A Leisurely Morning...Sort Of.

Trip Start Jun 22, 2012
Trip End Aug 01, 2012

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Flag of South Africa  , Free State,
Sunday, July 15, 2012

This morning, we had the joy of sleeping in a bit...sort of. We were told that our bus wouldn't leave for our activity until 10 am, but were told that our breakfast would be delivered at 8 am. So, I set my alarm for 7:30, which felt late against the normal rising time of 6:15 am and ended up getting up at 7:45 am. Breakfast didn't arrive until 8:45, but I almost felt like I was at home leisurely making an instant cup of coffee with supplies that we were given the night before. I'm glad I had the coffee, because breakfast turned out to be a diet coke, 2 bananas, and a ham and cheese grilled cheese sandwich. I ate the bananas and drank my coffee and went to meet everyone for the bus at 10 am.

Today we had the option of hanging around in Clarens (which essentially equated spending the day in South Africa's version of an touristy artist town) or going to a cultural tour at the Basotho Cultural Village...I didn't really know what that was, but since our cultural experience was cut off the night before, I decided that I would do that instead. I definitely was on the fence...a quiet morning at a small coffee shop sounded heavenly, but I figured I could do that when I got back to the States. Well, the Basotho Village turned out to be a tourist attraction as well, but one that was done in the most respectful way possible. Nothing like our overdone attractions in the States, this constructed village told the story of the Basotho people who lived in the area from their initial customs to how their customs, housing, and clothing changed. We got to visit the king and hear about the ways in which the men interacted, how the healer healed people and got to see traditional Basotho family dwellings from the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. It was fabulously interactive with people getting to try on traditional clothing, eat traditional food and hear traditional music. The only part that frustrated my simple feminist mind that whenever food was served up until the 1800s, the men of the village were served first. I knew it was a custom, but having my focus be gender for the week, I could easily take that back to my group for conversation and talk about how this might have influenced current African culture. I enjoyed the village and the chance to learn a bit more, plus it allowed me the opportunity to see Golden Gate National Park one more time.

The pictures that are posted will never do the national park justice. Having never been to the Grand Canyon, I guess it's not fair to compare the two, but the vistas were truly breath-taking. On our way back to Clarens and then home, we stopped at one of the vista points and just took int the beauty and the grass that was waving in the wind - if you look closely at the video, you'll notice that it looks like water.

A short stop through Clarens allowed for us to grab lunch and to pick up the folks who stayed, and then it was back on the bus for the 4 hour journey back. It was actually really nice to get away for a bit to see a bit more of the country, hear additional perspectives, and enjoy a different shower, if even for the weekend. It is hard to believe I've been in the country for a whole week already. I'm ready for week two!!
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