I know that I have been somewhat silent this past week, but things have been a little hectic here at 12 Ivy Road. Here is an update of what I have been doing in the past week.
1. Table Mountain Hike
Last Saturday five of us decided to conquer Table Mountain. We were unsure of which route to take to the top. We got a lot of conflicting advice but were told not to take a challenging/long route because we were beginners and were not familiar with the area and terrain. We did not want to be rescued by helicopters or stranded. We were unsure if we would hike up and back down or simply ride the cable car down the mountainside.
Jay, our beloved weekend trip driver, decided to tag along too. We got advice about which trail to take before beginning. Some park ranger man told us to take the pipe trail up to the top and advised us that it would take around 2 hours. LIES! Long story short, it ended up being one of the hardest trails on the mountain and this guy had no idea what he was talking about. It took us close to 5 hours and at the end of the hike Jay yelled, “I don’t know who I am anymore!” Also, Lindsey said, “Is this what the Von Trapp family felt like when they were escaping into Switzerland?” Basically, we were delusional. At one point, we met an experienced hiker that told us we were almost to the end and we were relieved. But then we got scared because he very casually said, “Oh yes, you just head into the Valley of Isolation and then you are almost done mates!” What? The Valley of Isolation? When we entered said valley, I think Lindsey screamed, “I AM SO LONELY!” And it actually echoed.
Not surprisingly, we chose to take the cable car down. And it took less than 2 minutes which was anti-climatic. And we were all really angry at all the tourists who were fascinated by the scenery and didn’t actually hike. But of course, it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I will be going back up Table Mountain with BEEP this week. Here are some photos for your enjoyment.
The work week went by so quickly. As I might have mentioned before, BEEP works with six schools within the townships. We put on after school workshops Monday through Thursday. In the mornings we generally check on the food gardens, run errands or purchase food for the kids. The foods gardens are very important to the schools. The school lunches really are insufficient for growing children. It basically looks like mush but is called stamp and beans (and they eat this same meal everyday). The students sometimes have apples and oranges to eat and a bunch of them are always running around with the South African version of cheetos. BEEP is providing the schools with a source of vegetables. But the coolest part of the project is that the students are responsible for maintaining, weeding, watering and caring for the garden. They are so proud of the work they are doing and an example for other students in the school.
This week, students got in a fight about why some plots were growing faster than others. They are divided into groups and in charge of different sections of the garden. One section was growing faster than the other. Group one argued that group two was using a witch doctor to make their plants grow faster. Group two said that group one yelled and argued in front of their plants and didn’t show them enough love.
I am starting to form real relationships with some of the students. At first they were very shy and timid. A lot of them are scared to use their English. And most unfortunately, my knowledge of isiXhosa is limited. However, some of us are now very good friends. They love to play with my hair and I like to ask them questions. They also like to teach me isiXhosa. I now know the words for hello, how are you, I am fine, water, run, and bye.
I am in a minor depression because they are now on winter break for three weeks and I won’t see them for a while. But hopefully BEEP will take some trips up Table Mountain and I can see their cute faces!
3. 21st Birthdays!
This week we had two twenty-first birthdays in our household. Syd and Lindsey turned 21 on the 21st and the 24th, respectively. We have had a lot of fun letting everyone in Cape Town know it was their birthday. Here, the drinking age is 18, so it isn’t quite the same. When you turn 21 in Cape Town, you receive “the key to the city”. I am not sure what that means but I don’t think that they would have given it to us anyway.
4. Wine Tours
Saturday we called Jay up and asked him to take us to a few of Cape Town’s excellent wineries. I was actually unaware of the fact that South Africa was famous for its wine country (but then again my wine knowledge is about as good as my isiXhosa). There are hundreds of wineries within only a few miles of Cape Town’s city center. I liked the two we went to because they were both very different.
The first was called Groot Constantia Winery and is the oldest winery in Cape Town (and South Africa, I think). It was established over 360 years ago by a Dutchman and has changed hands over the centuries. Now it is publicly owned and has a board of directors that are actually paid in wine. The estate was huge and had a lot of history. As I understand it, legend says that when Napoleon Bonaparte used to order his wine from this winery. And when he was exiled to an island in the Caribbean, he desperately sought different ways to transport wine from Constantia but to no avail.
The tour was very formal (similar to a bourbon tour in Kentucky) and we saw all the machinery involved. The second tasting was just down the road at a winery known as Constantia Glen. There was really no “tour”; we simply sat down, ate some cheese and bread and drank some wine. It was very relaxing and scenery was beautiful. This was more to my liking.
But what happens when you do a wine tasting and then you take a nice drive home? This.