A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about weather

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)

Hippos and Crocs

sunny 79 °F

I really enjoy our days off of project because it gives us time to explore the city and get to know each other better. I enjoy project days as well, but we are always so tired after working all day that we usually just eat dinner, turn on a movie, and call it a day.

Today we took our time waking up. As people started getting up, we all started swapping stories about our nights from the previous day. It’s always interesting to hear about people’s nights when they go out. After a while, I went for a run. Unfortunately, my stomach felt super sour and so I had to make a couple of emergency bathroom breaks. My stomach has not been cooperating since I’ve been here. I don’t know if I have traveler’s diarrhea or if it’s just because I’ve been eating different foods. Even though my stomach felt pretty sour still, my friends were going to the beach and I can never pass up an opportunity to go to the beach. It’s always worth it. We just relaxed on the beach while listening to music. Although…it was so windy that I left with sand in every crevice of my body and when I moved my jaw, I could feel sand crunching between my teeth. Like I said, though, worth it!

We barely made it back in time for the bus to the hippo and croc tour. That was so cool! We saw a Nile Crocodile and tons of hippos. Some of the crazy things I learned about hippos were that they can run up to about 45-50 miles/hour, are vegetarians (except when they are trampling a human), are the second most deadly animal in South Africa (right after the mosquito), live up to about 50 years of age (males live longer than females), can’t swim (they walk on the bottom of the lake and jump to the surface to breathe), and there’s only one dominant male and he breeds with all of the female hippos. That was a lot but it’s so interesting!!!

I’m back at the Lodge now. My running buddy here decided to surprise me and make me a dinner of rice, eggs, peppers, and mushrooms, so I had that, which was really yummy. We are about to go stretch and do abs. Then I’m hoping we can watch a movie tonight. Love movie night – especially since one of my fellow volunteers taught me how to make the perfect stove-top popcorn!

Posted by kfkeane 09:43 Archived in South Africa Tagged beach lake rice interesting breakfast dinner weather morning crocodile warm coffee hippo abs running eggs stomach 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.

609186a0-8e18-11e9-b7d5-ffb8a6b1543c.png
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)

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)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 4) Page [1]