Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Transkei travels

So, in addition to proposing amongst the elephants, the main thrust of our adventure out to the Transkei was to visit our friends, Alex and Andy of Live Free or Braai Hard in Mount Frere, who are volunteering for Hlomelikusasa (a community-based organization focused on helping orphans around Mount Frere) and ASAP (African Solutions for African Problems - a meta-organization which helps teach community programs to become self-sufficient).

Classiest joint in town

They've been there for nearly a year now, and let me first just say how impressed I am with what they are doing, and the strength it must take to do it. I think these guys are amazing for taking the year to do this. Much kudos.

First of all, we had multiple warnings about driving after dark in the Transkei. For those who don't know, the Transkei was a "homeland" under the Apartheid government - a.k.a. the crappiest land they could find, where they forced as many black Africans to live as possible. Consequently, it is extremely poor and has shitloads of problems (which include massive AIDS, crime, corruption, and horrendous education). So we were kind of expecting bandits on the roads to come out after dark. What we found out is that this is NOT the main reason for the warning. Mostly you want to avoid driving in the dark because the highway is COVERED with livestock, and you REALLY don't want to run into a cow at 120 km/hr. Mystery solved.

Road Sheep

We made it out to them after driving 1500 km (~ 1000 miles) along the southern coast, and arrived in the afternoon on Friday. Our friends showed us around the town a bit before it got dark (i.e., we took a walk around the block - it's not a large town). We stayed the night in their surprisingly nice apartment, and the next morning, Andy, Alex, and their co-worker Boniswa took us on a visit to meet a village health worker (Mrs Zindani) and the orphans that she feeds.

Mrs. Zindani (pink), Boniswa (front), and kids

That was totally amazing. The kids were adorable, the teenagers were really cool and friendly, and the adults were incredibly friendly and welcoming. A representative of the village headman came and welcomed us with a really sweet speech and singing and dancing. It kind of sounds cheesy when I say it, but it really did feel like a big honor, and I felt suitably humble. It is possible that they thought we were there to donate money to Hlomelikusasa, even though our friends told them we weren't.

We couldn't get a better picture of him dancing, but he had moves!

We made some art with the kids, got fed a huge, delicious lunch, and chilled with the teenagers. It was really amazing. It also really made me want to learn Xhosa, cause it's really a cool language. But damn, those clicks are hard!


Andy said...

Happy to have you! When are you coming back? Heard there's going to be a volunteer position or two opening up soon...

Andy said...

Oh yeah, and the electricity has been out all day today. GO EASTERN CAPE!

alexgirl said...

It was so fun to have you guys here. You were great guests, and Boniswa & Mrs. Z loved you guys!

ps-I see that Andy mentioned that our electricity is out. Well, it's back on now, but now the water has been off for 3 days! Our sad, sad life...

Alex said...

I swear, you guys are not going to know what to do with yourselves when you go back to civilization, where electricity and water flow like... well, water.

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Anonymous said...

I suck coz I only appear to be able to think of one joke and one joke alone...

Why did the plane crash into the house????


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* In the at the start year of hook-up, the man speaks and the old lady listens.
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