Saturday, March 14, 2015

Whirlwind end to SA

Alas, my time in South Africa is whirling to a close. The last few weeks at the school in Johannesburg were quite hectic. Then I sped off to a service learning institute in Capetown where I was able to catch up with folks from all over the region. It was so fun to sit and have drinks with people from 3 of my different "homes" abroad at the same table! The service learning team in the AISA region is full of inspirational individuals and it was rejuvenating to spend time with them. While I was in Capetown I crashed two different friends' rooms (beds # 24 & 25). The first few nights I stayed with Tara (see last post). The last few nights I stayed with another new-ish friend, Liz, who works at my former school in Uganda. Lots of great conversations with these two. I'm especially grateful for all the coffee smuggling and key sharing maneuvers required to house me.

I flew back to Joburg and pretty much immediately joined a camping tour to Kruger. Bed #26 was a cot in a tent in the national park. I spent two nights traveling around with a group of travelers from all over the world (New Zealand, Poland, Germany, Canada, Ghana....) and had some fun animal encounters to round out my time on the continent.

Tonight I am staying with my friends Juan and Ed and their two lovely daughters (bed #27). They have been one of my other consistent families here in Joburg and have included me in many a dinner and outing. I am so grateful for their friendships and hospitality.

From strangers to friends

Before I arrived in SA, I had only chatted to Tara once on Skype. While we had mutual friends in the service-learning world, we had never met in person. Not only did Tara help me get my research in South Africa rolling, she and her husband graciously offered their guest room to me. At first, I had no idea if I would be staying with Tara, JB, and their two boys for a few days or a few weeks. Yet two months later, I am just now packing up my bags to leave.

I have been blown away by the generosity of this family. They have welcomed me into their home, driven me places, fed me, taken me on adventures around the city, included me in social events, and helped me find anything I needed. While spending time here, I have learned new Aussie slang, gotten sucked back into the VW slug bug game, deepened my love for the color orange, lost miserably at Monopoly, learned about ninja meerkats, drunk bottles of champagne, walked dozens of kilometers while discussing service learning, and have lost all my limbs (many times over) to an imaginary Tom snake. I am so incredibly grateful for my South African (/Australian) home away from home!