New site & Drakensbergs

New site & Drakensbergs
These are the mts from our village

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lots of Vacation Pictures

HAPPY 2012!  At the end of this month we will have been in South Africa a whole year!  We will know more of what to expect of the weather (and bug population cycle).  Reflecting back on our experiences so far, Peace Corps is not what I expected - mostly because South Africa is very different than the “Africa” I had I my head (the National Geographic Africa of the 60’s).  I don’t think it exists anywhere in Africa any more but certainly not in South Africa, where everyone (except some of the “gogo”s (grandmothers)) wears western dress and you can get just about anything you want at the Pick N Pay grocery store or Games department store in town – in fact Games was just bought by Walmart!.  The problems and issues are not the ones I expected either.  It is harder to understand how apartheid and the history of race relations in this country have affected the current conditions (especially in education) than I thought it would be and adjusting to no running water in the house was easy – although it has made me appreciate hot showers more.  
In two weeks we start a new school year.  I’ll be teaching Gr 4 Math with help from the teacher who would have had that class if I hadn’t offered to teach it.  I wanted to teach it because I miss teaching math/science and there will be less of a language issue with math than science.  Also the class will include the 3rd graders from last year that I got to know and love.  I will still be doing most of the English teaching for 1st, 2nd & 3rd grades.  There is a new national curriculum CAPS (Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements) that is to implemented next year at the lower grade levels but the teachers had not received the material for it before we broke for the holidays.  It is hard to plan lessons without the guidelines!  Maybe we will get them when the teachers meet for 2 days before the students return?! We had a wonderful vacation in the mountains and the sea shore with three other PCVs! 
We spent the first three days at Amphitheatre Backpackers at the edge of the Drakensburg Mountains where we were treated to a beautiful sunset the first night.

The next day we drove into Lesotho and spent some time in a small village – probably very much like the one we would have gone to if we had been posted to Lesotho. 

Lesotho has the highest low point of any country (about a mile high – like Denver) and goes up to 14,000+ feet.  We climbed to a rock overhang for a box lunch and a view of some rock art painted by the San people, who have been gone for 200 years).  I took some pictures but you can’t see the paintings well.  We also had a chance to sample the local home brewed beer and visit a traditional healer.

 The next day we drove to a car park near Tegula Falls, the world’s 4th highest waterfall and hiked for 2½ hours to the top.  We hiked around the back of the taller peak on the right and up to the flat top on the left.

 It was quite a hike!  We had to scramble up a steep rock filled gorge for one part.
 We had lunch and walked across the flat top to the waterfall.  One disappointment was that you couldn’t see much of the falls from the top.  

Then we had to get back down again.   
We took a different route back.  The chain ladders were a little scary – just don’t look down!!
 The last day in this part of the Drakensburgs we went to Royal Natal National Park.  Some folks took a 4+ hour hike to the bottom of the falls but Richard and I decided to take it easier and we found a little brook with a nice cool pool where we could hide away, skinny dip and just relax.

Thant’s enough for one entry.  I’ll send another one soon (no really) with more pictures from our trip.

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