Weekend to Weekend

October 17, 2008

Cricket, soccer and rugby are South Africa’s three biggest sports.  The national soccer team is just mediocre, but there is a bit of soccer craze and excitement because South Africa will be holding the Soccer World Cup in 2010.  Whether this will be good for the country won’t really be understood until after the games and there are too many unknowns to really guess… if all goes well, the games will provide an opportunity for people all over the world to see South Africa as a sunny, lovely tourist destination with world class infrastructure, grand stadiums, friendly locals and top-notch facilities.  The fear is that one major crime, accident or security mishap could take all of that and turn it back into “Africa”, the one that everyone stereotypes and expects.

In the meantime, the best national sport is rugby.  We went to watch a Western Province game in Cape Town.  I don’t totally understand the game, but what I deduced and learned from the locals sitting behind us, it’s a combination of American football and soccer… the soccer part for the lack of pads and kicking and the football for the brutality and the passing.

The food was interesting. They had the standard pop and french fries, but they also sold biltong (SA specialty, meat jerky) and donuts in the stands…. most excitingly hot chocolate.  The drink is not the exciting part, it’s how it is sold.  Out of a backpack!  Super neat, we were fascinated.

Western Province won the game 30 – 18.

Later that week, Desmond Tutu came to Stellenbosch as part of a lecture series on campus.  It was pretty neat to see him in real life.  He’s actually pretty small and very frail looking, and a few times during his speech he got a bit off track or seemed to lose his words, but he was still pretty clever and occasionally funny.  The following Friday, we went to Cape Town for an early morning mass.

Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.  He was the first black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, and served from 1986-1996.  He gained international attention as an outspoken opponent of apartheid, and chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  We watched quite a bit of footage from the TRC in one of my classes, and you can tell that he is sincerely and deeply affected by each of the testimonies, and openly wept on more than one occasion.  He’s retired, but he’s still very active publicly and speaks out against current government corruption and issues such as black poverty and the failure of the post-apartheid government to make any real strides in alleviating the problem.  Nelson Mandela adequately described him as “sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humor, Desmond Tutu’s voice will always be the voice of the voiceless”.  It really was an amazing opportunity to meet one of those major world figures, a world leader and inspiration to many individuals, communities and philosophies.

On Saturday, we ventured with AIFS to the Hermanus Whale Festival.  Hermanus is touted as the “Best Whale Watching Spot in the World”, and the festival is held on a weekend when the most whales are in the harbor for mating season.  On Saturday, there were a reported 8 couples in the relatively small harbor.  I didn’t get great pictures… whales jump and roll really quickly… but I saw tons of activity.  The pictures won’t be very exciting, it’s just a black spot in the water- I’m not quick enough.  The festival food was also pretty interesting, and there were tents and tents full of crafts and vendors.  I bought a sweater made out of bamboo and found some fun, noisy toys for the kids. (Love you, Casey… ha!)

After checking out all of the stands, we had a really amazing lunch at a restaurant that gets most of their ingredients from local farms.  It was super delicious, maybe the best I’ve had in South Africa.  And they had a little gift shop, and I found some of the coolest gifts thus far.  On the drive home, my van took a little detour into another small town for a bathroom and a snack, and they had this huge bookstore.  I didn’t have nearly enough time to look through all of it, but the same driver might take us back!

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5 Responses to “Weekend to Weekend”

  1. irbaktam Says:

    Bless you girl,you are treating us all to the sights of a whole different world through your eyes. Keep it up!!

  2. Mom Says:

    Love the face while eating your passion fruit popsicle! That is now my new screensaver! Were there tons of people from all over the world at the whale festival? Nice try on the pics; just takes a little imagination to actually see the whales in midair!!

  3. Emily Says:

    Have an excellent amazing incredible intoxicating last month, Jess. We love you!!!

  4. Carol Clemons (Smith) Says:

    Hey girl!

    I have been so negligent in keeping up with your trip. My bad! You’ve got some great pics, I think, and a wonderful sense of questioning about the entire experience. Thank you so much for the postcard, Jessi. Your enthusiasm for all you are learning is amazing.

  5. Casey Says:

    Hey sista, where have you been? Ive been waiting for an update of your adventures…cant wait to see you.
    Oh and in the meantime i ran across this website that chronicles a little girls adventures. Proves to be just a bit more adventurous than you!!! I think you should check it out!!!
    Heres the link!

    miaalonzo.wordpress.com…check this out

    Cant wait to see you soon. I love you so much
    SISTA

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