Day 3 – Arija, Emma and Ashley

  • Aug 21, 2011

Today was our last full day in Johannesburg. We got up at about 7:00am and again had a great big breakfast, cereal, toast, bacon, eggs, yogurt, fruit, all the good stuff! After breakfast we had to pack up all our stuff and take it out of the big room we were in and move it to a separate room because there was a church group that uses the room every Sunday.  ( to the parents that helped your kids pack, you can imagine us re packing all our stuff back in after taking it all out…. Not all were successful.)

After packing up the church people arrived, and it wasn’t like anyone had expected the church would be. They all had loud music and clapping and dancing all around singing upbeat religious songs. The Interact group was invited to come and half the group joined in and had lots of fun! We were told by our fellow Interactors that it’s called happy clappy. “happy cause were happy, clappy cause we clap… not because were crazy!”

One of the ladies before the service was having a conversation with a few Interactors about how cold this winter has been and how they weren’t  at all equipped for it.  She thought we were crazy wearing our  t-shirts and shorts and not being cold, as she was sitting there in her jacket scarf and hat. It was just interesting to see that we would consider it equivalent to a warm day early June.

Then it was time to go so we all loaded on the bus.  The first place we went was to a lion and rhino reserve. We drove through it all on our bus and we saw many, many animals such as; antelope, wild dogs, buffalo, hyena , gizzels, vultures, lions, ostriches, wildabeasts, gemsbok, warthogs AND ZEBRAS.  It was neat to be able to see them all out roaming in their natural habitat.  Arjia and Blake claimed to have seen a two  rhino with a herd of animals on a hill.

We got into a fenced in area that had many reptiles, rodents and even a hippo and cheetah! Next we went in to an area where they have tamed lions, and we all got a chance to go in and pet and play with them, and take pictures! We had 3 choices of which lions we wanted to go play with. One habitat had 2 lions and 2 tigers. One of the habitats had 5 white lions, and the last habitat had 2 baby cub lions.  Some of the lions cuddled, but some were a little grumpier. Everyone got to touch a lion, and everyone had so much fun and definitely a memorable, once in a life time experience!

After we left the tamed lions, we got back on the bus, and it was time for us and the wild lions to eat lunch! We drove up to the area where they feed the wild lions, there were about 7 lions eating a full grown horse carcass. It was neat to watch but also kind of disturbing. We got some really good shots of that.

Our next and last stop of the day was at Sterkfontain caves, which in English means strong fountain. This is where the oldest upright human was found, which is 3.5 million years old. WOWEE!

We saw a museum display with a lot of fossils they have found there and saw what they think the oldest human looked like, which very much resembled a monkey. The Australopithecus head was about the size of a softball.

After looking at all the discoveries in there, we took a tour through the cave and saw where most of the fossils were excavated. Our tour guide told us a bunch of history of the whole area. At the end of the tour, there was a statue at the exit of the cave that was of the father of paleo-anthropology. We were told that rubbing his nose gave luck and rubbing his hand, which was holding a skull, gave wisdom. Most people picked luck.

It was an interesting tour, there was a gift shop that many people bought souvenirs from, and then we were on the bus back to Jeremy’s place. The dinner tonight was a braai, which was a sort of community barbecue, with all the Rotarians in the area. A few minutes after we got there, Jeremy called us outside saying that there was a riot outside in the street. When we went out, there was a troupe of dancers, dressed in Zulu style, who performed with us. Our group both watched and participated in the dances, which ranged from a sharing of national anthems, a work song, and even a lullaby. We also learned some words in Zulu, which were “Hello, How are you” (Sabona, khugani)  and “I’m good” (Niga phila).  The troupe was about 15 girls and the male leader, was dressed like a Zulu warrior. You should have seen the backflips he did!

The dinner, as always at this house was spectacular. The meat portion was a spit that been cooking for over 7 hours with beef, pork and lamb. There wasn’t a single person who wasn’t satisfied at the end.

After the meal, there was a little recognition ceremony for the work done by the South African Rotarians.  We were able to thank our gracious hosts and the people in the area who worked hard to ensure we had a successful experience.

The students each got a mix CD of South African music from one of the Rotarian’s sons. It truly has been a great honour to have been here and to be treated with such great hospitality. Canadians may be known for being friendly, but South Africans are a tough competition.

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