Friday, January 22, 2010

Quick Work Update and Vacation Part I

Since returning from holiday on January 6th, life has been hectic. Vacation was amazing, pictures and details are included at the end of this post.

Over the past month, I've been splitting my time between researching for the Research & Development team, reformatting the Skillz 1.0 curriculum for the Curriculum & Development team, completing my daily Operations tasks, and transitioning into a new role as a Programs Intern. As of Thursday, February 4, I am no longer the Ops Intern. My new position involves more hands-on responsibilities and requires that I spend less time in the office. Currently I am working with several other Interns and employees to create a schedule of activities for the Football For Hope Centre. Further updates to come soon.

Phil Johnson (in South Africa, he is known as Phul), one of my roommates that I traveled with, recently blogged about our adventures so I'm borrowing these summaries from him. I'll continue to post as I receive the updates from Phul. Enjoy!!
  • Managers of our hostel quickly told us to be very careful at night, due to wandering elephants, warthogs, and buffalo
  • The big thing to do in Vic Falls is to sell their hyperinflated currency (100 trillion zim dollar notes are common)
  • Zimbabwe uses SA Rand and US dollars, except they value the rand to dollar at 10:1. It is about 7.5:1. Also, they do not use American cents, instead they give you change in lollipops and sucker candy.

Part I: Bungi Jumping, Colgate, and Hippos

December denoted the “halfway” mark in my time volunteering here at Grassroot Soccer. As I have mentioned before, it has been a truly remarkable time so far, and the knowledge, new skills, and new perspectives that I have gained are immeasurable. As such, and due to the immense workload that surrounded the World Cup draw and the FFHC kick-off event, we interns decided it was time to for a nice, relaxing “holiday.” What better way to accomplish this than a 23 day backpacking adventure through Southern Africa?

On Wednesday, December 16th, fellow Cape Town interns, Sarah Bell and Amy Cawley, and I left our house at some godforsaken hour of the morning on route to Victoria Falls via Johannesburg (by plane, thank God). Our quick layover in the metropolis of “Jburg” allowed us to rendezvous with our fourth partner in crime, Peter “Hooter” Glidden, an intern in Kimberley, South Africa. The team was assembled. And as GRS says, it was now time to make our move.

Let me stop here by saying that this trip was not well planned, at all. Perhaps this was in fact due to laziness on our part, but I can honestly say that most of it was due to the excitement that question marks add to the life of a young adult, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa (note parents cringing). Most of these revolved around the political instability in Zimbabwe- actually probably all of them. When researching Zim, I realized quickly that ATMs were rare, gas prices and thus car rental prices were astronomical, and hippos and crocodiles were out to get you at every turn.

Anyway, I digress. We arrived at Victoria Falls Backpackers on a beautiful afternoon to a friendly reception by the couple who managed the place. They are in fact lovely, and I would recommend the hostel to anyone. We spent the first afternoon at the world famous Victoria Falls themselves. It truly is as incredible as you have heard. Stretching for kilometers, the falls present numerous views at various angles, each more impressive than the prior.

The following days we booked an “adrenaline package” and a full day of white water rafting on the great Zambezi River that separates Zimbabwe from its northern neighbor, Zambia. Not for the feint of heart, we took part in a bungi jump, zip line, and other crazy circus acts, each taking you at increasing speeds over the cliffs just along side the falls. It was terrifying, and spectacular.

The next day was the white water rafting, and it was probably the craziest thing I have ever done. Our insane guide, Colgate, between telling Sarah to shut up and the 82 year old in our boat to keep paddling (both hysterical) “guided” us down class 4 and 5 rapids clearly with no concern for our lives. Joking a little, but it was literally insane. Wave after WALL of wave would crash on the boat. We only capsized twice…

We decided to take the night easy, and go on a tame cruise on the Zambezi. That turned into the boat breaking down and us slowly being dragged towards the falls. Our plan to jump out of the boat and swim to a nearby island was shot down by a hippo taking up residence directly in between us and the island. But hey, we survived. Surely these first few days were not a sign of things to come..

Off to Botswana!

Victoria Falls

Before gorge jumping. Hooter, Amy, Phul, Me.


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