Friday, October 31, 2008


Halloween isn't nearly the spectacle in South Africa as it is the U.S., several of my roommates' birthdays fall close to the day. SO, we threw a Halloween-birthday party. It was most of my roomie's 'first time' dressing up for Halloween, and we had a great time! I (appropriately) dressed up like an American safari tourist.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pony Trekking in Lesotho


During the Rotary District Conference, some Rotarians arranged for the other Ambassadorial Scholars and I to go down into a working GOLD MINE. We went over 2 kilometers down. It takes extracting over 2 tons of ore to get even 5 grams of gold, so we didn't exactly see a lot of it --- the picture with us pointing is supposedly at something that might be gold. We weren't really convinced. It was incredibly interesting and I am so glad that we had the experience of going down. Much of South Africa's wealth has come from the mining industry, and going down to see how people work was ridiculously eye opening. It was over 104 degrees down there and so deep that we had to pop our ears (like you do when you scuba dive) because of the pressure. It was DARK and WET - there were rats and the the toilets were disgusting. Over 2000 men were working underground the day we went down - just unbelievable.

One of the more memorable moments was just about half an hour before we went down. We were talking to the safety instructor, and suddenly the whole earth tremored. We all looked around in panic, asking - WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS THAT? He replied - oh, don't worry, it was just a seismic event. Oh, ok - THAT doesn't worry us. But we went down anyway. It took nearly an hour to get all geared up. You can see from the pictures-- we were in full body suits, belts, protective glasses, ear plugs, face mask, helmet with light, battery pack, life saver pack (in case of explosion(!), knee pads, huge rubber boots (just like yours Rarthur!) and gloves. And remember, it was over 104 DEGREES down there, with all of that on. I cannot IMAGINE working like that everyday - truly.

Needless to say - incredible, educational experience - one that I will never forget.

Bon Voyage Alicia!

Our dear fellow Rotary scholar Alicia Verhage has left us for home. Alicia (the blonde) went home early for one of her friend's weddings and to get ready for her own in January. I can't believe we are already at the point in the year that we are saying goodbye! The picture on the left is from the first day we all met in Grahamstown in February, and the picture on the right is the last picture we took right before Alicia left. Notice that Eben is wearing the same shirt - its because he only has 5. Its been an incredible year and is going too fast.

Miss you Alicia!


I *loved* this movie.
Say hello to a man so beautiful he rivals Gael. Yes, I said it - he rivals Gael.

In Grahamstown, the movie tickets are R22 - which is equivalent to $2.17 (at the current exchange rate of 10?!? rand to the dollar - thank you economic crisis) Needless to say, we have seen a lot of movies this year at the good old Roxbury Theatre. Rosa is usually my movie buddy, and we have a system down - one of us buys the movie tickets, and the other buys a big tub of popcorn. In South African movie theatres, they have flavors to put on the popcorn - like chutney, cheese, salt and vinegar, sour cream and onion, etc... so we cover the popcorn in a flavor (our fav. is the chutney) and then chow down. Because most of the movies start at 5:30, we miss dinner - but flavored popcorn and R22 movies = totally worth it.

Precious Preschoolers + Origami

When Victor was here a few weeks ago, he volunteered with me at St. Phillip's preschool. We took an origami 'pig' project for the kids. The results were just precious. However - I VASTLY overestimated the paper folding abilities of preschoolers. I thought we were going to have a whole farm of animals by the end of the morning, but we were lucky to even get through the pig. These kids light up my week every Tuesday - just look at how precious they are.

This is the 'model' of the pig we were folding. I got instructions from

Thesis progress...

In honor of FINISHING MY SECOND CHAPTER!!!!!! - I am posting a picture of my thesis adviser, Dr. Fluxman.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - POVERTY.

Today - apparently - is blog action day, where everyone with a blog is encouraged to post on the same topic in order to hopefully change the conversation that day. This year, the topic is poverty.

Ohhh - poverty. Here's the deal with poverty - it makes me super tired. Yeah? Anyone else feel that way? Its overwhelming. Absolutely overwhelming. I have dozens of horrific stories of things I've seen that have brought me to tears - but really, I don't want to talk about that right now. Instead, I want to talk about some things that are a) not exhausting and b) super exciting.

And that would be-------- what we can do, right now, sitting at our computers.... ready?

One of the best presents I have ever received was from my dear and wonderful friend Ms. Pears, who for my birthday gave me a certificate to Kiva, a microfinance institution. The amazing thing about this present is that I was able to go online, and see dozens of people who wanted loans to start up small businesses to get themselves out of poverty. I then lent them the money that Ms. Pears had given me as a gift, and when they were finished with it - they paid it back. I was then able to lend it to the next person. It is truly one of the most beautiful, fulfilling gifts I could ever imagine receiving.

Another amazing site is Heifer International, where you can buy a cow, a goat, a pig, a bunch of chickens, etc. for a family that lives in poverty. Gifts like this are amazing as they not only provide once, but over and over again as the family is able to use the animals for their milk/eggs/meat/wool/etc. They are also able to breed their animals and create a sustainable source of income and food for themselves. AND, if you can't afford a whole cow, you can buy a share - no donation is too small.

Or what about buying a malaria net for only $10 - Malaria is one of the top killers in the entire world - and is entirely preventable. Just sleeping under a net decreases the chances of contracting malaria exponentially. You buy a kid a malaria net, you can save a life - poof! Just like that, with $10.

And there are tons of other organizations just like those out there. So, there. Writing about those organizations just made me happy. First of all - it is a way to combat poverty, right now - this very second. Second of all - if you are like me and never think more than about 12 hours ahead - they are a GREAT AMAZING BEAUTIFUL present for people. What better gift could you give someone than to tell them that in their name, you just made someone else's life better. All of those sites even have super amazing cards you can print off or email right to whoever's name you make the purchase for. Keep it in mind for stockings over Christmas.

Much love to you all.


I ordered my absentee ballot months ago, and am STILL waiting on it to arrive.
I am getting super anxious - I am going to be SO angry if my ballot doesn't make it here in time.
I want to VOTE!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hallelujah: South African Health Minister Makes the HIV-AIDS Link

So most people I talk to find it - surprising - that democratically elected government officials , in today's world, would deny such ideas as ... say... that HIV causes AIDS. However, sadly in South Africa, that has been the case.... but no longer my friends, no longer.

From The Los Angeles Times

South Africa's new health minister broke dramatically on Monday from a decade of discredited government policies on AIDS, declaring that the disease was unquestionably caused by HIV and must be treated with conventional medicine.

Health Minister Barbara Hogan's pronouncement marked the official end to 10 years of denial about the link between HIV and AIDS by former President Thabo Mbeki and his health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

Activists accused [former health minister] Tshabalala-Msimang of spreading confusion about AIDS through her public mistrust of antiretroviral medicines and promotion of nutritional remedies such as garlic, beetroot, lemon, olive oil and the African potato.

South Africa now has the world's highest number of people with HIV, counting some 5.4 million people as infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

Better late than never... right?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

you know when you live in a different hemisphere when.....

My parents sent me this picture from the front porch of our house in Idaho. They apparently received about 16 inches of snow over the weekend.
Meanwhile, in South Africa......

I went to the beach.

My arms hurt.

The other day I tried to do push ups. I don't know why - I guess I thought I was still the super strong-somewhat athletic-semi bad-basketball player that I used to be.

Not so much.

I could do 2.

Which is somewhat depressing, especially considering I spent nearly 6 months on crutches a couple of years ago.

SO - I decided something needs to be done.
I started doing a few every day, and I'm already up to 10 'real' push ups and 20 'girly' push ups.

Today I discovered this lovely '100 push-up challenge' - sounds fun, right? I'll let you know in about 6 weeks if it is true to its claim. My arms are already super sore, and I haven't even started 'day 1' yet.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Alright ladies - Since one of my great-grandmothers had breast cancer, and in general I am pretty passionate about getting people to know their bodies and be proactive about this kind of thing.... I challenge you to check your boobies this month. The links below provide instructions in how to do a self-exam.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rotary conference/Lesotho here we come!

Rosa and Eben and I are renting a car and heading out in the morning for our Rotary District conference in Welcom (about a 600km drive). We will get the chance to get all caught up on the news about Rotary in the Eastern Cape and will give a (fabulous) presentation.

On the way home, we are spending a few days traveling in Lesotho, so I will most likely be MIA until next week. Have a wonderful week and happy October!

PS: Chapter 1 - CHECK!

Pictures from Malawi!