Monday, August 22, 2011

Coming Home.

Well, we have been home for over a month now. It feels like just yesterday we were stepping off the plane in Washington DC with the realization that we weren’t in Africa any more. Let me tell you about our travel experiences…

Traveling home was much more difficult than traveling there. Shawn and I left PE pretty early in the morning. The cab driver was pretty chatty but Shawn and I really were just trying to soak up every ounce of South Africa we could before we left. The goodbyes were filled with many tears. We had to say goodbye to good friends, we drove past some of our favorite places, and the airport is right by Walmer. We got to the PE airport way to early. The airport is tiny so it took us about ten minutes to get checked in and through security. We sat at our gate and got coffee from the little place we had gotten it on our way to Zambia a few weeks before. We both pretty much sat in silence with the occasional glance at each other knowing that we weren’t ready to leave. When they called us to board we knew it was over but it didn’t make it any easier. We said goodbye to PE and were off. In Jo’burg we landed and went shopping. We picked up some last minute souvenirs and just walked around the airport. The airport is huge and quite nice. Shawn and I got some lunch. Ironically it was a health restaurant and I think Shawn was disappointed they didn’t have fries :) Of course, we had to stop at the Indian restaurant so Shawn could get a final samoosa in SA. We met up with Patrick and Kelly who were both on our flight from Jo’burg to Washington DC. We had a LONG layover. I think it was something like eleven hours. It went by pretty quickly though. We watched our DVD’s we had made of our pictures and talked.  We met a group of high schoolers on their way back from two weeks in Malawi so that was cool. We walked around and got some supper late and then just waited some more. About an hour before we were supposed to board we had a security screening.  We had to get in two separate lines of males and females. We were then patted down and our carry-on’s searched. It was weird and kind of a pain but oh well. It took up some time! It was after 10 SA time so it was dark when we got on the plane. It was the last time our feet would touch African soil in a long time. Again, there were a few tears. We were optimistic getting on the plane. We were going to try and stay up and watch a movie before going to sleep and all that. We had a plan. It didn’t work. I ended up getting a terrible stomachache. I was having really bad stomach cramps and was just downright uncomfortable. The plane was packed so there was no way for us to spread out or even really walk around. I took tums, pepto bismal, and Tylenol but nothing seemed to work. We finally landed in Senegal which we thought would be a quick half hour of unloading and reloading. It turned out to be much longer.  They turned all the lights on and made us take all of our overhead luggage out of the bins. They searched the bins and the seats of those who had left. They had problems with double bookings so we had more people on the plane than seats! Shawn and I were pretty miserable two hours later when we finally left for the leg of our trip to DC. We finally got to DC late and Shawn and I were STRESSED. I think the next 30 minutes were probably the most trying moments in our relationship. We rushed through passport control, we ran to our luggage, we grabbed them off the cart and then….had no idea where to go. We were panicked about our flight, tired, I had a stomach ache, and basically our minds were having trouble focusing. We finally asked someone and figured out where we needed to go. We were second in line but the lady in. front. of. us. took. forever.  We were finally able to talk to a lady from United and she told us we had better start running because flights to Chicago were booked for the next two days. She printed our boarding passes we dropped off our luggage and literally did start to run. We asked the group in front of us if we could go in front of them since we were going to miss our flight when we reached security. They looked at us and said NO. Okay. Shawn was in ultimate survival mode. I was just trying to keep some sanity. We finally got up to security and the guard told us to “Run like hell!” We did. We were so happy when we got on the tram to our gate. Our plane was taking off in five minutes but our tickets said D3. We figured that we would get off the tram and practically be at our gate. We (almost) breathed a sigh of relief. Nope. We got off the tram and the first sign we see? D20. No. We started running. Like those crazy people you see screaming and running through the airport that you just want to tell to chill out. That was us. At one point I thought we were done and I started walking. I figured whatever, we will get home eventually. Shawn kept running ahead and then came around the corner waving me down and telling me to hurry up. Apparently, the United lady told him in not so friendly of a manner that the gate was closed. Somehow it worked out and we ran onto the plane. It would be my luck to be sitting in the middle seat of the back row. Awesome. Luckily, there was a really nice older gentlemen who told me it was fine, helped me with my carryon and was very reassuring. I wish I could tell him Thank You because I was about to lose it at that point. We finally got settled but guess what? The plane didn’t leave for another FIFTEEN minutes. It was waiting for other people from our flight. We finally got a little bit calmed down and before we knew it we had landed in Chicago. We got off the plane and realized we weren’t sure where our little black case thing was that we kept our passports in . I had to go back on the plane (to the middle seat of the very last row) to look for it. One flight attendant was very nice and helpful but other one was quite rude. We couldn’t find it but at that point I didn’t care. I’d pay for a new one! We got off the plane and did eventually find it shoved in one of our carry on’s . We immediately found a bathroom. We put on some clean clothes and tried to look as “with it” as we could. We finally found Brad, Karmen, Ryan, Nicole, and Luke. Shawn gave me my engagement ring! It was gorgeous but we were both ready to get in the car and get home! Our luggage miraculously made the journey intact. We went to the hotel, got in the car, went and picked up the uhaul, went to McDonalds and then we were finally on the way home! We took the long way home thanks to the TomTom and didn’t make it back to Baxter until after midnight. Along the way we made many stops. My stomach situation was improving slightly but Shawn’s was getting worse. We knew it was bad when he didn’t want anything from Subway. We started to unpack our luggage to try and repack it for Okoboji. Shawn and I just looked at each other about .04 seconds after unzipping the first bag and decided we should just go to bed! Shawn took a shower and I took a bath! We went to bed with our alarm set for 8:00 am. Surprisingly, we weren’t that tired the next morning.  I think we were still filled with adrenaline and trying to figure out the time difference. We packed for Okoboji and went to church in Maxwell. It was nice to be back but it pretty much felt the same. I don’t know why we thought that it would somehow be different. It wasn’t. It was pretty much exactly as we had left. Karen (Shawn’s grandma) brought Shawn a birthday cake and TONS of goodies to church. Cheese and crackers had NEVER tasted so good. After church we went to Okoboji Bar and Grill with Shawn’s family. We ate and watched our video of our trip. It was fun to talk to everyone and show off all the souvenirs we had bought. After that, we went to Des Moines to see my Grandma in the hospital. I brought my computer and we were able to skype with the rest of the family already at the lake. It was SO good to see my grandma and grandpa. They were just as crazy as ever. We finally hit the road for the four hour drive to Okoboji. We took our time and we got there around 8. My mom, Morgan and Bri were waiting for us and immediately ran up to us when we pulled in. Morgan started crying and Bri kept asking what her surprises were! We got unloaded and in the room. We gave everyone their gifts and then ate our first homemade meal since we had been back. It was amazing!! We went to bed early even though the exhaustion still hadn’t quite hit us. The rest of the week was spent trying to adjust to the time and the food. We had fun but knew we had a lot more work to do now that we were home. We ended up leaving on Friday so that we could get up early on Saturday and start packing. We moved to CF and then came home. We went back to CF to look for jobs and then came home. NOW, we are officially in Cedar Falls and waiting for classes to begin. This experience was probably two of the craziest weeks of my LIFE. Now, we are just planning when we can go back and do it all again :) 

I had this all in paragraph form but it somehow got messed up! Oops!  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vez'ubuhle...Show Your Beauty

Saturday Shawn and I (plus Becca & Kristen) volunteered at Vez'ubuhle in Walmer Township. We had a ton of fun. It was difficult at some points but a blast at others. We did this with Gert and Elina from Zanethemba. These are other organizations that are a part of Zanethemba.  We spent a little time at the beginning getting to know some of the kids and just playing. Later there were some more organized games. We each had our own "team". My team was the Sunflowers :) We then fed the kids a peanut sandwich and juice before more free time for playing. We couldn't really communicate with the younger kids because they only speak Xhosa but the older kids helped.  I got pretty attached to the younger ones. We had a lot fun playing and reading. It was a little overwhelming at some points but definitely worth it! It was sad to see some of the kids who weren't wearing any shoes (in an area filled with glass, among other things) and many who obviously needed a bath. Some of the kids had some pretty rough cuts as well as scars. None of these things held them back though!  They played like crazy and I definitely think some of them were worn out by the end of the afternoon….

.......I've been trying to post pictures for a few days now but our internet (like usual) isn't cooperated. That is what we did and I hope to get the pictures up SOON! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blogging, Blogging, Blogging

It seems that Shawn and I have not kept up on this blog nearly as well as we thought we would. I think this is for a number of reasons. It has to do with being busy and being lazy. And for me, it has to do with the fact that we don't always know what to write. We kind of started this blog for us and then we realized it was more for our friends and families. The thing is, anyone can read this blog. A lot of the things we experience here aren't really things we want to discuss on a public forum. Yes, we have used it as a way to recap our experieces but there is a lot more to it. Some of the most impactful things we are experiencing here but haven't really talked about include race, crime, politics, poverty, being American, and many other tough issues. I'm excited to talk about them when we get back though. We have five and half weeks left and as our trip is coming to a close I'm truly realizing some things about myself, Africa and the US. We are excited to be getting home but sad to go. I hope you will all forgive us if our blogging has been lacking. It takes a long time to sort everything out. I'm going to start trying now and once we get back maybe more things will come to surface. So keep checking--there will hopefully be more posts soon :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quick News....

It has been a while since I have written. This has to do with a number of factors. One reason is because there is SO much to write and to tell that I don't really know where to start. Life is getting a little hectic here with papers, tests, and projects. I just talked to Bridget and I am so happy and excited for her that she is home-I'm sure Nicaragua misses her as much as she misses Nicaragua. I am getting excited for our trip to Victoria Falls. We are staying in Zambia but going to Botswana and hopefully Zimbabwe. The flight was pretty expensive but we think it will be worth it. It is basically our last trip while we are here. Eeek! The other part that kind of stinks is paying for visa fees. It costs $80 for multiple entry into Zambia plus an additional $30 for Zimbabwe. It should be fun and I'm sure we will have a lot to post when we get back. The following will just be filled with random musings so that I can procrastinate writing a paper that is due tomorrow....

I'm hoping to do a post soon about more observations in South Africa. One of my favorites is that in the kitchen and bathroom you can only get hot OR cold water. I am serious. There is a hot water faucet and a cold water faucet. To get "medium" water you have to just switch between the two!! I will post a picture soon. I didn't really think it was that weird until I looked and realized that the nozzles weren't running into the same faucet and how strange it looked.

Classes here seem weird. I don't know. They aren't exactly easy--just different. I know that some people are in some incredibly difficult classes but I haven't really experienced anything too tricky. I will note that there isn't a ton of critical thinking in the classes. At UNI it seems like there is a lot of reading, thinking, discussing and applying. Here it is more just about knowing. There is very little analysis and class discussions seemed very generalized without actually gaining a lot of knowledge. I realize that not all classes are like this but my experience has been this way. I also get asked a lot for my "American Opinion". I can assure everyone that I DO NOT speak for America. I'm not saying that in a negative way, I know people are curious. It is just often said more mockingly (from a particular professor) and that can be frustrating.

The American thing also brings me to a ton of other issues. I never realized what being American can mean when you are in a completely different part of the world.The rest of the world's opinion on the best. And I get it. When I say "rest of the world" I mean that we are not only surrounded by South Africans but also international students from all over. Literally. I knew that America wasn't the most well loved country but I was surprised how much I personally am judged for being an American. In some situations, I find myself agreeing and in others I am defending the US. It is a weird thing to experience. I'm sure I will have more to share about that when I get home.

We had one of the craziest thunderstorms I've ever experienced last night. It was super loud and my head was right by the window. I was asleep but the storm woke me up. I thought the whole room was going to explode so I rolled as far away from the window as I could!! I'm sure that was a irrational very smart thing to do. It is getting rainy and cold here now that it is becoming winter. I'm sure the States will be warmer when we get back.

Ok, well Shawn told me I had better start on this paper because he doesn't want to hear me complain as I finish it minutes before it is due. (On a side note that really did happen here. I submitted a paper at 11:45 when it was due at midnight. It was barely completed. One of the unfortunate times procrastination did NOT work in my favor. I'll let you know my grade when I get it back!)

We get back soon and I can't wait to see everyone. I am missing friends, family, Triscuits, and TLC like crazy!

Cape Town...and other news

Well as many of you probably already heard Cape Town was a very memorable trip for Alyssa and I, as we got engaged on top of Table Mountain. Alyssa was surprised it was on Table Mountain although she had a pretty good idea it was coming in the near future. We are currently thinking late fall of 2012 but we will let everyone know later on as there is still sometime before that happens. Regardless, I’m an extremely lucky guy and I’m so glad she said yes! I didn’t bring the real ring with me to Africa because I was afraid she either might find it or it would get lost/stolen. So as for the ring Marty and Liz currently have it back home and Alyssa is anxiously waiting to get home to try it on. As for Cape Town our trip went as follows:

Tuesday April 26
 The bus arrived at Annie’s at 9:00 a.m. and we loaded up all of the luggage and headed out on the 10 hour drive to Cape Town. There were 13 of us total including out two advisors Divinia and Marita. Patrick and I were the only guys so needless to say it was a long estrogen filled ride! The bus was pretty tight but after finding a semi-comfortable spot we slept most of the way. We stopped in Kysnya for lunch about 3-4 hours into the drive. It was kind of cloudy and rainy but Kysnya was still very pretty. We had an hour for lunch and ended up eating at all places The Dry Dock. Yes, you heard that right just like Okoboji so Ike we of course took pictures for everyone! The food was good but I should have known better than to get a “Lunch Portion” ha. I got hake and chips which was very good but only 6 chips and 2 popcorn bites. As for Alyssa she ordered a salad and ended up with a very small “side” salad. They have obviously never met me and my love of food so needless to say I hit up the hotdog stand on the way out. After lunch we loaded back up and hit the road for Cape Town. The radio was broken so it made for a long ride but Alyssa and I just listened to some podcasts and music on the ipod and time went rather quickly. We had a few bathroom stops along the way and finally reached Cape Town around 7:30 p.m. We met up with our tour guide for the week Mike and he showed us to the township where we stayed for the night. Everyone was divided into pairs and we got the opportunity to stay with a family in the township for the night. Patrick and I stayed with Mama Mpumi who was an elderly woman who had lost all of her children and her husband had left her. We were a little hesitant about staying in a township with all of the horror stories but this township was very safe and I never felt uncomfortable. Mama Mpumi was a bit rough around the edges with dreads halfway down her back but she was very nice. She welcomed us into her home and made us feel like part of the family. She made a HUGE South African dinner for us and told Patrick and I that it was rude if we didn’t eat it all. So me being the trooper that I am I polished off about a pounds worth of food. We had chicken, potatoes, mealie-pop, beets, and pumpkin. For dessert we had custard and jello. After barely making it through dinner we watch How to Train Your Dragon on my laptop with Mama Mpumi and her great niece who was staying with her for the night. We went to bed around 11:30 but I didn’t sleep much because I was so nervous about proposing the next morning. Lucky for Patrick he got to listen to me talk about my nerves and toss and turn all night but he said he’d rather have that than my extremely loud snoring. Alyssa had a good experience at her house and she stayed with our friend Chelsea. When we go on trips Lyssa says she’s a vegetarian so she doesn’t have to deal with being picky about the meat. This will come as a shock to all of you but the family she was with had fish sticks and Alyssa ate 3 of them. Now I have no idea why she had to travel 10,000 miles away for home to finally try them but she said they actually weren’t bad. Go figure!

Wednesday April 27:
We woke up around 7:15 and had a pretty big breakfast. We had porage, eggs tomatoes, bread, and chicken. Now I have eaten weird things for breakfast but cold chicken with eggs and tomatoes was a first but very good. The whole morning Mama Mpumi and Patrick were giving me crap about being so nervous but it didn’t really help. We met up with everyone else as well as our tour guides and headed for Table Mountain around 9:00 a.m. The rest of the group hiked up the mountain but I convinced Alyssa to take the cable car. She thought it was a little weird but I’m thinking she just thought I was being lazy, and after hiking down that mountain on the way back I’m so glad we took the cable car. We had to wait in line for around an hour and then took the 4 minute ride to the top. It was freezing cold and cloudy on the top but when it cleared up the view was amazing. We walked around for a while and then ended up running into our friends who hiked up. I had originally hoped to find a place off by ourselves but it was rather busy at the top and I was afraid since our friends knew they might accidently say something. Anyway I took Alyssa off to the side and got down on one knee. I didn’t say a single thing that I had rehearsed all night long but it was definitely a memory. She of course said yes and I got some tears which I was secretly hoping for. Our friends were in the background and they started clapping a cheering. Then go figure the clouds cleared away. Alyssa definitely got the short end of the stick and like I said above I’m one lucky guy. Patrick brought up a bottle of Four Cousins Champagne which is Alyssa’s favorite and we all had some champagne on top of the mountain. After that we walked around for a while a got some souvenirs from the shop to remember the day. Then we had a quick sack lunch and headed down the mountain on foot. It was a really tough hike and it was slippery since it had been raining but we eventually made it down. We were so sore for the next few days. After reaching the bottom we drove to the hotel we were staying in for the rest of the trip. We briefly called our families and then went to this restaurant called Royal Eatery. It was a fancy burger place that had really good sandwiches and milkshakes. We all ate on the patio and it was a fun time. Once supper was over Alyssa and I just went back to the hotel and hung out and looked at some stuff on the internet before going to bed.

Thursday April 28:
Today was our free day and the group decided to go on a wine tasting tour in the wine lands outside of Cape Town. The hotel served a really good hot breakfast and then we headed out for the day. First we went to Green Market square to get so souvenirs. We got lots of things for people back home and Alyssa and I also got a really cool South African painting for our future house. We shopped around there for around an hour a half and then headed for the wine lands. The first vineyard was about forty minutes outside of Cape Town and it was really beautiful. We got a short lesson on how to taste different wines and the history of the vineyard. Next we tried six different kinds. It was really interesting to hear about the wines and even though I’m not much of a wine person like Alyssa some of them were good. I wasn’t a fan of the reds at any of the places but I did like some of the whites and dessert wines. We did the tasting first and then we had a cheese sampling. All of the cheeses were extremely good and I wish we could have had a way to buy some but there was no way to keep them cold. After that we ate lunch at the vineyard and then moved onto the next one. We went to four total vineyards and the countryside along the way was very scenic. We finished the tour around 5 and then headed back to Cape Town. Once we got back we quickly got ready and then went out for supper. Alyssa and I went with Bridget and Chelsea to a pizza place next to the hotel because it was cheaper than some of the other places. After supper we all went to an Irish Pub called Dublin’s. It was a really cool place and they had a live band playing. Our friends all said it was for our engagement and they had the band announce our names. It was a fun night and it ended with a stop at McDonalds for a cheeseburger on the way back to the hotel.

Friday April 30:
We had to get up early today but it was well worth it. Patrick and Hannah went shark cage diving, which I had originally planned to do, but it got pushed back a day and I wanted to see Robbin Island more. We had breakfast at the hotel again and then we left for Robbin Island. For those of you who don’t know Robbin Island is just off the coast of Cape Town and it is where the prison that Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years he was behind bars. We took a very rocky ferry ride out to the island which made a lot of us sea sick. The ride was about a half an hour and then we spent 3 hours on the island. It started with a bus tour around the island and it was very interesting/sad to here all the stories of the island. The best part of the tour, however, was the last 45 minutes in which an ex-political prisoner of the ANC gave us a tour of the island. To me it was so crazy to imagine that just a few short years ago people were treated this way. The guide told us about how he was captured and tortured before he even got to the island. He told us several stories and then talked about life on Robbin Island. The tour ended with a walk around the prison where we were able to stop and see Nelson Mandela’s cell. It was a very humbling experience and I would definitely say that if you ever come to South Africa and want to get a taste of their history to go to Robbin Island.
After the tour we made a quick stop at the gift shop and then we got back on the ferry to head back to Cape Town. Once we arrived our tour guides had cold lunches ready for us and we ate on the way to Cape of Good Hope. The views from Cape of Good Hope were absolutely amazing and the pictures won’t even begin to do it justice. This is the Southern most tip of Africa and it is where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. It was a really scenic place and I’m glad we got the chance to go there. After driving around all day we made it back to the hotel around 6:00 p.m. Alyssa and I went with Patrick, Maria, Hannah, Divina, and Marita to a restaurant called Mama Africa. It had a really cool atmosphere and the food was really good as well. After that we just went back to the hotel because we had to get up early to head to Odtshoorn.

Saturday April 31:
Waking up at 6:00 was rather rough but we made it and got all packed to leave Cape Town. We checked out and left the hotel around 8:00 and made the five hour drive to Odtshoorn where we stayed for the night. After a rather long bus ride we made it to a nice restaurant where we were forced to eat really fast in order to make it to the Cango Caves in time for our tour. I tried springbok pancakes and an ostrich steak for the first time and both were very good. After the meal we headed to the caves and got briefed quickly before entering the caves since we were 15 minutes late. Alyssa and I were a bit hesitant to go through the caves because there were a lot of VERY small spaces and some crawling in the dark involved. Regardless, we made it through them and it was a lot of fun. I’ll try and post some pictures since it was so pretty but they are hard to see in the dark. After the caves we went to our hostel. We had supper around 7 which consisted of Kudu sausage that was good as well. We ended the night hanging out at the hostel bar and just sitting by the camp fire with all of our friends.

Sunday May 1:
Today we got up for breakfast and then headed to the Ostrich Farm. I will admit that I could have cared less about seeing an ostrich but it turned out to be fun. Patrick, Trevor, and I were “lucky” enough to get picked to have an ostrich give us a kiss. Let me tell you it was like no kiss I have ever got before. It was really funny to watch the video but the slightly bloody lip was a bit of a change. Some of our friends got to ride the ostriches but not suprising I didn’t make the weight limit! The farm was fun but we weren’t there too long. Then we headed to a waterfall and I jumped off a cliff into the water. It was a lot higher than I expected and I was greeted with icy cold water but hey it made for a sweet picture. After the waterfall it was back on the bus for our journey back to PE. We stopped back in Kynsna for a quick lunch and then made it back to PE around 7:00 p.m. It was a great trip and it is one I’m sure we will never forget.

Random Update:

For those of you that don’t know Alyssa’s grandma Joanne Kielly had to have surgery last week and is still in the hospital. They removed a tumor from her neck and found out that it is lymphoma. The doctors aren’t sure what the plan for treatment will be but right now they are focusing on getting her recovered from surgery. Pray for Joanne and the Kielly family and that she will have a speedy recovery and be back to normal in no time. It’s been a little hard for Alyssa to be 10,000 miles away from her family right now but we have been able to skype so that helps. To Grandma and Grandpa Kielly we love and miss you guys and we will see you soon!
 On an exciting note we will be heading home in less than 7 weeks! I can’t believe how fast the time as gone and while it is a bit of a bittersweet thing we can’t wait to see everyone after being gone for five months. Things have been crazy since break with tests and papers. We leave for Victoria Fall on Thursday and will be back on Sunday night. I’m really excited for the trip but after we return not only will we have a ton of finals to study for but we will be broke! Zanethemba is still going really well and they got two little boys last Wednesday. They are brothers and one is 1 ½ and the other is 3. They are both really cute but they only speak Afrikaans. The youngest boy looks very malnourished and his arms arm probably as wide as 2-3 of my fingers. It is hard to look at kids like that but it is good to know they are in a stable and safe environment. Gert and Elaine the house parents are doing great things here and I give them props because I don’t know how they could just pick up and leave there home and families in the Netherlands to move here. It’s pretty cool what they do. I talked to Gert and we are planning on helping them with a clothing drive in the township later in May so that will be a really neat experience. Besides that not much is new just going to class, hanging out with friends, and watching Two and a Half Men on my computer. It is crazy that we will be home in just over a month. Alyssa and I were just talking about how for the past year and a half we have spent all our free time planning for here and now when we get back it will all be over. It’s been an amazing experience here in South Africa and now we will be starting a new chapter in our life. I start at Allen in the fall and Alyssa will begin taking all of her major classes. We have a wedding to plan and I’m excited to start working again to have an income after going off of savings for 5 months. I am living in a house with 5 other guys in Cedar Falls starting in July and Alyssa is moving into Gold Falls Apartments with Bridget. Time is flying by but we are having lots of fun and making some great memories. Have a good week everyone. Cheers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


There is nothing like posting all at once so you have some good reading material instead of working. Feel free to thank me later…

Life in PE….

Time seems like it is FLYING by more and more. As of today we have officially been here ten weeks. That means 10 weeks from today we will be standing in Iowa again and that is crazy to me. Term 2 started for us on April 3rd so that means a whole new set of classes. I know that we only seem to post about our exciting adventures but we have been doing work over here as well. We both had 3 papers last term and as always Alyssa did really well. I must say the grading system is really weird here and it is hard to get a paperback saying 65% or 75% even though when it transfers back that turns into a B and an A. Not to brag about Alyssa or anything but even half way around the world she gets the highest grade on tests in class. As for me, it’s weird not taking Anatomy and science classes but they South African history classes we have been taking have been really interesting and we have learned a lot about the country and it’s brutal history.

This term Alyssa and I are both taking World History and a Black South African Jazz class. It’s interesting to learn about history from a different countries perspective and while history is still boring when it comes to names and dates the lecturer makes it intriguing (though Alyssa COMPLETELY disagrees). As for Black South African Jazz it is kind of a sore subject for me (Ask Alyssa)! We were supposed to be in a different music class, however, when we got there we found out that the class doesn’t exist anymore and the professor who we had that was suppose to teach it left the university 3 years ago. After a “fun” conversation with the international office and talking with the study abroad office back home we decided to go with the only music class open. It definitely isn’t my favorite class but I will admit after four classes I think it is going to be tolerable. However, that doesn’t stop me from complaining to Alyssa and making it seem as if somehow it was her fault we are in it! Haha. Those are the only two classes I have this term but Alyssa has a Youth Studies class as well. From what she tells me the professor isn’t the nicest lady and she tend to pick on Alyssa, Donna, and Maria the only 3 Americans in a class of well over 100. Overall, classes are going well. We are going to have a really busy/stressful first couple weeks of May with multiple tests and papers but other than that class is good.

As for everything else going on in our life we have kind of started to just settle in. The new factor is wearing off and we just have a routine like you would back home. We are more and more familiar with PE although I will never get used to the lack of transportation that I take for granted back home. Iron Man was here this last weekend and it was such an amazing thing to watch. They estimated 100,000 spectators were here and the atmosphere was incredible. I can’t ever imagine swimming 2.5 miles, biking 111 miles, and then running a full marathon. It was insane! There were runners from all over South Africa and the world. The winner came in at just over 8 hours and set a new course record. As for the females Chrissie Willington set a new Iron Man world record and she was a lot of fun to watch. Some of our friends went to a nature reserve this weekend but we stayed back with some others to save money and to watch the race.

Zanethemba has been a mix of emotions. We are having a lot of fun with the kids and we have really established a close relationship with them even in the short time we have been here. Last week was really hard because one of the boys Ntando left as he was placed with a foster mom. It was a really bittersweet moment as we were happy he found a home but were sad to see him go. All of the other kids were sad and crying as we gave him hugs on the side of the road and watched him drive away. It was really hard for the two older kids and Ntombyovo wouldn’t talk to anyone the whole time we were there. Alyssa and I were talking and we were sad after 8 weeks of being there. Ntando has been there since he was 2 and he is now 4 ½ and I don’t know how the house parents can handle that. Either way it was a hard day that I’m sure we will always remember but we do have pictures and I’m happy to know he is in a good home and gets to start school now. As for the other kids we continue to do a different activity with them every week. We have made cake, bubbles, chalk, crafts, and movies. We did an activity with “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” that the kids loved. We gave them the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks that Mom sent over and they have watched it 5 times in one week. They were quoting the movie yesterday and Elena the house mom said they are starting to pick up on English humor so that was funny. I have really taken to Henry and really wish he could just come home with us. We have lots of fun together and he always seems to do whatever I do. I always call him buddy and after teaching him what it meant he never stops calling me his buddy! As for Alyssa, the little boy Zen and Sino are in love with her. Zen is always attached to her and I have a feeling it will be hard to say goodbye in June.

As for the rest of our time we just continue to hang out at Annie’s with our friends and explore PE. We went out last night for our friend Becca’s birthday to this club called DnE. It was this awesome underground dance club with really cool music. We went there for her birthday but the cover charge at the door was to raise money for a South African guy named Bantu. He is going to come study in the US at our friends Mike and Phil’s university in North Carolina in the fall. We went to a church service a couple weeks ago on campus and that was a cool experience. I must say after going there and listening to a bunch of African’s sing hymns in Xhosa and dancing and singing American service may never seem quite as cool.

Alyssa has been making some really good meals lately and I have enjoyed trying all of them. Vegetable lasagna, chicken vegetable trams, pasta salad, and many more. I think I will keep her around!

That has been life the past few weeks. Nothing overly exciting but we are still having fun. Tomorrow we are going on the frontier trip where we stay with a family on a farm in the mountains. It’s lots of things I have already seen but it will still be fun to watch our other friends sheer a sheep and milk a goat. Plus we get to hike in the mountains of South Africa and food and wine are included. We have one more week of class before Easter Break!

Sorry for the lack of pictures. With our internet it would take an hour just to get one picture uploaded. They will be coming soon.