Back on the Ground — Return to Endicott

final group dinner at Ric's Cafe, Cape Town

final group dinner at Ric's Cafe, Cape Town

As we all gather tonight for a follow-up meeting for the January Alternative Break, we can celebrate the safe return of all our participants. The past few days have been full of travel, trying to catch up on sleep and people, and re-enter the lives we had before this trip. However, it’s impossible to have the same perspective we held just a month ago; our memories are filled with new people, new land and cityscapes; and many encounters, points of view, and even new foods fill our senses and emotions. (a post–script to follow with favorite meals in South Africa!)

The last day on the ground in South Africa included a township tour of Langa, and a wonderful final group dinner at Joe’s Cafe. Enjoy these snapshots, and stay tuned for an upcoming evening event to celebrate and share this experience with the students.

A giant thank you to the Endicott administration and staff who made each step of this journey possible, the Connect 123 team in Cape Town who organized this adventure and volunteer experience, and finally, the families and friends of the travelers who gave us all the support we needed to fly.

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Last Few Days in Africa

Today we spent our last morning at Maitland Cottage, visiting their young patients. We read books with the children, drew pictures, played, chatted, and learned from each other. Most of the patients are bilingual, speaking English and Afrikaans, and often trilingual with Xhosa language.

After this wonderful morning, we traveled to one of the most incredible places: Cape Point, the southernmost point on the African continent. We made a stop along the way at Boulder Beach to see the penguins! Although Cape Point was coated in fog by the time we made it to the top of the cliff, the experience was unforgettable, and the national park strikingly beautiful. Oh yes, and there were baboons!

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Kirstenbosch Gardens

As we wind down our incredible journey, everyone is eager to see or do any last possible thing–some are soaking up the African sun at one of the beaches, catching exhibitions at the South African National Gallery, and some headed to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, known as the most beautiful garden in Africa on an estate of over a thousand acres of protected land, with more than 7,000 species in cultivation. See more here: Kirstenbosch Gardens

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Muizenberg Surfing

Today we left Table Mountain and city life in the distance, and traveled by train to Muizenburg for a surfing lesson. It’s easy to see what this town at the edge of the Indian Ocean is a surfing hot spot–the water is a light turquoise with continuous waves big enough to ride. There were no sharks or jellyfish to be found, and everyone seemed to have a blast.

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Robbens Island

A busy few days have passed filled with more new adventures. Another day at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, followed by our first day of volunteering at the Sarah Fox Home, where children still in need of some care often transitioning between hospital and home.
Today, Saturday, the entire group traveled to Robbens Island by ferry to see the infamous prison where Nelson Mandela was held. The experience was powerful, with the actual prison tour led by a former political prisoner during apartheid, Sipho Msomi.

The afternoon was capped with a casual group lunch at the Waterfront, featuring much longed for cheeseburgers, pizza, and pasta.

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Maitland Cottage Home

Today, Wednesday afternoon here, students have finished morning volunteer work and are heading up for a special view of the city from Table Mountain! Our driver for excursions, Barend, has done an excellent job carefully transporting our group. Turns out he has won international semi truck driving competitions. He says he pays full attention to the road, driving with his eyes, ears, and nose!
Stay tuned for reports from the top of Table Mountain, and impressions of our first day at Maitland Cottage Home for children, an orthopedic recovery center.

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