Friday of last week was a project day at school. It is the same thing as an inservice day, but the learners are allowed to come to school if they want to and some of them have to come as punishment for not making up all of their demerits from the first few weeks of classes. They don’t get to make up demerits while at school that day, but they still have to come and do homework and clean classrooms and other punishment-like tasks. It was a day of no teaching though, so we were able to get lesson plans written and worksheets created. I got ahead on a lot of my lesson plans for this week, but I still had work to do once we got back to the apartment. I didn’t want to have anything left to do Sunday night because we went out of town for the weekend!
Saturday morning we were picked up by one of the teachers and we left for a track meet in Humansdorp. It was about a 2.5 hour drive to get there, but on the way we got to see the sunrise (it was early!), a giraffe, impala, springbok, zebra, and a buffalo (the kind from Lion King that killed mufasa :( )!! It was so exciting to see the animals and the students in the van kept pointing them out to us along the way. We also got a few, “Oh my gosh!!! Why would you come to Grahamstown and not stay for the festival?! That’s the only interesting thing here!” I explained that if I stayed for the festival I would have to be away from home for 6 months and I just couldn’t do that. They all understood! We sat at the track meet while the girls competed in their various events. There were only 9 girls competing, but we left the meet with 4 medals! One first place, a couple second places, and a third place!
After the meet, we drove back towards Grahamstown, but the teacher who was driving dropped Wellyna and I off in Port Elizabeth. There are some more COST students placed in PE who let us stay with them Saturday night. Two of the girls (they are all girls), go to school with Wellyna at University of Alabama, so she also got to see some people she is familiar with! When we got dropped off, the other girls were at the beach, so we did some shopping first. There was a giant, resort-y, casino area right where we got dropped off, so it was easy to find shops. At 2 pm on a Saturday the area was surprisingly vacant! We had a good time getting some ice cream, shopping for souvenirs, and taking in an area geared towards a bigger crowd (which is opposite of Grahamstown). We got a call from the other girls saying that we could meet them at their apartment to get the keys from them, or we could buy tickets to a Rugby game that night and go with them. Of course we chose the latter! The tickets hardly cost anything and it was a game between the Eastern Cape team and a team from Australia. The Eastern Cape (where Grahamstown and PE are located) just started their own professional team. I think this is the first year of it being in progress. Wellyna and I were in row 9! AND! They won the game! People are amazed that we were there, but it was great to go and see a real, professional rugby game! We had to ask the people next to us some of the rules, but thankfully Eastern has a team and I’ve known some girls on the team, so I knew a few of the rules already.
After the rugby game we went out, but didn’t stay out very long. Wellyna and I joined one of the girls for church Sunday morning. After church we walked down to a market that only happens on Sundays. Surprisingly, a lot of the vendors were selling American brands of hats, sun glasses, purses, or maybe not American brands, but brands we could have found in America. I did find some homemade African goodies to bring home to friends, and I also got myself a few things, including a giant painting and some carved wooden coasters each one depicting one of the big five! I don’t have pictures of those, but you will all have to see them when I get home :)
We spent a lot of time at the market, walking back and forth, haggling prices, the usual. It was great fun to haggle prices because we knew we were getting told waaaay high prices because we weren’t South African, so I didn’t feel bad asking for half of what they were telling us. We made up stories about how other people were selling the same thing for much less. I thought I was going to have a really hard time with it, but after the first couple times, it because a lot easier. Our friend Katharine did it for us once or twice too, so we could “see it in action.” After about three hours of walking the market, we stopped for lunch and headed to the beach for about an hour. Katharine and I got in the ocean and enjoyed the waves. She lost her sunglasses, but said they were cheap, so it was okay. We went back to the apartment and showered before being picked up by the shuttle.
It was a really long, fun, busy weekend and I am still recovering from it. We are expecting to have even more adventures next weekend, so I am really excited for that! I will, of course, post another blog after that weekend happens.
P.S.- I got a package from my parents full of goodies! Below is a picture of that! They are seriously the best parents ever! I also got a Valentine's gift from my Godmother Julie and letters from Aunt Gretchen and Aaron! I absolutely love getting mail from people I love! I edited the address again because apparently you need the P.O. Box 601 in the address also. Whoops! I've gotten everything, it just has taken longer than expected.