Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cape Town: England vs. Algeria 6/18/10

On our way into Greenpoint Stadium in 
Cape Town to watch the England vs. Algeria match.

The view from our seats.

Our favorite fan of the tournament, he was especially cute when he ordered an ice cream.

As consolation for the dismal 0-0 result, there was an awesome marching 
band escorting fans back to the city center from the stadium:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lesotho to Beaufort West, SA - June 17th, 2010

After a few busy days in Lesotho, we had to make our way to Cape Town for a match on the 18th, and we stopped for a night in Beaufort West on the way.  We spent a long time looking at the map, trying to pick the safest and most efficient way out of Lesotho and onto a major highway.  Luckily, Sister Isidora and sister Julianna decided to escort us to the border crossing (there are no road signs, and this makes giving  instructions almost impossible).  When we arrived, Sister Isidora came into the passport control office with us, and we handed over our passports to get a stamp out of Lesotho.  The woman behind the counter kept looking through our passport pages, and finally asked us how we entered Lesotho.  We explained that we drove across the border and got a stamp from South Africa and were never told to get an "entering" stamp.  Thankfully, Sister Isidora was with us, and she spoke in her native Sesotho language and we received an exit stamp "as a favor".  We then were able to cross the border into South Africa, where we were sure to get an "entering" stamp.

The first 50 kilometers into South Africa were a little slow because of the gravel road, it was bumpy but beautiful.

After driving seven hours we stopped in Beaufort West, where we were able to find a place to stay rather quickly at Matoppo Inn.  After a good night's rest, we headed for Cape Town.

Mohale's Hoek, Lesotho: 6/15-6/17/10

Sisters Isidora and Juliana showed us to their dormitories where we stayed for 2 nights as their guests. Despite the bitter cold, we were lucky to have such comfortable accommodation, complete with thoughtful, personal touches.

While planning our time in Africa before we left, we were introduced to the Tacoma Lesotho Connection (TLC) by Aylie's parents. TLC is a group that works to support efforts to relieve poverty, aids, and orphaned children in Mohale's Hoek, Lesotho. After contacting TLC and getting involved,  we made it part of our purpose in Africa to aid in their relief efforts, specifically focusing on facilitating the permitting and construction of the new St. Camillus Home-Based Care Center. St. Camillus is Sr. Juliana's primary project in Mohale's Hoek, which she founded a few years ago to educate the community about the reality and not the myth of aids, as well as empower others with the skills and knowledge to prevent and treat it safely.

We met with Sister Juliana and Motheane George, a builder from Mohale's Hoek who's worked with Habitat for Humanity and World Vision, to discuss the plans and permitting process.

We also got to check out the site of the new building as well as some of the projects linked to St. Camillus which are already taking place near the building site. Some of the orphaned children were working on the community garden, and they took a break to try on some t-shirts from the upcoming Booking-It Run in Tacoma, WA which will help raise money for their education. For those of you in Tacoma this August, mark your calendars for the 21st, and help raise money for this great cause!

Lunch, the only meal the orphans receive, was being made outside in a kettle, while eggs they sell in the community were being carefully cleaned.

Here's a look at a hut that's used to cultivate mushrooms.

Sr. Juliana also showed us around the area, taking us to visit Father Alexis who has a new cathedral under construction to replace the old one which is bursting at the seams on Sundays.

Current church building

New cathedral under construction

Father Alexis explains the bell tower

We also made an attempt to deliver some maize meal to a child who was lacking good care due to a drunken HIV+ grandfather as her sole guardian, but unfortunately we missed her when we went to where she lives.

This is but one example of the harsh conditions in which scores of children find themselves in Lesotho. You can just tell that the back "wall" of this structure is merely torn plastic sheeting, hanging limp in the wind. Temperatures in Lesotho this time of year drop to the mid-twenties (F) overnight.

We also visited Sister Georgina at the St. Clare Clinic where HIV testing and other medical services are provided to the community.

Sister Georgina

The clinic pharmacy

A patient receives a consultation

There is much need and desperation in Mohale's Hoek, but we are lucky to be able to help alleviate it in some small ways, and are enthusiastic about the progress we hope to achieve with getting the new St. Camillus Center project off the ground.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Road to Lesotho

It took us 6 hours to drive to Lesotho from Bloemfontein, SA, where we arrived in Mohale's Hoek without knowing the exact location of Holy Cross Convent, our destination. Luckily, we pulled into the government building parking lot, where we were able to find a nice young lady to help us out. The government is so poor, they don't even have phone lines to use, so we had to buy minutes for the young lady's cell phone so she could make a call to the convent (our phone gets no service in Lesotho, we found out). Sister Isidora and Sister Julianna arrived a short while later and showed us the way.

Here are some photos from the road, with more to follow from Mohale's Hoek soon.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Road Sign

Off the road and back on the web, hoping to update soon. For now, here's a shot from the road to Cape Town from Lesotho, via Beaufort West.

PS: What a load of rubbish, England! We suffered 90 mins of standing while watching an agonising and lackluster 0-0 draw with Algeria tonight at Green Point Stadium, Cape Town.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Quote of the day

"If Google says so, it can't be dangerous."

Andrew to Aylie while driving the "scenic" route to the main highway as provided by Google Maps, rather than taking the direct route on a major highway that was obvious on the map.

Rustenburg to Bloemfontein, SA, in search of Florentia Guest House:

View Directions to 2 Louis Botha St, Bloemfontein, South Africa in a larger map

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A first look

A few photos from the trip so far:

Dubai from the sky

Our view at dinner on the beach in Dubai

Johannesburg Airport

Rustenburg Stadium: England vs. USA

What great seats!

Lampard takes a free kick for England

The Adventure Begins.......

After a long journey with stops in LA, Dubai and Johannesburg, we arrived in Rustenburg, South Africa to watch the England vs USA game. The people are great and we are having a wonderful time so far. Only disappointment has been that England didn't score more goals!

As soon as we can get some photos up from the first few days we'll post them here. We are in Africa, and so far internet is slow.......

Here's a look at the first place we've stayed, Boschdal Guesthouse.

Stay tuned.