Tag Archives: South Africa

Backpack Taveler, that’s me!

I decided to walk the walk that I’m asking from my students and pack light. So, this year as I lead the study abroad course I’m only packing my backpack and I’m bringing a packable day backpack to use while we are touring. Usually, I don’t pack as light as I encourage my students to do because I’m away from home longer than them. They are in South Africa for right at two weeks and I usually am in SA for about a month. However, this time I decided to dive headfirst into the backpack traveler world.

Honestly, when I got my first backpack, claiming to be a backpack traveler was purely aspirational!  I bought the Tortuga pack but still “needed” to bring along my backpack I use for school. I had the Tortuga backpack for two years and it served me well traveling to conferences and home to see the family. Then in the summer of 2018 I passed that pack onto one of my former students who was traveling to Kenya for a month-long medical internship.

I moved onto the Eagle Creek Gear Hauler [click here] and fell in love with this rugged all-purpose pack. I first used it when I traveled to Botswana in July 2018 and you can check out this post on everything that I stuffed into this pack in a post from right before the trip [click here]. I the reason I fell hard for this pack was mainly because of how much I could stuff into it and still easily carry both by hand and on my back. Additionally, I felt confident using this pack as I traveled around Southern and Central Africa because of the high quality construction and the water/dirt resistant bottom.

I know one of the reason that I have resisted only using a backpack for “secruity” purposes. I don’t mean safety and security, but rather having extra clothes “just in case” kinf of security. I can always hear my grandmother’s voice in my head telling me to pack a little extra “just in case something happens”, but something always happens and that’s why we wash our clothes! It’ll be interesting to see how this trip goes and if I am one of those newly converted people who will then sing the praises of backpack travel.

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Black Coffee – Wish You Were Here (feat. Msaki) — Afro House King

My first trip to Johannesburg was in June 2014. I was able to travel from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg because when I first arrived in South Africa in January 2014 I got bumped from my SAA flight to PE. At that time I received a voucher for a round-trip flight from PE to Joburg for my trouble. I didn’t know what I would do in Johannesburg on my own because my university had done a terrific job of terrifying us of South Africa in general and Johannesburg more specifically.  Then, the US Embassy hosted a cooperative arts event between African American artists and South African artists and the theme was dealing with race in art. The Embassy held a contest on Facebook to give away tickets to this event. I entered and won! So, now I had a reason to go to Johannesburg coupled with the means to make the trip.

The next step I needed to take was to find a place to stay. I started searching through social media and found Curiocity Backpackers, which had just opened up for the summer travel season in December 2013.  I contacted Curiocity first through Instagram and then through their website. I was worried that this wasn’t a “real” place to stay, meaning that it wasn’t going to be nice or safe. I was able to book a very affordable room (approx. $19 USD/night) and I was able to pre-book transportation from the airport to the backpackers.

At this time Maboneng was just a fledgling community compared to how you find it today. But some of the anchors were already there like Shap Braai, Pata Pata, and Arts on Main. Another anchor that was present in Maboneng was the private security. When I arrived at Curiocity I was told that “at any time you don’t feel safe the security guards will walk with you.”

I took advantage of being in Johannesburg and didn’t just hideout waiting for my event at the embassy. I took a walking tour of the Central Business District (CBD), chatted with other travelers at the backpackers and arranged to go out with a few of them, and I really enjoyed the street vibe of Arts on Main. It was exhilarating to be here, in this city, and traveling/ discovering this place for myself and by myself.

One of the many things that I love about backpackers is that even when you are traveling by yourself, you are never really alone. Other people are traveling by themselves and you just decide to do something together. Additionally, backpackers hold events which allow guests to interact with each other and creates a sense of community within the hostel. In 2014, they were hosting different types of musicians at the backpackers. My first night there it was a punk band, but on Sunday it was much more chill with an unsigned singer/songwriter Msaki. I instantly fell in love with her voice and bought several of her CDs, one to keep and several to gift.

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Then, I added her as a friend on Facebook and follwed her on Instagram. I have really enjoyed seeing her succeed and bloom as an artist. Now, this Saturday, four and a half years after seeing her perform at the backpackers, I will get to see her on stage in front of thousands as she performs with The Real Black Coffee at his Music is King Festival!

I adore their new single and I am beyond stoked for Saturday!

Black Coffee’s Wish You Were Here is one of the major music from his new EP “Music is King“. “Wish You Were Here” featuring Msaki is already Buzzing all over the country and World. Check out this House masterpiece by Black Coffee. MUSIC: Black Coffee – Wish You Were Here (feat. Msaki) FORMAT: Mp3 QUALITY: 224 Kbps […]

via Black Coffee – Wish You Were Here (feat. Msaki) — Afro House King


Travel as rhetorical listening

I firmly believe that travel itself can be an act of rhetorical listening. Listening to the questions people ask you about yourself and your home country. Listening to what people reveal about themselves. And listening to the the culture as a whole when you travel.

Last night I heard a news report about the advertising awards and the winner of the gold prize was a radio advertisement for the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. I had to hear this advertisement several times to really process and listen to the message that was being conveyed.

Now, in an award-winning advertisement for the Apartheid Museum, called “Verwoerd”, Trump’s words have been cut together with H.F. Verwoerd, known as the “Architect of Apartheid”.

Hearing the audio clips back-to-back is jarring, but it does provide some new context for Trump’s words and actions that he has taken since becoming president. There is a part in the add that I think is supposed to be Trump that doesn’t sound like him and I’ve never heard that clip anywhere else. However, I think it does speak volumes to how this US president is perceived abroad and provides an interesting point of discussion for students who are learning about South Africa, but also America through another country’s eyes.


Reccomend One Book

My sister sent me an interesting article of book reccomendations from 22 Ambassadors to the United States from various countries. The premise of the piece was for the ambassadors to reccomendone book everyone should read before visiting their country [click here for the article].

Of course as a lecturer, I assign required reading all of the time. Additionally, as someone who teaches a study abroad program, I do require students to do quite a bit of reading before getting to South Africa. However, if I was going to reccomend a single book that everyone should read before visiting South Africa it would be Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime (2016). born-a-crimeNoah’s ability to tell his personal story while at the same time teaching the reader about South Africa’s complicated history, makes this book a great read. For an extra treat, get the audio version of the book because its read by Noah himself.

 

What one book would you reccomend for people to read before visiting your country? Either your home country or the country you currently live in?


Breathless Wednesday

On WordPress some blogs do “Wordless Wednesday” and I’ve made a few of those posts. I’ve posted up videos or pictures that could stand on their own.

However, today I’m overwhelmed by words and a myriad of thoughts, but I find my heart skipping a beat and my breath catching. I’m in the edge of my next adventure, headed into the great wide-open of life.

This next academic year is (hopefully) my last. I’m headed to South Africa for fall semester to write my dissertation, I’ve imaged it as a semester’s Long writing retreat. Then spring semester I defend and graduate. Each next step has an outline of a plan, but no definite next steps because I want to remain open to all of the possibilities available to me. It’s exhilarating and a bit scary.

But it also feels right. Time to see what the universe has in store!


2019 Study Abroad Promo

I’m excited for the Winter 2019 study abroad program! The planning for this program is in full force and the program is completely re-vamped from the first two years. This video was made from pictures I took on the 2017 and 2018 programs.


IAD->JFK->AMS->JNB

Cheap tickets can be quite the adventure. I’m taking the long way down to South Africa this time, but the point is that I’m headed back. This trip is an amuse bouche for my longer stay.

This year has felt a little like a dream, but one where I’m conscious writing the lines and designing the plot. I’ve become a bit cautious writing my ideas in my journals because it feels a bit like witchcraft. Me writing down my ideas and dreams, the ink flowing off the page into my life.

Ten years out from one of the most consequential years of my life, it’s hard not to take notice. So many times this year I have been taken aback at how my life has changed over the past ten years.

Ten years ago I was desperate for meaning as each month seemed to break another piece of me off. Life was changing me…

“I am proud of the woman I am today, because I went through one hell of a time becoming her.”

I’m not going to recount all of the details of that year because I can’t fully. The year left marks, impressions, but its cloudy and I cannot see it clearly anymore. Nor, do I want to. I came through, so I didn’t have to be there anymore.

I about to head to the airport…My bags are packed. Items on my “To do” lists are crossed off. The playlists created. Time to take a deep breath and see what the second half of 2018 will do.


Africa: Three Ways

Weezer released a cover of Toto’s Africa last month, which closely coincided with my departure date and made me newly obsessed with this song. I thought I’d post three different takes of the same song and links to the story behind each one.

First is the original Toto’s Africa:

Here’s the short story behind how this song was written and the inspiration for the song [click here].

Next is Kristen Bell and Dax Shepperd’s video made to the orginial Toto version of Africa:

Even though this is the same song the video, made 30 years after the song was originally recorded, gives new meaning to the song itself. Here’s the story behind their video [click here].

Last, but certainly not least, is Weezer’s cover of Africa:

Follow the link for the sweet story behind this new cover [click here].


The storm before the calm

Accelerated.

That’s the pace leading up to a departure date. So many things to do and many of them cannot be done in advance. As my travel date approaches the list grows and the pace quickens. Until the day of departure, when everything slows, clarifies, and simplifies. Today, the big push is packing.

But I’m not just packing. I’m also re-sorting my closet and culling my clothes for another donation run. Then I’ll sort through the clothes that are left and decide what to store and which ones to take back to South Africa in August.

Once the sorting, culling, and packing, is complete I feel a sense of calm. I know that feeling is coming. However, this time the trip that is coming on Monday will be the eye of the storm because when I come back the big move is happening. I’ll have to finish packing up my apartment and put everything into storage until a future, unknown date when I have an address again.

Its funny because I feel so hectic before I leave, but once I’m headed to the airport everything calms down for me and I’m in my happy space. For a lot of people travel is the hectic piece. In the airport they are scattered and a bit harried. Travel can be confusing and disorienting, but I think that’s some of what I really enjoy about it. I enjoy the fun of discovering new places. My favorites are bookstores, coffee shops, and the perfect vantage point to watch sunsets and sunrises. I don’t buy into the “life is a journey” cliche because the point of a journey is a destination. Is death really the destination of my life? I prefer the cliche that life is music (mostly jazz). We have ideas and pursue those ideas, but so much improve happens along the way. Songs do end. However, the music is the point. The beauty of the piece lies in it being played.

Okay…back to actually packing!

 


Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag

In Just over two weeks I’m headed back to South Africa and Botswana. I’m going to be in Johannesburg for just over a week and I’m spending six days in Gaborone, Botswana for a conference. I’m excited to go, but wanted to go as a single-bag traveler this time, just a backpack and my a purse. Traveling light will make transitioning between four different accommodations in 2.5 weeks much easier.

A couple of years ago, when I traveled to this same conference and then took time to explore Namibia and visit friends in Johannesburg, I went through several backpacks before I settled on a backpack from Tortuga. I really liked that pack and was able to carry enough in it to look professional at my conference and comfortable through the Namib desert. However, there were several drawbacks of that bag. First, it was a little too tall. If I was six feet tall the bag would have been perfectly proportioned, but as it was it was awkward for me to carry. Second, it didn’t have any weather proofing on it. So, I needed to scout out a new bag. I went back to Tortuga and went all in on a bundle they had, which I promptly returned.

Next, I went down the YouTube rabbit hole of professional bag reviewers. (Who knew that was a thing). Then I went to a meeting where someone had a new Eagle Creek bag. And I thought, I should check out the products on their web site. So, I watched videos, looked up reviews on Amazon, and watched videos on how they designed their various bags. After much research and obsessing, I decided on the Gear Hauler. As soon as I unboxed the bag, I was excited to use it. Thankfully, I had a week-long trip just a couple of days away to give the bag a test run.

Here is an inventory of all that I was able to pack in my bag:

  • Five pairs of workout leggings
  • Five workout tops
  • Two pairs of somewhat bulky shoes
  • Five dresses
  • Umbrella
  • Collapsible water bottle
  • Socks, underwear, and hose for five days
  • Sports bra
  • Daily wear bra
  • Toiletries: conditioner, hair oil, deodorant, etc.

The bag was not overly heavy and I could have fit more! I cannot wait to use this bag for international travel. It will easily fit my laptop, adapters, and small notebooks. I’m planning on doing single-bag travel when I lead my next study abroad program too and this bag is perfect.


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