Thursday, January 21, 2010

Happy 2010 all, hope this year finds you happy and healthy, and your new years resolutions are going strong in January!

Sorry for the delay in blogging, life here has actually been beyond hectic. You know those moments where you are stressed out and believe that things cannot get any more stressful than they are, and then they do? Well, that is pretty much how I am feeling now. The good thing is that I am attempting to maintain a sense of sanity and humor throughout this roller coaster that 2010 has served up to us here in Port Elizabeth.

To begin with, the night before we left for vacation, we had a third (and hopefully FINAL) break in...yes, our THIRD! And this time, they were determined little dudes, they hauled a sketchy, homemade ladder down to the end of the complex(where we live) and climbed up the ladder into our upstairs bathroom! These guys definitely had our number. Here is the craziest part, they did the unthinkable(or at least what we thought was unthinkable), they came into our rooms. This Thursday night, Austin, another intern from Norwich, was visiting with his girlfriend, Caitlin, one of my good friends from home. They were both sleeping in my room on my floor. Neddie, one of Dom’s friends from home, was sleeping downstairs in Dom’s room...needless to say, we had a very full house and we thought that anyone would be CRAZY to attempt to break into our house with that many people. Well, guess they are full on crazy. What they did was, one climbed up the ladder, into our tiny bathroom window, proceeded to leave the bathroom and venture into Rosie’s room, and into Dom’s room downstairs. Mike and I heard everything, and both knew from our respective rooms that something was going on. Caitlin got up to use the bathroom, and as soon as she closed the door, I leapt out of my bed and immediately checked for my belongings hidden throughout my room, knowing that something was up. The second that I sat back in my bed, I heard my door open, and in walked a tall man, dressed in all black. Our eyes met, my stomach dropped, I let out a gasp, and before I could blink, he was racing down the stairs, leaving me standing in the hallway rubbing my eyes in disbelief. Did I really just see a man in my room?! Thank goodness he was as scared of me as I was of him. After a few minutes had passed, I went to Mike’s room, and he and I spoke briefly about what we had heard before waking up the others and calling the Police. Thankfully, the police actually took this report seriously, and were at our house in less than an hour.

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur, between giving statements to the police, getting things fingerprinted, going into the office and packing for our vacation, but by the afternoon Rosie and I were off to Johannesburg, and Dom, Mike and Neddie were on their way up the wild coast. All of us were hoping to just put aside this stress and anxiety and enjoy a relaxing holiday vacation.

In brief, our holiday was great. Rosie, myself and Anna(who went to Dartmouth), an intern living in the Northern Cape of South Africa, went to Zanzibar(an island off the coast of the capital, Dar es Salaam) and then on Safari in the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater. Zanzibar was gorgeous; we kept comparing it to those classic beach screensaver backgrounds, or a Corona advertisement: it was heavenly and a much needed break. We did lots of reading, swimming, sunbathing, journal writing and just general relaxing, enjoying delicious fish and fresh fruit. The experience flying to Zanzibar was absolutely classic: we arrived at the “airport”, an office next to the international airport, where they wrote out paper tickets for us after we paid(in american dollars, no less), went through “security”, which consisted of a broken conveyor belt that we rolled our suitcases on, then we sat in the waiting area to board our flight. After about thirty minutes, some man in a orange vest came in and told us that we could head out to the tarmac, and he took our bags and stowed them underneath the plane. We walked out to see a tiny plane awaiting us. The plane had about 6 rows, including the pilot and co-pilot(who was actually just a passenger), so it was quite the cozy ride! But, it was awesome, I love flying in planes so I was psyched to get to watch the pilot navigate the skies. And, it was gorgeous to see the ocean and the island from the sky. In twenty minutes we had landed, and an hour later we were sitting by the beach relaxing.

After Zanzibar, we flew up to the Kilimanjaro International Airport in Moshi, where we explored the town where climbers begin their ascent. Then, we embarked on our safari. For five days and four nights we were taken by our driver, Tuma, and cook, Gamba, throughout Lake Manyara, Ngorogoro Crater and The Serengeti Plain. We saw all “The Big Five”(the animals that hunters used to target because they could sell them for large amounts of money). The big five includes buffalo, leopard, elephant, lion, and black rhino. It was so awesome! Look for some pictures to come. The Serengeti was actually so amazing, vast and beautiful, as was Ngorogoro. Tanzania is an amazing country: the people are so friendly, the culture is amazing and it was so great to visit another country completely different from South Africa. It was a much welcomed change!

So, upon returning home to Port Elizabeth, after a great New Years with Dom and his entire family who was visiting from the states, we learned that we were going to be moving from our house, that we needed to find a safe and secure new place as soon as possible. Long story short, the logistical mess of finding a new place within our budget, communicating with Cape Town about our findings and frustrations, and starting up at work again has been incredibly stressful and exhausting. We are trying to stay as optimistic as possible, but the entire process has actually been like a perfect storm: all the stars have aligned in every area to create a huge mess. But, the one blessing that has come of this is that it is has made all four of us much stronger, and we have grown closer because of the situation. I am just hoping that this will all end soon and we will be settled in a new place that is safe and secure. It is looking like that will all be settled out in the next few days, so I will certainly keep all of you updated on that process.

As always, keep in touch(! All the best,


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