Thursday, December 8, 2011
Howzit is how English speakers here always greet each other, haha, I'm so cultural. Or molo, that's Xhosa hello. Actually I should say molweni because that's plural hello. I know, you're impressed. That's almost the extent of the Xhosa I can pronounce though so...
Happy birthday to Dad Mai who requested a blog post as his birthday present. Love ya paps
Since I last wrote....
South Africa has continued to be incredible. I've learned so much. Our work in the townships has made the HIV/AIDS epidemic so so real. We're learning to understand HIV as more than a virus, but also the social, economic, cultural, and historical context that makes it such a challenge here. Just treatment and prevention aren't enough to fight an epidemic without taking into account the environment in which it's spreading. Poverty, gender inequality, infrastructure, lack of educational and economic opportunities, cultural beliefs about AIDS and treatment, the historical legacy of apartheid, and so many other factors contribute.
December 1st was World AIDS Day and we planned an event to raise awareness on the beach in Plett. It was pretty difficult because we were in the middle of Plett rage, so almost all the beach-goers were high school graduates who were there to party and difficult to engage with in meaningful conversation. Arden, Julia, and I walked around trying to get people to come to our booth and talk about the epidemic by offering red ribbon facepaint which was actually very popular. It was fun
We also went bungee jumping last weekend!! Off the highest bungee bridge in the world, 216 meters which is over 700 feet. It was INSANE! The jumping order was randomly selected by the staff there so I ended up having to go first which made me even more nervous. I was freaking out. After I got tied up by my ankles they scooted me over to the edge of the bridge and counted down from five. They counted really fast though, which was good because I didn't have time to think and I just jumped! It was an amazing experience! The first few seconds were unlike anything I've felt before, since you can't feel the bungee cord yet and it seems like you're literally flying. No whip lash but my ankles did feel like they were going to fall off because the rope was so tight. Gah, incredible.
We have also gone on more beautiful hikes in the area. One really cool one was the Robberg Peninsula where we saw tons of seals on the beach. It is all gorgeous.
It's hard to believe we only have about a week and a half left in Plettenberg Bay! We have made so many funny friends, such as King, the guy who works at the movie rental store, or Keira, who owns what we all call "the smoothie place." Or the kids we met on the beach during Plett rage. I'll miss our rounds with the patients - it has been great to actually see some of them start to feel better while we've been here. And of course the quirky nurses at the clinic and my caregiver Sindiswa. We still have some time together, though, too soon to be sad.
Getting really excited for Independent Student Travel weekend, we're taking a bus to Cape Town for a few days. I'll tell you about it in the next post. Till then, please email me or message me or something because I miss everyone and I know more than a couple of you said you would write! Love from South Africa