Friday, November 24, 2006

My college roommate lives in South Africa

On Tuesday, 31 Oct 2006, I visited my college roommate, Kathy Harrison (formerly Copelin, or is it Copeland - can't remember now). We roomed together at Northwest Nazarene College 1975-1977. After my sophomore year I dropped out of school. I was somewhat disillusioned about the Nazarene church after two years of a small Christian college environment. I think I just grew up a bit and realized that NNC (and the Nazarene church) and I were not a good match. However, I did enjoy my college roommate's friendship and we've stayed in touch over the years.

I was delighted to learn that Kathy had married Andre Harrison after meeting him during a missionary trip in Swaziland. They settled near Cape Town in the early 1980's. I've had a couple of opportunities to visit Kathy during my previous field seasons, but the last time we had a visit was several years ago. So, I was very glad that I could find the time to go and visit her this year.

Kathy lives in a nice area near Nordhoek. I can't remember the name of her community right now, but it's just across the valley from where she used to live in Nordhoek.

She and Andre restored a decrepit house and have made it into something very special.

The view from their living room is lovely.

The day Esprit and I visited, Kathy's gardener was there and Kathy made him lunch.

This is the entry way of the house. It also faces that lovely view you can see from the living room, and the kitchen has windows looking out that direction as well. The windows of the kitchen are on the left in this picture.

The upstairs is very open and all the windows take in the view, also.

I could get used to this, that's for sure.

The game room of the house on the main floor.

The view from upstairs.

Kathy invited us to go along with her to the township (Masiphumelele) in the valley below her house. She wanted to drop off some sheets to Hokisa, an AIDS orphanage.

I didn't take any photos inside the orphanage, but I have to tell you it was the kind of experience that had a tremendous impact on me. The AIDS pandemic is devastating in South Africa and we hardly hear a thing about it in the states. These poor children have lost both parents to AIDS and are also infected with HIV. These AIDS orphanages are the only hope for such children. If not for the NGO that sponsors this orphanage, the children would be on the streets and would die at a very young age. The orphanage provides care and antiretroviral drugs to these children.

I photographed the brochure Kathy had at her home. Click on the image if you want to read it.

There is also some information here about how you can help through donations.

This is the street outside the orphanage.

I took a series of photos from the car as we drove out of township. I don't have much information about the place except that it seemed to be much more prosperous than many of the townships I've glimpsed from the highways outside of major cities and towns in South Africa. There are a lot of small shops and businesses in the township, and more houses rather than tin shacks compared to settlements near the airport, for example.

I shudder to think that people pile into a vehicle such as this. The taxi services to the townships are notorious for running vehicles that are run down and subject to mechanical failures. Many of the worst road accidents involve these taxis.

Car wash, anyone?

You can get your hair done in a trailer.

Or take away meals from a tin shack.

I don't think I could manage my suitcase on my head like this.

Roadside beverage station.

Another tin shack hair salon.

Visiting Masiphumelele was interesting, but not exactly what I had expected. The townships nearer to Cape Town seem a lot scarier than this place, but my impression of that changed as we were pulling up to the main road. As we approached a stop sign, the truck in front of us stopped suddenly, pulling up on the street curb. The driver jumped out of the cab and pulled a black man from the back of the truck and proceeded to beat him up. That was definitely disturbing and scary.

We went back to Kathy's house after that and had a quiet lunch.

Here's a snapshot of Kathy and me. I find it hard to believe that 30 years have passed since we were roommates at college, but we live half a world apart and both have interesting tales to tell of the experiences we've had in the interim.

Kathy with her children.

On the way back to Cape Town I went via Chapman's Peak drive. This is a windy, twisty road cut into the cliff above the ocean. Very scenic, but also subject to rockfalls and slides.

I love the views of Hout Bay from this road.

Here's a view of the road. It also illustrates the rock strata of the Cape Peninsula. The road sits on the granite basement with the Malmsbury Shale formation causing all the rock fall problems. Atop that is the Table Mountain Sandstone formation.

All of the rock layers are visible in this image.

A Woodcentral Sighting Pic of Hout Bay.

And, last, but not least, two panoramas of Hout Bay from different view points along the road.

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