Another early morning, another month begins... the first of October is here and with it, Durban's signature humidity and the gorgeous purple, yellow, and magenta blooms on the otherwise bare trees all around. Spring is in the air and though it gets up to almost ninety degrees during the day, I'm enjoying the heat at the moment. It allows for Sundays spent reading at the beach, gives enough light for running after our return from St. Theresa's in the evenings, and now that the nine-month mark is approaching, emotions are running high at 8 Warwickshire Crescent.
Two weeks ago, we had our final site visit from the office back home; April, our esteemed director arrived and after a brief stay here in Bothas Hill, we packed up the car, awoke at an ungodly hour, and drove north for twelve hours until we were 20 kilometers from the border of Botswana, at the Madikwe Game Reserve. We stayed at Mosetlha, a bush camp and eco-lodge inside the park, at Becca's recommendation-- she had stayed there as part of her six-week study abroad experience in Pretoria during college. Though some might have found the idea of no running water and no electricity daunting, the four of us have stuck to a low-maintenance regimen since beginning our year in South Africa, so heating our water in a donkey boiler and using paraffin lamps at night was lots of fun. We had two game drives a day with our guide Sam, and my favourite part of the program involved a cooler full of beer and cider, snacks, and beautiful sunsets halfway through our evening drives.
We saw tons of animals, even a handful of lions which I'd missed on my safari with my family in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi back in April. I think the highlight of the safari was our evening drive on Saturday; we spotted a baby rhino and his mother racing through the bush, with two young male lions following closely behind. After two minutes, the lions gave up and settled down for yet another nap... proof that big cats and small cats are all the same: lazy!
Otherwise, we had a lot of rest and relaxation time. On the way home, we had to drop April off at the Johannesburg airport, and decided to make a stopover in Jozi before driving back to Durban. On Sunday afternoon, we paid a visit to the famed Apartheid Museum, built in 2000. Each visitor to the museum is assigned either White or Non-White upon purchasing a ticket, and must enter using the appropriate entrance.
Unfortunately, that was the beginning and end of the segregation simulation; the rest of the museum was laid out for us to peruse as we wished. It was enlightening, but I found the exhibits a bit confusing and the layout was not exactly chronological.
The most interesting insight for me was being in the city where my parents spent the first few years of their marriage back in the early Eighties. The city has changed a lot since then, as has South Africa itself. I wrote my high school research paper on apartheid, but to look out over the Johannesburg skyline and feel connected through family and history and my present experience was a really powerful and moving feeling.
Meg has some family that stay in Sandton, a suburb of the city, and they graciously hosted us on Sunday night. After a delicious breakfast of fruit and yogurt and muesli on Monday morning, the four of us, armed with our AA Road Atlas and recommendations from friends and family, explored Parkhurst and Melville. We only spent a few hours walking around, then had a bite to eat before our drive home... but I really enjoyed Johannesburg and I hope I get to go back and spend more time someday.
Meg and I also made it a real South African roadtrip by investing in some biltong to chew on. South Africans are awfully proud of their version of beef jerky, and though I was thirsty for about eight hours after devouring a packet, I think I'm hooked!
It was a great trip-- especially with the addition of my new camera to the family. I still have a lot to learn, and I'm nervous when it's around sticky children and the dusty wind, but I'm still very excited.
We're on school holidays again; this time it's spring midterm break, which seems like a funny way to describe the three weeks that we had school since the World Cup. But I've busied myself with job applications in the hopes that someone will hire me come December. I've discovered lots of education non-profits on the East Coast that have openings, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some sort of sign... and trying to remain in-the-moment about my last two months here in South Africa.