Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Botswana - Chobe National Park

Today I entered my 21st country!!! My parents and I crossed the border of Botswana to go to Chobe National Park. We had a lovely morning boating on the Chobe river - saw dozens of hippo, crocodiles, elephants, hundreds of birds, giraffe, impala, kudu, mongoose, etc. etc. In the afternoon we took a game drive.

The border crossing was fascinating - my mom counted over 70 trucks waiting to cross from Zambia to Botswana. At this crossing, you have to cross a river to go from one country to the other, but they have not yet built a bridge. Instead, they have one ferry which runs back and forth across the river, meaning that only one truck can cross at a time. Apparently trucks have to wait 3 or 4 days or even a week before they can get their supplies across the border. Also, just as the ferry pulls away, as many people as possible jump on to it, with their luggage and supplies on their backs and heads, in order to cross into the other country. It was fascinating to watch.

We, on the other hand, had a private motor boat from the tour company take us from one side to the other - no lines, no jumping. It is such a conflicting feeling to see one reality taking place right in front of our eyes while at the same time living an entirely different one.

The biggest stress to me all day was the fact that my passport only has two pages left in it, which I am reserving for my Uganda/Rwanda travels, and every place we went today was STAMP HAPPY -- every time we got to a border post I started sweating and pointing furiously at little places where I wanted them to stamp. I fortunately made it through with my two pages in tact, but I have stamps covering literally every other inch of my passport.

Tomorrow we are headed back to South Africa!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


My parents and I 'snuck' across the border to Zimbabwe today, along with dozens of people crossing to try to get food. (and by snuck, I mean we walked across a bridge)..

My heart is still aching from what we saw - dozens of trucks of food backed up on the Zambia side trying to get into Zim... People packing food in suitcases in Zambia to take back to their families in Zimbabwe... dozens and dozens of people camped out at the border post with all of their luggage, trying to get across. We talked to a few people about how they were feeling about what is going on, they just said that it was bad.

I was so glad that my parents were up for the 'adventure' of seeing what it was like on the other side. I think all of us were profoundly effected by it. There was such a strikingly different feel from the Zambia to the Zimbabwe side - such a strikingly different feel to the people. People on the Zim side had a look of desperation to them that squeezed my heart.

The run-off elections were supposed to take place this Friday, but Mugabe announced that he would wage war if the opposition won, so the opposition leader pulled out of the race saying that he could not ask people to go out and vote knowing that they would face extreme violence. That means - --- I don't know what that means. It means that the elections won't happen as planned. It is not good.. at all.

This crisis has been on my heart heavily anyway the last months, but after seeing a glimpse of the situation first hand, it is all consuming to me. Please pray for the situation, if you are a pray-er.

Love to you.

Victoria Falls

Is possibly one of the most majestic natural wonders I will ever see.
Definitely cried (with my mom).
Pictures are coming as soon as possible.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Livingstone, Zambia

Hello from Zambia!
This is just a quick note---
I spent a lovely couple of days with Victor in Cape Town, meeting his friends, spending some time with Jeannie, going to the best farmer's market ever...
And then on Saturday, my parents arrived!!!!

We had a spectacular and chaotic 36 hours in Cape Town, where we managed to cram in a tour of Robben Island, a trip to the Cape of Good Hope, an adventurous outing to see penguins (it is mating season... watch out), and several lovely meals with good friends, (even running into one of my friends from Rhodes and her parents!!)
This morning, we woke up at an ungodly hour, and took off for Zambia. We arrived this afternoon and I am already in love with this country. I love the smell, the red dirt, the amazing smiles from the people here --- more details later, but the second we landed I my heart just swelled.

Tomorrow we are going to see Victoria Falls, and the next day we are headed to Botswana.
And we are traveling CLASSSSSY--- I don't even know what to do with myself. I didn't even know this nice of places existed on this continent. We have certainly upgraded from the way I normally travel. :) Tonight we are staying at possibly the nicest resort I have ever seen. I have also seen more Americans here than I have the entire rest of my 6 months in Africa combined.

It is so incredible to see my parents and be able to share this adventure with them.
They are so much fun to travel with.

More soon, this adventure is just beginning...
much love

PS - We miss you Brian, hardly an hour goes by without one of us saying that we wish you were here. you would love it. love you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Made it to Cape Town!

Ok, so to follow up on the last post.
I did receive a text message that told me that the bus was going to be 2 hours late.... and then two hours later, I received another one that said it was further delayed. Before I received the second text, I decided to go and find the bus stop. Now, when I say go and find the bus stop, it is not exactly like it is elusive.... There are only about 3 streets anyway in Grahamstown, and I've been to the stop many times. BUT, if you have ever had experience with my directional skills, you will know that just because I have been to a place dozens of times does NOT mean that I have any idea how to get there. At all. So I left early, just in case. And sure enough, after walking slightly off campus, the old familiar feeling set in, just as it was starting to rain. I was lost. After 3 minutes of slight panic (thinking, this is exactly what I am NOT supposed to be doing, I am going to die, I am lost in Africa, my mom is going to be so sad... etc.) - I realized that I was actually only about half a block from the stop. And by half a block, I mean that I was standing almost directly across the street from it. So I strutted on over like I knew what I was doing, walking into Kentucky Fried Chicken (yes, they have KFC in Africa), bought myself some dinner, and waited for the bus.

KFC, however, did not represent well. They closed 10 minutes before nine (their closing time said 9:30). And that was when I received the second text that the bus was 'further delayed.' So I walked outside, and along with dozens of women with babies strapped to their back, waited in the rain. And waited, and waited. Then, after standing outside for nearly 3 hours, the bus finally showed, and the mommas and the babies and I all boarded.

And 14 hours after that........ I am in Cape Town!!!! I had forgotten how much I LOVE this city. My whole heart filled up when we got our first glimpse of the city-scape over the top of the mountain.

Victor (yay!!!) picked me up from the station and I am currently in his office, finishing my paper...

Life is good, only 2 days until my parents are here!!

Love you all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Slight Delay

I find it humorous/helpful/surprisingly organized that a few moments ago I received a text message notifying me that my bus would be two hours late.

Cool stuff. Not so much that the bus is delayed (that's not so cool), but that they let me know, and by text message none the less! This country never ceases to amaze me. Anyone who tells you that they have South Africa all figured out... is lying. Or they are much, much smarter than me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The next great adventure... will begin as soon as I finish this ridiculous paper.

I am writing furiously for the next 12 or so hours, and then tonight at 7pm, I am boarding a bus for Cape Town. My schedule for the next 6 weeks looks something like this:

July 19-21: I get to see my fiance! I am spending a quick (but much needed/anticipated) couple of days in Cape Town with Victor.
June 21: My parents arrive in Cape Town!!
June 23-24: Victoria Falls, Zambia
June 25: Chobe National Park, Botswana
June 26-29: Kruger National Park, South Africa and road trip down the Wild Coast
June 30-July 2: National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa

July 3-July 16: Backpacking in Uganda and Rwanda with Rosa

July 16-August 4th: Pears, Rach and Kate are in South Africa!!! Road tripping through the country, with a few 'school' breaks.... I have a seminar at which I am presenting on the 26th.

I am so incredibly excited to get the adventure of the next 6 weeks started!!! I am so blessed to have these travel opportunities ahead, and the chance to spend some quality time with my parents, Victor and Kate/Pears/Rachael!

Life. is. good.

My paper on the other hand.... needs some help. :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Youth Day - in memory of the Soweto Uprising

Today, South Africa commemorates the Soweto uprising of June 16th, 1976. On that day, thousands of school children rallied in Soweto (a township outside of Johannesburg), in protest of the apartheid government's imposition of Afrikaans as the language of instruction in their schools. The protest was intended to be peaceful, and was supported by the teachers in Soweto. However, police had barricaded the road upon which the students were marching. The crowd by this point had gathered to somewhere between 3 and 10 thousand students. A shot was fired, and chaos broke out. Police open fired into the crowd, killing scores of children. It is estimated between 200 and 600 people died, with thousands injured.

Many state the Soweto uprising as the 'beginning of the end' of apartheid. The event attracted international attention, with the photograph above of Hector Pieterson's dead body becoming the icon of the tragedy.

Today the country remembers those who were killed, but also those who stood up in the face of violence and joined together against injustice. I am reminded today of the power that we all have to effect change.

If you are interested, Cry Freedom and A Dry White Season are both fantastic movies that depict the riots.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Happy Father's Day to my amazing Dad!!! I got to talk to my dad a few hours ago, and am SO EXCITED that I will get to celebrate a belated Father's Day with him next weekend! That's right, the padres are coming to Africa in just a few days!

Dad, I can't wait to see you this coming weekend!!! Happy happy 25th father's day! (Just think, you have been a father for a quarter of a century, thanks so me.) I love you so much. Thank you for your continued love and support, I am truly blessed to be your daughter.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quiet on the exam front

I am in the black hole of exams. It is these moments that makes me miss being the teacher on the other side of the exam ----- though I certainly do not envy my professors who have to grade the enormous amount of writing I am putting out these days.

I am going to list things because it makes me feel better.

1. International Theory Exam - DONE!
2. Philosophy of Reconciliation 8000 word paper - In Progress
3. Post-Colonial Identities and Genocide Exam - Saturday
4. Cold War 8000 word Paper on Cuba's intervention in Angola - Haven't really started
5. Thesis Proposal Submission - Needs some help
6. Rotary Report - Almost Done

I am leaving for Cape Town next Wednesday - less than a week. I need 6 miracles to happen between now and then!

Couldn't have said it better myself...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

South Africa's Croissant Crisis

In our cafeteria, we have an announcement board. The last couple of weeks, there have been notes of solidarity and mourning for the victims of the riots and whatnot happening in Joburg and Cape Town.

YESTERDAY, however, the board had a new message that said something to the following:

"The kitchen staff needs to profusely apologize for the lack of croissants at breakfast this morning. Please know that they were ordered with plenty of time to spare, but did not arrive this morning as scheduled. This has been due to a nation-wide shortage of croissants. We will do everything we can to make up for this unfortunate event. This morning you may have two yoghurts instead of one. Sincerely, the kitchen staff"

And THIS my friends, is what makes South Africa so fascinating. In the same seriousness that we deal with violent riots, we deal with a national shortage of croissants. YES, we have dire poverty, YES we are in the midst of a global food crisis, YES we are dealing with violence in our major cities. But today.... today we will worry about croissants.

If you would like to send croissants to South Africa to help out with the national crisis, please email me. ;)

Obama, South African style

People here LOOOOOOOVE Barack Obama. Love him. So today the country is celebrating the announcement that Obama has secured enough delegates to be the democratic nominee. My roommate Estelle (please note that she is South African, not American) celebrating Obama's nomination bid.