Journal Entry for June 2nd
This morning the majority of us woke up at 5:20 and walked down to the beach to watch the sunrise. We all sat in a row and enjoyed the crisp air and gradually brightening horizon. After the sunrise we all ate breakfast and packed up for a five hour bus ride to the Midlands. On the drive we passed an array of scenery including rolling hills with the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains surrounding us. In the middle of the drive we stopped at the Kwazula Weavers, which is a factory established to bring together generations of experience in weaving. Master Weavers have passed down this fine art of African weaving using ethnic designs. They also have unique candles and beautiful batiks for sale. It is a tradition to stop at this particular business because of the quality of the work, an opportunity to observe the weaving process first-hand and 10% of the sales for our group are given to the Makhulong Foster Care program where we stayed for the first two weeks. After almost everyone purchased a unique item, then we headed back on the road to a local restaurant for lunch.
We ordered lunch and walked around in the shops while we were waiting for our food. There were some very unique art boutiques with incredible pieces. After lunch, we got back on the bus for the short ride to the Inkosana Backpacker Lodge where we will be staying for the next two nights at the base of the Drakensberg Mountains. We stopped along the way to buy woven baskets from women who were weaving them along the side of the road. They were incredible! Several of us were impressed by the process of making each individual style and wished we had more time to learn the technique. When we reached the Lodge, everyone settled into their rooms and several people went for a walk in the fields beside the lodge where we saw a beautiful sunset behind the mountains. Everyone socialized back at the Lodge before dinner. Ed, the owner of the Lodge, made us a delicious meal of soup, Shepard’s pie and chocolate cake. He is a retired lawyer, very knowledgeable about the Midlands area and South Africa. He is also an artist and made beautiful batiks for the bed comforters and curtains in the Lodge.
After dinner, we played Trivial Pursuit and worked on our story quilts.
Journal Entry for June 3rd
We woke up at Inkosana Lodge to a delicious breakfast of toast and jam, porridge, eggs and bacon. We then went to a Falcon show where we learned about the different birds’ hunting patterns. Unfortunately most of the birds were a bit lazy that day and did not show us their flight’s full potential. Nonetheless, we had a great time and the scenery was breathtaking.
The majority of the students then decided to go on a hike, while the others continued with the staff for some relaxation and lunch at a bakery. Throughout the hike we saw beautiful sights and a splendid waterfall at the end.
Before lunch, those who were not on the hike, stopped to visit with African women weaving grass baskets and a few purchases were made.
After a nice lunch at the bakery, we were off to pick up the students who went on the hike.
Then we were on our way to see the Drakensburg Boys Choir in concert. The performance was amazing. There were 100 boys who ranged from fourth to ninth graders, and they were all very talented. All of the boys are enrolled in the Drakensburg Boys School.
The school’s mission is to contribute to the development of leadership through the social and emotional development of youth and to use the medium of music to bring boys of different cultures to a common understanding and purpose. We enjoyed listening to classical, modern day pop, Broadway, and even traditional African songs. They also performed gumboot dances with drums and a wooden xylophone accompaniment. Many of us began to discuss the need for boarding options for young children in South Africa whether in a specialized setting like this school or in terms of children without parents or families to care for them in orphanage situations. From an economic perspective we began to think about the challenges in terms of funding and the possibilities for programs given that there is limited government support.
After the performance we all went back to the Inkansana Lodge and relaxed until dinner. Dinner was served at 6:30 and we enjoyed a great home-cooked, three-course meal. For dessert we had cake to celebrate Elissa’s 21st birthday, and a belated large group birthday celebration for Lizzy. After dinner everyone utilized the evening to work on our story- quilt projects. The progress has been steady, and the results will be impressive.
Journal Entry for June 4th
We woke up early and ate breakfast at the Inkosana Lodge. We had oatmeal, bread, sausage and scrambled eggs with pineapples. After saying our goodbyes to Ed, we began our long bus trip to Lesotho. After driving for a few hours, we stopped in a town called Clarens for lunch. Many ordered toasted cheese sandwiches or pizza for the road and chose to check out a few shops on the main street.
Then it was back on the bus to drive until we reached the border between South Africa and Lesotho. We all got our passports stamped and crossed the border. We reached the Malealea Lodge in Lesotho around 6:30 p.m. and ate dinner. It was very cold up in the mountains, and the power at Malealea goes off at 9:30 PM. Then you use the candle in your thatched roof hut to read.
Check out the Lesotho link for our next experience.