Knysna Accomodations

In Knysna, we stayed at “B My Guest,” where each room has a bird’s name.  Amber and I stayed in the “Sugarbird” room.

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We had breakfast at the East Head Cafe’ and I must say this restaurant had excellent customer service for the American mentality!  We were seated in chairs that had blankets and the waitress immediately asked if anyone wanted a heated water bottle!  Remember, water bottles are a form of heat in South Africa!

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The food was just as awesome as the service!!


Freshly squeezed apple juice

Hot Chocolate

American-style French Toast


August 28 – 28th Day in Cape Town

Today we had a lecture from a guy named Innocent Kache.  Before I tell you about him, let me remind you how we have been warned about safety.  Remember, when we first step on Cape Town’s ground, Dr. B met us at the airport and before we departed from the airport, she gave us a lecture on being safe.  That was just our first lecture and throughout the trip we have been constantly reminded about being safe.  When we met the Consul General, she immediately began to talk to us about being safe.  Being raised in the projects have bred me on being safe; so when I received these warnings my safety antennas were extremely extended and I’ve been safety paranoid.  So, when the group informed me that Dr. Murphy said she met a taxi driver that inspired her so much, she asked him to come in and speak to us!

RED ALERT; I thought, “Is Dr. Murphy crazy?!  And his name is Innocent?!”  I told my flatmates that I would be sure to give him a look to let him know that I did not trust him and we were ready to do anything necessary to protect ourselves from him.  I even “googled” him to see if I could find any other information about him.

Innocent came and tell us his life story and I felt bad for being so paranoid about him.  I understood why Dr. Murphy was so moved to have him to come and speak to us!  His story is so much like my own, it was touching.

I must say the way South Africans tell stories is so intoxicating.  Unfortunately, I could never tell you his story in the manner he told us; it was just too long and too detailed.  In a nutshell, like me, he has lived a life of struggle.  Innocent was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.  His parents separated, when he was young and he never knew him.  His mother died, when he was young and he was raised in an abusive environment by his maternal aunt (his mother’s sister).  One difference is his father is alive and well, but has never been a father to him.  He admits that he still has bitter feelings towards his father and he continues to pray about that.

The moral of his story is that he knows his life has been and is in the hands of a higher power and through it all, he will be alright.  His journey of struggle brought him to Cape Town.  Since being in Cape Town he has been able to buy a car, which is why he is a taxi driver.  He feels that though he has struggled most of his life, he will be rich one day.  He suggested that we stay in touch with him through Facebook, because one day he may be in America!  To him, coming to America is like going to Heaven!

Though, I initially thought Dr. Murphy was crazy for inviting Innocent to come to speak with us, he has become another of my Facebook friends; a brother from another country.  Ironically, he has a picture on his Facebook page that says, “Need New Haters, the old ones are starting to like me…”


Changing my Grandmother Name

Since I’ve been here in South Africa, I’ve decided to change my grandmother name from “MotherDear” to “Magogo,” which means “old lady” in Xhosa/Zulu.  This part of my journey has inspired me to take the name, because it is unlike any other grandmother name in America.

When we met Linda Biehl, she told us how Easy Nofemela and Ntobeko Peni, two of the men convicted for killing her daughter, had become family to her and their children call her “Magogo.”  When we met Lindsay Henley, Program Director of the Beth Uriel, and she informed us that the boys of the house call her “Magogo” as well.  Even though, she has been working there since she was in her 20s and was far from being an old lady, it was a name that gave her a family title.

“Magogo” is the Grandmother that cares for her family and extended family. It is traditional in African culture to take in children as part of the family who need care. And it is often the Magogo who takes care of these children with her pension and whatever means she can find. She too will tell stories to the children and anyone who will listen.

This name has grown on me and I must adopt it!  This grandmother name change will also allow me to mark this part of my journey in my life.  Since my only grandbaby, Mink (18 months) has not yet begin to speak my name, I think it’s a great time to implement a grandmother name change!  “Magogo!”  I LOVE IT!!

August 27 – 27th Day in Cape Town

Today we visited Beth Uriel, which is a supportive living environment aimed to provide young men from impoverished communities the chance to pursue meaningful, independent lives with a deep belief in the transforming power of God; Beth Uriel, “House of Light.”

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We were given an introduction to the facility by the Program Director, Lindsay Henley, or “Magogo,” as she is known around the home.  She is originally from the United States (Chicago area) but has been a part of the Beth Uriel family since 1999.  She came on board full-time in 2003 and has managed the home since 2004.  With a background in social work, Lindsay is responsible for working alongside Nosipho Seleka (Operations Manager) and Melvin Koopman (Program Manager) and supporting them in any way possible.  She is also dipping her toes in the cold, cold water of fundraising and other “not so glorious” administration required in non-profit management.  Lindsay is the proud mother of LJ.


We were given a tour of the home by one of its newest members, Richard.

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Afterwards, we stopped for a bite to eat, on our way to the Amy Biehl Foundation’s Youth Spirit Awards and Memorial Lecture, at Lady Bee, a Dehli Diner that offer home-cooked meals, including a wide range of quality curries, pastas, breyani, roasts and other favorites.


At the Amy Biehl Foundation’s Youth Spirit Awards and Memorial Lecture, we were first entertained by Aviva Pelham, a well known opera singer and the children of the foundation.

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Trevor Manuel, who is currently serving in the Cabinet of South Africa as Minister in the Presidency in charge of the National Planning Committee, was the guest speaker.


Final remarks were given my Linda Biehl, Amy’s Mother.


At the end, we met Erica J. Barks-Ruggle, who is the Consul General of the United States.



August 16

We spent the entire day at the Western Cape Wineland.  Our first stop was to Butterfly World, which is a luxuriant paradise that consists of a tropical garden in a green house.  It is home of the free flying exotic butterflies along with many other interesting animals; reptiles, tarantulas, birds, marmoset, monkeys, and meerkats).

Our next stop was to Babylonstoren; one of the best preserved farm yards in the Cape Dutch tradition.

Third stop was to Fairview Wine and Cheese, a South African producer of wine and cheeses; own and ran by Charles Louis Back, a Lithuanian immigrant to the Cape.  He also runs the Spice Route Winery.  Fairview is the most visited attraction and we ran into some people from America there!  We visited the Beryl Back Tasting Room and engaged in a seated tutored tasting of the pairing of 8 different wines, Fairview’s Jersey milk and goat’s milk cheeses.

Next, we moved to the Spice Route Winery and engaged in the wine and chocolate journey; a selection of four wines with four Artisan chocolates.

Next, we moved to Red Hot Glass; Hand Blown Glass Studio and Gallery.  Located on the Spice Wine Estate, we watched the process of molten glass being blown and formed into works of art.

Our final stop was to Solma-Delta Wine Estate, where we engaged in a tasting in the Museum that explores the slave heritage of the area.  We also enjoyed singers from the work of the Rural Cape Music Project.

August 07 – Seventh Day in Cape Town

Now, I know it may seems like we are on vacation, but don’t get it twisted, we are doing massive school work!

After class today, we went on the Bo Kaap walking tour.  Bo Kaap (formerly known as the Malay Quarter) is traditionally a multicultural area, rich in history and situated on the slopes of Signal Hill.  The area is known for its romantic cobble stones streets and reminds me a lot of San Francisco; with houses that stick together.  After the demise of forced racial segregation under apartheid, property in the Bo Kaap has become very sought after; for its location and its picturesque cobble streets and unique architecture.  The Bo Kaap Museum is the oldest house in the area still in its original form.

Our tour guide was Shireen Narkedien of Walking Tours of “The Cape Malay Quarter.”  During our tour, Shireen stopped in Biesmiellah, a Cape Malayan restaurant and bought koeksisters, Dhaltjies aka chilli bites and samosas.  Koeksisters are a South African syrup-coated doughnut in a twisted or braided shape.  Samosas are a fried or baked pastry with a savory filling, such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, ground lamb, ground beef or ground chicken.  We fell in love with the samosas!

After the Bo Kaap Museum, we stopped in “MonkeyBiz,” a sustainable income generating non-profit organization that provide self-employment opportunities to bead artists and provides them with skills training and support.

On our way to catch a taxi back home, we saw a group of men shooting craps.  I positioned my camera to take their picture and most of them held up their hand like “No;” not to take their picture.  Then one of them came up to me and said I could pay them to take their picture.  I was like, “No, I will not.”

Later, my flatmates and I went to the Waterfront to go to McDonalds, because we were craving some fattening America-like food!  And when I’m in America, McDonalds is one of the last places I would go to eat.  This McDonalds had a desert section that sold cheesecakes, muffins; pretty much pastries.  They had a cool play area for kids as well!

Amber and Rachel – The Long Walk to Freedom (LWTF) presenters for the day

Bo Kaap Museum

Our Tour Guide, Shireen Narkedien

See how cold we are

Inside of Biesmiellah

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August 1 – First day in Cape Town

This gallery contains 6 photos.

We were happily greeted at the airport by Dr. Dagni Bredesen, our Instructor for Study Abroad: Faculty-Led Program (STA 5970). Dr. Bredesen brought along Arlene and Hilton Hermanus.  Arlene works for African Angel tours and is the Head Tour Guide … Continue reading

Travel Reflection

Hello South Africa; we safely made it!

Though I was very excited about studying abroad in South Africa, there were some issues that I was just as concerned about.  They were (1) being able to pack one bag for a four month stay, (2) being able to endure the long flight to South Africa and (3) being able to endure a four month stay without getting homesick.

With today being my first day in South Africa, I unable to rate the final success of my packing.  I probably won’t be able to rate my success until the end of the trip; then I’ll be able to determine what I could have left and/or what I should have brought.  I can say that it was successful enough to pass the weight requirements of the airport, which I was truly worried about.  Before we left home, my son weighed my luggage on the scale and said I was 10 pounds over.  I was so distraught from stressing on what to bring and what not to bring, I decided that I would have to pay for the extra weight.  So when I checked in at the airport, put my luggage on the scale, I was ready to pay an enormous charge.  The scale said 26 kilograms and the representative did not mention paying an extra fee; so whew, I passed!

The other concern with my luggage was that I had a carryon bag and a tote bag, which was also a luggage violation.  We were told that we could only bring one carry-on bag.  Yet, I felt I need to bring a blanket and some snacks that could not fit in my luggage. Again my son was the parent, reminding me that I could not carry on two bags.  Again, because I had been so stressed with packing, I concluded that I had to take my chances.  And again it worked; no one said anything about my two bags!

I love to travel, but I hate to fly, which generated my next concern; the long flight to South Africa.  Be six feet tall and a bit overweight has always caused flying to be a challenge for me.  It’s like folding this large body frame into a compact space and holding it for hours!  Initially, I was under the impression that it would be a 20 hour flight; 10 hours to London and 10 hours to South Africa.  I was mistaken about the London flight, because it only took 5 ½ hours.  The other 5 hours were due to the time difference in the States and London; so again, another triumph!  I was very surprised when the pilot announced that we should prepare for landing. I thought, “What; that didn’t take that long!”  Then I looked at my watch and realized that it was 2:00 am at home and it dawned on me, “Oh, it’s a time change; so, it really wasn’t a 10 hour flight!”

The treat of our travel was our layover in London, England.  We were picked up at the London International Airport by Golden Tours and were guided by an exceptional guide tour, Drew Davis.

He was very patient and knowledgeable about London.  He drove us were we needed to go, walked us to our destination, purchased our tickets for us and waited for our return.  We toured the Tower of London, the Crown Jewels and the London Eye.  We ate a to-go lunch from Ted’s Fish & Chips.  Never in a million years did I think I would ever travel to London.  As Amber said, “Well, well, well, would you look at this; we are in London!”

The flight to Cape Town from London was a little over a 10 hour flight and it was hard to endure.  The first problem was my seat was a window seat, which meant I had to fold up even smaller.  What helped my situation was that I was seated next to a really petite lady that was not only nice, but helpful as well.  She was born in Cape Town and was returning home from being in the United States for six years.  She was not one of those people that got agitated being seated next to a big person and when I accidentally touch her.  She helped me feel a little better about sitting in the window seat.  Additionally, she had to show me how to operate the controls on my seat panel for the TV.

Though things went better than I had anticipated with getting to South Africa, I arrived with excruciating lower back pain.  I clearly hear in my head, my son’s most important requests; “Mom, don’t be the one that can’t/don’t keep up with the group!”  Now that we are here, my challenge is getting rid of this back pain in order to keep up with the group, participate in everything (except swimming with the sharks) and successfully accomplishing the daily challenges of studying in South Africa.