Joanne Garnett in South Africa: Sunday, Dec. 23, 2007
by Pinedale Online!
December 23, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007:
A couple quick notes. Yesterday a few of us went to a small game preserve (as in smaller than a Wyoming ranch!) and saw a sampling of elephant, white rhino, springbok, wildebeest, lion, ostrich and the like. I'll sent photos later. It was nearly 90 degrees and stinkin' hot. After that, we went to a nearby winery and took a look at a cheetah sanctuary where I got to pet an adult cheetah and have photos taken. Yes, it was much like petting my little darlings in Pinedale!! A great, big, sleepy male cheetah with a beautiful soft coat and docile manner. Then we had a litle wine tasting to set the day off just right.
Today 9 of us hired a driver and went to the Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern-most point in south Africa. We saw a gazillion penguins at Boulder Rocks which I thoroughly enjoyed. Erin, I thought of you constantly! And you too, Don E. It was much fun .
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I'm doing dinner with two other volunteers -- turkey, stuffing, potatoes, broccoli, salad -- you get the drift. That should be fun! We are talking about sneaking in the banned alcohol just so we can have a little wine with dinner. :-) We'll see how it goes.
Another volunteer awaits the computer so I better go for now. Sorry this is so short! Just know I'm thinking of you, doing well, and wishing each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas with those you cherish and with the memories that bring you the most joy – Jo
Friday, December 21, 2007:
It was a good day today at the play school with our largest turnout so far. There were 18 kids when I last counted, coming in a steady stream. I took aside 4-5 at a time and helped them make Christmas stockings by using paper lunch bags. They colored and glittered them to their hearts' content and I then hung them under their photographs that we took a few days ago (as we try DESPERATELY to learn their complicated names in the Ixosa language !). I told them they would get surprises next Monday in the 'stockings'. So far I've got a bag of candy to distribute and I'm sure the other volunteers with get some little items to put in the bags as well . There was a lot of racket and crying when we shut the doors today to go back home -- but we were ready! It's amazing how loud those little, toddler, and bigger voices are in a room with no soundproofing. ;-)
One of the volunteers is leaving for home tomorrow so we are headed into Cape Town tonight to a sushi restaurant and then to a bar overlooking Table Bay for drinks. Tomorrow a bunch of us are up and out at 6:45 a.m. to do our mini safari at Fairy Glen. After being spoiled b y the Masai Mara and Serengeti I'm sure I'll be a little bit jaded by the size of the reserve, but it'll still be a good day out.
Laundry arrived today -- someone comes twice a week to pick up and delivers it back the next day. My jeans were walking b y themselves, so i had to switch to shorts for the last two days during Placement. They, too, are about to stand on their own.
We're putting up Christmas lights and I'm on the committee of three to make Christmas dinner for 15 of us on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day there is talk about going to see the foster homes that our children are in, and then having a picnic with all the volunteers at one of the many beaches. December 26 , Boxing Day, will be spent on our wine tour.
The house we are living in used to be student apartments , so we have about 8 bathrooms which is great. My room has two bunkbeds in it and there are just two of us in it, both using the upper bunks. Children at heart, I guess! There is a nice wooden bar along the side so I won't roll out. We'll see how I do with it after being out tonight on the town.
We also have a tiny Christmas tree up in the house (fake, of course!) and drew names to exchange cheapo gifts. I brought presents for all the volunteers in my group that come from Pinedale and/or Wyoming. Real tasteful stuff, as you can imagine! I thought people would get a kick out of little wacko Wyoming gifts for Christmas , and it includes those really tasteful presents like Moose Poop Candy and cowboy shot glasses and the like. Don't worry, I did pick up some nicer items too. But I bet you hands down that the Moose Poop Candy is the biggest hit!
I've got a few hours until we take taxis into the City for dinner, so I think I'll peel off the dirty t-shirt, put on a bathing suit, and sit in the yard for a bit. I'm thinking of all of you fondly and sending you good thoughts from my little piece of the world in SA. jeg
PS: I love hearing back from you; thanks so much for writing notes! It makes me remember how lucky I am to have you in my life.
Take a look at this website for an understanding of the Healing of Memories project . Wishing you well! jeg
Thursday, December 20, 2007:
A quick story for you: We had two speakers today, one woman who is HIV+ and talked about what South Africa is doing to deal with HIV/AIDS, and tonight it was a gentleman talking about his organization, Healing of Memories. The first speaker talked about the statistics of the disease and it is unbelievable. i told you yesterday that the country had about a 11 percent infection rate. It is actually 27.8 percent. Hard to imagine, isn't it?
The gentleman talked about the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, created by Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu at the end of apartheid. The Committee helped bring together victims of apartheid with perpetrators of crimes to help heal the country -- as much as possible. One offshoot was the organiza tion of Healing of Memories, which is a group that helps sort through the anger from the past and the need to literally get past it, in order to heal. It was truly moving and made us all do some soul searching. What would it be like to deal with horrible crimes committed against and by you ? Anyhow, it was incredible. He also played traditional instruments and had us sing a song with him. Pretty cool stuff.
I have to say that the wine here is fabulous. Hey, some thing never change as in my interest in finding GOOD WINE! And on that note, I will say good night to you all. XXOO - jeg
Wednesday, December 19, 2007:
Hi there !
So, let me tell you about Table Mountain. It is a landmark of Cape Town and really isn't exactly like a table so I don't get it. ;-) It is gigantic, full of green shades and hues that catch your eye . One end juts up in several jagged peaks ; the other portion is a little flatter yet full of that vibrant green color in spite of its height. It dominates the landscape and Cape Town itself blankets the lower slope out toward Table Bay, where Robben Island is located.
There are many towns/suburbs ringing the city, and then outside of the suburbs you will see a little green space, then the townships. Again, the townships are the poorest parts of the country without a doubt and some were the centers of the ANC during the fight against apartheid. There were certainly many whites who believed apartheid was morally wrong, too, and fought it through the legal system and by speaking out. Anyhow, the country is under a new democracy and it's interesting to watch it move forward.
South Africa has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world. It used to be Uganda as I recall but now SA has taken over. I think something like 11 percent of the population is HIV positive or have AIDS. A lot of $$ is being spent attempting to get the people more educated about the disease and there are numerous organizations like Home From Home that offer some sort of support for HIV positive people. It's eye opening, there's no doubt.
my volunteer group ranges in age from 20 to 58. All but one are female; three are from Canada, the rest are US citizens. A few are nurses or nursing students , and the rest of us have a variety of backgrounds. We're doing pretty good living here in our house, built about 1840. Yes, you read that correctly: 1840! Beautiful architecture around here, displaying the mix of Dutch, French, English, and Afrikaaner influence. I've taken one language class and it is a killer. Lots of tongue clicking sounds are used, and I'm fine with making a 'c' sound with the clicky thing but really terrible at making the right clicky sound for making a 't'! Oh well......
Well, my friends, it is time for winding down. The best to you and have a wonderful night! I'm 9 hours ahead of Mountain Time, just so you get a handle on the time change. Best of wishes - jeg
Editor’s Note: Pinedale resident, Joanne Garnett, is in Cape Town, South Africa volunteering for an organization called Cross Cultural Solutions, an international volunteer organization, somewhat like a mini-stint with the Peace Corps. The organization, founded in 1995, has no political or religious affiliations. It operates in 12 countries worldwide. Volunteers have a chance to experience hands-on learning about another country and culture, travel, and interact with new people. Stays are from 3 to 12 weeks, depending on the country and program volunteers sign up for (and pay for). She is working on getting a website and blog up and running to chronicle her stay and it will be online soon.