Friday, December 4, 2009

Final Day

I can’t believe this journey has come to an end. It’s bittersweet because I’m really ready to come home but I’m also a little sad to leave. The students have been wonderful and I’ve met a lot of really nice people here. I will especially miss Khanyi, Thobeka, and Eric (the crew that works at the guesthouse). This morning, we went to service at St. Georges Cathedral and then had coffee with Archbishop Desmond Tutu! It was the perfect way to end the trip. I head to the airport tonight and go from Cape Town to Amsterdam to Memphis to Knoxville. Please pray for safe travels, and I will see you all stateside‼‼!

Lion's Head

Before I came on this trip, I would not have considered myself to be an outdoorsy or adventurous person. I still don’t consider myself to be outdoorsy or adventurous, but I think I might be close. Kaitlin (you should remember her from the Table Mountain blog) and Diana convinced me that I should climb Lion’s Head. “It’s much easier than Table Mountain!” I eventually gave in and up the mountain we went. I have to admit, it was easier than Table Mountain, but it was a bit scarier. Lion’s Head is round, so the climb takes you around in a circle and gives you a 360 degree view of the city! I had heard that there was a part where you could either continue to wind your way to the top or use chains to climb straight up. I made it clear from the beginning that I was NOT going to do the chains. My fellow climbers assured me that we could take the longer way up; and like a fool, I believed them! I’m not sure how they did it, but they convinced me to go up the chains. Looking back on it, the experience wasn’t really that bad. But at the time, I was terrified! I didn’t realize that I’m actually a little afraid of heights! By the time I made it up, my hands were trembling. Kudos to Diana for coaching me step by step and to Kaitlin for the constant encouragement! The view from the top was SPECTACULAR, but I don’t think I’ll be climbing any more mountains anytime soon!

High Tea

The Mount Nelson Hotel supposedly has one of the best High Tea’s in the world, so the ladies of the house decided to check it out. We got all dolled up and ventured down to the hotel. I have passed by the hotel pretty regularly but had never been in because there are guards at each entrance that only allow guests to pass through. I’m not exactly sure what I expected, but it was nice. There was a spread of different kinds of finger sandwiches (with the crusts cut off), some other types of finger foods and a whole host of desserts. Oh….and there was tea :o)

The Cape vs. The Rest

Back in October, a few of us went to a hip-hop competition called the Cape vs. the Rest. Local rappers and dancers were competing to join a team that will represent Cape Town in a battle against artists from Jo’burg and Pretoria. We went to support Tiro, Vernon’s son, who is a crumper. He advanced to the final round, but we were not able to stay for the end, so I’m not sure whether or not he actually made the team. One of the most talented people there was a beat-boxer (not sure if I spelled it correctly, but you know what I mean). He did five different sounds at the same time‼! I actually got him on video and will try to post it when I get home. He even made it to the final round of SA’s Got Talent (the South African version of America’s Got Talent).

Monday, November 23, 2009

No More Nice Girl!

I have been trying to be nice, but that has got to stop! I am convinced that the men here have lost their minds! It started with Prof. Lee trying to hook me up with a guy she considers to be her brother. He's a doctor and is actually a nice guy, but he's way out of my age bracket! I told her that but still tried to be nice when we were in Jo'burg. Before I knew it he was calling my hotel room from the hotel lobby and Prof. Lee was making comments about me staying in Africa for a few more years to be with him! Don't worry. There won't be any Zulu weddings in my future :o) There is also a man that stands in the shopping center where I go to the gym. His name is James, but to be honest, I'm not exactly sure what his job is. I think he's a watchman or some type of security, so when he first started speaking to me, I spoke back thinking he would be a good friend to have if I ever needed help. WRONG! Every time I go to the gym, I feel like I'm a fugitive trying not to be spotted. Whenever he sees me, he tells me that he has been waiting for me. Saturday morning, he actually followed me all the way to the gym (he probably would have come in had it not been for women only)! He kept trying to get my email address and phone number so he can surprise me in the US. Good thing I had already learned my lesson about giving out my email address.

When we were waiting for the cable car to go up Table Mountain last week, a guy started talking to me. He asked for my phone number but I gave him my email address instead. I figured that was safer and that he would be less likely to email than call. WRONG!!! By the time I got back to the house, I had an email from him saying that he wished he could have walked with me on the mountain. A few days ago, he sent me another email asking why I hadn't written back or called. He also told me that this was the happiest he had been since he was born and closed the email with 'I Love You Eboni'! To top it off, his name is Forward! Alexis has been getting some good laughs out of this, but it wasn't so funny this morning when on the way to the gym, she was approached by a man (standing in the spot where James usually stands). She assumed he was after me, but he only had eyes for her! I'm going to try not to be mean, but being nice has gotten me into an uncomfortable situation. Good thing it's almost time to go home! I might have to change my email address though....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Moni and Me

Ahinee came to visit me last week, and we had a GREAT time! It was so nice to have one of my best friends experience Cape Town with me. The weather wasn't the greatest, but we didn't let that stop us. The picture above is a view of Seapoint and Robben Island from the top of signal hill. We tried to get up to Table Mountain that day, but the cable car closed due to wind, so we went to watch the sunset on signal hill instead. Some of the highlights from her visit were shopping in Green Market Square, our adventure on the Garden Route (you'll have to get the stories from one of us in me, we can't make this stuff up :o), the elephant sanctuary, the zipline, and table mountain. Oh yeah....and the FOOD!!!!! We have been saying we are going to take a "Moni adventures" trip every year, so I guess this makes it official! Below are a few highlights from our week:

Egg man in the market on the phone with Madiba! He was supposed to let us know when Tutu called, but we haven't heard from him yet.

Dinner in the wine cellar....I'm still not sure how I feel about that experience.

 Cango Caves after going through some love tunnel or something (I can't remember the exact name, but the opening was so small that a lady actually got stuck in there. It took them 10 hours to get her out!) The motivation for this photo was 'What in the HECK did we just do????'

 Caution....Baboon crossing!!! Moni was so excited to see them :o)

Posing with Marula! By far my most favorite experience of the trip! I think Moni secretly loves elephants, but don't tell the AKAs :o)

Dressed and ready for the zipline...outfitted with all the gear and a water bottle!

George of the Jungle....No, wait...that's Moni!!!!

Glamour shots on Table Mountain!!!

ZA's Next Top Model!!!

At Nobel Square with Desi and Madiba!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Big 5

As part of the excursion, I went on my second trip to Kruger National Park. We only got to go on a half-day drive, but managed to see 4 of the Big Five! The only thing I didn't see this trip was a lion (so that picture is actually from 2007), but getting such a great shot of the leopard made up for it since leopards are usually the hardest one to spot (no pun intended) :o) 


Elephant (My favorite of course!)




Thursday, November 5, 2009

You Don't Look Black Anymore

The Tuesday before the excursion, Alexis and I both had a day off from work, so Monday night we decided we would take our hair down and made appointments to get it redone on Tuesday morning. I started taking my hair down at about 5 Monday afternoon and did not finish until about 3:30 am Tuesday! After 8+ hours of taking my hair down I just could not see myself getting it done all over again. The only problem was that I didn't bring any hair stuff with me... no blow dryer, no flat iron, no brush, no scarf, no shampoo...NOTHING!!! Alexis and I got up the next morning on a mission to find some products to help us tame our wild manes. We found most things pretty easily, but the head scarf was the hardest to come by. We ended up walking halfway across town before I found something that I could use! It took me another 4 hours to wash and detangle my hair, but in the end all my hard work paid off. I'm back to looking like the Eboni you all know and love (:o)

When I went back to work on Thursday, most of the staff didn't recognize me. One of the counselors told me I didn't look black anymore! She actually thought they had hired a new person! She said that my hair was too straight and that I now looked coloured. Since then, she has asked me when I was going to put my braids back in and go back to looking black! I'm sure it seems like a weird thing to say to someone, but that's a prime example of how race is viewed here.

Apartheid ended 15 years ago, but the racial divide is as strong as ever. Blacks are still viewed by whites and coloureds as the lowest of the low. If you walk through town, you will see that white people are the ones shopping and eating in restaurants and the blacks and coloureds are the ones working and serving. The dynamic between blacks and coloureds  is also very interesting. Here, grouping non-whites together as a minority will not suffice. In fact, some coloured people get very offended if you call them black or tell them that they would be considered black if they were in the US.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stay Tuned....

This is a picture of Archbishop Desmond Tutu stepping down from the Tutu Tester. He came to visit the crew and celebrate having tested over 1,000 people! I thought it was going to be a laid back day, but it was an absolute media circus! There were TV and magazine reporters galore and a film crew shooting a documentary on his life. We had drafted a letter inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner at our guesthouse, but there were so many people there that I did not get to speak to him (though I did get to shake his hand!). I gave the letter to his assistant and she promised to pass it along. I was not holding my breath on that one, but she actually called before the day ended. Apparently the Archbishop already has two commitments on Thanksgiving and will not be able to do a third. She did tell me that there is a possibility that we could attend one of his services in December and have coffee with him afterword. I'm still waiting to confirm, but keep your fingers crossed! I'll keep you updated on how it goes...

Last week was the group excursion to Jo'burg, Pretoria, and Kruger Park, and I did not take my computer with me. I am back in Cape Town and am getting back in the swing of things. I will set aside some time this evening to blog and will have some posts up in the next day or so.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wacky Weather

The weather here is very unpredictable. The locals say you can experience all 4 seasons in 1 day, and that's pretty much what I have experienced. You can wake up and it be freezing, by noon the sun will make an appearance, around 4 the winds will pick up, and by 7 it's cold and rainy again! We had some good days in September, but the cold and rainy ones far outnumbered the good ones. When it rains, the clouds get so dense and thick that the mountain literally disappears. At one point we went for a period of about 4 days straight without seeing the mountain! October brought with it fewer rainy days, much warmer weather, and even stronger winds. At times the wind blows so hard that, from my room, it sounds like the house is literally going to be blown off it's foundation! The picture below was taken on a cloudy day right after I got back from work. I hope you can see the rainbow just over the building!

A Small Piece of Home

Thursday night, a few of us (Alexis, Kaitlin, and Anuja) went to the John Legend concert. It was nice to get a little piece of home after having been away for what seems like forever! John Legend put on an AWESOME show, and I really enjoyed it. Keri Hilson opened for him, and I could have passed on that one. The concert was scheduled to start at 8, and by 8:05 Keri Hilson was taking the stage! She preformed for about 30 minutes, and I hate to say it but those 30 minutes were pretty painful. At the end, people clapped but I am not sure if it was because they loved the performance or they were happy she was finally finished. The crowd seemed content with her part of the show being over when her hype man came back on the stage and tried to convince the crowd to cheer for an encore. She did one more song and finally left the stage for good!

While they were setting up the stage for John (we're on a first name basis now), arena workers were passing out these little plastic packs of water. Alexis, Anuja, and I were pretty thirst, so we had no problem drinking it. Kaitlin, on the other hand, has a serious fear of food poisoning and was really skeptical about drinking it. Her thirst eventually trumped her phobia, and she drank some water...but only after she made us promise to care of her if she got sick! John Legend performed straight for about an hour and a half. He started the show in the crowd singing a Bob Marley tune and then made his way to the stage. He sang hit after hit and even pulled a girl up on stage for Slow Dance....if only that had been me! All in all, it was a GREAT night! Alexis and I had been talking about going since about day 3, and we were definitely not disappointed!

Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Masterpiece

Posted by Picasa


Hi, my name is Eboni, and I'm addicted to Bananagrams….. Sad but true!

Kaitlin introduced me to a new game, and after one round I was hooked. Bananagrams is like scrabble without a board. Each player gets a certain amount of letters and you basically make your own crossword board. Once you have used all your letters, you say 'PEEL' and everyone has to take another letter. If you want to get rid of a letter, you say 'DUMP'. You can put back a letter but you have to pick up three in its place. The goal is to be the first one to use all your letters. It may not sound like much, but it is LOADS OF FUN!!!! The other morning, I actually played a round all by myself and (with Anne Marie's help) managed to win! "BANAGRAMS!!!"
Posted by Picasa


The general feeling I get from people here towards Americans is very different now than when I was here two years ago. Before coming in 2007, I remember the program director telling us to be very cautious and not draw attention to the fact that we were American. Of course, no matter how hard you try, people know exactly where you are from once you speak :o)

I went to Cape Point with Professor Lee and Dr. Murphey-Brown and just happened to be wearing an Obama shirt. The entire day, people were smiling, waving, and giving me thumbs up! It's amazing what a warm and positive reception he receives from the rest of the world. One man even commented that he would love to see Obama and Mandela photographed together. Talk about a powerful photo! This was before the Nobel Peace Prize controversy, but my guess is that though people may not agree with that decision, they still support President Obama and the things he is trying to accomplish. Alexis and I joked about wearing a George W. Bush shirt as a social experiment to compare the reactions but decided we did not want to risk having things thrown at us.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Room (trying again)

I realized this picture didn't post, so I thought I would try again.
Posted by Picasa


My second trip out with the Tutu tester crew was to the heart of Nyanga, one of the most dangerous townships. We were stationed at the taxi rank (the place were all the minibus taxies park; similar to a bus station). The taxi rank is full of people and action. There are hundreds of minibuses parked in rows and street vendors selling everything from clothes to goats lining the perimeter. The day in Nyanga was the first day the crew did TB testing since I started, so Katharina thought it would be a good idea for me to see how that part of the study works. It turned out to be a very good day for me to go because quite a few people tested HIV positive, so there were lots of sputum samples to collect. This was my first experience with inducing sputum, and trust me, it's not pretty. I felt really bad for those people just sitting in a tent, breathing salt water, and coughing their lungs out!

My other duty in Nyanga was to assist with registering patients. When people come to the tester, they have their height and weight taken. Then they come to me to be registered. I basically enter their information into the computer, get their fingerprint, and give them a tester number. They then rejoin the cue and wait for the nurses to call them in for the tests. I met some very nice people and a few not so nice ones! Among the nice ones was a man from Zim who had family in St. Louis. He has been in Cape Town for about 10 years and is considering going to the US to see if he would like it. Among the not so nice ones were two older men who were not very pleased with me. They approached the table and began speaking Xhosa. When I told them I did not under stand and asked them to speak English, one man got very upset. "English! NO!" he said, and continued to yell at me in Xhosa. After a couple of minutes of this, my friend from Zim came to the rescue. He said something to the man who then threw up his hands and walked away. My friend explained to me that the man was upset because I was black but did not speak the language. To the man, this was unacceptable. He explained to the man that I was from the US, but by that point the man was so displeased that he just walked away. Since then, I have been trying to work on my conversational Xhosa, but I'm sad to report my progress has been very slow.

Yesterday, I went back to Nyanga to assist with a 12-hour testing event. The MSR coordinators wanted to test as many men as they could from 10am to 10pm. I went out with the first shift and was  at the testing site from 9 to 2:30. I was the one-man registration station and was responsible for registering all the men and then printing their vouchers (today they were given R50; $7 USD) after they finished posttest counseling. Within the first few hours, I had registered over 50 men (about the same amount that we did the whole day I was out the last time), and there were probably double that waiting. I believe they were expecting over 500 men to show up, but with only a handful of nurses and even fewer counselors, I have no clue how they were going to serve all those men.

I was supposed to go to the airport with Professor Lee, so I left at 2:30. At around 6:30, I got a very disturbing phone call from Katharina. Shortly after I left, there was an armed robbery at the testing site. I do not know many details, but the computer, some supplies, and all the staff's cell phones were stolen. Other than being very shaken up, everyone is ok. The Lord was definitely looking out for me yesterday. Had I been there,  I probably would have been on the next flight home! Cape Town is a very beautiful place, and it is so easy to forget that it is also a very dangerous place. I will continue to work at the foundation and ask that you send prayers of health and safety my way.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Man at the Side of the Road

I have finally started work at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and am really enjoying it. I'm working under Dr. Katharina Kranzer on a study of undiagnosed TB among HIV positive people. She is in the early stages of data collection, and my duties are basically to manage the data flow. This includes going into the field and assisting with interviews,  overseeing data entry staff, and managing and validating the database. The Tutu Tester is a mobile voluntary testing and counseling unit that goes into the townships. People can come to the tester and meet with nurses who test them for hypertension, diabetes, and HIV and counselors who provide pre and posttest counseling. All people who are either known to be HIV positive or newly diagnosed on the Tutu Tester are invited to participate in the study and are asked to give a sputum sample which is used to test for TB.

My first day out with the Tutu Tester crew was a memorable one to say the least. The day I went out, they were testing for a program called Man at the Side of the Road (MSR). If you drive out of the city, it's not uncommon to see groups of men sitting at corners. At first glance, it looks like they are just hanging out. What they are actually doing is hoping for work. Men gather and sit on the sides of the road and at intersections and wait for someone to come hire them. For instance, if you were moving, you could pull up, grab a few of the men to move your things, and then pay them whatever you see fit. It's not the most stable or reliable source of income, but it's something.

We traveled quite a ways to the outskirts of a township called Philipi. I wasn't really sure what to expect and pretty much nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience. We pulled up literally on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. There was sand for miles and a few small dunes with some weeds, but that was pretty much it. Once we pulled up, about 50 men seemed to appear from nowhere. We could only serve about 40 of them, so unfortunately there were some men who were turned away. As part of the MSR program, the men receive R75 ($10.71 USD) once they have completed their posttest counseling. The purpose of the incentive is to compensate them for their time and basically pay them slightly more than what they would have made if they had worked for the day. Off in the distance, I noticed a group of four women walking down the road. As the afternoon went on, two of the women actually came over to the testing van and said something in Xosha. All the men laughed, and the women walked away. Once they were gone, one of the testing crew explained to me that the women were prostitutes, and they told the men that they would be up the road but the men must show their papers stating that they tested negative before they could purchase! Talk about being where the action is!

I sat in with one of the nurses and helped with a few of the tests, but I didn't last very long. The day didn't go as well for me as I had hoped. I'll spare you the details, but out of nowhere I got very sick. It would be just my luck to be sick, in the middle of nowhere, with no bathroom in sight! One of the nurses was really sweet and walked with me down the road where there was a security shack. After some pleading, the guard let me use her bathroom but wasn't happy when I asked for toilet paper. Oh well… luckily I made it through the day and was fully recovered after about 2 days :o) For many reasons, this is not an experience that I will soon forget!

Friday, October 9, 2009

My room....with the small bed. I've upgraded since this photo was taken :o)

Whale Festival

A view of some of the whale watchers!
Posted by Picasa

A Whale of a Time

One thing I wanted to do the last time I was here, but didn't get the opportunity to do, was go whale watching. We hired Parks (our driver) for the day and went about 112km east to Hermanus for the whale festival. Hermanus is a really small town but is known as the whale capital of South Africa. Parks took the scenic route along the coast, so it took almost 3 hours to get there, but the trip was definitely worth it! We were greeted by two jumping whales right as we pulled up to the cliff! I was really shocked at how close to the land the whales actually came. We all jumped out of the van and headed down to the action. People were lined all along the coast and out on the rocks poised with cameras in the ready position just hoping to get a shot; and it wasn't long before I was right there with them…out on the rocks just waiting for some action! After a while with no action, we decided to grab some lunch. There was a small little strip mall with some restaurants, but I decided to take in the festival and ventured to the food tents. There were so many different things to choose, but I settled on some sort of homemade wrap with sun-dried tomatoes, feta, and avo (avocado: I don't think I've seen the whole word spelled out here. Of course, I only recently discovered that I like them, so it could be that way in the US and I'm just not up to speed). To my surprise, it was nutritious and delicious!!!

After lunch, we headed up to the cliff for a different vantage point, and it wasn't long before two whales (a mom and her calf I think) came right over to where we were. People seemed to come out of nowhere and within seconds the cliff was full of people…standing right in my view and messing up my shot! I really didn't want to go to the edge, but I sucked it up and went down to get a better view. Getting a good picture was much harder than I thought. I got what I thought were some good shots of the whales in the water, but they turned out to look like dark blobs in the water (they really are whales… I promise!). By the time I made it to the edge of the cliff, I had given up on still shots and switched to video. (Unfortunately, it will take to much Internet usage for me to upload them here, but maybe I'll post one on Facebook when I get back.) The awesome view at the edge came to a quick end when the police came and made us all move back. Shortly after that, it started raining and our day in Hermanus came to an abrupt end. Despite the soggy ending, I really enjoyed it!
Posted by Picasa

Resident Little Sister

While I was in Ohio, Kedada always called me 'the little sister'. To be honest, I never quite knew exactly why she called me that. Well, Dada, now I know! Alexis has officially become my resident little sister! Being the only two Black women in the house, we naturally gravitated toward each other, and over the past few weeks our relationship has really blossomed. We've both had our ups and downs while here, and I'm really grateful for her being there for me when I feeling down and I hope that I have done the same for her. We have quite a bit in common and get along really well. Before I upgraded to the bigger bed, she and I used to watch movies and fall asleep in my twin bed! Can you believe it??? Two grown women sleeping in a twin bed! We spend lots of time swapping stories about our families and school experiences. She and her mom are extremely close just like my mom and me, and we both come from blended families. She's a junior majoring in Political Science and American Studies and is considering law school after graduation. While here, she's interning at Christel House (a school K-12 for at-risk youth) and works counseling high school aged children. Overall, she's a really sweet girl, and I'm pretty sure we will remain friends long after this trip ends!
Posted by Picasa

Bouncing Back

About two weeks ago, I hit a (very unexpected) personal road block. I was pretty down for a few days, and being so far away from friends and family didn't make things any easier. But, don't worry. With the love and support from my family in the US and my surrogate family here in Cape Town, I've bounced back! I am feeling refreshed and really trying to maintain a positive attitude. I strongly believe that when one door closes, another door or window will open. I'm looking forward to our upcoming excursion to Jo'burg and Pretoria and the arrival of some of my closest friends! Please continue to keep me in your prayers as I am learning more about myself and growing each day.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hillcrest Manor (Last One)

The view from the house!!! Who could ask for a better place to write?

Posted by Picasa

Hillcrest Manor Pt. II

This is a picture of the guesthouse. I had some trouble uploading pictures earlier, but hopefully I'll have better luck in the future!
Posted by Picasa

Things I Miss

I really miss...
-My family and friends: It's good to get emails and phone calls from people I love, but it's just not the same as seeing their faces!

-Daily pictures of Jazmyne: Tiff and Mom have been doing a pretty good job of sending me pictures, but my baby is growing so fast, and I don't want to miss a second!
-Central heat: Luckily I have a space heater in my room, but central heat is a MUST!


-College Football: I've tried to supplement with rugby, soccer (football), and cricket matches; but it's just not the same :o( GO VOLS!!!!

-My babies: Cali and Tink, I miss you! If anyone has any suggestions on how to get tink to poop in the litter box, please let me know! He's been giving my mom a run for her money!

-Digital cable, DVR, and the new seasons of all my shows: I really hope they will keep episodes of all my favorites online so I can watch them when I get back. If not, I hope mom and Chandra are taking notes and will fill me in on everything I've missed!

-Daily chats with Moni: I feel so out of the loop! Love you Moni!!!

-Unlimited Internet: This pay by the MB thing is not really working for me! The Internet at the guest house was extremely expensive, so I ended up getting a modem (similar to mobile broadband in the US). The modem was a bit expensive (R1,8000), but in the end it will be much better than what I was paying for wireless at the house. It will be a long time before I complain about my cable/Internet bill again!

-My Egyptian cotton bath towels

-Free refills

-Foxy (my car): For the most part, I walk to most places. If it's late or too far, we call a cab. But, there's just something about being able to get in the car and go and come as you please.

-Washcloths: Apparently most people here do not use them, but they are a must for me!

-Tap water in restaurants: Here, you purchase bottled water in restaurants (still or sparkling), and they look at you crazy if you ask for tap water.

-Pounds, inches, Fahrenheit, and Eastern Time: All these conversions are starting to make my head hurt!

-Good Morning America

-Cell phone plans: Here, you purchase airtime on a 'pay as you go' system.

This is just a start. I'm sure I'll think of more...

Hillcrest Manor

It's hard to believe I've been in Cape Town for over a month! I haven't been doing a very good job of keeping you up to date, but I'm going to make a conscience effort to do better! I've been keeping a list of things to write about, so some things will be current and others will be a bit dated.
The students and I are staying at Hillcrest Manor Guesthouse in a pretty nice area of the city called Tamboerskloof. The guesthouse is actually just about a 7-9 minute walk to where Eni and I stayed in 2007, so I'm pretty familiar with the area. The neighborhood is a relatively safe place, but I still try to keep walking at night to a minimum and I definitely don't go out alone after dark.
Before coming, I was not quite sure about staying in a house with 15 undergraduate students, but I was assured that I would have my own room and bathroom; and that was enough for me. When I first arrived, I must admit I was not too happy with my room. It's not actually in the house, but out the back door. My first thought was Great! They stuck me in the servant's quarters! Above my room, there is the 'Annex' where three other female students stay which is much nicer than the servant's quarters. My doors open directly to outside, so it gets extremely cold in here at night. After the first few nights, I was so miserable that Professor Lee let me borrow one of the heaters from her flat, and that made all the difference in the world! My room went from feeling like the servant's quarters to my own little oasis!!!! Gerda also came in and fixed my TV, so in addition to the three stations I had been getting (SABC1, SABC2, and SABC3), I now get E! TV and M-net. Who would have thought the DVR queen would be excited to now have 5 TV stations??? And just when I was finally getting comfortable, my twin bed was switched out for a much bigger double bed! If I didn't need food, I may not ever leave my room!!! (just kidding)
Breakfast consisting of cereal, toast, juice, and coffee is provided for us each morning. It's not the greatest, but it's better than nothing. On some Fridays, we get a special breakfast which is usually something like French toast or pancakes! Needless to say, I'm up extra early on Fridays! Dinnertime at the house is usually interesting. Some of the students are pretty good cooks, while others could use a little help. I had a good laugh last night when one of the guys told me about is failed attempt at pasta. He decided that since baked beans were packed in tomato sauce, they would go good with spaghetti noodles…. I think I laughed for a good 5 minutes straight on that one! There is a cute little cafĂ© called the Daily Deli right down the street. The food is relatively cheap and it's good too!
One of the down sides to Hillcrest is that we don't have access to the washer and dryer at the house. So every couple of weeks I pack up my backpack and grocery bags and walk down to the Laundromat. It's fine for now I suppose, but I'm definitely looking forward to warm and hot water cycles once I get back!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!!!!

Thank you all so very much for the birthday wishes! I hate that I didn't actually get to talk to most of you, but the birthday messages and emails really made me feel special! When I first arrived and was unpacking, I found two cards that read "Do not open until your birthday!" and two small boxes. As tempted as I was to peek, I did what I was told and left the boxes and cards in my suitcase. On Friday, at breakfast, I was even more surprised to get a package handed to me! Everyone wanted to know what it was, but I put it in my suitcase with the other items and waited until Saturday to open them all (see mom….I do still listen!). First thing Saturday morning I opened the cards, boxes, and package! The cards were really sweet (yes, I did shed some tears…but not too many). The two little boxes contained a necklace and bracelet from my mom (which I wear everyday) and the package was a R350 ($50 USD) gift certificate to any restaurant in Cape Town!!!! I want to send a HUGE THANK YOU to the BEST parents in the world! My Daddy and Judy also sent me cards, which was another pleasant surprise! Even though he doesn't do computers or the Internet, I wanted to give him a shout out as well! And finally, it would not have been a birthday without Ahinee's birthday rap! THANKS MONI!!!!!

Now, most of you know I'm not really the partying type (…anymore); but since it was my birthday weekend (yes, I celebrated for a whole weekend), I told the group I would go out with them. We started out on Friday night at the club called Zula. I told the guy at the door that it was my birthday, and he let me in free! Good thing too because the spot just wasn't happening! We only spent about 20 mins there before everyone was ready to leave. We walked about a block and came to another club called Jo'burg! This one was right up my alley! The atmosphere was good, and the dj was great! I danced and sang more than I have in quite a while! The group even gave me a shout out at the stroke of midnight to usher in my birthday!

I started out the next morning with a hike up Table Mountain (see previous post for more details). After becoming one with nature, the whole group went over to Professor Lee's flat (or the mansion on the mountain as some of us like to call it) to celebrate my birthday. She had some snacks and drinks for us and the students all chipped in and bought me a double chocolate cheesecake from Charlys (the best bakery around)! Professor Lee even had red and white decorations for me :o) Vernon also came by and brought me his brother's gospel CD!

Later that evening, we all went a spot called Ragazzi. Tabo, a friend of Vernon's son Tiro, was celebrating his birthday (9/13) and the opening of his new club. Ragazzi was a nice, laid back venue. Thomas kept referring to it as a young professional's club! The dj played a nice mix of house, R&B, and Hip-Hop; I also learned that Cape Town is supposedly one of the top places for house music. As the night went on, I noticed a group of guys in the corner dancing. I remember saying to Alexis "All I need is for Single Ladies to come on so they can show out!" Less than 2 minutes later, the song came on and Alfred (or should I say Beyonce) worked it out!!! Oh, what a night! I felt so loved! We all had a really good time, and I want all the students to know how much I appreciate them!