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 →

Birthday Season!

Hello again! I hope everyone is doing well, hopefully, it’s not too cold

Glass from the soccer field at school

there. We are headed into the summer months, so it is heating up here! Some days it gets up to 30C (86F), which is hot when you’re in the sun all day. I have started to hold PT under the tarp to keep myself and the kids out of direct sunlight. We also play soccer almost every day because it’s so hard to tell boys that we cannot play soccer. However, all of the children here refuse to wear their shoes, it is a battle to get them to keep their shoes on. On the soccer field, there are broken beer bottles that have been thrown over the fence, so I have picked up at least 25 handfuls of glass to try and keep the kids from being cut by glass.

Dessert from Auntie V’s birthday celebration

It’s birthday season here! They take birthdays very seriously here! Auntie V’s birthday kicked us off on October 23rd (but who are we kidding, we celebrated the whole month of October). We had a whole day braii, starting at 9am and ending in the evening with a food coma. Since lunch was so filling, desserts were for dinner. We had peppermint tart, cake, ice cream cupcakes, trifle (a Christmas dessert), and I made apple crumble. I did not pace myself well enough. I was so

Indoor braai

uncomfortable because I had eaten too much. Everyone warned me that Christmas will be “worse” as in there will be even more food. I have never been so excited about Christmas. I also have never had Christmas away from my immediate family, so I am sad I won’t see them for the holidays. The month of November is also big for birthdays. We have Rozano’s 14th birthday on November 22nd and Sophia’s 3rd and Ronaldo’s 17th birthday on November 27th. So we will have braai’s for their birthdays as well.

Speak of going home. Tomorrow marks the halfway mark. I have been here for 87 days. I feel so at home and comfortable. I am so thankful I am staying for such an extended period because this

Hair types that Yonga taught me

allows me to get settled in. I also have a new roommate, Yonga, the long-term guest at the house. She moved into my room so Auntie V could repaint the other room and make room for other guests. It is fun to have a roommate, but it also has its challenges. For example, Yonga works 2-10pm. So, she comes home around 12am and I get up to go to school at 7am. Yonga has been such a cool friend. We have done bible studies together and she took me to church with her this weekend. It was the first time I had physically gone to church since I came to Cape Town. I want to try out a few other churches as well. Yonga has explained to me the perspective of black women in Cape Town. I learned that there are areas where she doesn’t feel comfortable due to her skin color. She has also taught me about the different types of hair. She has 4B/4C which is super tight curls, while I have 1C/2A, which is wavy/straight. Having different types of hair means we have different routines.

Another thing I learned is what a cowboy shower and bucket shower is. In addition to load shedding, they have water shedding, which is no water, or day zero, which is 5L per person per day (1.321 gallons), and when that runs out, there is no more water. That water is for bathing, drinking, and cooking. So, plenty of people would have to budget to buy water from the store, and that becomes very expensive. The most recent water shedding and day zeros with limited water were 6 years ago. During this time, you had to take what is called a bucket shower. This is where you get a 3L bucket of warm water and soap yourself up then rinse with that water. A cowboy shower is when you only wash your face, fanny, and feet. I will try a bucket shower before I leave! Crazy how water and electricity have to be used sparingly. I will take a bucket shower before I go!

On another note, there is a boy at school that works at the local fruit

Giving food to Lamique

Giving food to Lamique

stand that we go to for our apple to make the apple crisp. He is in one of my classes. He is always dirty and has a runny nose. He lives in what is called the flay, which is a squatter camp. They are sheds that people put up, similar to townships. They do not have running water and the children are not looked after. His name is Lamique and he has 7 brothers and sisters. Auntie V has started making him lunch for me to bring to school. It is so cute when I give him the food, he was shocked the first few times, but now he asks where his food is. He usually puts it in his backpack as fast as he can so no one takes it.

I hope you guys stay warm as you head into winter! Also, happy Halloween! They don’t do anything for Halloween here. People always ask if I ever dressed up and went from house to house. The people here can’t believe that you go to a stranger’s house to ask for candy. The houses here all have at least one gate before getting to the front door. We have two gates for safety.

Also, here is a picture of the words that they use here! I have been compiling a list of them during my time so far!

New words!

One thought on “Birthday Season!”

  1. Rachel every post is so well written! I feel like I am traveling with you in South Africa! Seems like you’ve really settled in to life in Cape Town. I can’t image how hot it is going to get your last three months! Sunscreen is your friend. Can’t wait to hug you when you get home.

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