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A Braai and a Purge

semi-overcast 65 °F

Today was a bit different than normal. In the Zulu community, there is a Chief who governs three villages, and then a King who is head of seven villages. The King recently died and his funeral was today. A lot of people in the Lodge went to the funeral. I decided not to go because 1) it was 7 hours long 2) all in Zulu. I am very happy with my decision. I slept in an until 7:30. Then the people who stayed home cleaned the Lodge. I decided I would sweep the floors and organize the living/dining space. It was so much fun! We had a great playlist and the company was just as great. After cleaning, a couple of us went for a run. I saw a small pack of Impala, which are kind of like South African deer, in the same place I'd seen the Zebra the day before. Also, the funniest thing happened when I finished my run. A couple of teenage African boys were walking past, and they tend to stare at white women, so of course they were basically gawking at me. All of a sudden I hear this big "thwack!". One of the boys had run into a stop sign while gawking at me and had fallen to the ground. It was hilarious. The rest of the afternoon was really enjoyable. I think today was my favorite day here yet.

After lunch, I FaceTimed my sister. It was so good to catch up with her and I loved seeing her and my dogs. My friend and I walked to the beach afterwards and as always, it was gorgeous. It was pretty chilly today, though, and my hands didn't warm up until about 9PM - mostly because when I got home I showered, and there is no hot water here, so I only became colder. The good thing is that after my shower I had dinner to look forward to. The lodge was hosting a Braai tonight, which is the South African version of a BBQ. We had chicken shish kabobs, cole slaw, grilled corn, potato salad, sausage, and drinks. It was soooo much fun! I think we are going to try and do it again the Friday before leaving. After the Braai, everyone decided to start making mixed drinks and then decided to go out to the bar. St. Lucia is popping this weekend because the Harley Davidson's of South Africa are staying across the street and are throwing quite the party. I stayed back from the bar with three others and we watched The Purge. The movie is freaky but pretty good. At one point, though, I went to get snacks and one of the friends who had stayed behind with us was drunk and decided it would be funny to get a mask and scare me...it worked. I seriously let out the most realistic, blood-curdling scream ever! I'm not sure that friend has drank much before because it felt like we were taking care of an elementary schooler the entire night. It made for good memories, though, and I'm glad I had some other people to help. Honestly, they were much better at dealing with the situation than me.

All in all, today was a great day. I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep and the Hippo and Croc tour tomorrow. Goodnight all. Sweet dreams of things not related to masks and purges.

Posted by kfkeane 13:10 Archived in South Africa Tagged water beach drink king friends sun party sleep bar relaxing bbq meat volunteer cold movie braai grill popcorn harley_davidson kabob Comments (2)

The Team, The Team, The Team

rain 65 °F

Today has really tested my ability to ride the wave of life. My first clue of the ups and downs I was to face for the day was during my run; I had such a high when I ran within 50 meters of a group of zebras, including a baby zebra. They look exactly like striped horses and seem nice enough. Then I found a 50 cent South African rand. The down part was that it started to torrentially downpour during the last 15 minutes of my run. Now for the actual ups and downs of my day though.

My first project was a clinic session. It was the translator, our supervisor, my volunteer partner, and me and we were telling information to the patients in the waiting room about vaginal thrush. We were at the clinic from 9-11:30, and finished giving the talks after about 30 minutes, so we went to the reception area to assist in taking patient vital signs (blood pressure, temperature, pulse, height, and weight). It was our first time at this clinic and we had never had an orientation on how the clinic takes vital signs. To add to this, no patient information is stored electronically, and every patient brings their patient files into the room and every folder looks different. It's very disorganized. Not to mention, the nurses are all able to speak English, but choose to speak to us in Zulu, well aware we don't speak the language. It felt like a power move, like to emphasize that we were in their place. So going into the clinic, all we knew was which vitals we were taking (not how to run the machines or which patients get which vitals - because apparently babies and adults require different vital signs to be taken, which we know now) and to mark the vitals that were out of the healthy range in red pen (we weren't shown the healthy ranges, which were later shown to us after we had mistakenly recorded a high BP in black pen). The entire time the nurses were very huffy, rolling their eyes, scoffing, and snapping at us. I was rolling with the punches until the nurse snapped at me for saying the weight of a baby, which didn't make sense because 5 seconds later she said the exact same weight of the baby. My partner and I felt so dejected. We were working so hard, even trying to speak Zulu and smile to the patients, but the nurses were making sure we felt like imbeciles. It was a really depressing experience because we felt unwanted even though we were doing all we could to be helpful. The part I don't understand is that when we were leaving, the nurse requested we stay to do one more patient. I don't know how to read it, but I have to think something bad had happened in their lives and they were just frustrated that they continuously have to keep reteaching new volunteers such a simple job, because it does get easier the more you do it...but it was just our first time.

My partner and I were very quiet and sad for most of the afternoon. I just wanted to be alone, so I went on a walk and listened to music, which helped a bit. What really helped was being surrounded by such positive people. In the clinic, our supervisor kept reassuring us that we were doing a really good job and being very efficient, and we kept reassuring each other that it was going to be okay, then when we got back to the lodge, everyone was asking what happened and if we wanted to talk about it. I never know how project is going to go, but I love knowing that I have a place to come back to with lots of friends who will go out of their way to make me feel better :)

The afternoon was like night and day to the morning session. I went to building/gardening!! We helped Lucky, a Zulu man who works with African Impact, build a table from scratch for a woman to sell her vegetables on. Then we went to another woman's garden to pick weeds and plant seedlings. I love the hands-on work and I love that Lucky is all business. He's very quiet but gets serious work done. I also feel like when you finish gardening/building, you leave something physical behind that you know will help someone -- the other projects you never know whether they are doing any good.

We finished out the night with a big trivia game night at the Lodge. Everyone joined in. Our team unfortunately came in fourth out of six teams, but it was really fun :) Later, we did some girl talk in one of the rooms and watched the movie "Us". I have to say today turned into a gorgeous day (not weather wise because the rain never did clear). Thanks to my friends and teammates here in South Africa, I am going to adapt to life here and have a good time.

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Picture of game night!

Posted by kfkeane 12:31 Archived in South Africa Tagged rain tea friends dinner run weather zebra volunteer clinic thriller trivia teammates vitals game_night Comments (2)

Not Sure How To Feel About It

sunny 80 °F

WIFI IS BACK ON!!!! It came on right before dinner.

So my alarm went off this morning and every being in my body wanted to go back to bed. I didn't, though, because I was supposed to meet three other people to run. The sun began to rise, though, and no one had shown up, so I went off on my own. I ended up seeing one of them along the way. I'm glad I got out running, but I think I'm going to take the day off tomorrow and sleep in.

Running has been nice on this trip because it has kept me relaxed. We sit a lot and I would be so antsy if I didn't exercise. After running, I took my laundry in for the first time. It was washed, folded, and ready by 1PM. For morning project, I was on wound care. I thought it was going to be very gruesome, like an episode of Grey's Anatomy, but it was much more doable than I had expected. This project really made me question volunteering abroad though. There were four of us students with a caregiver. It felt like we were extra, in the way. It was also weird because they had so few supplies. Like latex gloves, for example. I really didn't feel comfortable working around the bloody/open wounds without using gloves. This made me question the work we were doing. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what bothered me about this experience in general. We spent an entire semester before leaving for the Africa learning about responsible volunteering, and it feels like we are breaking all of those rules. We never communicate with the locals. Of course, this is hard because of the language barrier, but we never listen to what the people actually want. For example, when we were giving a lesson on healthy eating at the clinic the other day, a woman said, "next time you come, bring healthy food for us". They don't want to be lectured about how to eat healthy; they want access to healthy foods. Obviously, the biggest problems require changes at a government level, but I feel like we would be doing more good if we built community gardens and taught yoga classes. Show them how to live healthy lives rather than just reading facts about it. Rant on that over.

New rant. The food situation. I feel like an animal because I'm always worried if there is going to be enough food. All of us feel that way, especially now that a new family just came to the Lodge. Also, there is never meat in the meals!!!! It's driving me crazy! I can't live off of meals of potatoes and rice! It's okay. Things are pretty good here. Before dinner, we took a walk to the beach and just sat there soaking in the last rays of daylight. That always makes for a good end to the day. We are currently watching Moana and I found some pretty good microwave popcorn to eat while I listen to the movie and play Sudoku. Feeling content, and having wifi definitely helps!

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Posted by kfkeane 11:50 Archived in South Africa Tagged sunset beach friends sun run hot relax experience volunteer movie exercise early Comments (6)

Travel Day 2


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

Landed in London and you know my first stop was the Harry Potter shop! Had some time to clean up before the next leg of the trip: brushed and flossed my teeth (shout-out to you mom), washed my face, took my vitamins, and changed my clothes. The plane ride from Toronto to London was long, about 7.5 hours, but was just a warm-up for the flight between London and Durban, which is 11.5 hours.
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I’m writing this post mid-flight to Durban, South Africa. We took off an hour and a half later than scheduled, but I ended up talking with the woman sitting next to me the whole time we waited. She lives in Durban, South Africa and actually invited me to visit her house while I’m in South Africa. We bonded through running; she coaches athletics to children. I love how running connects people.

While we were talking, she recommended I watch Bohemian Rhapsody, so that’s what I did. Freddie Mercury reminds me a lot of Prince. The movie was lifechanging, just seeing the impact the band had on music and the fight against HIV/AIDS – which is pretty cool to see, as learning about and teaching preventative measures against this epidemic is the purpose of my trip. Watching the movie I had one of those moments where you’re like “woah, it’s fate that I watched this.”

I actually took a break midway through the movie though because the airplane dinner was served. Finding food to eat has been difficult with my allergies. I could really go for some plain, grilled meat right now. I’ve only been able to eat the bread rolls they serve and granola bars I packed. I think it’ll be easier to find food I can eat once we land. Apart from a good meal, once we land I’m looking forward to a run, shower, and good long snooze.

Being out of my natural environment is making me uncomfortable, but I’m not second guessing this adventure at all. This summer, I’ve realized that I do everything with intention and only if one of the byproducts is joy. I even miss doing rehab, which I never thought I’d say. To be honest, I’m missing everything right now. I can’t sleep (which, being on an airplane makes you realize that some people are like bats. I swear they could be standing straight up in the middle of the day and still get a good sleep) so I’m listening to music and reminiscing on my final nights in Ann Arbor. I spent my last two nights home with my closest friends and even made some new friends. If anything, this trip has made me aware of how blessed and amazing my life is.

Well, back to my love cave. This is what I call the cocoon I made for myself. If you’d like to make your own love cave at home you’ll need a blanket/sweatshirt to throw over your head like a death eater) and a neck pillow. Wala! Add music and you’ve personalized that lil love cave of yours.
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Update: Landed at 6am local time
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Posted by kfkeane 00:07 Archived in South Africa Tagged food travel flight sunrise friends plane volunteer south_africa tired exhausted bohemian_rhapsody Comments (1)

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