hospital, robben island, bo-kaap, slave lodge, shark dive

Seeing Robben Island was so surreal. It was so sad to see what the aparteid government did in fear of people with great minds. They essentially tried to erase amazing human beings from the history books. These were the same people who we now celebrate and recognize as heroes. The tour through the actual prison was incredible because our tour guide was a former political prisoner on Robben Island. He not only showed us Nelson Mandela's jail cell, but also where he was held. It was cool to see the quarrys that Mandela refers to as "The University" where all of their great thinking was done during days of hard labor.

On Thursday, after placement, the whole crew went to Bo Kaap to eat Malay food. This section of SA is characterized by its steep, narrow streets and colorful artisean houses. Many of the inhabitants are decedants of people from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia, contributing to it's diverse "colored" culture. It is largely a Muslim community.The man who owned the restaurant that we went to gave us a cultural lesson on his Muslim background and Bo Kaap itself. It was interesting to hear about the history of this community from the owner of the restaurant, like how Africaans was the result of a Lingua Franca. (Thanks for the vocab lesson a year ago Professor Domingo!)

After lunch & some of the most delicious desserts I've ever had, we moved onto the Slave Lodge. I can sum up what I learned from a quote painted on one of the walls, "When they (slave traders) embark on this unworthy trade they must divest themselves of every human idea; their hearts must be steeled by insensibility and their crew be equally callous to the feelings of humanity..."

Friday was an amazing day at Sara Fox. The UCT students were back with ideas for implimenting a health promotion program within our hospital. I was so happy to see that they took all of my input to put together a program to get nurses & parents to become aware of where their baby should be developmentally. Seeing that my work here could actually have a lasting impact on what happens in the future of the hospital is such a great feeling. I also made a list of several cheap items that the students could fund money to buy, such as: rattles, teething rings, towels....etc. The students also put together lessons on how to make toys such as mobiles & rattles.

It wasn't an easy day for everyone at the hospital. We only had 2 nurses on a shift to care for 18 babies! Some students were annoyed that the nurses weren't taking time to fill out surveys and answer questions, while they weren't being considerate of the fact that our nurses only have 2 hands. Hopefully there will be some schedule changes next week and these hard-working women will get a break.

This morning we left for shark cage diving at 4:30 am and arrived around 6:30 am. After breakfast & a 20 minute boat ride out to sea, our skipper had this to say, "This is not the movies, this is not National Geographic, this is real life. Whatever happens now is between you and nature." That was a comforting speech before jumping into the freezing cold, shark-infested waters.

I decided to go in the 1st group. 6 of us got in our wet suits, booties & face masks and hopped into the cage alongside the boat. We did as we were told, keeping our hands and feet inside the cage at all times. I've never followed the rules so carefully! haha 8 great white sharks showed up to the party. They were lured in by giant fishheads and they would come right up to the cage, trashing their fins againts the wire that separated us. It was by far the coolest thing I've ever done.

Last week a man at Fish Hook beach (40 minutes from here) was standing in waist-deep water when he was bit by a shark and dragged out to sea. They still haven't found his body. Between the story & seeing these archaeic creatures close-up, I've decided to cancel my surf trip. When I asked Fareed why this Zimbabwean man was attacked if sharks don't like the sweet blood of a human, he responded, "Xenophobia?"

That's all for now.


(P.S. Please excuse spelling errors. I never have time on the computer to go back & correct everything.)