call me Mary fuckin’ Poppins. Next stop, Cape Town.
After writing this blog I felt bad about being so negative. Then I realized that I can’t only blog about positive things. The fact is that sometimes you run into jerks, or shitty situations, or sometimes you are just plain unhappy for no good reason. I do apologize for being negative, but I’m just keepin’ it real.

desert-travel quote

JBay

Ok, I should probably write a little about the town that has currently captured my heart, Jeffreys Bay (better known as J-Bay). You know the story of how I ended up here. I am living with my new friend, Fortune in her apartment right across the street from the beach. One block down the road is the Wax Café, the best coffee shop in J-Bay, and where I spend all my online time. I work upstairs from that in the Moroccan Lounge, which is a cool room with lots of cushions, Persian rugs, instruments to play and hookahs to smoke. It’s a really chill place, and I meet lots of interesting travelers. Fortune’s apartment is across the street from a really nice surf spot, so I’ve been getting out there whenever I can. On the other side of town is Supertubes, the site of a Billabong pro competition every July.
The street kids project is progressing at light-speed, and now has a name, the Imveliso Youth Project. Imveliso is a Xhosa word that means a variety of things related to healthy growth and development. I’ll write more about that later. We surf with them on Wednesdays, play soccer on Thursdays, rugby on Mondays, and make a big dinner for them on Fridays. It’s tough to take care of them for a little while then see them back wandering around the streets. It’s also tough to see a lot of them without shoes and jackets, since winter is coming and the nights are cold. I can’t wait until we have a home, and can feed them everyday. Fortune currently pays for everything out of her pocket, but as soon as we get the paper work sorted, there are businesses that want to help us out.
I am in the process of extending my visa so I can stay as long as I want, up to a year. I’m just going with the flow at this point, so I have no idea how long I’ll stay. But, it’s a pretty ‘kiff’ place to hang for a while, and I am having a lot of fun and even learning to speak Xhosa!