Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday. You went to work, I went to Tala.

Yesterday was a national holiday in South Africa called Youth Day, which commemorates the youth’s involvement and crucial role in ending apartheid. In particular, it is a holiday that marks the 1976 Soweto student uprising. 

This holiday= a day off from work. 

Yes, this does mean I have only been to work two days since I’ve been here. 

Yes, this does mean I did not go to work yesterday. 

Yes, this is a pretty sweet deal.

Before I go into the details of my day off and the adventures that ensued, I need you to know this: the South Africans that we have met so far are some of the nicest people I have ever known. Here are the key players:

1) Judy: Judy owns the B&B we are staying at during our 2 months here. She is a serious sweetheart and I am pretty sure she could do no wrong (at least in my eyes). She has been so accommodating and has helped us get around, buy the things we need, and made us feel at home. Judy is really interested in American culture and she knows a lot about America to boot. For example, she has a deep love for Jay (Leno) and Conan (O'Brien).

2) Robyn: Robyn is a young South African intern at my job. Robyn is hip and fun and the best best tour guide in the entire world. She’s down to both show us Durban the way a young person sees it (clubs, food, drinks, hookah) and also take us to do some of the more touristy stuff. Robyn is literally a lifesaver (and a genius, she’s going to get her Masters in social policy at Oxford in October)

These are the two names that will keep coming up. The George Washington (Judy) and Abe Lincoln (Robyn) of this experience. The foundation. 

So, back to Tuesday. I got up early to go to “Durban’s Finest Game Reserve”: Tala. Ryan and I packed into Robyn's (told you she was down for an adventure) car with her and her friend from Durban (LeeAnne) as well as a Brown alum who is doing summer work in Durban (Jasmine).

First stop: Coffee/Grocery store/Biltong

Since we were going to picnic lunch it at Tala, this was a crucial stop. Groceries included Chutney flavored fritos and biltong. Ah, biltong. Biltong is a South African treat that we had been told was like beef jerky. Gross, I thought, I don't like beef jerky. But Biltong is better. Think beef jerky and bacon had a love child that got more of bacon's genes. That is Biltong. Yum. 

Next stop: Tala. We drove for like 20 minutes and then we were suddenly surrounded by beautiful countryside and then before we knew it we were at Tala. 

Tala is breathtaking. Words cannot describe the immediate serenity I felt once we were inside and driving around. We saw a lot of game (hippo, zebra, impala, kudu, warthog, giraffe...) and we had a pleasant drive/picnic. It was just amazing to see animals out of captivity and just roaming around or standing in front of your car and not moving. I know I'm not being very good at using descriptive language. I just can't do it justice. Just look at these:

think of this...

on tuesday you went to work..

I went here.

Damn, I must be dreaming...


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