Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Monday 1/23/2012 – Wednesday 1/25/12
Today is the day Swazi, Reinhardt and I are going to Pinetown, Marianhill (about halfway between Pietermaritzburg and Durban) for a workshop regarding the development of the Youth Justice and Y-Zone programs! We plan on leaving at 3 or 4. We are all so excited to go on this adventure!
We planned to leave at 3, but some unexpected circumstances allowed us to leave around 1. As of Monday morning, Fish no longer works/lives at the YMCA and I had to say my goodbyes as he is heading elsewhere. Reinhardt had to stay behind to work security because of Fish’s last-minute departure so Swazi and I went. alone We took three taxis in order to get to Pinetown, a small quiet town where we stayed in a hotel. It was located on beautiful grounds and had an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by rolling hills thick with trees. There are monkeys in the area and many people saw them and took pictures as they crawled on our hotel, but I never did see one of the playful creatures.
View of the pool from the hotel.
We arrived at the hotel Monday at about 3:30pm. I am not sure what time the meeting started, but it had obviously been going on for at least a couple of hours. There were between 20-25 people in the room. I found out that this event was a national meeting, the purpose being reporting on and developing the Y-Zone and Youth Justice programs. Many of the members had flown in specifically for this meeting. There were multiple people from the national office there that I got to meet as well which including Sipho, which was exciting. I have been hearing about them/emailing/skyping for the past several months so it was great to finally meet some of those people! A facilitator named Brenda was hired to lead the meetings. Groups of two from each YMCA were busy working on how to present to the group how their particular Y-Zone and Youth Justice programs work. The presentations started and when it came time for Pietermaritzburg to present, Swazi motioned for me to go up and present it. So I went up and represented the Pietermaritzburg YMCA in explaining their programs to the national members. At the end of the meeting we were told that instead of rooming with the people that we came with, they mixed it all up so that we would get to know people from other YMCAs. I roomed with Mpume, Sipho’s niece. She is 20 years old as well and she is working in the national office as a marketing intern. We became good friends and I am going to stay with her on Tuesday night in Durban before my flight leaves for PE on Wednesday morning.
Sipho and I!
Taking a break from the meeting and walking through the jungle behind the hotel.
The meeting continues.
We were interupted by this huge snail that decided to move through our meeting at its own pace.
My roommate and Sipho's niece, Mpume.
Monday night after the meeting ended a group of people, myself included, piled into the back of a baki and headed to Durban for drinks. We went to an open-mic restaurant on the beachfront because one of the members, Dina, is a fabulous singer/guitarist so she performed while we sat and enjoyed each other’s company. We then drove a short distance to the beach front by all of the touristy hotels, took off our shoes, and ran to the Indian Ocean to jump through the waves and take pictures. The glorious moment I have been waiting for!
Indian Ocean :) (Thinking of you, Rits & Court!)
Swazi and I on the beachfront with Durban in the background.
Dina playing guitar and singing at the open-mic night. The lights in the background are from the harbor (Dad - you would have liked all of the boats there!)
There were also a few guys that had made some pretty cool sand sculptures:
Piling into the baki with the other youth workers.
Tuesday’s meeting started at 9 and it covered what is needed to run a successful Y-Zone and Youth Justice Program. Swazi’s tooth ache caused her to not be able to attend most of the day so I took good notes. We ended around 4 and I spent the next two hours in the pool. All of our meals were served by the hotel. Dinner was at 6 and Sipho informed us that the YMCA would pay for us to go out for drinks that night. So at 8:00 we piled into a baki again and were on the road to Durban. It was difficult sometimes because everyone else knew Zulu so they would sometimes speak only in Zulu or switch back and forth between English and Zulu so I often could not follow what was going on, but I still enjoyed it. Even if I do not know what they are saying it is fun to listen to their language because it is so beautiful. The ride to Durban was about one hour and I’d have to admit – one of my favorite things about traveling through South Africa is simply gazing at the landscape out the window. Every time I do, I am deeply reminded of how lucky I am to be in Africa and how diverse and beautiful this planet and its people are. The pictures just don't do it justice.
We were going to go to a fancy club, but many of us were not dressed for the occasion and thought we would be turned away so we went to the casino. We ordered some drinks and ended up staying until 11 or 12 before heading back to Pinetown. Mpume and I took a stroll on the sidewalk down by the beach before hopping into her truck and going back. We got slightly lost on the way back, which is completely normal going from Durban to Pinetown, especially at night. Since people always get lost on this route, it is often blamed on a ghost. I do not know the whole story, but a good ghost story has everyone on the edge of their seats! Despite our detour, we beat the baki full of the rest of the group back to the hotel. We chatted with Ann, the old lady security guard at the hotel, for ten minutes before the baki arrived.
The outside of the casino - what they called a "mini Vegas." haha
Palm trees inside :)
Wednesday morning Brenda was not there, so Sipho wrapped all that we had covered up in the last couple of days. At 11am Swazi and I took four taxis back to Pietermaritzburg. Some of our connecting stops were in townships, where I was again stared at. Swazi leaned over with a slight smile and said, “You see how they are looking at you… you are the first white person some of them have ever seen.” Our last connection was in downtown Pietermaritzburg, where the sidewalks are full of people and small stands where you can buy pretty much anything from underwear and socks to cell phones. I bought my first “mealie,” which is plain corn on the cob either boiled or braaied. I got mine braaied while Swazi got a boiled one. We scrambled into another taxi with our bags in our laps and waited for it to be completely full of people. The last person crawled into the taxi and plopped right next to me. He was a small boy probably about six years old dressed in a school uniform. I found it odd that he was alone, but I think that is somewhat normal here. In each taxi, money is passed from person to person until it reaches the driver, who skillfully counts and gets change for everyone while he is driving. The change is then passed back and distributed among everyone in the taxi.
My first mealie!
When we finally reached Pietermaritzburg a good two and a half hours later, I asked Swazi why no white people take the taxis. She said that they do not feel safe because everyone assumes that they have a lot of money. She reminded me that I should never take one alone. I thanked her for keeping me safe and being my Zulu mom especially in times like these! We are both so glad that we got to have a change in our normal schedules and participate in this meeting. It was good to get out and see more of South Africa!
Swazi, my Zulu mom! She thanks you, Mom, for sharing me.