Rachel Vernon
Rachel Vernon
South Africa, 2022
Hi, my name is Rachel, I will be going to Cape Town, South Africa for 6 months to work with Volunteer Solutions. I plan to work in elementary schools with sports development and work in a local clinic. Read More About Rachel →

100% Chance of Precipitation

It is officially time for the adventure to begin! Although the forecast

Hudson and I playing gin rummy before the flight

did not include rain, my face was constantly wet from tears flowing. It was hard to say goodbye. As some may know my family is moving to Dayton, Ohio in two weeks. Not only did I say goodbye to my family and boyfriend, but I also said goodbye to the house I have lived in for the last four years. When I got to the airport, my flight had been delayed two hours. Fortunately, Hudson, my boyfriend, was also flying out of Atlanta that day. But his flight was delayed as well, so we sat in the lobby of the international terminal and played gin rummy. We played 13 games, I lost 7-6. The goodbyes at the airport were the hardest, it was really setting in. An abundance of thoughts went through my head, “why am I doing this?, what was I thinking, I can’t do this! I should just go back now.” But I couldn’t turn down the biggest adventure and amazing opportunity for growth, so I put my head down, thinking no one could see the tears falling from my face, and began through security. 

Since my first flight was delayed by two hours, it meant I had 35 minutes in Amsterdam to get to my connecting flight, and I indeed made it! On the plane, I met a German girl who was going back to Cape Town to study physiology. She gave me some tips and tricks about renting cars, data plans, and the weather; she even told me a little about Germany. We compared cultures, and I learned a lot. We even played Yahtzee against each other, I won! When I landed at 11:30 pm South African Standard time, my luggage was stuck in Amsterdam. So, fortunately, I packed a change of clothes and my bathroom bag so that I could live without the checked bag for a few days. My first flight was 8:35 hours, and my second was 10:15 hours, I was ready to get on land! 

I was picked up by a friendly man from Volunteer solutions, he told me a little about the government. Such as, the laws are not enforced well here, for example, marijuana is illegal here, but everyone still uses it, the power goes out for a few hours a day to conserve energy and money, and the working class are a part of a union, which is a major problem. More specifically, if the government wants to tighten laws, they will need to regain power; since the country is unionized, the workers break out into major strikes when the government tries to get involved. The current unemployment rate is 34.5%, compared to 3.6% unemployment in the US.

When I arrived at the hostel, where I will be staying for two nights, there was a group of kids waiting to meet me before going out on the town. They were all so nice, but it was overwhelming. I was shown around the hostel, which is made of two houses that are combined in the back. The entire hostel/volunteer house can host 64 people! When I tried to lay down for bed, the emotions came flooding. Lying in bed, I started to cry because I was overwhelmed and scared, and VERY uncomfortable (both physically and emotionally). I was afraid of what was to come. Eventually, I fell asleep listening to music at 2:30 am with my face mask and two blankets. 

Playing with baby monkeys at the Wold of Birds zoo

This morning I woke up at 12:30 pm and was immediately introduced to everyone in the house. They all asked me to join their plans, paintball, food, zip-lining, or go to the zoo to see the monkeys. I chose to go get food because I hadn’t eaten for over 12 hours. A group of volunteers went to The Old Biscuit Mill, full of shops, food, and dancing. Here they use Uber to get around, which costs around 75 rand-135 rand (~$7-$10), which is the currency here. ($1= 12Rand (R)).

The Old Biscuit Mill

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I got home, we went to a local intramural soccer game. I love watching soccer live! In my head I was thinking, “oh step up” or “just play it long.” You can take a girl out of soccer, but you can’t take the soccer out of a girl.

Went to a local recreational soccer game to watch soccer (and yes they call it soccer here)

Went to the Spar (grocery store) for dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then off to the local market, aka spar. I grabbed food for the next two days until I go to my host family. And just like that, my first day is almost over! 175 days to go. Most of the volunteers are staying 2 weeks-7 weeks, so when I told them that I will be staying for 24 weeks, they were all very jealous because no one wants to leave, which is a heartwarming feeling. 

 

Advice: 

  • Keep your belongings close because people will try to steal your things.
  • Pack clothes, bathroom bags, and adaptor in your carry-on because you never know if they will get left behind. I also put an AirTag in my luggage to check the location of my luggage; currently, it’s still in Amsterdam. 
  • The water is safe to drink in Cape Town, but introduce it slowly as it could upset your stomach (advice given from an American) 
  • Bring ear plugs and a mask to sleep in a hostel because it can be loud, I slept through the night with no interruptions! 

10 thoughts on “100% Chance of Precipitation”

  1. The German girl had no chance to beat you in Yahtzeez. Vernons always find a way to win.. let’s go Rachel! You are right where you need to be!! This is good!

  2. I am going to love reading these posts!! So glad the first day was a success and you learned so many things from the other kids.

    1. I am so thankful for the other volunteers, especially Liz, the American, who helped me transition.

  3. Hi Rachel!! It was sooo good to hear from you! We checked multiple times and were so excited to see your first post. I decided to think about my response, and when I tried to respond later, there was no reply option to choose. Today there was a new letter from another traveler. I clicked that one and then clicked your letter and there was a reply option! You have already had quite the experience. We knew it would be so hard to leave your family and boyfriend behind. It took great commitment and faith that God would provide for you in South Africa to leave. We were so thankful there were people there waiting for you! That had to be so encouraging, The girl on the plane who shared so much information about South America was definitely a God thing. Please know that we think of you often and pray for you. We will look frequently to find the letters you write and I will respond right away! We love you! Pa and Grandma

  4. Hi Rachel,
    What an adventure! Uncle Dale and I will be praying for you and following you through the blog. You’ve got this because the Lord is with you and going before you each day.
    Love,
    Great Aunt Karen and Great Uncle Dale

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