SO, Week 1 in South Africa is coming to a close. I’d like to say that I can’t believe it’s already been a week, but to be honest, this has been one of the slowest weeks I’ve had in awhile. I landed Sunday morning and spent the week adjusting to jet lag, preparing for the other students to arrive, and generally feeling homesick and anxious. My mind and heart were split across multiple continents, and the separation anxiety was somewhat unbearable. There were a few highlights–a trip to Soweto reunited me with some friends from last year, and I had the opportunity to meet with two foreign service officers at the USAID office in Pretoria, which was probably the most legitimate place ever to get career advice.
But my brilliant, fantastic, amazing team landed last night at OR Tambo–it was so great to see them, after a week of feeling lonely andlost. We checked into our accommodations, a game reserve near Mike’s house (head of Sportstec) where we will be until Thursday morning. We arrived here late, close to midnight, and the woman at the reception had us and all our luggage pile into a land rover and drive through this bush-like area to get to our “luxury tents.” (I’ll put pictures online soon, but here’s the website to get an idea: http://glenafric.co.za/) Anyway, basically we’re staying in these awesome, huge tents with decks, stone bathrooms, and heated blankets in the middle of the woods. I could barely sleep last night because there were so many animal noises. I’ve seen so many zebras today. It’s unreal. I’m feeling really happy that we’re here though, because this actually was a last minute plan that we made so that we wouldn’t have to crash on Mike’s couches. We spent the day today lying in the sun (photo included) and sitting on the veranda of the lodge watching the sun over the mountains. It was luxurious–I think, post-finals, we all felt a little guilty about doing nothing, but I think it was really necessary to spend a day recovering.
Anyway, that photo was just to make people jealous and think that I’m on an African safari as opposed to a world-saving mission. This was probably the last relaxed, schedule-free day I’ll have for the next few months, which is totally fine by me. The next two months will be a challenge in the best way, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with starting off so easy.
Tomorrow we’ll visit the Cradle of Humankind, braai with Mike’s family, and do a brief introduction of our program and talk about our plans for the coming weeks (meetings and programs in Jo’berg until Thursday and then it’s down to Geluksburg!). I’m really excited for what we have planned, and almost can’t believe that a whole year has gone by and we’ve come so far in developing this program. Even if it just exists for this one summer, I am so happy and thankful to be a part of this process and to be learning so much.
Anyway, blogging feels really weird, so I’m going to stop now and hope it feels better as I do it more often.