Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Final Week

It has been almost exactly a week now, since the end of my exchange. The last week in South-Africa had been tough. People signing flags, writing notes, making the last photos and videos, hugging, and, eventually, saying goodbyes. We had to say goodbye to our best friends from Chile and all other friends of the exchange group and at Herschel. I went to Cavendish almost every day. The second last evening, I went out for dinner with Loren's family, at a very nice restaurant with sea view. Loren's mom had organized a table at the window especially for the occasion. It was a lovely night.
 The day of my departure, Loren and her family gave me a huge card with pictures and a letter and a bag of Cape Town. It was so nice to receive those gifts. One of Loren's friends also came by to give me a present. After packing my bags, we had dinner and then we went to the airport and left South-Africa. It felt so weird leaving my home for two months behind to go back to 'normal' life again. I had mixed feelings about leaving, on the one hand sad to leave the people and the beautiful country behind, on the other hand happy to see my friends and family again... I had a wonderful experience in South-Africa. I learned new things, met new people, did things I had never done before. I will never forget this exchange and everything I experienced. I hope to keep in touch with my friends and visit again.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A Day at Bishops

On the Monday of our last week, all the exchange girls went to Bishops for a day. Bishops is the boys’ school that the exchange boys go to. We arrived at Bishops around 7:30 and we had to meet at Mr. Court’s office. Mr. Court is the exchange coordinator of Bishops and he was the one who took us up Table Mountain and went with us on the Cederberg camp. He told us that each of us had to follow a Bishops boy for the rest of the day and go to every class. A normal Bishops day starts with 15 minutes in chapel. A short service to place after which we went to tutor. For the boys it was very strange to see girls around in their school, so we were looked at all the time. My next lesson was Afrikaans. In Afrikaans, I was together with the Chilean exchange boy and one Chilean exchange girl. It was a nice lesson. For the rest of the day I didn’t really go to many classes, but I saw the whole school and the post-matric room were we stayed with the post-matrics during the break. It was a nice day. After school, we went to Cavendish with all the exchange people as a goodbye. We went out for dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was a lot of fun. During the whole day we were dreading the moment where we had to say goodbye to the boys. When the moment came, it was so sad. For now, we only had to say goodbye to the boys, but the girls would follow this week. It was a very sad goodbye and everyone almost cried. We walked back to Herschel where I had to wait for my host parents to pick me up.

The Last Weekend

The very last weekend of my exchange in South-Africa has arrived. I can’t believe how fast these last two months have gone by. How many things I have experienced and done and how many nice people I’ve met. The first goodbyes have to be said at the beginning of next week already and soon, I will have to start packing my bags.
I spent my last weekend with my mom, who was staying with her cousin in Cape Town. The brother of my grandpa moved to South-Africa when he was 17 years old and he lives in Johannesburg now. His daughter lives in Cape Town. She lives in a very nice house near the beach, with her husband and two kids. The whole family loves going to the beach, the children are training to become lifeguards and their dad surfs every day. On Friday night, we went out for supper to a typical South-African restaurant, called Moyo. There was live music and the whole atmosphere gave me this African feeling. The food was really nice and I got to know my family, whom I had never met before. I was very tired from the week so as soon as we got home I went to my bed.
On Saturday, I learned how to pedal board at Small Bay. The weather was good and the sea was quite calm. I got a few waves and loved the surfing experience. Afterwards, we went home and had a really nice braai. We ate outside, next to the fire, which was really nice. The food was lovely, and then I realized that this was my last braai in South-Africa...
Sunday morning was a very relaxed morning. We went to see the shop of my mom’s cousin and afterwards we went to the beach again. The children had their lifesaving class on the beach, while their dad took me pedal boarding again. The weather on Sunday was a whole different story. The sea was wild! As good as it went the day before, as bad did it go on Sunday. I didn’t catch a single wave. It was still a very fun day. Around 3 o’clock we went to the ‘Twelve Apostles’ for afternoon tea with Loren’s family. The Twelve Apostles is a beautiful hotel with a lovely sea view on Camps Bay. My mom and her sister got to know my host parents, enjoying a lovely cup of tea and delicious sweets and sandwiches. I went home with my exchange family and my mom and her sister went back to where they were staying. I said goodbye to them, because the next time I would see them was back in Holland.
Pipa was my best friend!!!!!! Is coolll i love that nerd!!!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Cederberg Camp

Everyone was looking at our very last week of camp with mixed feelings. We were very excited, but also scared to see that our exchange was coming to a near end when this week would finish. Anyways, we left from Bishops again, with all the exchanges and Bishops post-matrics. The bus trip was very nice, talking to everyone on the bus and having lots of fun. We had to drive about two hours, until we arrived in an area called ‘the Cederberg’. It’s a fairly dry area, where not many people live. The people who do live in the Cederberg are mostly farmers. The bus stopped in the middle of the area and our mountain bikes were taken out. We had to mountain bike the last part to the camp. This last part was about 25 kilometres. It was very hot and tiring, but really nice. I’m not sure if I like the landscape of the Cederberg, with everything being so dry, but it was nice to cycle through nature. As soon as we arrived at the camp, we jumped in the water, with our clothes on. That’s how hot we were! That night, we had to make our own dinner, Dutch oven. It was fun to work together with everyone. When it became dark, we went to a little place where we watched the stars. One of the teachers had a laser light, and he showed us all the figures in the sky. We spent the night talking in our tents and slept not too late.
The next morning we were divided into two groups, each doing different activities for the day. Our activities were visiting a local farm school and going on a tour with the ‘Leopard Trust’. The local farm school was about five minutes from our camp. We were going to spend the morning with the kids, playing games with them. We each took a few kids with us to play games and draw pictures with. It was a really nice experience. The difficult thing was that the kids couldn’t speak English, their home language was Afrikaans. I tried to speak Dutch to them, but they didn’t seem to understand much of it. At the end of our visit, the kids sang some beautiful songs for us, and danced along. It was such a nice experience. We had lunch at the camp and around 4 o’clock we had a tour with the Leopard Trust. The Leopard Trust is an organization in the Cederberg, caring for the leopards. The head of this organization took us around the area, showing us the traps for catching leopards and trying to make us aware of life in the wild. He did this by showing us some tracks of animals, and making us listen to the sounds of nature. It was a long walk, and we didn’t see a single leopard. This wasn’t very surprising, because the Leopard Trust ranger himself had only seen seven leopards in the nine years he’s worked for the organization. We spent the night in the camp.
The next day, we were doing the activities that the other group had done the day before, and they were doing our activities of the day before. We spent the morning on top of a cliff, and abseiling from it, and afterwards we went to the Stadsaal caves to view the paintings that Bushmen had made. It was a really nice morning. We had lunch at the camp again and prepared ourselves for the solo night. We were going to spend the night ALONE in the wild. Each of us was dropped alongside a river, with a sleeping mat, a sleeping bag, a pillow, a gas fire, a pan with pasta, and warm clothes. I had the most beautiful spot. My bed was on a little hill under a tree, looking out at a little beach and a river with a small waterfall. I was very close to the other four people who were dropped in the same area, so we could walk to each other whenever. We had to cook our own dinner on a gas fire. It was such a good experience to be alone in the wild making your own dinner. It was actually quite nice. After dinner I went to see my Chilean friend, Pipa, and she was cooking her dinner with Lourents, whose gas fire broke. We spent the night talking on my little beach, also with another Chilean girl, Sofia, and a Colombian girl, Dania. It was a lovely night, with a very bright moon and stars. It was a little disappointing that one of the post-matric boys had to tell us that the animals were on the move in this kind of moonlight... But we survived.
The next morning when I woke up, I was so cold. My whole sleeping bag was wet from dew. Luckily, we were picked up soon and taken back to the camp. I was looking forward to a hot shower so much, and I was let down when I was in the shower and no water came out. We had a long day in front of us, hiking the highest mountain in the area. It would be a nine hour walk. It turned out to be not that bad, and actually quite fun, even though it was very hot. At five o’clock, we arrived back at the camp, and I was surprised that everyone, including myself, had a lot of energy left. We started a party around the camp fire, with singing, dancing, laughing and talking. It was a lovely night. We reviewed the week with our teachers, and everyone had to stand up, while people could say something nice about them, or something they learned about them during this week. We ended the week with many new friendships, a lot of new jokes and a good feeling. On this last night, I put my flag down for everyone to sign it. This was so sad, knowing that I was almost leaving... That night, some people stayed up until sunset the next morning, but I didn’t make it. I fell asleep around 4:30.
At 8 o’clock, we were woken up and I immediately ran for the shower, before the water was finished. We had a quick breakfast and put all our stuff into the bus. On our way back to Bishops, we had lunch at Spur with everyone. Spur is a very well-known restaurant in South-Africa, serving typical food. We made our way back and everyone started to get very tired and boring on the bus. When I got to Herschel, a big surprise was waiting for me... My MOM! I knew she was coming to South-Africa, but I wasn’t sure if she would be at Bishops. It was so nice to see her again, and she got to meet all my friends.


Time is flying and I can’t even believe that this was our second last weekend. Only two weeks left in South-Africa before going back to my normal life again. Loren’s family, Elise and I spent this weekend camping, about two hours from Cape Town in a beautiful area of South-Africa, Slanghoek. The camping was located in a valley, with a few on mountains and vineyards. It reminded me of Italy in a way, which was really nice. Loren’s dad had already set everything up when we arrived, so Elise and I went for a walk around the camping. It was a beautiful place, with a pool, horses, a trampoline, and more. That night we had a braai on the camp fire and played cards. Loren, Elise and I shared a tent and had a lot of fun that night, talking and laughing. The next morning we had a nice breakfast. We sat at the pool and played some cards at the tents for the whole day. It was a very relaxed day. We met two boys, who were Afrikaans. It was very funny to hear them talk to each other and being able to understand almost everything. The boys had brought a guitar so we had music for the rest of the night. We had dinner and talked on the trampoline until late at night. The next morning we had to leave the camping at 10 o’clock, so we didn’t do much before. It was a nice weekend, and we spent some good family time.

Vrygrond Township

The second last trip had arrived: a visit to the Vrygrond townships. The Herschel bus took all the exchange girls, with cookies, stationary and a good mood, to the other side of Cape Town. The other side of life. Situated near Muizenburg, Vrygrond is home to about 10,000 men, women and children. Up until this moment, we had only seen one side of life in South-Africa, really. The life of the more privileged South-Africans, who are able to afford a good education for their children, enough food to eat and a nice house to live in. My visit to the township changed my entire point of view on life. Seeing what I have seen that day, made me realize how fortunate I am with what I have. When we arrived at the township, we saw many shacks, a few containers and a lot of dirt on the ground. People were walking around in very old and dirty clothes, some with babies on their arms. We visited the crèche first, where we found about 40 children in one container, having breakfast. Breakfast was served in a plastic bowl, and it looked like a white substance, I wasn’t sure what it was. As soon as they finished eating their food, they started running towards us and hugging us, not willing to let go. There was some competition between the kids, all wanting the same amount of love. Some kids even started fighting when they couldn’t give a hug to the person they wanted to get to. Everyone tried to give them as much love as they could, considering the fact that they didn’t get much at home. We left the crèche for a tour around the township, guided by one of the inhabitants. He told us a lot about how things worked in the township and we learned many things about life in a township. In Vrygrond, there are many volunteers trying to create opportunities for the people and trying to make life a little bit better. We met a Dutch guy, teaching about 40 adults how to use a computer. His computer lessons took place in a small container, and included teaching people how to use simple things, such as Word and the internet. After talking to some of the inhabitants, we learned that it was one big community living together in the township. One big family. Even if people got the opportunity to move out of the township and live in a better place, they wouldn’t do it. Around 1 o’clock, we went back to the crèche to play with the kids and give them cookies. It was really nice, even though they were a bit aggressive sometimes. We left the township with a new point of view on South-Africa and on life.
The rest of the week would be spent at Herschel, with the boys visiting us for a day on Friday. This will be a whole new experience for them, for the fact that the Herschel girls are not used to having boys around in school.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Beach House

The weekend after the Garden Route, we spent at the beach house of Elise's exchange partner, Lauren. Along with two Chilean girls, Pipa and Sofia, my exchange partner, and Lauren's mom, we drove to Hermanus, where the house was located. On our way, we stopped for brunch at 'Wimpy', a typical South-African fast food restaurant. We had delicious wraps, club sandwiches and burgers. The drive took us about two hours. As soon as we arrived, we put on some sunscreen and left for the beach. At the beach, we sand boarded in the dunes, which was really nice. It was a very windy day, which caused the sand to blow in my eyes all the time. This was annoying, and most of all, painfull. The beach was on walking distance of the house, so we could go back whenever we wanted. We went back to the house after about an hour. At the house, we had a drink, watched a movie and played some card games. We had lovely chicken for dinner and watched another movie afterwards. Then, we went outside to the balcony, where we watched the most beautiful starts I've ever seen. There were no streetlight in the area of the beach house, which made the stars so bright! We chatted, laughed and stared, lying in our sleeping bags. It was very cozy.
The next morning, we went to the beach again, just for tanning. Afterwards, we went into town where we did some shopping and had drinks at a nice cafe, where we had a beautiful sea view. We had lunch at home, Boerewors, and left the beach house around 13:30.