Two week ago I had the pleasure of venturing up to Kruger National Park with the IES Abroad program for our Spring Break trip. Although I knew we were going to see tons of wild animals, I failed to realize just how beautiful nature could be. We started our adventure by flying from Cape Town to Jo’burg, and from there we ventured to the Apartheid museum, which contained a wealth of information that couldn’t be fully digested in the mere 2 hours we had to tour the space. I learned so much more about Apartheid, which was the colonial system of legislated separation based on race that went on in South Africa until South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994.
After learning so much about South African history at the museum, we drove to Soweto, the biggest Township in South Africa. In Soweto we continued to learn, but instead of learning about history, we learned about local people, customs and culture. We were able to do this by taking a bike tour around Soweto with out guide Lebo, who owned the Backpackers that we stayed at for the night. Of course my bike broke throughout the bike ride, no surprise there, because I have realized that everything that can go wrong in my life to slightly annoy me, DEFINITELY will. Anyways, it was still humbling to see the house that Winnie and Nelson Mandela once lived in, as well as Desmond Tutu’s house. Before the end of the bike tour, we had sung the very meaningful “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” a song that actually comes from South Africa, as well as engaged in traditional South African dances and drank Jo’burg Soweto-made beer. At the end of the bike ride we were exhausted (especially me because of the aforementioned broken bike….) I finally resigned myself to giving up on trying to make the gears and chain on my bike work, so I just walked the bike up the last hill and into the happiness of dinnertime at Lebo’s Backpackers. Surprisingly, this trip did a great time of catering for the many vegetarians in our group. At Lebo’s they definitely kept to this pattern and they made the most DELICIOUS doughy bread called “dumpling.” Lets just say that my taste buds will never be the same!
After dinner we piled into two mini bus vans with our tour guide Crazy Dave, and drove on over to the Kaiser Chiefs football (soccer) game. At one point I wondered aloud why all of the traffic was driving in the wrong direction, and then I realized that our car was actually so hard-core that we had crossed over into the incoming lane to beat the rest of the traffic to the game. This car ride was truly memorable. As we blasted South African reggae music over the speakers of the van, we all jammed out and cheered along with the rest of the cars next to us. Everyone was so festive with flags, shirts, hats and horns. Once we actually got to the game, the festivity definitely did not cease. We got our tickets at the door and stormed into the stadium, which (sidenote: was used for the 2010 FIFA World Cup!) The game was so fun, but sadly within the last few minutes, the opposing team scored one goal, and my team the Kaiser chiefs lost the game! We were still filled with joy from such a great team, which was weird because I very rarely support organized sports and team spirit. Anyways, we slept really well that night and got up the next morning to travel on to Kruger!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Alexa is a sophomore at Ithaca College studying both Public Health and Politics, while also hoping to dapple in her new found interest in gender studies. She grew up in Windsor, Connecticut, famous for being the first town in Connecticut. When Alexa doesn't have her nose in a book, she can be found singing, eating (especially anything pumpkin), being sarcastic or exploring the fantastic world that we are lucky enough to call home. Studying in Cape Town in a dream come true, and Alexa is ready and willing to soak up every last bit of adventure that comes her way!</span></p>