This past weekend, our program went on a camping trip. We took a 4 ½ hour drive up the Cederberg Mountain Range. What started as paved highways quickly turned to treacherous dirt roads that hugged the sides of the mountains. Let’s just say I was very happy that I wasn’t the one behind the wheel. A rainstorm earlier in the week left the roads very soggy and our twelve-man van got stuck- twice. In the middle of the South African wilderness, there is no AAA to call when your van is stuck up in the mountains. So each time we go out and pushed, laughing and joking all the while.
The first night in our cabins, Mama H (Hestea, the AIFS Resident Director) planned a traditional South African braai for us. She asked for a couple volunteers to help her prepare the meal. I don’t have much experience with barbequing but I jumped at the chance to learn the traditional Afrikaans way of cooking. First, we laid out 70 links of Boerwurst, a homemade Afrikaans sausage, on a large grate and then laid another grate on top. We latched the two grates together and set them on the fire. We put on giant gloves and throughout the course of cooking the sausage, flipped the grate about 12 times—a process that is hot, smoky, and requires some muscle. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but feel awesome flipping 70 South African sausages over a blazing fire in the middle of the mountains. Mama H prepared her special sauce that contained a blend of stewed tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices that she would not disclose to us. It was easily the best meal that I’ve had since my time in South Africa. And of course, no night around the campfire is complete without s’mores!
The next day we woke up bright and early and embarked on a six-hour hike up the mountain. The incline started as gradual and allowed for beautiful views but quickly became steep and rocky. At that point, our group split into two: a group that wanted to do the more adventurous part of the hike and those who wanted to continue on the more gradual path to the top. I opted for the more adventurous trek, of course.
The hike required true teamwork! At one section of the hike I was put in charge of a “birthing hole.” We had to slide like turtles on our backs through a hole only about two feet in diameter. My job was to stand at the other side of the hole and pull people out once I saw their heads, hence the name. It was one of the most intense hikes I have been on but I loved every minute of it!
And the view at the top – totally worth it!
It’s hard to believe, but we are already halfway through our semester here in Stellenbosch! We are going on our spring break trip this coming week. Looking forward to hanging out with some elephants, river rafting, and kloofing!