Sobonana South Africa

What can I say about these past ten weeks?

In sum–they’ve been AMAZING! But if I break it down, they’ve been exciting, frustrating, tiresome, infuriating, cold, unexpected, sweet, beautiful, warm, breathtaking, gross, passionate, exhausting, and a number of other adjectives that aren’t quite readily coming to mind.

South Africa is easily one of the most physically beautiful countries I’ve been to. It’s also one of the craziest places I’ve been to in terms of politics–especially race and language politics. But I will definitely be going back. Hopefully sooner than later.

I could write for lengths on my experiences here, and I’ve tried my best to keep up to date on my posts, but there’s been too much to do, and not enough easy access to functional internet.

Anyway, my last week in Cape Town, was extraordinary. It was a bit stressful trying to finish up the work for my internship, but I did finish. Maybe not to the capacity that was expected from the outset–of writing a paper that could potentially be published in a journal. But that wasn’t the nature of the internship that I was placed in, for better or worse. There were so many other experiences that I gained from that internship, namely the exposure to the People’s Health Movement. But writing about that isn’t the product that my fellowship wants. So maybe I won’t get that final portion of my stipend, which sucks, but the experience I got was far more valuable.

Back to my last week. Monday I finally got to Table Mountain. I thought I was ready to hike up that mountain, but I was not mentally prepared for how tough that hike was. It was so steep and rocky, but we got to the top in about an hour and 45 minutes. It was an awesome view from the top. It was also frigid as f***! It was so cold up there, I couldn’t even think. But the tiresome hike was worth it.

I spent the next couple days finishing up my work by day, and having dinner with that special person on the floor while watching movies. Nothing better.

Thursday was a great day! I spent the day shopping for souvenirs for family and friends. Had injera (ethiopian food) for lunch–and it was the first time I actually enjoyed it since I’ve eaten it at this point two-three times. I also had ethiopian coffee for the first time; I finally understand what all the hype is about. Some people may have to ship some to me very soon.

That night I was taken for an early birthday dinner. Hands down, this was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. I was taken to this great restaurant and had fantastic food and wine–sushi for an appetizer, roast lamb neck for an entree, and creme brulee for desert with a glass of shiraz. Followed up with a very thoughtful present. I will always smile when I think about my 24th birthday

Friday was a last minute day, of finishing the write-up for the internship by day and packing in the afternoon–as well as dodging my closet racist landlady.  That evening I tried to fit in the “lasts.” I ate my last malva pudding at Hello Sailor (the cafe where I bum the internet and eat their great food), ate my last dinner of raw meat (I don’t care how gross it sounds, it is so good), and had my last night out at Kennedy’s on Long street where we went pretty much every weekend for the first 4 weeks. Of course I partied a little too hard and missed most of the evening after getting “sleepy” and being taken home. But oh well, I had fun with what I was there for. And in reality, it won’t be my last time there–I will be back.

Saturday I had brunch at Old Biscuit one last time and got my last little bags of biltong for the flight. And then I spent the afternoon trying to mentally prepare myself to leave this beautiful place and the wonderful people I met. I was all ready to go–was at the airport handing over my passport, and then was smacked in the face with,
“We don’t have a flight at 6:50, we have you flying out of here at 3:50 and you’ve already missed it. There’s no way you can get to Joburg now and make your connection to London. Sorry.”

My stomach dropped and I just burst into tears. All that build up, of trying to do all my favorite things one more time, of saying goodbye to everyone, just to be told I could only MAYBE fly out the next day. And then South African Airlines was totally unhelpful and just told me to call the US. Anyway, things happen for a reason I guess, and I could be happy that I had one more night with everyone, but it was disappointing.

I finally flew out Sunday at 3:50 pm (8:50 AM New Orleans time) after having one more group lunch of more injera, lol! And here I am in Chicago O’Hare airport, still in route, waiting for one last flight that, of course, is DELAYED. Cape Town to Joburg: 2 hours; Joburg to London: 12 hours; London to Chicago: 9 hours; and this last flight, Chicago to New Orleans, should be about 2 hours, if I ever leave. All of them have been basically on time until now. Too much anticipation. Anyway looks like we’re finally boarding. Here’s hoping we take off and don’t sit on the runway forever.