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Kruger National Park pt. 1

Tuesday, June 16, 2009



I've been camping many times before, but this was the ultimate test of survival. After a long 5 hour drive from Johannesburg through winding mountains and rural countryside, we arrived at one of Kruger National Park's bush camps. We were briefed about where we would be sleeping, when we would be going out on walks and game drives, and to check our sleeping bags nightly for scorpions.

Now I have this thing with bugs and insects.....i cant stand them. I shiver every time i see a Caterpillar, and freak out even at the smallest of grasshoppers. I never really gave much thought about coming within a 2 feet radius of a spider if i didn't have to, let alone a scorpion! I can promise you my blood went cold as I heard one of our rangers, Jakes, explain to us what we should do if we encountered one of those little nuances: "Just scream and someone will come". That's it? Honestly? no complementary Scorpion-be-gone?!? You could tell that I was reeeeeealy looking forward to sleeping that night!

We then went to our cabins, all girls in one, all guys in one, and picked our bunks. There were 32 individual beds, 16 bunks for us 7 girls to choose from, so we all got top bunks close to each other. After i selected my bunk (away from the corners and windows of the cabin....) we went on a game drive.

You know how when you go to amusement parks with safari rides and you think its the coolest thing ever, seeing mechanical elephants and electrical giraffes? Then at the end they take your picture that has you pointing at the fake zebra? They don't do real game drives justice. We climbed onto a huge off-road vehicle, no hood, no doors or windows, no SEAT BELTS. Just benches-slightly cushioned- and a metal bar to hold onto. Now the set-up of this particular vehicle was awkward. the first seat was up super high, while the second was like 2 feet lower, the third was 1 foot lower, then the last row was the same height as the first. So once it started to get super windy Andrew, Mary, Stephanie and I, immediately became the buffer for everyone else from the wind.....and animals.

Within the first 15 minutes, I had been thrown up and down and all around from the unevenness of the terrain and was seriously starting to think that i had a brain hemorrhage, when we saw or first animal. I knew elephants were big animals, i guess i just never really comprehended it. These things were monsters with huge noses and and ginormous ears! I was probably in shock before I actually touched one, because once i felt the leathery hide of it's nose, I suddenly realized 'wow, I'm not in Iowa anymore'! In the background, I could hear millions of clicks going off, most likely Suwanee and her camera. It started to get dark fast that night, and we had to break out the spotlight. I had the honor of holding it and lighting the surrounding environment. Eventually we found an animal that was considered rare even to the rangers at the camp. Two cheetahs! It was really awesome seeing them just behind some bushes. Everyone was freaking out and jumping up an down in their seats.

Once we got back to the the camp, we had dinner and watched an educational video on the Camp's history. After we said all our good nights, the scariest part of the entire trip was about to happen. WE HAD TO GO TO BED.

It was bad enough that the lights to our cabin we located outside and at the bottom of the stairs, but now it was actually time to sleep IN the "horror shack". Immediately I took out my bottle of Off bug spray and doused my bunk with it. I sprayed all the corners and the surrounding bunks. I'm surprised no one said anything, maybe they were trying to be nice? But then the bathroom situation probably was occupying their minds more than anything.

There were 5 individual toilet rooms and 3 sinks with showers in the same room. With the abundance of resources at our hands, you'd expect that we'd have no problem freshening up. Wrong. All 7 of us used only one of the toilets, afraid of the other creatures lurking in the other stalls plus, some were just unusable! :] We all used the same shower, with the water setting on only ICE COLD. One of the sinks one night sprung a leak, and it was chaos with me and Mary trying to figure out what to do. Another night, i saw a frog hop out of the toilet that i was about to use and decide on just not using the bathroom that day. Overall the experience was fun, trying to use the restrooms and showers, and defiantly made me think to be happy with the condition that my bathroom was in and that the first thing i would do once i got home was to take a nice looooooonnng bath.

Last Blog

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We won't have internet or cell phone reception while in Kruger for the next 3 days! So we won't be able to email or blog, just a heads up! Off to see the animals, and hopefully not get eaten.... : }

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Orphanage


Apartheid Museum and Nelson Mandela's home




The museum was very informative, and I was surprised to see how much I didn't know! It was sad to learn about the apartheid and the effects it had on South Africa. We watched a few movies while there, both either showing the violence done to the blacks and coloreds, or how the white settlers established colonies.

There was a Nelson Mandela exhibit, and it was honestly inspiring! I enjoyed reading about how he stood up for what he believed in, and can really relate him to Martin Luther King Jr. and what he did to help out our country. Both of their beliefs are practically identical and really appreciated in both our countries. Its amazing what Mandela did, and I praise him greatly for what he did and is doing to transform South Africa today. He'll be celebrating his 90th birthday next month!

We also visited his "matchbox" home, 8115 Vilakazi St. Orlando West, in Soweto. IT IS TINY!!!! I guessed it was roughly 578 squared feet! There were two bedrooms, not even a kitchen or living room, a bathroom, and a small yard out front. I was amazed to see millions upon trillions of awards given to Mandela and his wife. I was truly honored and excited to be in the home of a leader that has transformed South Africa in so many ways and thankful for what he has done to the world.

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Lesedi Cultural Village

Monday, June 8, 2009

After a long day of riding in a bus, it was a lovely finsih to be able to expereince Africa's the true image. We visited the Lesedi Cultural village and immediatly we were greeted by men in traditional african tribal outfits! I was alarmed for a split second, then immediatly warmed up to their sweet hospitality. We were introduced to 5 major tribal groups in the area, and were given tours on each ones' ways of life and village apperance. After, we saw very unique dances true to each tribe's culture, as well as singing and audience interaction: I got up and danced with them too! Almost all of the students went up to dance and we had a blast!!!!!!!! Afterwards, we ate a traditional African meal that included: CROCODILE AND OSTRICH. Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! I was soooooooooooo excited to try it all! the croc tasted like dry-ish chicken, the ostrich tasted like tough-ish beef. oh! and i forgot to mention the CATERPILLARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they were already cooked, dried, and slalted. It tasted like a cross of stale fritos to dried anchovies... I couldnt tell if i was eating the head or not, but it wasnt half bad... it only got stuck in you teeth!!!! FLOOOOOOOOSSSSS!!!!! the dinner and bus ride home was the first time on the trip in which alllll the students could not stop laughing, and i really mean NOT ABLE TO STOP LAUGHING, and had a great time listening and being with each other. It really was a nice way to end the day!

Archeological dig


We visited a site in the middle of an open game field and met up with a man named collin mentors. He had been excivating in the same spot for 17 years and has come up with a lot. No human fossils yet, but an abundance of baboon and rodent craniums and bones. He providied us with lunch while discussing the different ways of identifying and classifying an orgnasim based on its skull. We saw primitive tools used, as well as loads of different teeth. Saddly we didn't help out in the dig because it rained, but overall I learned a lot!

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We went to the Serkfontein Caves today and they were really nice! The caves were formed by natural erosion and are made up of limestone. Its was amazing to see a lake, still in the middle of the entire cave, 3 meters deep and 70 meters wide. it was very hard to see even if there was a hand right up against my nose! We saw a few bats sleeping up in a small crack, and was afraid that they might wake up! Then we entered a HUGE chamber, so open and extremely wide. It amazed me to see that nature could have done all this on its own.

The Serkfontein Caves are one of the most fossil-filled caves in South Africa. Little Foot, literally a fully completed skeleton, was found there, and is still being excavated today! I'm a sucker for fossils, and I'm glad I got to see part of Africa's Cradle of Humankind.

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Sanccob

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Sanccob is a penguin/sea bird hospital in cape town."


The minute I heard that, I drifted off into heaven. I've always wanted to do something in the medicine field (or play the jiebe) and I absolutly LOVE penguins!

They do have a volunteer program, and you can intern there. They showed us how to feed the sick penguins, their cute little swimming pool for excersize, and the medications and vitamins they give them.

Guess what? I HELD A PENGUIN!!!! I HELD A PENGUIN!!!! I HALD A PENGUIN!!!! Well, auctcally two!!! One, an old maccorini penguin that had washed up on the shore, and another african penguin, that had catarax and could never be released. It was awesome!!!!! Imm defintally going to go back!!





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PENGUINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


WE SAW PENGUINS!!!! WE SAW PENGUINS!!!! WE SAW PENGUINS!!!! AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I was super excited.

We saw the south african penguins (aka jackass penguins) and they were the cutest things ever! I couldn't believe I was seeing my favorite animal without fluing to antarctica! Although that is another destination thru DSA...

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Cape point




Cape point is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth. The atlantic and indian oceans merge here, and the lighthouse there had a breathtaking view! I also bought lots of things while there, sorry bout the credit bill mom!! (:

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SHARK DIVE!!!!!!! Pt. 2

Ok so today we had to be up by 6:20 and get on the coach (bus) for a two hour ride to SHARK ALLEY! I fell asleep on the bus ride, as did everyone else, but woke up the latest and apparently missed some of the most natural and beautiful scenery! I woke up just in time though to see a couple small waterfalls, gigantious mountains, exotic shrubbery, and the sun rising over it all. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Of course I tried taking pictures, and of course a majority didn't turn out right. (:

Then we reached the ocean. I hadn't seen the ocean, let alone any other body of water besides my brother's bath water, in what felt like 12 trillion years, so I was suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper excited to finally see it again after have been raised by the ocean when I was younger. IT WAS A W E S O M E. Not like the 'heeey duude!' Type awesome, like the fancy and mature form of the word type awesome. The deep blue waves were small and rolled into the dark rocks with no sense of form, then crashing with a woosh and melting into white clouded sea foam. And I'm dead serious. It was that poetically shown.

After being hypnotized for a few seconds, we went inside to get our waivers turned in (yes, my mommy signed my life away) and ate some breakfast there. I had coca puffs. The last time I had those, I choked on them. I honestly don't know why I did choose to eat them, I just did. :) I also had some poppy seed bread and milk.

Then we went off to get an educational lecture about the great white sharks. Joy. Suprisingly, it was quite entertaining! Did you know that female sharks are BIGGER than the male sharks? Well I auctcally did but it was intersting to see how much everyone learned!

then, it was time to dive. I wasn't scared at all! It was just the fact that I was motion sickened that made it terrible. I felt more terrible than any plane flight combined! It was really really really really really really really bad. But it was all worth it when we got in the cage! It was probably the only thing that I never thought I'd ever do! But was completly worth the motion sickness!

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Drumming circle

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mom, dad, I'm going to become a professional jieba drummer when I grow up. Forget about all the scientifical biomedical research geneticist science surgeon mumbo jumbo. This was THE coolest thing ever!!!!!! After we got back from shark alley, we went to our host's home for dinner, and there was drumming omming from the inside as we walked in. the music was really cool! We then each got a drum, and soon we started to learn to create different sounds and different rythms. The only down part was that my hands hurt like crazy afer all the drumming! They were literally throbbing red! Soon we started to incorperate cow bells, bead shakers, and dancers. yup! Dnacers! And guess who got to go dance? MR.COCHRANE. Hahaha it was really funny how embarrassed he was, but a few others went up with him, I was on the cow bell, and we had 2 different beats going while they all danced. It was amazingly fun!!!!!!!!!! Then dinner was phenonomal with vegtable soup, meat pie with chicken and beef, creamed corn, butternut squash, yellow rice and raisins. And for dessert, we had this cake pudding substance with warm melter custard over it. Bon appetite!

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SHARK DIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WE DOVE WITH SHARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! Most amazing experience of my life!!!!!!!!!!!! Besides the fact I got the WORST sea sick out of everyone! Yup! I wasn't the only one sick this time!!!! :) but it was prety bad...more information will come tomorrow about today, we have the busyist day tomorrow, and I need to pack!!!!

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Townships

Friday, June 5, 2009

We visited two townships today, where both have taught me a lot. Number one, be TRULY thankful for what you have. Number two, be TRULY happy with what you have, and three be TRULY and utterly, without a doubt, most positively, and guarenteed, that you APPRECIATE how well you living conditions are as well as having your family happy, healthy, and well.

We saw so many shacks, built out of sheet metal, wood, and newspapers. Yeah, those homes were "upgrated" from previous shacks, which quite honestly, I don't know what they had before! Some auctcual homes were decently remodeled, but you can see that the living conditions were terrible. Trash everywhere, broken windows, little kids wandering the streets, and stray dogs all cold and wet. It was amazing to see how little these people had, but still were living and supporting their own big families.

We met a lady, Rosie, who grew up in a township her entire life. She fed homeless children everyday and made sure they got at least one meal in before they went to bed, while raising and providing for her own kids. A fire broke out in her township, and her shack caught on fire. She ran inside and retrieved kids from the fire as she suffered from major burns. Rosie now has provided meals to kids for roughly 20 years, and we visited her kitchen. Well, it was more of a 6 foot by 8 foot shack with 4 GIGANTIAC pots (I don't know how we all fit inside!). She told us her life story and inspired us to want to help her out. She gave us her address, phone numbers, and e-mail so we can contact her. We all have her information and will try to post it asap if you'd like to help.

Long story short, just be happy with what you have and who you are.

Daddy, mommy, I kinda think its cool if you didn't get me that new thinggy I waanted... :)

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Scuba prep!!!

Wow!!!! We scuba dove today!!!! Yay!!! Its our prep for the SHARK CAGE tomorow!!!! I would have to say that being able to breathe under water was the coolest thing ever. I defintally can't wait for tomorrow's SHARKDIVE!!!!!!!! Jeralyn if you are reading this, take care of my viola if I'm gone. :)

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History lesson

Just this morning after a filling breakfast, we got a briefing on south africa's long and rich history. It is so amazing and intersting and very inspiring on how people's rights came to be, very simillar to America's own.

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Fw: Motion sickness

Thursday, June 4, 2009

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----- Original Message -----
From: Iman Kashmola
To: 'adam@blogger.com' <adam@blogger.com>
Sent: Thu Jun 04 16:53:05 2009
Subject: Motion sickness

Now before you get all grossed out, we are supposed to talk about the trip, and so far, motionsickness was a huge part of my trip! The plane flights were fine, but I was still getting sick! My dotor gave me this me medication that is supposed to help kemo therapy patients with not getting nausuea after their treatments, and obviously enough, it doesn't work for me! I must have some genetic disorder with taking motion sickness meication, because the sea bands don't work for me, the patches don't either, and unless I sleep the entire flight, I'm guaranteed to get sick! This last flight though from johannasburg to cape town, was perfect!!!!!! Why?? I slept through the whole thing! Sure it was two hrs only, but that beats getting sick on a 10 hour flight from chiago to frankfurt!!! Right now, I'm just glad were done flying fora while....

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Fw: Frankfurt

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----- Original Message -----
From: Iman Kashmola
To: 'adam@blogger.com' <adam@blogger.com>
Sent: Thu Jun 04 16:45:10 2009
Subject: Frankfurt

We had an 8 hour layover in frankfurt germany on our way to africa, and it was amazing!!!!! Downtown was modernized with huge skyscrapers and buildings and in between them all were small little historical cathedrials and shops! The people were really nice, and it was sooooo col to be in europe!! I'm defintally going back!

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1st day!

After flying for 42 hours, we are finally in cape town!!!

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1st day

Testing!

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

video
if you are reading this, posting from my blackberry was a succuss!
Time to pack, take finals, say goodbye, get emotionally ready, pack more, check for all my electronic plugs and cords, make sure I have all my legal documents, re-check for all my electronic cords, say goodbye again, re-re-check my packed suitcase, check for all my medications, say goodbye one more time, and then, FLY .... Then call home because I forgot to pack my toothbrush. :) #dsas09

Most likley to happen to me...

Time to pack, take finals, say goodbye, get emotionally ready, pack more, check for all my electronic plugs and cords, make sure I have all my legal documents, re-check for all my electronic cords, say goodbye again, re-re-check my packed suitcase, check for all my medications, say goodbye one more time, and then, FLY .... Then call home because I forgot to pack my toothbrush. :)

Count Down

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Six more days!