A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about food

Give It Time

sunny 75 °F

I’m a little surprised by myself. I keep waking up so tired and feeling unmotivated, but I stay dedicated and run each morning. I enjoy running so much and I am always grateful when I do it, but it’s so hard to get excited and pumped to run early in the morning. Most days, I think of my mom and how she works all day but continues to wake up every day at about 5 AM to do her runs. She motivates me to run the most out of anything, especially since she is running her first ½ marathon this weekend. She has no idea how proud I am of her. It’s making me so sad to not be there and I think of her accomplishments every day.

So something I’ve been talking about in my blogs a little bit is how I don’t feel welcomed in the community. Today, my perspective changed a little. I was walking around before dinner and realized that less people were staring at me and more were saying hello to me. I’ve noticed people are really happy when I greet them in Zulu. While walking, I decided that because I’m always out running/walking through town, people see me and recognize me (I stand out like a sore thumb with my hair/skin color) and have noticed I’m not just here for a week, but more permanent. As reinforcement of this point, I was almost home, and a security guard at the Lodge next door waved and stood up to talk to me more. He said he sees me running every morning and can tell I have an energy and love of running. I learned his name is Talent and that he lives in the nearby village Khula. I told him a little about myself and said I’d see him tomorrow! I left that conversation with renewed energy, just so happy.

Honestly, the biggest thing I think I’m learning from this trip is patience. Everything takes time. It took me about 2 weeks to stop feeling homesick and it took until almost the end of week 3 to feel welcomed in the community. It’s all just an adjustment.

Something I don’t think I’ll ever become accustomed to, though, is the germs that children carry!! This morning I was working at Holiday Club (basically day care). Here is just one example. A kid had come up to me wanting to hold hands and jump on me. I let him, of course. Then, five minutes later, I see him peeing in the grass and then fondling his junk for about 3 minutes. I’m still horrified. Needless to say, I disinfected up to my shoulders when I got home, because you know if one child is doing it, they all are.

The afternoon was chill, though. I had gardening, my absolute favorite! All we did was water the community garden we had helped plant the first week. The plants are really growing quickly! Then we sat on a hill and chilled and talked while waiting for the bus. Dinner was great; I had beef (yay red meat!), and now we are just getting ready for karaoke night. Still not sure how to feel about it. I could totally go for just eating and playing sudoku while a movie plays in the background, but I’m sure this will be interesting too.

Update: Sang Hips Don't Lie and A Whole New World

Posted by kfkeane 11:01 Archived in South Africa Tagged food water friend garden dinner run time karaoke beef volunteer zulu patience adjustment germs Comments (2)

Never Just Another Day

sunny 73 °F

I started the morning with some bad omens: I saw a dead baby monkey, a dead baby snake, and then an entire flock of very angry monkey were bringing their fight straight towards me and I thought they were going to bring me into the fight (I was picturing the Hunger Games monkey attack scene the whole time).

Actually, the day ended up being pretty nice. It was actually…normal (?) or as normal as life gets in South Africa. I went to support group in the morning. We waited about an hour in a shed just talking to each other while the translator/local went and picked up all of the women. I didn’t mind because once project officially begins, the time can go pretty slowly, so having some time to talk with everyone was nice. Our topic at support group today was “gender equality”. We asked them to tell us expectations they have for males and females, then asked them how they’d feel if we switched the expectations between genders. Honestly, I think these women were already pretty progressive. They come to support group every week and have been going for years, so they are exposed to talking about topics that may typically be considered uncomfortable. I’m continuously impressed with the progress South Africa has made since becoming independent, which happened recently (1994). Every generation seems to be growing upon the progress that was previously made. It’s rapid and it’s impressive.

Afternoon was chill as well. We did a clinic session on healthy eating. Basically, we read an information sheet (one that was prepared during our planning session on Monday afternoon) and the translator read it to the patients in the waiting room. I always wonder what she is saying though :D because she seems to be saying a lot more words than we read. When we finished, we went to this roadside store called a “Tuck Stop”. They are scattered throughout the villages and sell pop, chips, candy, and this thing called a combo which is a sweet roll and chili fries (I know – kind of random). Unfortunately, I gave in and drank my entire water bottle during project, and I just couldn’t hold it in any longer, so I used the porta potty. I just had to believe in myself because my legs were shaking as I squatted in the tiny, rusted, smelly john. The relief I felt was worth it, though.

Now I’m just waiting for dinner, which thankfully is something I can eat again (ground beef). Since being home from afternoon project, I went for a short walk, did some abs/stretching, and wrote some thank-you notes. After dinner I’m hoping for popcorn, movie, and doing some research on asking companies to donate goods for causes (I’m trying to compose an email to send to dental hygiene companies asking for toothbrushes that African Impact can give to children in preschools here). That’s about it for me! Veeeeery tired though.

Posted by kfkeane 09:35 Archived in South Africa Tagged food death expectations care volunteer session healthy preschool equality pride gender toothbrush omen Comments (3)

Monkey See, Monkey Do

sunny 80 °F

Good Moooooorning San Francisco!! I thought of that on my walk this afternoon. I feel like I’m doing a daily broadcast with my blogs – love it! So this morning I ran again. I’m always anxious to run after a day off. It was actually kind of chilly – like I could see my breath! Something I realized while warming up for my run, though, was that I have a serious monkey/copy-cat. The girl I go running with follows me everywhere and does everything I do. I’m a very independent person who values her alone time, so this really bothers me. For example, before she met me, she said she ran at most 3x/week for about 2 miles; now she runs 6 days/week for about 4 miles. Also, she used to just hop out of bed and run, but now she has to do the exact. same. warmup exercises that I do. This morning, I also looked over and she was doing my ankle rehab exercises and I’m not sure she knows why she is doing any of the exercises in the first place except for that it’s what I’m doing. She also asks to go on walks with me after dinner because she knows I like to go for walks and go to the gym to stretch. There are some benefits, though. She made me a dinner without garlic and onions last weekend and made the layout for my journal calendar, so I didn’t even have to be creative; I just copied her design. I feel slightly guilty, but I get annoyed by having a shadow. I know she only has good intentions, though, which keeps me from saying anything.

Project-wise, in the morning I was at Holiday Club, which is basically day-care. We did about 45 minutes of songs, crafts, free play, and snack time. I later wrote some postcards to friends and family. After my run, I had spoken to the volunteer coordinator about the food continuing to have onions/garlic in it, so at lunch I was met with the beautiful surprise of *plain* chicken!!! It was so nice to eat a meal and know it was safe to eat. In the afternoon, I had gardening, which is my favorite project. I helped turn the dirt and then watered the plants after they were in the dirt. We created an entire garden from scratch for a family. My opinions about this volunteer organization’s work are starting to transform. I feel like this kind of work is actually beneficial; imagine how many gardens we could build for families in one year. This one garden took us less than 2 hours! I still have my doubts about some of the health-care volunteer work, but I think the garden work is really beneficial! Counting down the days to leave still. Twelve left after today.

Posted by kfkeane 11:14 Archived in South Africa Tagged food monkey garden family run weather chicken volunteer preschool copy gym countdown count_down Comments (3)

Till Death Do Us Part

sunny 85 °F

I am currently stuffed. We have a lot of heavy seeming meals, like meals with sauces and rice or pasta. I then continue to snack until it’s time for bed. It’s just a way to pass the time, especially since the wifi went out again. I’m resigned to the fact that it will never be a constant in my time here.

Today was my first day off of exercise since being here. I swear when I don’t exercise my body becomes lethargic and I feel like a zombie. Feeling this way makes me nervous that I’m getting iron deficient, though, because my meals here haven’t included a lot of meat. Luckily, tonight’s dinner was chicken-based!!! Yay! I think it was good to take the day off though, even though I barely slept in because my internal clock is set to wake up early now.

My first session today was support group. Only two women came today because there is a flu going around. It was a little slow at first because the women were speaking in Zulu for about an hour, but after that, the translator explained their conversation. They were talking about marriage in Zulu culture. Once the woman is married, she is no longer part of her birth family; she is part of her husband’s family. Also, marriage is permanent; divorce doesn’t occur. So, the woman knows going into the marriage that if the husband cheats or forces the woman to quit her job to stay home and take care of the house and children, then she has to be strong and put up with it. Although divorce doesn’t happen, separation is becoming more popular among younger generations. I asked how it made the women feel, being in a relationship where the man has all of the control, and the response was that it made them feel badly. The problem is that even though they may not be happy, they value and respect their culture, which says marriage is permanent. It was really interesting to learn about.

Later we went to the community garden to work. This garden is for people in the support group facilitated by African Impact. I was in leggings and a t-shirt to cover my shoulders, in order to be respectful of the Zulu culture, so it was quite hot out there. We used a garden fork to lift the grass, hoed rows, and planted new seedlings in the rows. Working in the garden was my favorite session so far. I love being in the fresh air and being able to move around and not be confined to a chair for 4 hours.

Pretty good day. I still think about home, though. I’m not terribly sad, but I miss it and look forward to coming home.

Posted by kfkeane 10:34 Archived in South Africa Tagged food culture garden weather meat sad volunteer zulu wifi support protein mental_health Comments (4)

Wait, I'm here!

79 °F
View Ann Arbor, MI -> Toronto, Canada on kfkeane's travel map.

I'm here!!! My favorite part of the trip thus far has been the drive from the airport to St. Lucia. The driver played some really cool African music and the scenery was gorgeous. Also, I FINALLY SLEPT!!!!! After staying at the airport for 8 hours, almost falling asleep while playing cards, then falling asleep while sitting up after playing cards, I got 2 hours of straight sleep in the car.

St. Lucia, at least the downtown where our volunteer house is, is actually really small. It makes my hometown seem big and booming, which is pretty hard to do. We got here around 5 then had an hour to unpack and shower before dinner. Even though the shower had no hot water, only one, pin-sized stream of water with the power of a firehose, and kept shutting off then turning back on, it felt amazing to be clean for the first time since Sunday morning (it's Tuesday evening for reference). We then went to dinner, where I had my first home-cooked meal since being home at the beginning of May! So I'm basically in heaven. The food was even specially made to fit my dietary restrictions. It as a chicken and veggie stew and tasted sooooo good. I missed meat so much. I regret not taking a picture to post. I wanted to thank the chef it was so good.

After dinner, we walked around town, which is one road that is about a 1/2 mile long. There were a couple bars, sushi places, and shops for tourists to buy souvenirs. Another group saw a hippo, which I unfortunately missed, but I did see a monkey digging through the trash. It was so cute, but our host said they are evil :D I don't believe it hehe. We then just sat around and chatted/snacked. We also learned our host makes stuffed elephants and hippos, so we all ordered one from her! Now I'm off to bed, though. I will get up at 5:30 tomorrow to run. Unfortunately it's winter here, so my window to run is very short because I have to do it when it's light out in order to be safe from hippos and leopards. This window is getting smaller and smaller when I'm here. Currently it's from about 6:30 AM to 5PM but we work from 8-4:30...so not much time. It'll all work out though. It always does. I have a good feeling about this trip. Tomorrow we have orientation to learn about the projects we will be working on, so stay tuned.

Posted by kfkeane 11:58 Archived in South Africa Tagged food local travel monkey sleep run explore hippo south_africa exercise arrived Comments (3)

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