I've learned and done WAY too much in the past few weeks to detail it all on here, but for now, here are some shots I've taken along the way. Highlights include meeting Mac Maharaj (you can read more bout him here), visiting the Moses Mabhida stadium (of the 2010 FIFA world cup), and meeting a few US consulate members. The best part, however, has been getting to know the other students and getting to know my homestay family better. Durban grows on me everyday; I am so sad to be leaving so soon! Visit ASAP!!
Olà from Mozambique! I’m am currently laying in my bed in our air conditioned hotel in Maputo, watching tv with my two girlfriends Becca and Sam.
On Monday morning we drove from Durban, SA to Manzini, Swaziland. The drive was 6 hours but very comfortable. When we got there we decided to take a 3 hour hike up Shiba’s peak. I decided to wear my chacos because it was hot out and they’re great hiking shoes. But about half hour into our hike we started to get attacked by ants. Thousands of them were covering our feet and legs; everyone freaked out so we turned around and headed down the mountain. When we finally got back to our hotel, we sat down to dinner at this lovely pizza place. We ordered lots of wine and ice cream to reward ourselves after our hair-raising day!
The next morning we woke up early and went for a run with Imraan. Then we got on the road and headed to Mozambique.
We arrived in Maputo around 1 and got Periperi chicken for lunch. It was super yummy and a traditional Portuguese dish. Mozambique was colonized by the Portuguese until the 1970s, so there is a huge Portuguese culture there. Then we took a three hour walking tour of the city. I must admit, it was not the prettiest city I've ever been in, but it is very safe compared to Durban, and the people are all super nice.
After our walking tour we walked to the grocery store and got picnic stuff and wine and just ate in our hotel room.
The next morning we got up, showered, ate breakfast, and headed to Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. We met with Professor Yussuf Aadam of the African Studies department. He worked closely with Ruth First (a big part of the SA anti-apartheid movement) and was with her when she received the parcel bomb in her office and was killed. We got to see her office where that happened too. It was morbid but also pretty cool.
Then we went to this place called Memmos for lunch and ate yummy pizza! It’s nice when they organize meals for us ahead of time but it also sort of sucks because then we can’t choose what we want and end up eating a ton of pizza or fries... not really complaining though :).
After lunch we went to the Raid of Matola Museum which is located on the outskirts of Maputo. This carefully designed monument details the role that Mozambique played in South Africa's liberation movement and the impact that exiled South Africans had on Mozambique. More specifically, it tells the story of the Apartheid government's raid on Maputo. Homes sheltering ANC exiles were bombed in hopes to eradicate the liberation movement from Mozambique and to prevent Mozambicans from aiding in the struggle. It was really interesting but almost 90 degrees out and we were all so tired that most of us couldn’t keep our eyes open throughout the tour.
Then we came back to our hotel and napped before heading out for sangria and Indian food.
This morning we ran down to the beach and along the water. Then we had breakfast and headed to some markets. Mozambique is known for its inexpensive cashews so the first market we went to we got big bags of cashews. Next we went to the Feima market which has tons of amazing baskets and cloths and things. We bought a ton of presents for our families and friends at home!
Now we are back at our hotel relaxing. Tomorrow we head home for South Africa, yippee!
Our first week in Durban was mind-blowing. We stayed at the Windermere, a beautiful apartment right across the street from the ocean. Every morning we would wake up with the sun (around 5:30 unfortunately), go down to the beach, run and swim, and then get picked up at 7:30. Three SIT vans would scoop us up and we would make our way to the Atrium, where our classes are held, grabbing breakfast along the way. Each day we did a different activity: we visited the Phansi museum , had lunch at Freedom Cafe, visited Mandela's capture site and started our Zulu lessons. After class we would head straight to the beach. We would finish the day by buying wine and dinner supplies and picnicking back at our apartment. Needless to say, life was good.
The Phansi Museum was amazing. The sweetest lady showed us around the tiny space they use as a home for all of these beautiful Zulu treasures. Drums made of cow hide, hats made of human hair, and leather skirts abound. She taught us all about the fertility dolls that young girls carry around until they meet their future husband (upon which they give the doll to him in a gesture of their commitment). She taught us the proper way to sneak beer and how to dance with a beaded stick. If you are ever in Durban, you must visit!
Then we visited Mandela's capture site, about an hour and half outside of Durban. There isn't much there besides a small museum, that beautiful sculpture, and a plaque at the exact spot he was captured. He had been working undercover as a gardener when he was captured. He was put on trial; it was then that he uttered his famous words, "I have fought against black domination... It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” He was not given the death penalty, but was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.
We flew into Johannesburg on January 26th, convened in the airport, and then made our way to the Airport Game Lodge 10 minutes from the airport. I think I can speak for the group when I say that we were pleasantly surprised by our accommodations; the rooms were clean and cool, the grounds were beautiful, and there were ostriches, antelope, and peacocks to keep us company.
After a big chicken dinner and a long night's sleep, we headed to the Apartheid museum right outside of the city. The program directors told us they were throwing us right in the deep end, which is exactly what they did. The museum was laid out in a way in which both aesthetics and content played a major role in the impact of the history. For example, upon entrance we were given either 'white' or 'non-white' cards to cary, emulating the experience of black South Africans during apartheid. After lunch we went to Soweto, the largest black township in the nation and visited Mandela's home.
The following day, post early morning run with our director Imraan, we went to the Constitutional Court of South Africa. After writing a remarkably progressive constitution, the court opened in 1995. Since then it has made it its mission to lead the nation in a progressive manner, but the majority of South Africans are (at least socially) more conservative than the constitution. Additionally, the nation is not economically stable enough to be able to support the demands placed on it by the constitution (housing and healthcare for all). Thus the outcomes of cases are not always representative of the constitution.
After seeing the court, we hopped in vans and made the seven hour journey to Durban.
I can't remember the name of this place but it was super fun and honestly just pretty ridiculous. It turns out the French are really into modern design; there were mirrors everywhere and we kept running into ourselves! The burgers were delicious though. Would definitely reccomend if you ever find yourself in the 9th arrondesment.
Le Saint Jean in Montmarte is such a cute place for lunch! Walking around this area was so much fun, there are great shops and some really pretty churches.
Angelina is the most amazing hot chocolate palace I've ever been (although I can't say I've ever been to a hot chocolate palace before)! Everything is expensive but SO worth it if you like chocolate.
Ultimately our time in Paris was wonderful. We stayed in Montmarte (the 9th arrondissement) in a sweet little air b&b on Rue Douai. We walked everywhere, saw museums and shops, and drank TON of rosé. Thank you Mom and Paris for the wonderful send off, I will be back soon!
Mom and I arrived jet-lagged in Rome on the morning of the 14th. We forced ourselves to walk around, despite our exhaustion, but after a shared pizza and too much wine we decided to head for the train to Frascati. The little hill town outside of Rome is one of Italy's well-kept secrets, and home to my favorite bread in the world. One day later we left Frascati and headed to Cortona, where we saw friends, ate too much amazing pizza, and walked around our old favorite places. Finally we headed to Florence for our last day in Italy. Again, we walked like crazy, went shopping, and visited the Uffizi, which houses Sandro Botticelli's Primavera and Birth of Venus. Overall, time spent in our second home is always amazing, but being there just me and mom was better than I ever could have imagined!
When someone you love comes to visit, the anticipation is unbearable, the time together flies by, and the ending is invariably bittersweet. Bobby was here visiting me this past week before I take off for ZA and he takes off for his last semester of college, and indeed, this was the case. Because I'm leaving the country soon, I had a lot of people I was trying to see before I go, so I brought Bobby along with me. We hiked at Montara Mountain in Half Moon Bay with my aunt and cousins, hiked and went camping at Muir Woods with some family friends, went mountain biking at Mount Tamalpais, ate at Sol Food, went to a Tiki Bar, and explored the Bay Area. Those adventures were great, but our favorite time spent together was just hanging out at home, goofing around with my family. Saying goodbye was definitely more on the bitter end of bittersweet (quite a few tears were shed) because we aren't going to get to see each other until I get back, but ultimately our week together was wonderful and just what we needed before heading off on our adventures.
Anja, Ana, and I flew down to LA for Thanksgiving, beginning our journey at 3am in Seattle, and finishing our first day of break in Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree, where we met up with my family and a whole bunch of our family friends. Our days started around 6:30am with steaming cups of tea, early morning rock scampers, and sunrise appreciation. Hiking, biking, climbing, yoga, and running followed. Each day would end around 8pm after a delicious dinner and wayyy too many margaritas. Thanksgiving was joyous and fulfilling (in more ways than one)! The desert is such a perfect place to celebrate all the beauty and adventure that earth has to offer. So beyond grateful for all of this!
Christmas is taken ridiculously seriously in my family. Carols are played (and sung!) on repeat, ballets and plays are attended, and parties are hosted. Getting our Christmas tree is always an eventful part of the holiday festivities. It used to be more eventful than it is now, because me and Chloe would fight over who's tree was better, and inevitably, one of us would end up crying. As we got older my dad and I learned to just agree with whichever tree my mom or sister wanted because they were the more opinionated of us four, and always got the tree they wanted anyway. My dad and I are super similar that way, we prefer to keep family events low-key and avoid tears at all costs :). Occasionally we drive to the mountains near Palo Alto to chop down our Christmas tree, but most of the time we just go to a mall lot nearby and pick one up from there. That's what we did this year, except this time, my mom insisted that I pick the tree out. Pickings were slim because it's so close to Christmas, but as you can see, we had a blast and found an awesome tree. Happy Holidays, all!