Monday, 19 March 2012

The Great Golfing Adventure

March 10th 2012,

So, today I am going to talk about my golfing experience here in Stellenbosch. So me and my crazy friend Chris Moskal decided that we wanted to go out golfing while we’re here in South Africa. So I called the Stellenbosch Golf Club and signed us up for a tee time on Saturday March 10th at precisely 12:16pm. We had to rent clubs obviously, so I called to make sure they had ladies lefty clubs (because they are not common) and they did, so we were all excited and really for Saturday to arrive. So we met at 11 and called a cab to take us to the Golf Club, and our cab driver was fantastic and he wanted to talk all about America and what was worth seeing there, he was also impressed that young, American students wanted to go golfing while we were in South Africa.
We arrived at the golf course and went to the Pro Shop to check in, but right before that Chris had been eating a Sweet Chili Chicken Wrap and proceeded to spill it down his pants, therefore justifying the “American Slob” stereotype. As the manager was checking in our tee time he told us that he had entered us into the Saturday competition and asked if that was fine. I looked at Chris and he looked at me with both of our mouths hanging open in disbelief and pure fear, and of course Chris being a good sport as he always is said “Yeah, that’s fine” as I was shaking my head “no” furiously at him. Then the manager proceeded to tell us that we were to be paired with the Club’s financial managers, and after that I felt the need to cry/faint/run whatever people do when they are told nerve racking news. Of course, Chris being the jovial sort was quite excited to play with them as I was not. Then, the manager informed us that we could not partake in the competition because we did not know our handicaps, but that we were still to be paired with the financial managers of this pristine golf course. Then we were asked as to whether we wanted a buggy or a trolley, with common sense, and being used to walking I asked for two trolleys, and Chris agreed. When they brought the pull carts to us, Chris gave the guy a weird look, and then leaned over to me and said disappointedly “I thought trolleys were golf carts.” We exchanged for a buggy and Chris was content.
Finally 12:16pm rolled around and it was time to tee off, we met the financial managers, Andre and Evert who loved to speak Afrikaans to one another, so Chris and I could only assume they were saying bad things about us. They also asked us to keep track of their scores *(and this will come into play later in the story).* They asked Chris to tee off first, and of course being the first hole and under stressful circumstances Chris whiffed the ball. After the men teed off, Andre and Evert looked at each other and decided that they needed a drink before straying too far from the clubhouse. Chris and I assumed it was because it was going to be a long game judging from his first shot. As we started getting into the match, Chris and I quickly realized that they were very good and we were very, very bad.
On the 2nd hole I was using my 5 wood to get up to the green and I accidentally hit a goose and went into the water. On many chip shots Chris and I often almost hit Andre or Evert. On the 6th green as we were waiting for the group behind us to pass, Chris and I were making small talk with Andre and Evert and Chris proceeds to ask them what they do for a living, as I slap my hand to my head, they give each other confused looks and tell Chris that they are the financial managers of the course, which we had already been told by the Pro Shop manager. On the 9th hole a bar maid was waiting at the tee to send in drink orders to the clubhouse, Chris ordered a water and the waitress asked “still or sparkling” and seeing that her Afrikaans accent was quite strong, Chris didn’t understand and replied with a firm “YES” and after getting confused looks from all of us, I leaned over to him to repeat the question. By that point, we assumed that Evert and Andre thought we were mentally ill. On the 11th hole, Chris and I looked down at the scorecard to realize that we hadn’t kept track of their score for seven or eight holes, I casually asked Evert if I could borrow their score card because I missed the eighth hole scores, they proceeded to tell us that they weren’t keeping their own scores and that we were supposed to have them. Chris and I were so horrified, over the course of the next two holes we plotted dozens of different ways to get rid of the score card, and here are a few of the plans…..
1.      Chris: Let’s pour water all over the golf card and say that the scores are illegible.
2.      Emily: Throw the card out of the golf cart and say the wind blew it away.
3.      Chris: Hide it in my backpack and say we lost it.
4.      Emily: Hide the pencil in the golf cart and say that we had no way of keeping track of the scores without the pencil.
5.      Emily: Rip it up and throw all of the pieces out of the golf cart.

What I ended up doing was that I wrote down fake scores and we made sure to keep track of the rest of the game in hopes that they didn’t remember their 5th hole’s score and so on.
On the 13th hole, I grabbed an iron in hopes to lob my ball over the large stumpy tree that sat in front of me; Chris was sitting in the cart behind taking photos of the course, the mountains, and the beautiful landscape that lay around us. I smacked my ball and it proceeded to bounce off the tree, back into the cart where it hit the roof and then hit Chris smack in the shoulder, Andre and Evert definitely got a good laugh out of that. When we finished the game, we went to the clubhouse so we could buy Evert and Andre a drink for having to play with such poor players such as ourselves. After buying them a drink, Chris and I got up to leave and Chris casually asked Evert if he needed anything from us, and he said no, so Chris and I called the cab and ran as fast as we could out of the clubhouse without ever giving the men their scorecard back.
Never will I ever be allowed to be put in a competition with financial managers in a foreign country, because not only did we make Americans look bad, we embarrassed ourselves and crushed our thoughts of thinking we were “good golfers”. But, otherwise it made for a great story!


Monday, 5 March 2012

February 17th-19th 2012

February 17th-19th 2012,

            This weekend was the first trip the AIFS crew took together other than the first beach outing. This was the fantastic trip to the Cedarburg Mountains where hiking and wine tasting was to be done. We loaded up in the van after classes, and in my van was Julie, Ginny, Melissa, me, James, Dave, and Zack with our speed demon driver Peter. As we found out in South Africa the way they deal with construction traffic is that they have road blocks for 20 minutes alternating the sides of the road that are blocked, so we had two or three of these roadblock stops and it was definitely interesting. On the way there we saw hippos and springbok which are small goat/deer animals. The last hour of the ride was very bumpy and curvy, and Janien’s van stalled on the middle of a hill, and it was quite scary to watch.
            We arrived to the cabin areas, and they were very nice and peaceful, I shared a queen bed with Hallie and a room with Rory (Emily S.) and Shana and we had a lot of fun. That night Mama H. (our advisor/group leader) cooked us sausage and the “salad girls” made fantastic salad. We then star gazed, and I thought on 3960 Ryan Road you could see a lot of stars, but no I have never seen as many stars as I saw in S.A., we could ever see the Milky Way and it was breathtaking. Chris Moskal and I also inducted Mama H into the “Nooduitgang” (a gang Chris and I made up the 2nd day at Stellenbosch when we saw the Nooduitgang sign, which means emergency exit, and were very confused, so Chris asked if I wanted to start the Nooduitgang with him) and we taught her and Peter the secret Nooduitgang handshake. We woke up at 7am and packed lunches for that day’s hike. The hike we did was around 6-7 hours altogether, and it was tough! I had my speakers in my backpack playing some “pump up” music and Mama H said in her fifteen years of doing this hike (2x a year) she never had someone playing music for the group up the mountain. The first half of the way up Chris Moskal and I got quite lost for a good half hour and ended up basically rock climbing to get back on the path. The second half of the hike up, we went through the “cracks” which was a path inside of the mountain, and there was one part where the boys (James, Giorgio, Zack, and Peter) offered their gentlemen services to help us get boosted and shimmied up this boulder. When we got to the top the view was extraordinary and I’ve never seen a view as beautiful as that in a long time (since the Grand Canyon). The hike down was more of a struggle for me, because it was steep, rocky, and hard on the knees.
 Once we got back to the campsite, we went swimming in this creek, and Mama H said that swimming after a hike is said to help relax sore muscles, and I was hardly sore from the hike the next day. I got back from swimming and took a short nap and was surprisingly woken to Meg and Jelly Roll (Kelly Cole) mooning me, because it was Kelly’s goal to moon everyone on the trip and she was struggling to moon me. Then, we went to the Cedarburg winery, where it’s said they have some of the most acclaimed wine in South Africa, because of the elevation. I again wasn’t surprised to find that I still hate wine, and I don’t think I’ll ever get accustomed to the taste unfortunately.            
That night Mama H made this delicious beef stew concoction over rice and then smores for dessert. While Mama H was cooking, some baboons went into her cabin and threw granola all over her kitchen and bathroom. That night Kelly and I tried to prank everyone by running out of the bathroom shouting “BABOON” so we did and no one believed us, until Mama H got into the prank by throwing rocks at the bathroom. Then to get back at us for scaring the group, Mama H had Cori pretend she hurt her leg running away from the “baboon” and we both felt really guilty, until we realized that Cori was laughing instead of crying.
The next morning we packed up the vans to head out, and on our way out we stopped by some caves which the San Bushman had painted in, and these cave paintings were estimated to be about 6,000 years old and were painted with ox blood and bone. We went to another cave which a conspiracy formulated around, because signatures from all these political leaders of the apartheid movement, and it was said that they used this cave as a meeting ground for secret meetings, but no one knows if its true or not. It has also been tampered with because South Africans get upset with the fact that these leaders are said to have come up with the system of apartheid, which has caused many wounds to the country. On our way out, I bet Peter that I would fall asleep within 5 minutes and he wouldn’t be able to wake me up from the bumpy drive, and I guess James and Zack told me we hit this huge river bump, and my head hit the ceiling, but I slept straight through it, so I ended up winning the bet. Also, Janien’s van got a flat tire and we had to go back and help the with it. Overall it was a fantastic trip and has gotten me very excited for the other trips to come!

February 12th 2012,

February 12th 2012,

Bright and early at 5:30am I get up for a new and exciting day of Shark Cage Diving, we all hop in vans for a 2 hour drive to the harbor. When we get there they feed us breakfast and give us a small talk of how Great White sharks only kill 5-15 people a year and humans kill over millions of sharks a year, a very eye opening fact to all of us. Then they hand out these stylish orange fishermen jackets and blue lifejackets for the boat ride out. We all gather on the boat and ride out to the bay where the sharks tend to gather, in the winter season there are more sharks than now because they tend to hunt seals in the area.
So we all suited up in our wetsuits and goggles while they brought the cage to the side of the boat. I was the brave soul who was the very first to get in the cage in our whole group. A shark was coming up to the cage when I first got in and the workers shouted at me to “GET DOWN” which means to lower yourself to the rungs underwater in the cage to see the shark under water, but I panicked because I thought they were shouting at me to “GET OUT” so I freaked out and tried to crawl out of the cage, everyone was laughing at me afterwards because they said I had the most terrified look on my face. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in my life though, because we were able to observe these beautifully terrifying and close-to-extinct creatures, and I was lucky enough to have one of the Great White fins brush up against my arm. We watched all five of the groups go through, since the cage only holds 8 we went in waves. Its funny though, because watching on the boat, you ended up getting a better view from there. On the third wave, while my friends Annie and Sully (Chris Y.) were getting out of the cage, the string of fish heads they use to lure the shark got extremely close to the cage and the shark basically jumped on top of the cage, it was so scary to watch. From this trip Meg gave me the nickname “Iron Stomach Bernie” because about 1/3 of the group got very seasick, and while everyone was throwing up, I was on the top deck (the rockiest part) happily munching on my sandwich and chips. I felt so bad for Ginny, because she got so sick from the very beginning that she wasn’t able to dive, but she did receive the nickname “Seven Bag Ginny” for filling seven puke bags. Then on the way back we passed the island where all the short-haired seals gather and we watched them for a little bit. Luckily I chose the right side of the boat, because Meg, Chris M, and Sam were stuck on the side that A.)got soaked with a ton of water and B.) was the side with all the puking casualties, therefore Meg said it was like a war-zone because they got sprayed from all sides with puke and water. Other that the massive amounts of seasickness and water spray, I would say it was quite a successful day and I would do it again in a heartbeat!