Archive | May, 2012

my first rugby game

24 May

I wasn’t particularly planning to watch rugby tonight. But at dinner, one of the girls in my dorm told me that tonight was the last rugby game of the semester. I figured that since I’ve been in this country for over three months without seeing a live game that I should probably take advantage of this opportunity while I could. One of my American friends went with me to the rugby fields and I saw my first rugby game ever.

Initially, I was reminded of watching my high school soccer team play. The bleachers were full of Rhodes students bundled up against the cold May air, many of them drinking certain beverages of choice. Overall it seemed like more of a social event than anything… It didn’t really seem like people were paying too much attention to the game, but that’s probably because the Rhodes rugby team isn’t amazing (the final score was 0-39). I watched the entire game though, and I think I now have a basic understanding of the rules.

Rugby is like American football in some ways. The point of the game is to move the ball down the field and into the end zone, and you can either run with the ball, throw it backwards, or kick it forwards. If you have the ball, the players from the other team will definitely tackle you, at which point your own team members will jump in and the end result is a giant pile of men wearing striped shirts and short shorts. The ball is always in play– there are no downs like in football. Somehow the ball is always magically produced from underneath the pile of rugby players.

Blurry pile of rugby players (taken from my phone)

Running down into the end zone while holding the ball is worth four points, and the equivalent of a field goal is worth three points, but I couldn’t figure out how the field goal thing works since there aren’t any downs.

Even though Rhodes lost by an embarrassing amount, I’m really glad I went to the rugby game. It was cool to get out and support my school’s athletics and to learn about a new sport.

In other news, tomorrow is my last day of classes! Even though I’m sad that my time here is coming to an end, I am so ready for summer. Next week, I will travel to the Wild Coast, where I’ll be staying at a lodge that lets you spend a day in the life of a Xhosa woman. I’ll also take surfing lessons ($5 for two hours of professional instruction, not a bad deal) and go cliff diving. Then I will come back to Rhodes, take my finals, and say my goodbyes to all my new friends and to this beautiful, amazing country that is South Africa.

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20 May

Just found this on my phone… This sign was written by the Italian pirate living at Cape Town Backpackers. Apparently that door locks when it’s closed.

what i miss

17 May

In exactly one month, I will be on my way back to Louisiana. I will hate saying goodbye to South Africa, but there are a few things that I will be happy to return to. I have compiled a list of the top ten things I’ve missed.

1) Taco Bell. Don’t judge me. Food things in general are what I miss the most. On different days I miss different things. Like sushi. Or Raising Cane’s chicken strips, sauce, and sweet tea. Or a frappuccino from Starbucks. Or kolaches from the Czech Stop in West, Texas, about twenty minutes north of Waco. These cravings are probably induced by the dining hall food I eat every day.

2) Driving. I got to drive once here during my spring break road trip, but driving on the wrong side of the road in a foreign country is stressful. Especially roundabouts, because those confuse me back at home, and here you’re going counter-clockwise.

3) Singing in the car/shower/my room. I live in a dorm with about eighty other girls. I do have my own room, but the walls are paper thin and I don’t want to force anyone to listen to me being a diva. Same with the shower, because it’s a communal bathroom. And obviously I don’t have a car here to sing in. I’m so musically oppressed.

4) Unlimited internet access. Here at Rhodes, we are on the quota system– there’s a set limit of internet I can use every two weeks, and if I reach that amount before two weeks has passed, I get cut off. It will be nice to get back to America where I can waste my life away on the internet again.

5) My ukulele. It’s coming with me on my next trip. I guess going back to my being musically oppressed, there have been so many times that I’ve just wanted to lie in bed and play my ukulele, but alas, it is sitting there all alone in my room thousands of miles away.

6) Spanish. And Latino things in general. After spending my whole life in Louisiana and Texas, the Hispanic culture has definitely been part of my life (it’s the little things, like Mexican restaurants all over the place and people having last names like Lopez and Gonzales). No one here speaks Spanish, or really even knows anything about that culture at all.

7) Going to the movies. This was particularly painful for me when The Hunger Games was released in America. It didn’t come out in South Africa for another month, and even when it did, it wasn’t showing in the three-screen theater in Grahamstown. Shame.

8) Working. Especially at the Baylor marina. After my trip to Durban a few weeks ago, I have basically locked myself in my room to stop myself from spending the little money I have left. I love the self-satisfaction that comes with having money that I’ve earned myself, and it’s been too long since I’ve felt that.

9) Having a ceiling fan/vent in my room. South Africa gets pretty toasty in the summer. And when I arrived here in February, it was right in the middle of summer. In Xhosa, you could say “kushushu”, meaning “it is hot”. My window is my only form of ventilation, and the tree right outside my window was both a blessing and a curse because it blocked both the sun and the breeze. Now it’s winter here and a fan isn’t as important to me. Luckily I do have a heater for the cold and rainy days that are becoming more and more common.

10) Sporting events. And by that I mean college basketball season.

Of course I also miss my family and friends. But I’m a free spirit, yo. Plus I know I’ll see everyone again sooner or later, as northwest Louisiana has some kind of weird gravitational pull on my life.

And the top ten things I’ll miss about South Africa:

1) Bacon and banana pizza. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.

2) Feeling like I’m a fast walker. This literally never happens back home but here I’m like a speed demon unless I’m walking with my friends from Boston.

3) The scenery and wildlife. This really is the most naturally beautiful place I’ve ever seen.

4) The Xhosa language. I doubt I’ll ever get to use/hear it again but learning it has been so much fun. My teachers are ridiculous, in a good way.

5) The relaxed pace of life. Except the times when it’s an inconvenience, such as when Surf Club never gets around to organizing transportation to the beach and consequently I never learn how to surf, even though I paid for it.

6) The slang. South African slang is awesome. I’ll write a post about it soon.

7) Rhodes. It has a beautiful campus and for the most part, I’ve enjoyed my classes here.

8) DC, the student file-sharing network. I’m caught up on all my TV shows!

9) My Tuesday ethnomusicology class, where I get to mess around on African instruments like djembes and marimbas.

10) The people I’ve met. The other Americans, the Dutch girls, the South Africans, the old Indian lady in Durban who made me sandwiches in her apartment… All these people have shaped my semester and made it an experience I will never forget. The people you meet and the relationships you form with them are definitely the most important aspect of traveling anywhere. I will miss all of them the most.

littleaudreybigworld turns one!

10 May

On May 10, 2011, which seems somewhat forever ago, I sat down at my computer in northwest Louisiana and created this blog. One year later, I’m chilling here in my dorm room in Grahamstown, South Africa, thinking about the places I’ve been and the many experiences I’ve had since this blog was born.

Since last May, I’ve spent a total of three months in New Delhi, where I’ve had the best time of my life and met so many special people. I honestly feel like I have family in India, and I can’t wait to go back someday. This country pushed me way out of my comfort zone and taught me so many things– how to use a squatty potty, to speak Hindi, to ride sideways on a motorcycle, to try new foods, to be a better English teacher, and much more. India will always have a special place in my heart.

I also had a great fall semester at Baylor, working my life away at the marina to save money for South Africa and preparing to study abroad. It will be strange going back to Waco next January after having been away for so long, because many of my friends will have graduated or transferred. Not to mention, I’ll be much closer to graduation then.

My workplace: the Brazos River

After fall at Baylor and January in India, I ended up here in South Africa. My experience here has been drastically different from what I ever expected, but I wouldn’t change a thing. In the past three months, I’ve gotten to do a lot of traveling, made many new friends, and learned so much about cultural and linguistic interactions (which we don’t experience much in the United States as an entirely English-speaking nation). I’m learning isiXhosa, jumping off bridges, going on safaris, picking up South African slang (more about that later), taking road trips, and seeing the world’s biggest pineapple.

World’s Biggest Pineapple, in Bathurst, Eastern Cape

Leaving this school and this country in a little over a month will definitely be bittersweet. Although I do have a love/hate relationship with Grahamstown, I appreciate it more every day and am starting to think of it as my own.

By the time this blog turns two, I will have spent a semester in Istanbul and then finished my junior year at Baylor. Hopefully I’ll have concrete plans for going back to India for the summer, and a few more good stories under my belt. This past year has been an amazing ride, and I can’t wait to see where the next will take me.

Thanks so much to everyone who’s reading this blog, I hope you’re all enjoying it and I’d be happy to hear any feedback. Is there anything you want to hear? Any questions I can answer? Just let me know, and I’ll see what I can do!

when things go right

4 May

A drop of sweat trickled down my back. All around me, Indian vendors called out the discounted prices of their various goods, including shoes, bangles, Bollywood movies, Punjabi clothing, and other assorted merchandise from the subcontinent. The atmosphere was hectic– bright colors everywhere, a mass of people, and a variety of languages assaulting all of the senses. The only explanation– I was in India again.

Nope. I was in Durban, South Africa, also known as the capital of India outside of India. But although it has such a large Indian population, the city was so much more than that. Durban has beaches (it’s warm there all year long), markets, nightlife, a World Cup soccer stadium, and the most interesting mix of cultures that I have ever experienced. I was right to be excited for this city… It proved itself to be my favorite of the places I visited, both because of the energy and vibe of the city and also because of the people I met there. On the bus ride to Durban I talked to a youth minister for several hours. A few days later I had dinner with an old Hindu woman and her grandchildren in her apartment one night. Another day I spent an hour and a half with a vendor in the Indian market helping to sell pirated Bollywood movies and practicing my Hindi. I had a deep conversation with a cab driver about the health benefits of ostrich meat. I even met a girl who grew up in Turkey and was able to answer some of my questions about Istanbul, where I’ll be spending five months later this year.

A few days into my trip, I realized that there was a problem with my photography skills, as this is the only picture from the first few days:

A box of chicks at a market. I hate pulling out my camera to take pictures of things because it makes me feel like such a tourist. It sucks though because the world gives great photo opps. Like the pile of cow heads lying on the table at the meat market. And the “bunny chow” I had for lunch one day (it’s a Durban specialty). And the Zulu vegetable market where you could buy a bunch of bizarre-looking things that came out of the ground and where hardly anyone spoke English. I spend a lot more time using my eyes than using a camera, which is fine with me while I’m experiencing things, but not when I try to share the things I’ve seen with others. I’m going to do my best to start taking more pictures during the rest of my trip, because I want everyone to see what I see.

Final thought: when traveling, I recommend not to stick to a tight schedule and limit your experiences. The best parts of my long weekend in Durban were unplanned, like the hour and a half when I became a Bollywood saleswoman. If you can occasionally just roll with it and have no expectations, odds are you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Because you never know when things can go incredibly right.