Monday, April 29, 2013

On the Road Again- Garden Route

“On the road again, goin’ places that I’ve never been, seein’ things that I may never see again, I can’t wait to get on the road again.”  - Willie Nelson

David and I set out for our first South African road trip on the Garden Route over the long Easter weekend. We decided just the week before that we were going so we didn't do much research or planning, we just hit the road!

The Garden Route is a popular and scenic stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa. It stretches from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the most western part of the Eastern Cape.  

We started off Thursday afternoon with a long 5 hour drive to Knysna. Kynsna is a very scenic town located on the shore of a lagoon created by two cliffs on the Indian Ocean.

On Friday, we spent the day at coffee shops on Thesen Island, oyster eating at the waterfront, and hiking out to the scenic “Two Heads”.

Saturday morning we visited the Knysna Elephant Park- one of the greatest adventures so far during our time here in South Africa. Knysna Elephant Park is a sanctuary for the southern most elephants in the world. We had a chance to feed them and get up close and personal with them- much more so than we would have on a safari or game reserve. 

 Afterwards, we headed out towards Port Elizabeth. On the way, we stopped in Tsitsikamma to see a few brave individuals take a dive off the world’s largest bungee jump- 216 meters to be exact! Don’t worry- I wouldn’t let David get us anywhere near the sign up desk!

Bright and early Sunday morning, we found ourselves in Jeffery’s Bay, the surfing capitol of South Africa, for a quick breakfast and a chance to put my toes in the Indian Ocean for the first time!  We hit the road again for our trip back west on the scenic R62 towards our next stop in Oudtshoorn. 

Oudtshoorn is a popular town in the Karoo that is known for ostrich farms. After a couple of ostrich burgers for dinner, we spent the night outside in a “lodge tent” surrounded by ostriches. The next morning, David attempted to ride an ostrich but he weighed too much! 

Then we headed back home to Stellenbosch. We had a great weekend exploring South Africa and will be planning another road trip soon.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kayamandi Fire and Kuyasa Kids

On the morning of March 15, a devastating fire swept through Kayamandi, the informal settlement outside Stellenbosch. Fanned by strong winds, the fire spread through the tightly packed shacks destroying 1,357 homes and left over 4,500 people homeless.

Within just a couple of days, the residents effected by the fires had started rebuilding their homes with materials salvaged from the fire and kits of materials provided by the municipality. But even with a place to call home again, many families were still in need of basic things to get life back to normal.

David and I wanted to help, but didn't know where to start. That Sunday at church, we spoke with our friends, Daniel & Kendra, who are also from Texas. Daniel works at Kuyasa in Kayamandi as a soccer coach and said he had kids in the soccer program who lost everything in the fire. One of their biggest needs were school uniforms, books, school supplies, etc.

David and I teamed up with the Helderberg Sunrise Rotary Club to raise money and purchase some of the uniforms and supplies these kids needed. We purchased shoes, socks, pants, skirts, shirts and a package of school supplies for 18 children and had the chance to deliver it to the kids last week.

We also had a few extra pens and pencils that we handed out to some of the other children at the center. We didn't realize just how big of a hit they would be!

Thank you Helderberg Sunrise Rotary Club for helping us help these kids in need.