This year has been one of fantastic adventures and difficult challenges. Alisa and I began the year in Washington DC having started entry level jobs at the most innovative technology company on the planet, but with no real plan for the future other than to save up and return to Africa, where hopefully we would find employment. When the email came from FIFA on the 5th of February notifiying me that I had won tickets to all the matches I had submitted for during the random drawing, it gave me what I thought would be new purpose to life. I finally had confirmed tickets to return to the country I had fallen in love with only 3 years earlier. It would finally give me a reason to book my plane tickets and set off, hoping that Alisa would tag along for the World Cup part even though she sought to find a ‘real’ job in Washington DC. The year took on new meaning when just seven days later, I received another email accepting me into the African Studies Program at the University of Califorinia – Los Angeles.
I had lost hope of getting into graduate school when I saw my GRE scores flash on the screen the previous December. I thought I had blown my money on apps and the test as well as the chance to improve my chances for ‘real’ employment in the near future. So when UCLA sent the confirmation email of my acceptance, I was relived and surprised that I had got in. That surprise grew when just a few weeks later I learned that the Masters of Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California had also extended it’s acceptance letter to me. Suddenly I had a reason to return to the United States after the World Cup, and I set out to convince Alisa to embark on this journey of a lifetime. Continue reading →
Over the course of 2 months in Southern Africa this summer, Alisa and I strove to blog about our experiences everyday to provide friends and family a look into our daily adventures but also as a way for us to document the journey. Hopefully this will allow us to look back in the years to come and get a clearer picture of all that we did and where we went. The blog helped serve as our motivation for keeping track of things we did, as we also felt a responsibility to pass on the insider information we acquired throughout the region so that future travelers would have smoother sailing.
Blogging from the iPad exclusively in Mozambique was difficult as it was our first leg of our adventure, and the least amount of data coverage we would come across. While we sought to review each place we ate and stayed, we quickly realized that our nomadic lifestyle wouldn’t allow for hours of writing each day. Thus days were back logged and reviews were left in drafts. Moving back to South Africa we retrieved Alisa’s Macbook Pro from safe keeping and we were able to write in a speedier manner and catch up to just a day lag for our blog posts. However, we’ve found that days that were written about were not posted, or they were deleted (thanks to the glitchy WordPress app for iPad, which has by now of course recieved many updates making it a much more reliable app). Over this holiday season, Alisa and I were able to pour over our writings together for the first time. We found that our memorable 30 hours in Kimberley never got documented at all, the day before and day of the France-South Africa match had been lost, and that our days of driving back into South Africa were of such tedium that they were never written down.
While back in the US, the blog will primarily shift back to postings articles on African studies and news, but it will fire back up for the preparation for the next trip back to the African continent!
We were first to board the bus back to Joburg, so Alex quickly snagged the front seats on the top level so we could appreciate the last views of mozambique and admire the beautiful South African landscape. I was a little hesitant to sit with three sides of glass on either side of me. Ever since our bus accident in SA in 2007, I have been very aware when riding public transportation of how we would survive/get out if we crashed again and front seats/glass did not have a good outcome in my mind. Alex tried to reassure me by pointing out that the front seats have seat belts- it did not help. Continue reading →
Up at 4am this morning as we want to catch the 0500 or 0600 chapa (pronounced sha-paa, think Arnold saying ‘Get to the Chopper!). It’s so nice to have a proper hot shower to start the day, as I’ve forgotten how much African public transport abuses your body. It’s not the tight spaces that wear on you it’s the pounding your body takes through the speeding up, slowing down, and swerving to avoid potholes at high speeds, and then of course the constant bumping plus the major ones that the driver doesn’t avoid. As I was on the far side of the chapa yesterday I had the full force of 3-4 other people in my row exerting the force of the turn against me into the side of the vehicle. Luckily we were already crammed together so there was no ‘sliding’ just the force of the movement of the chapa. The hot shower did wonders to cure these resultant aches.
As we’re leaving we ask the security guard which way to the chapa station. Continue reading →