Round the Bend: Team Building Your Last Week in South Africa

Okay, so the last few days, we were at this team-building place near a town called Swellendam in the Western Cape Province. It was really nice—cool cabins (more glamping!), good food, fun activities. We went rappelling (also known as absailing?) and white water rafting. We also talked about returning back to the States—something I was definitely not nervous about until this session! Now I’m freaking out, because apparently everything will have changed and I will hate everyone for not understanding my semester. Cool. I promise I’ll try to not hate you all and stuff…and I’m sure I won’t!

 

We also did program evaluations, watched a slideshow, and wrote down what we love about everyone. I felt like I was back at the last few days of middle school/high school nerd camp. It was fun, a nice way to unwind and bond and whatnot, but I really wished I were in Cape Town. It seemed such a waste to spend my last few days here doing things I’ve done in the States millions of times.

 

It still seems unreal that I will be home in just a couple of days. For some reason, it seems far stranger than it does at the end of a semester at MX or CMC. I guess home is just farther away, less accessible this semester. Either way, I’m prepared for a culture shock! I’m going to download ALL THE THINGS, aka use up more wifi than I’ve seen in three months. I will probably be an unlimited-texting machine too…get excited, friends with finals! And allll the hot water I will be using…sorry environmentalist friends. And oh my goodness the amount of filter coffee I chug will be ridiculous. I don’t even care about Starbucks or the Motley, I just want the convenience of filter coffee IN MY HOUSE.

 

But I will miss even more things—minibuses/taxis, spaza shops, how cheap everything is, my new ZA friends and host families, my favorite restaurants and coffee shops, people understanding my Xhosa, people understanding my experiences (PLEASE TRY GUYS, IT’S ALL I ASK). Markets, like the Biscuit Mill. Seeing Table Mountain no matter where you are. Long Street. Obs. Everything being in 5003983092302 languages, so that I can, for instance, say “Cape Town” in three (Cape Town, Kaapstaad, Kapa).

 

So essentially, my last few posts have been GIANT FREAKOUTS OF NOSTALGIA. This will probably be a theme until this blog ends in approximately 3 days. Yho.

Last Weekend in Cape Town

Currently, I am winding down my last full 24 hours in Kapa (we’re going to some riverside town, Swellendam, until Wednesday, and I leave Thursday). They have been too much fun, and I am not happy that the end is here. It’s funny, because I REALLY thought I would be for awhile–when I moved out of Obs, where I lived for ISP, I was kind of not looking forward to this week. I really do miss my family and friends and home. Still, I’ve had such a wonderful time since classes ended yesterday that I just want to stay for awhile longer.

Class ended at 5:30 PM yesterday, and all of us went to this great little Mexican restaurant called Panchos in Obs.  I know, I know…good Mexican food all the way in South Africa? Must be a joke. Nope, it was genuinely pretty delicious–not California good, and DEFINITELY not as good as my new roommate’s mom’s cooking but wayyyy better than I expected. After months of no Mexican food, I was impressed. It was a fun atmosphere too. Definitely a good start to an awesome night.

Then we came back to our favorite backpackers, near Long Street, and got ready to go out. Last night was definitely in my top 3 nights out in Cape Town…I don’t even know why it was so fun! We went mostly to our usual spots, although we added in this super corny but fun place called Dubliners, where they played ridiculous music like “All the Small Things” and “Proud Mary.” Still, and maybe I’m just getting nostalgic for a semester that hasn’t even ended yet, but I just had so much fun.

This morning, I woke up and went to the top of Table Mountain! We didn’t hike–we had a ton we wanted to do and there just wasn’t time–but we took the cable cars up. I really wanted to hike it this semester, but I did hike it the last time I was here, so at least I don’t feel as though I missed out. I planned it a few times, but either the rain was bad, or I was sick…hopefully, I’ll hike it again some time in my life! It is now officially one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Also, it’s super touristy but the views are just breathtakingly beautiful. Lion’s Head looked so small from the top. I remember hiking that just three and a half months ago…it really made the semester seem to come full circle.

After Table Mountain, my friend and I made it to the Old Biscuit Mill JUST in time to grab some food. I bought myself this kind of expensive necklace I’ve been eyeing all semester–I figure if I’ve literally wanted to buy it almost every Saturday for three months, I probably deserve it. You’ll all see it the next time you see me–since my great-grandma’s old necklace that I used to wear all the time broke, I plan on replacing it with this. The Old Biscuit Mill is probably the yuppiest thing ever, but it was definitely one of my favorite parts of Cape Town, without a doubt…delicious food, awesome clothes and jewelry and home decor…I hated leaving for the last time today.

When I came back from the Biscuit Mill, we went to the beach! Clifton is one of my favorites, and it was so nice. The water was FREEZING though, but I read a bit, and napped, and chatted…and generally freaked out about going home. Honestly, I am anticipating so many questions that I just don’t have answers to (“How was Africa?” “What was your favorite part?”). Africa is a diverse place, yo, but South Africa was excellent, although it is a complicated place with so much possibility and hope but also a lot of problems. My favorite part? I don’t know, do you want to hear about my favorite nerdy thing, my favorite homestay or experience, my favorite tourist memory? I should honestly just type up a form answer, the length of a novel, for the questions and hand them out…that isn’t to say I don’t want people to ask me! I do! I want to share my experiences, but they were just so multifaceted and intense…it would take me days and days and days to explain it all! And even then, I’m not sure you can understand ZA (or probably any place) without really experiencing it…do  even understand ZA? I’ve been here for 3 1/2 months, a total of 4 months in my life, and I’ve seen such a wide range of people and places and things…but I have always been able to place myself in a context of not living here, and being transient. Also, a month or so ago someone asked me if I could live here, and I answered with an emphatic no. I think I’ve since changed my mind…I absolutely could live here. I really do love it, for all of its faults and complexities.

A Dictionary So You Can Understand Me When I’m Stateside

So this semester, I have actively worked to pick up the best of South African lingo. I have a few more hours of work left on my 50-page research paper on PEPFAR in the Western Cape, so obviously I am going to procrastinate by posting my new favorite words and terms, along with their meanings, here:

Howzit? Kind of a catch-all for “Hi, how are you?” This is one of my faves…

Izit? Really? Also one of my favorites. ex. “I am going to bomb this ISP because I’m not motivated at all!'” “Izit?”

Sorted: figured out. As in, “well that’s sorted, we’ll go via taxi!”

Yho!I use this one a lot on here and in emails/Skype/Facebook, so if you haven’t figured it out yet…that’s a little embarrassing. Either way, it is basically a sound of exasperation or exhaustion, and kind of a catch-all for a lot of things. Like “oh my goodness!” It literally could not mean anything farther from “yo” or “YOLO,” as has been suggested to me. Nope.

Molo/Molweni, sisi/bhuti! This is Xhosa, but I now say it as frequently as “Hola, chica!” It pretty much means the same thing, although “sisi” & “bhuti” literally translate to “sister” and “brother.” “Molweni” is just if I’m speaking to more than one person; “molo” is for one person only.

Enkosi: Also Xhosa, it means “thank you.”

Sharp: Basically, “awesome.” For example: “How are you?” “Sharp sharp!” But it sounds more like “shorp” with the softest “r” you can manage than “sharp” like we say in America.

Now now: Now I know what this looks like. It means “so incredibly right at this moment that I must emphasize the nowness of it,” right? Nope. Really it means “soon,” which could mean anywhere from 30 seconds from now to hours and hours. Seriously. I used to think “Africa time” was a kind of derogatory term because people are laid back. Then I spent three months in South Africa and realized that, nope, it’s a thing, and time is meaningless here. MEANINGLESS!

I have also seriously increased my use of the words “quite,” “NGO,” “bursary,” and “university.” Because in ZA, CMC would be a university, not college, but at home, I go to college.

PS I wish this had taken more than 5 minutes to write, as I now have to return to my ISP…meh. Two days until I’m done with academic commitments? Yayyy.

PPS I’m so impressed with my ability to keep up this blog all semester.