Tuesday, January 5, 2010

twenty ten!

Well we've made it back home after a relaxing and amazing trip to Coffee Bay. In fact the last month or so has really been non-stop, so it's crazy to sit back and chill at home this week until the beginning of school next week. The end of the school year was chockful of parties and meetings so it went by pretty quickly. Then after school officially ended, our friend who we work with (she manages the education support center in our village) took us to Sun City for the day. It was quite the adventure, we mostly stuck to free activities (sadly didn't get to go to the valley of the waves waterpark which was super crowded since it was a holiday but we snuck into a hotel pool instead), walked around a lot, had some falafel, and met a talking bird. The most ridiculous part was waiting in line half an hour to ride the Sky Train which is literally like a metro car that goes 2 miles an hour (they have a commuter rail here so I don't know why it's such a novelty).

Then we made the speediest excursion to Botswana ever. We went one day and came back the next so the majority of the trip was spent in the taxi they had hired. Our cousin (the younger brother of one of our principals also) is getting married to a girl from Botswana so we went as part of the family delegation to the negotiations for the details of the wedding. He had already paid lebola (the bride price) so this was just about the details of the wedding. They both are really educated, independent people so it was interesting to see how they reconciled what they wanted with the tradition. James got to go and sit with the men during the negotiations while I sat with the ladies. The men did the actual discussions between families and would come and consult us at various times throughout. And of course we had lots of food including an amazing breakfast prepared by the bride's aunt who we stayed with. What we saw of Botswana wasn't too different from South Africa, poorer but the infrastructure was great, and the absence of Afrikaaners was noticable.

When we got back, it was almost time to head down to the coast for our vacation. We met up with 9 other volunteers in Pretoria and took a pretty excruciating overnight bus ride (with everyone who wanted to make it home by Christmas eve) to Mthatha where we got picked up to go to the Coffee Shack in Coffee Bay. We had an awesome time there. The coast was beautiful...rolling hills meeting cliffs. We went to the beach a lot, went surfing twice (the first time, our lesson, was more successful as we both stood up and rode waves into shore about 10 times each). We did a bunch of hikes...trekking through the dense forest next to a river to the sacred pools, a long hike to a waterfall that you had to swim the last part of, along the coast to the Hole in the Wall, and to the Mapuzi Cliffs where James did a pretty daring cliff jump and I did a less scary one into a river. It was really fun to get to hang out with other volunteers who we hadn't seen since September and just relax. It was crazy how unaccustomed we are to being catered to so we were kind of shocked by how nice and accomodating everyone was. We're definitely happy to be back at home, but also excited to think about future vacations and seeing more of the country.

Here are some photos:

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