February 28, 2005

Shark-cage diving

On Saturday some of my friends and I went shark-cage diving for the first (and last) time ever! It was fun; we saw some pretty rad Great Whites, but 7 out of 10 of us were seasick the whole time. Unfortunately I have to admit that I started the chain reaction of sickness. I won't go into any detail! I did manage to get into the cage and I think I saw a white blur that was a shark underwater. Maybe not. Anyway, I've now checked off shark-cage diving on the long list of adventures to partake of in South Africa. I wouldn't recommend going on a small boat like we did. Or if you do, bring some heavy-duty medicine with you.

Posted by Cate at 06:23 PM | Comments (4)

February 22, 2005


On Saturday some friends and I were planning to go shark-cage diving, but plans fell through when we got a call at 9:00 that there was too much "mist on the water." So instead of being intimidated by ravenous sharks, we decided to visit some feathery penguin friends in Simon's Town (about an hour train ride from Cape Town). They were so cute! They're only a little longer than a foot and they just waddle around all day. They can be mean, too, though. I started feeding one of them some crackers I'd brought and it bit my hand! It hurt! We got to swim with them in ice-cold Antarctic water. They would swim in schools and "bob" up and down like dolphins. These penguins squawk like a donkey's "he-haw." We saw tons of penguin eggs around, so pretty soon we'll go back to see babies. We've rescheduled the shark-cage dive for this weekend....


Posted by Cate at 06:10 AM | Comments (3)

February 17, 2005

Kayamandi and Church

Yesterday I went with a group of international students to tutor in English at a primary school in Kayamandi, the local township. I was in a classroom with about eight other English tutors, one teacher, and about 50 Xhosa fourth-graders(Xhosa is one of the many "click" languages in Africa--pronounced "ko-sa"). We handed out folders and worksheets for each of the students. They very neatly wrote their names on their new folders, then underlined them with a ruler (I thought that was really cute). We read through the worksheet on "pollution" and they underlined any words they didn't understand. I explained what it means to "dump" waste into the river and what a wine "cellar" is. They were very well-behaved and eager to learn. When we got there they all wanted to hold our hands, give us high-fives, and have their pictures taken. They LOVED seeing themselves on my digital camera (pictures soon to come! I promise!) ;-) The township is really crowded and poor. The houses are tiny and made of very thin wooden boards. Several families have to live under one roof and a whole family will sleep together on a bunkbed. I am so rich it's sickening. A lot of these people don't work at all and have no source of income, so some of them revert to illegally selling drugs or alcohol. It's really sad. I'm excited to help give these kids an opportunity that their parents haven't had.
Last night I went to a church prayer meeting/supper. I think I might start going to this one (it's called St. Paul's Evangelical). I met an American couple there and the wife went to Redeemer Pres. in NYC for 11 years! I told her I just visited there over New Year's. The husband knew about the seminary where my dad went. The church describes themselves as "Evangelical, Reformed, and Bible-believing." The teaching is really good, and their college ministry is great. I'm excited to get involved ;-).

Posted by Cate at 08:44 AM | Comments (4)

February 09, 2005

new schoolyear

Classes have finally started here! I was getting anxious and "stir crazy" last week. You know what I mean? So, I've only had Jewelrey-making and South African Music sofar, but it will get harder... I'm sure. I've never been so excited to read a homework assignment in my life! (just kidding.) Later on I'll be taking Shakespeare, Creative Writing, Photography, and "Outside Looking In," a Lit. class taught by a Fulbright Scholar. The interesting thing is that you can visit classes for the first two weeks of school and don't have to decide on your schedule until Feb. 18th. So I might add or drop a few.
A group of us went hiking again on Sunday. We biked an hour to get to the Jonkersoek Nature Reserve gate, another hour to get to the trail, and 30 minutes to hike to the waterfall. We started out with 8 girls and 5 of them turned around on the second trail because of the heat and terrible uphill ride. I didn't find out they were turning around till I had caught up with the fast group, so I had no option but to keep going. The waterfall was amazing! We hiked up even farther to the source of that fall and it was beautiful! It was this wide rock face covered with long green grasses with droplets of water coming down all over it. Really breathtaking. The sight of it was definitely worth the grueling bikeride.
Last night I went to a "pancake dinner" (an English tradition on Fat Tuesday). It was for fundraiser hosted by people at a church I've been visiting. The pancakes were great: rolled up and with crunchy cinnamon and sugar inside. But the hosts' house was what really amazed me! It's this old Dutch place with hardwood floors and 17 ancient family portraits on the living room walls! (probably from the 18th century or so.) On the hallway to the bathroom hung a framed letter from the Queen of England and a picture of someone in the host's family hunting with the Duke of so-and-so. They had a swimming pool and a pond with lily pads in their backyard. It was the nicest house that I've been in without having to pay to see. (I kind of did have to pay to see it, now that I think of it.) Here's a little irony: they live in this POSH house, in need of nothing, but the township Kayamundi (the poorest part of Stellenbosch) is only right down the road. And the fundraiser was to buy a new church window. I don't think buying church windows is bad, but maybe this money could be used for a worthier cause? I really think these people are very generous. It's a tough one.

Posted by Cate at 11:37 AM | Comments (4)

February 05, 2005


I'm here, and I'm alive! Sorry I haven't written in forever! Really, one of the first things I asked when I got here was: "When can we get the internet on our laptops?" They told me it would be the next day, but it's been almost two weeks and it still hasn't happened.... Things are like that here. But Stellenbosch really is beautiful! It's surrounded by these tall rocky mountains and it's right near the heart of the wine country. I'm swept away by its gorgeousness. My Dutch friends and I took a 5-hour long bikeride/hike in a nature reserve on Thursday. It was probably the hottest day since I've been here, but the cold river water felt GOOD. We took a tour of Cape Town last Saturday (probably the prettiest city I've ever been in). This week was "Carnival" with a finale parade this morning. The "firstyear" students at Stellenbosch worked hard to put on plays for everyone last night (called "Vensters") and make floats for the parade this morning. I've been having a great time meeting people from all over the world. People here are so sweet and good-natured. Classes start Monday, but until then I'll be soaking up the sun by the pool ;-) (not to rub in anything...). I heard about sleet in Greenville!? Crazy. I love you guys and I miss you!! Post a comment!

Posted by Cate at 10:47 AM | Comments (8)