Igama lam nguAlvin. NdiFunda e NMMU. Ndihlala e Bhayi e Summerstrand. Ndicela iti ikofu eshushu? Nxeda apha!
Looks like my first week of my isiXhosa (one of the local African languages) class has paid off! For those of you who might not know the language, it translates to: Hello everyone! How are you? My name is Alvin. I’m currently studying at NMMU. I stay in Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth. I am thirsty; may I have some hot coffee? Help here!
I know it’s been a while since I last blogged. Man, the internet here is not nearly as convenient as at home. First off, they charge by mega bite as opposed to time, so what you do on the internet determines how long you’ll be on. Over the past few days, I’ve only had less than an hour of internet time. All three times were spent trying to upload pictures onto this blog. As you can probably already see, that failed! Every single time I would hit “Publish Entry,” the internet would stop on me. I’ve learned my lesson and pre-typed this blog entry!
Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin. This trip has been absolutely amazing. I’ve been here for a week and already have done so much!
I talked about the Kragga Kamma Game Park ride we went on a little bit in my last blog. I look through the pictures from that and still can’t believe what I saw. Just seeing all these majestic animals in their natural habitat had to have been one of the best experiences of my life. It was so breathtaking. The African skies, especially during sunset don’t even compare to how they portray it in movies. At some points in the ride, I seriously felt like I was in the Lion King. We were told that was the smallest gaming park we were going to be visiting, so you can only imagine how excited I am for the next three they have planned for us. One of them is actually this weekend during our three-day trip. It’s supposed to be a nighttime ride! I am ecstatic!
On Tuesday, we made a visit to the New Brighton Township located about ten minutes from our accommodations. A township is an area of government owned property that has homes and what looked like shacks to shelter the lower class of the population. It was very similar to the “poor” living environments they would show on TV. Honestly, there are no words that can describe what was going through my head during this visit. Just thinking about it is a bit tough. Seeing such a large group of people living in horrible conditions broke my heart. It’s really unfortunate that it’s like this. These people really have no choice. It made me think about how lucky I am to live the life I live. When talking to my roommates and others about the visit, we all agreed that there were not words that can justify how we felt. It’s weird. I never thought trying to describe something over the internet could be so hard. I’m going to let pictures (hopefully ones that will be up soon) do the rest of the explaining. Just keep in mind, what you do see on TV about the poverty in Africa is true.
One thing I loved about the visit to the township was seeing the genuine happiness of the children. As our van pulled in, children quickly ran behind it knowing there were tourists inside. My initial thought was that they were going to be asking for money of food. I was wrong. They literally just wanted to say hi. They were extremely fascinated by the digital cameras and being able to see themselves on such a “machine.” I remember one in particular. He was a small boy, maybe five or six years old. I asked him if I can take a picture of him and told him to say cheese. He said cheese for the next five minutes even if I was just looking at him, not pointing the camera.
It was just great seeing these kids smiling. Even though they don’t have the best, luxurious life, they still seemed to be happy, happier than many kids back at home.
That’s only a bit of what I have done. I wish I could share it all with you over this blog, but again, internet is horrible.
Tomorrow, we will be leaving for the weekend. We’re headed to Grahamstown. There, we will be residing with two farmer families. We will be exploring their lifestyles, going on a night Game Park ride, and hiking in the local mountains. I’ve heard at the end of the hike there is a beautiful waterfall. How exciting is that? Next weekend, the program has a two-day camping/hiking trip AND a rugby game!
I truly wish all of you were here to explore this beautiful country with me. There are no words that can describe how much it has already changed my life.
One week down, six to go!
Hambani kakuhle! (Stay well; plural)
Until next time,