One year, 12 months, 365 days sounded incredibly long but the time flew by as fast as the airplane that brought us here on the 18th of August 2017. Our year was full of adventures, with positive as well as negative experiences, and daily challenges. Now we are sitting here and will take a short trip down our memory lane. We could fill a whole book writing about our experiences but we decided that we want to concentrate on our 6 personal highlights.
Back in December Kjetil came up with the idea of doing a work-trip to the former Transkei, Coffee Bay to be precise. We stayed in a backpacker called "Coffee Shack" just next to the ocean. Max and I slept in a little hut which is used as a shared bedroom, so we had the chance to meet a range of different people during our stay there. The mornings started with fresh orange juice and a work session at a nearby bistro where we became regular customers. During our stay we set up a plan for the next year, the emphasis lied on all the activities or clubs which we wanted to tackle. After working for a few days we really deserved a day off. Clearly, we didn't want to spend it at the backpacker so instead we hiked to the 'Hole in the Wall'. Kjetil guided us and some other German volunteers to our destination. The hike was absolutely breath-taking and totally worth it. I wouldn't necessarily say that 'Hole in the wall' was the highlight of this day, rather the hike itself. The landscape is incredibly stunning and walking along the edge of the hills will give you that adventurous feeling. After that exciting trip we finished the day off at a cute little pizza place overlooking Coffee Bay's coast. It's been a great week with chilled evenings at the backpacker, some tourism stuff and work combined.
One of our first great adventures was on Heritage day, a public poliday here in South Africa when everyone can freely celebrate their heritage. In order to celebrate our heritage we clearly had to go on a little road trip to Port Alfred with a short stop in Bathurst. In Bathurst we tried the best milkshake in the Eastern Cape, everyone who begs to differ will be shown his place once he tried the delicious Oreo milkshake. Afterwards we reembarked on our little journey and drove through a little game reserve just a few kilometers away from Port Alfred. There we met the kind giraffe Gambit. He was brought up by two local giraffe enthusiasts after his mother did not accept him. Due to his upbringing he is not scared of humans, resulting in some very nice close-up pictures of him.
After our little game watching, we finally arrived in Port Alfred where Kjetil decided to cool of in the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile Xenia and me decided to hang low and sit high at a local pub and enjoyed our view. Clearly this has been one of the best experiences in SA.
Both Xenia and I decided to celebrate both Christmas and New Year's Eve together with some other German volunteers, to make that plan work we spent some days in Port Elizabeth with some other Eastern Cape volunteers and once Christmas Day arrived, we totalled 20 volunteers from all over SA. After Christmas we travelled along the Garden Route in our own car and arrived in Cape Town after a few days. On the 31st of December we decided that it would be a great idea to hike the Table Mountain, in retrospective I don't really see why. The weather was horrible, it rained for the first time since April, the fog was so thick that one could barely see and the mountain did not want to end, at least that is how we felt while climbing this monstrosity. After we finally arrived on top, we could not have been happier. After all our sacrifices and swears we finally made it, and of course made fun of all those lazy tourists simply taking the cable car. Later that day we spent our last minutes of 2017 in Langa with a few other volunteers and students.
Joza Youth Hub Open Day 2018. What a day! Surely, this has to be on our top list! Max and I were really keen on planning that annual event happening at the Joza Youth Hub. It was a fun process although it became quite hectic a few times. We had to organize activities, sponsors, competitions, prizes and so much more. Luckily everyone was responsible for a different task and the other Joza Youth Hub members were very supportive and helped us where they could. Advertising was in our hands and soon we created flyers, posters, a newspaper article and online posts. We wanted to spread the event as much as possible. When all partners gathered around for one last meeting, we realized that everything was set - we were ready! The Open Day itself was a huge success, many people showed up and children participated in several competitions we offered. With activities ranging from singing and dancing to playing chess or computer games, everyone was able to find something that they were interested in. The whole day was wrapped up with a concert from our partner AMP (Access Music Project). Max and I only received pretty positive feedback which made us happy and proud as hell. It's been a pleasure working with everyone! We can't wait to hear how next year's Open Day went.
At the end of June the annual National Arts Festival took place here in Grahamstown. It's the biggest celebration of Art in South Africa and consists of "11 days of amazing". Everyone kept telling us that we should definitely experience the Festival, go to shows and visit the market. We always thought that everyone was exaggerating a little until we saw it with our own eyes. Grahamstown seems totally different during Festival time. The streets are packed with visitors. People from all over the place are coming which means it's that one time of a year when Grahamstown becomes a busy city. They even had to create new parking spaces! Max and I attended some shows and the 'Big Comedy Show' was probably the most entertaining one. Besides that we also enjoyed the University of Cape Town Jazz Concert, Romeo and Juliet as a ballet and the Xhosa Chronicles. Another highlight is the Village Green - a market where you can buy hand crafted gifts, clothing and anything else you can think of. It was the main attraction underlined with some live music from several artists but mostly youth picked out of the audience. You don't even had time to get bored because there was so much happening at once. You could also find some street artists like Sven from Sweden. He was the most funniest one but only because Max and I were the only ones getting all the IKEA jokes 🙂 IKEA is a Swedish furniture shop and even Germans make jokes about it and they are hilarious. Well, we think that everyone should experience the Arts Festival and feel the spirit themselves because you can only really understand all that if you've been there yourself.
- We hope you understand the reference 🙂
In German there is a saying called "Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei". Whilst sounding pretty silly and it not making any sense at the first glance, the saying shows that there is always an end to a story. Our story in this case. Our farewell Braai took place on the last Sunday that Xenia and I would live through as VSA volunteers and we made sure that we would end it with a bang. Well the bang was not too loud, but the neighbours certainly did not like it. We invited petty much everyone we knew here in Grahamstown and had a great time while enjoying the warm South African sun and a few alcoholic beverages to go with it. Our last Braai certainly was the best one we have had and everyone we met here in Grahamstown will stay in our memory. In the end, sentimental speeches were held, short ones to the relieve of everyone present and both Xenia and I enjoyed the time.
Goodbye South Africa and I am certain that we will see each other again.