Sunday, February 20, 2011

Jane Eyre Trailer 2011

I just ran across this trailer for the upcoming adaptation of Bronte's "Jane Eyre". I'm kind of excited about this new adaptation as it seems to make use of the gothic elements of the story rather than focusing on the love story. Although, why they need to make another film version is beyond me--there are so many wonderful ones already. I really enjoyed the Charlotte Gainsbourg version with William Hurt as Rochester from 1997.

In anycase, I feel this directly relates to how these Romantic/Gothic stories keep being retold and how they are still excessible to the modern reader and viewer. I think this speaks to the universality of what of the characters' journies and the writers' visions. It will interesting to revisit this classic in the year 2011.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On the Losing of Connection and the Romantics

This is just a post to clarify many of my thoughts. Some of these thoughts have haunted me for such a long time. Firstly, I'm terrified that people of my generation have no idea how to communicate with one another. In fact, maybe I can even state that young people (teens and 20s) don't want to communicate. The ME culture has destroyed playing outside, interacting with friends, family, partners and future employers, and any others one would come into contact with. I remember sometime in high school when all I needed was a connection to something or someone and finding my friends lost in their ipods and cell phones. This sad state of affairs is horrifying as we live in an ever increasingly GLOBAL world where we HAVE to interact with people from around the world. If children and young people are the future then I fear for the future and how we are going to handle issues (like Global Warming and a WAR)when we can't see past our facebook status. I do realize the irony of writing about human to human communication on a blog!

In my British Literature course we are currently discussing the Romantics and the shift in Western Literature from the confines of Neoclassicism to the wild Romantic period. I adore the Romantics and seem to have found solace in the words of Wordsworth and Blake. It seems as if they have the ability to create music in their words and transport the reader to the realms of their dreams which in turn become one's own.

A while later....

Today we talked about the power of words to transport you to places and states of mind, of states in the mind--to transcend. In that classroom something happened that perhaps only I could feel as the words washed over me. The Lake District didn't seem so far away interspirced with the colors of Africa. Wordsworth suddenly gave us his words that became ours and took us to that place where everything is overflowing with goodness. It was his, but light years away it became ours.

But, what is all of this is lost forever in the voids that exist today. The screens of ipods, cell phones, and in the screen of my computer. I hate this screen that I seem all too often to get lost in when I can't face myself or others. I can't be the only wandering lost youth who feels for this connection. As my teachers says, "a place of transcendence" is perhaps what every human searches for. In our world today where is that place? Who is making that space for the young? Who will make that space for the ones to come after us? What if we never get to that afterwards?

So, I sit here on a frozen Winter's evening thinking the same universal thoughts of all of these poets and all of the youths before me. Who are we? Where are we going? Why are we here?

Friday, January 14, 2011

On Reverse Culture Shock

I've been meaning to actually sit down and write my feelings about the past year and a half of being home after South Africa. I've avoided it perhaps because I'm afraid of the torrent of what might come pouring out of me. Firstly, I naively thought that returning home after such an odyssey would be a piece of cake. I'd heard from previous exchange students that the re-entry phase would be the hardest, but somehow I didn't get it until it hit me in the face. I suppose I also had the pleasure of coming back to a country that had significantly changed in the time in which I was away with Obama's election and the financial crisis. I could feel it in my bones as I stepped off the plane in the US, the stifling crippling depression of a country slowly sinking from within.

In a sense reverse culture shock is like grieving for a long lost friend. I'd find myself driving to college and I'd suddenly catch a glimpse of someone on the street, hear a voice, listen to a piece of music and I'd have to stop the car as the casacade of tears overtook me. To add to the isolation there has been no one who has been able to relate to this just the silence of my day dreams. Many of my high school friends either had gone away or I had nothing to say to them. I've hated that perhaps the most. That division that gaping divide and knowing that there are simply no words to express. And, most of all knowing I've needed that deep connection now even more than before and not finding it. I've simply floundered around like a slowly drowning animal in memories that have forever passed to the shadows of dreams.

I've dreamed many times in the twilight hours of the night of elephants and sparkling lakes and sun so hot it scorches the soul dry. The dreams I've had about South Africa are the only dreams I've had that have been in blinding colors. The sun and the ocean become one in streaked skies of golds and crimson. My naked feet softly pad the fresh earth as my spirit is torn free.

But this is all the sadness in me the insomnia and being lost in my own mind for long stretches of time. I can't forget to speak about the way my eyes see differently and how I've seen a country in different light. How can I forget my new friends or when I first read Langston Hughes? Sometimes it seems I've lost a connection with myself and with the present around me, but perhaps it's just that I don't recognize the person I wanted to become.

I've come to the conclusion that this is all in the journey. I am beyond grateful for having been given such an extraordinary opportunity to look deeply at the world around me and at myself.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Letters from Africa (8-9) Final Post

Letter # 8 continued...

I settled down nicely with the Young’s as I had stayed with them previously the week before I went to Clarendon’s hostel in March. John and Janet have known each other since they were 19 and 21 and have been married for 39 years. John is a native to South Africa while Janet is originally from England although she’s lived in South Africa for all of her adult life. They live in a house in Gonubie that is three hundred meters from the Indian Ocean. They often spot dolphins and whales in addition to passing ships. I can say from living with them that the view is truly breathtaking and it will be something I’ll miss when I go back home. They have two grown kids, Nicholas and Michael who now have their own families. John and Janet are proud Grandparents to two adorable grandchildren from Nicholas and his wife Sheree called Amra Fae (aged 3 and half) and Byrce (22 months). They are expecting a third grandchild in October who will be Michael’s first child with his wife Cindy. I’ve really enjoyed meeting many of the Rotarians families and extended families this year. All of the grandchildren and children have been lovely and very welcoming to me and so patiently accepted me into their “family.”

The Youngs: John and Janet aka Mom and Dad Young!

May passed so fast and fairly quietly until the last two weeks which were packed. John, Janet, and I (their surrogate daughter) went about our business as usual. I would come home and ride the stationary bicycle for 30-40 minutes and then do homework. In the evenings we would all watch the news and then Law and Order followed by House (which I’ve become ADDICTED to). On weekends Janet and I often bake muffins while John does his ‘guy stuff’ with his buddies i.e. flying model airplanes. On Sundays we’ve hiked on the beach and or eaten brunch at a restaurant overlooking the ocean. I remember talking to my Mom and she remarked “You sound so relaxed!” and that is true. I AM very relaxed and very happy doing what I have this year in South Africa. I think I’ve loosened up a lot this year and I want to keep being happy (no JUBLIANT!) and relaxed as I return home. (I don’t want to rush around or feel that I’m in a rat race. Please help me to keep my new found positive attitude—encouragement is gladly accepted!)

The next week was ALL about the dance on Saturday May 23rd. No girl was even paying attention in the majority of lessons at school. I was so excited and on Wednesday my date arrived, Carl, a fellow American exchange student living in Northern South Africa in a town called Klerksdorp (very Afrikaans). So we anxiously awaited the dance and it came finally after months of buildup and anticipation. Janet helped me into my blue dress and walk in my very tall (hehe stripper shoes) heels. Earlier that day my nails and toe nails had been decked out in French manicure and my hair freshly trimmed and left loosely waved at the sides, I decided for a simple hairstyle as my dress was so beautiful. Some of the other Rotarians came to the house to watch us get into our car and drive to the dance while the phone rang off the hook ALL day with well wishes for the big night. Carl remarked “it’s like a flipping wedding; I mean I haven’t seen you all day!” So John and Janet drove us to the gates of Selborne College (Clarendon’s brother school) where the dance was held in their great Hall. We got out of the car and (I’m not joking) walked the Red carpet while at least hundred people flashed their cameras in our eyes and we WALKED in. At the door my Headmaster and Deputy Head Principal, Mr. Nel and Ms. Rose greeted us and we walked through Selborne’s gardens past the other faculty of the school. Our theme was the expected The Great Gatsby and the Matric Dance committee made up of Clarendon grade 11 pupils were dressed in 1920s fashion and waited on us all. The décor was lovely with lots of Little Italy lights and soft pale green and white gauze fabrics creating the smoky atmosphere of the 20s without the smoke. My friends looked amazing and everywhere I looked some girl looked like a Princess, it was very wonderful. As our Head girl said “You ladies dressed for the Oscars!” and they did and this South African Prom was really great— a very special memory for me.

Letter #9

It’s hard for me to think of what to say about my final four weeks in South Africa—they were jam packed. First of all, I struggled through Clarendon’s dreaded mid year examinations. I thought I was going to go insane as I wrote the history paper which took 5 hours and consisted of practically all short answer and essay questions. Needless to say I flew through the other exams and even thought I did okay on the biology—which I found difficult. When I had only my drama performance left to do—I had some other exchange student visitors for the weekend. Amalie from Denmark, Anna from Holland, and Louise from Belgium all came to visit John and Janet and I. Amalie arrived first and she was my moral support through my drama practical exam which consisted of a piece of absurd theater written by me, then a linking device (i.e. I sang Lennon’s Imagine) and a South African piece (I performed an excerpt from
Country of my Scull by Antjie Krog). I obviously (LOL) aced that exam.

Amalie and I..

So four teenage girls filled John and Janet’s house with lots of noise in the weekend and we got up to lots of antics which I will not disclose in this letter. Also it was the last time we’d see each other in South Africa—although I did see Amalie and Anna again before they left. So the dreaded Sunday arrived and I had to say goodbye to Amalie who has been the exchange student I’ve been closest with in SA. She is my other half and we’ve grown so much together especially during our trip to Johannesburg in November. She is very blonde and Danish and it seems that opposites attract as we are very different in looks and behavior. She wants to be a politician yet understand the artistic side of life as she is an amazing visual artist. We both discovered that we love House and you should have heard us cackling as we watched it and of course slobbering over Hugh Laurie. Janet said ‘Have you two gone stark raving mad?’LOL. Anyway, I’m babbling on about her because it was so hard to leave her. I cried and cried and cried and because I’ve been so happy in SA it was strange to cry so much. Janet held me as I cried and waved goodbye to my other half—seriously my heart felt like it was being ripped out. Then we both went through the stages of grief—you know—denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and finally acceptance. Another exchange student called Lukas (from Germany) who has been living in East London too—that Sunday invited all of us to go to the opening rugby game in the new Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. So there I went into anger as I didn’t want to see Amalie again as I didn’t want to go through the pain of saying goodbye—but as she pointed out we bargained and got our rugby ticket seats together. The thinking went something like ‘maybe if she comes to PE one more time I can move on with my life!’ I felt empty for the rest of that Sunday and could barely sleep into Monday. Also John and Janet had departed for the UK not to return two days before my departure home.
* * * *
That Friday also marked my final meeting for the Rotary Club of East London and I presented Ms. Felton (my English teacher at Clarendon) with a vocational service award that I had motivated myself (meaning I wrote WHY I thought she deserved it and had to get board approval) and which she had no clue about it. Ms. Felton has been the best teacher I’ve ever had in school. Just think I had her by fate in Africa! I felt I needed to do something for her before I left SA because she had done so much for me. She gave me this voice in writing that I never knew I had by encouraging my poetry writing. The only way I can describe her is by planting the image in your head of the teacher in Dead Poet’s Society who transforms his pupils by getting them to think and examine things for themselves. Ms. Felton has had that affect on me. She has gotten me to see things in different ways and from a different perspective from my own or people around me. She has taught me to be passionate about the environment and world causes (ex: human trafficking, hunger, human rights’ abuses, women’s rights’ and animal rights’ among many others). In addition she has taught me RESPECT for literature and delving beneath the surface (not saying I didn’t possess those qualities before but she brought them to the surface for me) and given me strength to fight for things I care about as my life progresses. And for this I am truly grateful. So I presented her with her award complete with gilded frame in the front of my whole Rotary Club and it was her turn to cry, which she did and I almost did. Again, another moment I won’t forget.

This brings me to my last weekend in South Africa and my departure on Wednesday the 1st of July 2009. I spent my last weekend at Kidd’s Beach and with my ‘family’ there where we journeyed to Hogsback (the mystical highland village that is rumored to have been the place that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Again I could go on all day about how fantastic my visit to Hogsback was but I won’t now as this letter is very long. But I had a terrific last weekend and on Monday the Young’s’ (John and Janet) returned to SA and we began to pack all of my stuff for the trip HOME.
So on July 1st I departed East London Regional Airport bound for Johannesburg and then home to my parents and all of YOU. Most of the Rotary Club saw me off and I remained strong until the last moment when I just cried (AGAIN, I know). So I wrenched myself from my beloved adopted country and away from the place where I feel I’ve grown the most in my short 18 years on planet Earth. All I can say is that it has been an extraordinary year and that I’ve become a transformed and better person than the sorry little girl that left. My heart now beats on two continents and that is something irreplaceable. I will forever remember the colors, the smells, the sights, and people of Africa.

Signing off,
Roxana Bell

Letters from Africa (6-8) part 2

Letter #6 (excerpts)

What to say, as usual the last month has flown by and many new memories have been stored in the box labeled ‘South Africa’ in my brain. First of all after my last letter me along with my other exchange friends headed off to Mpumalanga and Limpopo for a fun filled ten day safari. Our first two days was spent getting totally covered from head to toe in mud at an adventure camp called Skurwekoppie near Piet Retief, run by Afrikaans farmers and their families. I marveled at the freedom the children possessed running free and wild, not wearing any shoes, riding horses bareback, and having a childhood that to most does not exist anymore. In addition to meeting up with the exchange students from the Cape Tour, we welcomed the new short-term students and hopefully were able to give them a taste of what South Africa is like. I absolutely loved interacting with the new people, all from South America, and possessing that Latin flare, so boisterous, passionate, and not afraid to say how they feel. I got to practice my rudimentary Spanish with the beautiful Flora from Argentina, and the Brazilians fixed us all a chocolate treat from their country. Like the Cape Tour, the magic of being isolated and foreign in South Africa took hold of us and our bus became a musical and spiritual experience as we journeyed.

In the Skurwekoppie camp we did team building exercises through streams, crossing in and over them, (the stream water was so dirty, it took us all at least four showers to feel clean again!)and all took a turn on a zip line flying high above the landscape. I can’t tell you how high up I was because if I had known how high it was, I might not have gone on, even so Amalie had to hold my hand. But it was exhilarating, flying free above a dried river bed, deep in the bush of Southern Africa, an experience I’ll never forget. In the evenings sitting with a huge fire, we made a traditional Afrikaans dish called potkjie and drank fresh farm milk and rain water. After two days of bonding ended we took off to the Provence of Mpumalanga to view God’s Window, the Blyde River Canyon, and impressive water falls. I can not tell you enough times how absolutely stunning South Africa is. It takes my breath away, the expanse of land and animals and the people living in the rural areas all creating this country’s fabric. I am so in awe, I think the scenery will forever be etched in my brain’s eye perhaps I will see it from time to time in my dreams after I return home. Anyways the next day we spent at our farm house accommodations, playing games, talking, singing, and being crazy exchange students. Isabelle from Sweden entertained us with her voice, I wrote more poetry, and together we started to create a song. I wrote the lyrics while she composed music on her guitar and together we sang about the changes occurring in us during our exchange. Perhaps the most beautiful part of this exchange besides the countryside is building friendships with the other students and having deep conversations against the backdrop of a country we are trying to understand.

The next day we took off for Tshukudo Game Reserve to see Africa’s animals up close. And boy did we see everything there is to see, Giraffe, Elephants, Zebra, Rhino, buffalo, LIONS, and so much more. We got to play with baby lions and walk beside a half-grown female lioness. I think I needed to pinch myself constantly, I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. Let me tell you, Africa is so bloody hot during the summer. The heat in the bush was like something I’d never experienced, a dry heat that breaks you down, and when you finally see water or food, you become some sort of a violent bird of prey. Being in the game reserve on game drives reminded me of some adventure film, the car jolting and going over terrain that surely a normal vehicle couldn’t manage—it was a very bumpy ride. The scenery must have been something from Out of Africa—vast savannahs and acacia trees—again I thought I was dreaming.

Letter #7

As most of you who read this are adults I think you can see how much this experience has TRANSFORMED me. I see it when I breeze through earlier letters, poems, and papers I wrote this year. I astound myself when talking to people now, I seem to be talking and thinking from a completely different place than before I came. It is at once so exciting and thrilling to be different yet so scary because I do not recognize the person I’ve become. I guess I got what I wished for before I came to South Africa. As many of you may or may not know, I was came to South Africa because I wanted to prove myself better than the girl many knew in high school. I felt so trapped during those three years and did many things that weren’t to my benefit. I think I’m correct in evaluating that I wanted to go to college when my freshman year came around and that getting through the last few years has been very tough for me. I so desperately wanted to change who I became in high school, for she was not very nice, nor did she realize her self-worth. And to my surprise and hope I’ve become what I wanted to be and gotten what I wanted out of my time away. I think that I needed this year (I must also admit that I don’t think I could have done this sooner, I think I needed to live through those three years to want it as badly as I did!), so while now sometimes I feel behind my friends who are going away to college or doing college auditions and getting into drama school I feel I have something so special to treasure for the rest of my life. I also, just to complicate matters, feel a very gapping divide between people my own age past what I had felt before. So hopefully I’ll have friends when I get home LOL or make news ones, I’ve learned to do that very well this year. As Betty Davis said in All About Eve, “Fasten your seat belts it’s going to be a bumpy ride.” Well bring it on!!

On the 6th of March I became a weekly boarder at Clarendon’s hostel meaning I boarded at school Monday through Friday and went home Fridays to spend the weekends at my host family’s house. My first night in hostel was surreal as I watched the sunset among the white Dutch Colonial buildings that make up my school here. I go to a very beautiful school white and orange and so tropical, an open school where one feels one if outside even when one is inside, it is very breezy. Plus the surrealism of all these fairly quiet girls swarming about in our green and white uniforms with a strange accent; I definitely felt I was on a different planet when I entered Clarendon back in July when I arrived. Anyway on to hostel, I think it takes more courage than I have to be a permanent boarder at hostel. I mean to be separated from your family for long stretches of time—during a time in one’s life when you need them the most. I don’t think I could have ever done it. The hostel is home to girls of all ages from the Primary and Preparatory schools (grades K-7) and of course the high school (grades 8-12) whose families mainly live in rural areas and on farms or some who come from other neighboring countries like Zimbabwe or Botswana. The hostel is located on the high school grounds, a hop skip and a jump from the school buildings for the high school students while it is a fair hike for the primary and prep kids.

Within my first week at hostel I realized that 1) I have very bad ‘only child syndrome’ meaning I love my own space and to be quite honest my own company and privacy; and 2) I could get very sick, very fast of hostel routines and life, not to mention get very chubby eating the food. That being said I was welcomed with open arms by the girls there, of all ages. And I learned to love their company and got to know some of the hostel staff whom I miss and especially a young art teacher called Miss Birch, who was always up for a long chat. Again almost all of the girls, who didn’t know me from the high school, asked me the same questions I’ve gotten all year. Example: Are there movie stars where you live? And loads of other sometimes ridiculous questions, it got me to thinking that many of these girls were equally as clueless about the USA as I was about South Africa before I came. Most of them had never seen a map of the USA and certainly didn’t know what Ohio was and were like “wow, it that near Hawaii?” or “is that in Canada?” also I got “had you ever seen black people before?” and “Did you think there were lions roaming the streets?”

My roommate Yanga and I in our room at Connaught House (Clarendon)

Letter # 8

On Good Friday I met up with my new host family, a isXosa speaking African family. The Jafta’s consisted of Zuki Jafta (my host mom) and her husband Gcina and their three little girls: Yeyethu (YeYe), Aliziwe (Allie), and Lilitha (the baby who everyone calls Baaba). It was a very interesting experience being with the Jafta’s as they for the most part only spoke isXosa and for a vast majority of the time I had no idea what was being said, no clue. I kept asking “What’s going on?” in addition to “What????” and “Wait, what’s going on?” ha-ha I sounded like a broken record after a while. IsXosa is the African language spoken in the Eastern Cape and consists of lots of clicking sounds. Just for your information, Nelson Mandela is from the Eastern Cape and he is isXosa royalty.

My Host Mom Zuki and her children at their farm in the Eastern Cape

That evening we got back quite late to our chalets which were (and I’m not joking) on top of a big mountain which we had to attempt to get up in our car, thankfully we had a four by four. Anyway by the time we had gotten the car past the big boulders we were freezing as we were up quite high and it’s often colder in the rural areas. I (smart person that I am) had forgotten by long pants so I had to sleep in my nice warm pj shorts, hugging the duvet, hmmm not so much fun. So I went to sleep and eagerly awaiting the next day and more adventures at the farm.

2011: I've rather underestimated how long these letters are. There will be one final post about my exchange year in South Africa.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Letters from Africa Preview

Taken from my introduction to Letters from Africa. All the other excerpts will be italicised. I created a small book on my return home for an extra credit of high school work in creative writing. I am still shocked that they chose to recognize this artistic endeavor as I felt so strongly that my voice was never heard in those halls. Nevertheless, I am grateful and humbled that I was granted this extra room to run with my words.

August 2009:

My Mother and I decided that I was to have monthly newsletters to update all of my friends and family on my adventures in South Africa. From those letters I was able not only to record my thoughts as events took place but to explore a voice in writing that I never knew I could muster. In addition to writing the letters; I wrote at least 30 poems in response to my experiences.

My English teacher in South Africa, Ms. Felton was particularly instrumental in my start per se as a writer. In her class I wrote a lot of assignments and she always encouraged me to write freely and she read much of what I wrote outside of class. She taught me to be fearless with words and a deep respect for the English language. I am forever in indebted to her.

In South Africa, as I came obviously fluent in English, I began to read some of the country’s most celebrated authors like Nadine Gordimer and JM Coetzee. I also completely fell in love with the English language books of Afrikaans poet Antjie Krog. Through her writings I was able to acquaint myself with Afrikaans society and get a harrowing and personal view of South Africa’s recent history. Because of all of the reading I was doing, my drive to write became a force I just had to succumb to. Through writing this year I was able to preserve a first person account of my exchange year which will be something I can treasure for the rest of my life. I also found I LOVED exploring myself and the world around me in words and images. I became a writer whether I intended to or not.

Letter #1

The Orphanage is seated on a huge hill overlooking savannah like grounds and the town, its magnificent scenery. It’s in that place you can feel the heartbeat of Africa—it’s embodied in those children and their smiles.

It was while playing with all of the children that I realized why I had come. I came to give love and comfort to these little ones. They come up to you with open arms and big smiles. It’s quite unnerving for they have all the reasons in the world to be sad.

Letter #2

I love breathing in Africa’s air it’s so stimulating and makes me feel very alive. There is something so soothing about nature, nature is right. In this country two groups of people are struggling to live together and the natural surroundings are witness to their battles.

I have settled nicely into school. I am with the grade 11 class 1. I have joined choir, debate, and Interact. I really do enjoy school here, the only cons being that there are a lot of rules. We have this thing called assembly every few days. It scares the hell out of me. All of the girls file into the main hall, standing until we are told to sit by the headmaster, “Good Morning, Girls” to which we answer in unison “Good Morning, Mr. Nell.” The teachers line the hall looking at us strictly, then we sing, it’s the most terrifying thing ever especially since some of the songs are in other languages—I’ve taken to mouthing “pink elephant, pink elephant” when I don’t know a word. If one of us is caught talking or doing anything seen as wrong or inappropriate, that girl has to stand. The hall is quite small and when sitting one has to be very fast to sit on her piece of hard wood floor for if you aren’t fast you have to stand. It feels quite military, I asked if yawning was seen as inappropriate and heck can I breathe??

In my time here I have been introduced to a South African playwright called Athol Fugard, he is so lyrical and his country’s hardships seep through every pore of his writing. Two girls in my class performed a piece from one of his plays, as rehearsal for a competition they were entering, I watched and ten minutes later tears where streaming down my face. These girls are the soul of Africa, being African themselves—their words are the reason I came.

Letter #3

The game reserve was beautiful, it’s just that simple, it’s stunning. The land is so vast and open—we as the people are so small compared to the land. The land is a character unto itself, it seems to breathe and swell. It bears witness to the human suffering that occurs on it. When one is driving in the country, one can’t help but notice the black townships. While blacks and whites can live together, they don’t for the most part. It’s still very separate. Poverty is South Africa’s new Apartheid. The land cries….

The Free State is very different than the Eastern Cape, where I live. I could feel in the air the tensions between black and white—the wounds very evident from Apartheid. It’s a very different set of social codes than I am used to it was very strange that’s for sure. I love listening to all of the different languages that are spoken in this country, it’s so interesting—it fascinates me—it’s a gourmet feast for my mind.

Letter #4

On the actual date of Halloween—the 31st I left East London for Durban, South Africa and my two week Cape Tour. The tour was hosted by another neighboring Rotary District (based in Durban) for their district and our districts’ exchange students. I don’t think I have any words for this wondrous two weeks. I am void of all language for my soul and self have been quietly and powerfully expanding. We drove across South Africa in our tour bus—22 students from all over the world bound together by a sense of isolation in our new country. We became a merry band of musicians (we had one guitar and African drums and our voices), writers, artists, budding politicians, photographers, and of course film makers and actors. We learned the South African National Anthem and another African song and sang Beatles songs (“Let It Be” and “Imagine”) ---it was incredible. We all agreed we had to be a bit insane to go on exchange to South Africa.

Isabelle from Sweden

So in our merry bus we drove across the vast space of South Africa. The landscape is stunning, kilometer after kilometer of beauty passing across our fields of vision. Sparkling lakes of deepest blue, vast savannahs, the Klein Karoo’s desolate beauty, and the lush land of the Western Cape—home to South Africa’s vineyards and Cape Town. Once South Africa gets under your skin you never are the same—I am in awe of this land. (As was everyone else—cameras never ‘slept’)
Some highlights of the trip besides visiting Cape Town were riding Ostriches, visiting the Cango Caves, stopping in a town called Graff-Reinet, watching some of our crew dive with crocodiles, pet Cheetahs, and staying at an old farm house in the Karoo.

Letter #5

Amalie and I arrived in Johannesburg with our Rotarian guide, Edric. Our first day of sightseeing had us taking in the Apartheid Museum. Which was such an amazing journey to go on, it made me love South Africa even more, if that is possible. To see how this country has fought out of the darkness of one of the most oppressive regimes into the democracy that it is today is incredible. I left feeling both light and heavy at the same time, happy that I could walk away free

During my time at Kidd’s Beach I “worked” part-time at the Ganes small restaurant called The Mcantsi. I got lots of nice tips and met lots of interesting people. The restaurant is situated on top a large hill overlooking the lagoon which leads out into the ocean. It’s simply breathtaking.
I’ve had a magical and all too short time at Kidd’s beach. Because I was able to spend most of my time with the Gane family (I had no school since November) we’ve become very close and I don’t want to go back to East London. I’ve had endless days of sand and surf and being in the pool. I’ve gotten the most major tan ever and have been losing weight by doing aqua aerobics everyday in the pool—sometimes twice a day!

TBA Letters 6-8 in one more post...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Annie Hall

I am feeling a bit Manhattan happy because of my impending trip to NYC for the summer. I've gone a bit Diane Keaton nuts as I rewatched Something's Gotta Give a fantastic film. But, I am feeling particularly drawn to her most famous role in Woody Allen's Annie Hall . She's a great singer..observe.