Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bulungula V

Greetings from Cape Town

New friends, new foods, new places, new experiences new opportunities – that’s what living well is about. We left the lodge at Bulungula one morning in the company of two families – a total of ten. Four were young children (under 6) and six were adults.

Our objectives were twofold: lunch in a village restaurant and a tour of the village. Our directions were clear: follow the pink stakes. Right on – those are the kind of directions we could follow. Over hill and dale – up the mountain (small mountain), through the bush, into the jungle, trek (slide) through the very sticky, gooey mud down to the river mouth, back up another hill past the herd of sheep, then over a rock slide, hunting for stakes that had decayed and fallen. It was very hot and we didn’t carry enough water. At times we thought we had gotten off track, but no, we pushed on.

We made discoveries as we pursued our objectives. The children found a large cluster of beautiful grasshoppers – I use the word “beautiful” advisedly. I found the remains of the last group who had attempted this trek. We pushed on anyway.

Scheduled as a 45 minute stroll, we arrived 2 ½ hours later, tired, ready for lunch and a good nap. Lunch consisted of one very tasty crepe, served outside.

The restaurant was a smoky, very hot, rondeval; inside, no tables, no chairs, only a short bench and an open, one burner “stove” that looked like a small beer keg with a fire in it. It was about 90 degrees outside and way hotter than that as the women cooked inside.

We rested/ate lunch stretching out on a blanket on the grass, watching the whales, watching the cows, and watching the children.

The children discovered a litter of puppies, to the puppies’ dismay. The rest of our stay saw the children completely entranced and occupied while the puppies tried to escape. The adults were wiped out from the trek and we tried to beg off from the village visit. Not. The village was on the return path and we needed to keep our commitment. So off we went, but not before some tears caused by the children being parted from the puppies.

Remember that this is a rural village where the homes are not side by side. We stopped in a couple of the village homes, a village store, and two village shabeens (watering hole, bar) on our way back. Usually the locals make a kind of beer that ferments for days – no luck. They hadn’t been brewing lately.

One of the homes was that of the Headman and his family. His wife, pictured here, was a very cool person but the headman was asleep on the grass with a case of empty beer bottles alongside. Draw your own conclusion. We were later told that the women do all the work and the men drink beer. But when it comes time to make a decision, the men must be convened for the decision process.

The return route was not nearly as difficult as the first half of our stroll so we arrived back at the lodge in pretty good spirits.

We started on this trip hoping to make a contribution, a difference. We contributed our ideas, thoughts and opinions to the discussions about the school project. We know that we will make a huge difference to at least one young lady’s life. We’ll never know what other differences we may have made, but we know that these people, this experience has made a difference to us. I want to close this saga with pictures of some of our new friends.


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