Off to South Africa

So there I was, sitting at the departure lounge in Cebu, waiting for my HK flight. My intentions were to get back home, take a couple of showers, eat a lot of familiar food, repack, rest up, and in 6 days, take off for Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to meet up with a friend and do a 3-week exploration of the MeKong delta.

But as I sit there, I get a text message from my old school. Each year, for a week, they send all 800 kids out on a program called ‘Interim’, where they go on one of about 40 different trips all over the world. These trips are for cultural immersion, service to a community, or adventure. Turns out that one of the two leaders of the trip to Cape Town, South Africa had a sudden onset of appendicitis, and was in the hospital having an operation, and the trip is due to leave in 3 days!

So they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. It works out well in lots of little ways: I’ve been to Cape Town dozens of times, the other trip leader and I started the South Africa Interim trips together about 6 years ago so I know the program, and I’m very familiar with all the technology around Interim (for grading, reporting progress, etc) since I was the Tech Coach at the HS. So I’m off to Cape Town on Friday for 10 days, instead of HCMC.

This trip is an extension of another one that ran in the northern part of SA, in the Kalahari. The kids will work with a local school, helping teach classes and giving teachers ideas for enrichment. They will also get a first-hand look at the history of Aparteid in SA, with a visit to Robben Island (where Mandela was imprisoned) and also to visit Soweto Township in Johannesburg on the flight in. There will also be a bit of touristing around CT for a day, but the main focus is on learning about Aparteid and helping at the school for several days.

Anyway, my Vietnam travel buddy is justifiably put off, but this only delays our rendezvous in HCMC by a week. Meanwhile, I have three days to get this trip organized (the sick TL was still putting the finishing touches on a lot of the details), to pack and to get ready to go.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.17.05 AMOh, did I mention that there is a raging veldt (grassland) fire in Cape Town right now? Table Mountain (which we are supposed to climb on Sunday…in 5 days) was closed, but has reopened. And the town where our guesthouse is, Hout Bay, is being impacted by the smoke and flames, although the guest house (and the town itself) is in no danger. But getting around might be a bit tricky, with lots of road closures for the firefighting teams.

Even though the fire is widespread, the forecast is for some rains so it should be contained or extinguished in a few days, so there will be no risk to the kids or the trip, but it might mean we have to do some rearranging of our itinerary. But for sure, there will be interesting things to see….I might add a unit of study on “Grassland fires, their benefits and impacts’. So there’s a lot to do in the next few days.

Ahh, back to work. I sort of remember why I took the year off LOL.


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