Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Wishes

Merry Christmas from Cape Town!
Love Lise

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On the Road Again-Goodbye East London, Hello World!

Bright and early tomorrow morning, Sarah and I will be embarking on our 2 week long roadtrip through Lesotho and South Africa.  We begin by heading northeast to cross the border into Lesotho, where there will be little Internet or landline access and limited cellphone reception at Malealea Lodge.  From there, we will loop back around into South Africa and drive across the Great Karoo, stopping at Graaff-Reinet and Oudtshoorn with a night in the Winelands before spending Christmas in Cape Town.  After Christmas, we will meander along the Garden Route to Mossel Bay and Jefffrey’s Bay on our way home to New Year’s Eve in East London.  I will be official co-pilot and navigator as Sarah tackles driving on the opposite side of the road!  We are very excited to explore more of our host country and break away from the normal and routine.     
The blog will experience a bit of a dry spell, but stay tuned for an extended food blog section and more from our holiday adventures at the beginning of January! 
I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and wonderful holiday season!  I am sending my big hugs and kisses to all of you! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Who Am I Locked In This House With?

They warned me about the dangers outside my front door, but what if you live and work with a very real threat to your personal safety:The Slap Bet? Was that included in my emergency response plan?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tasty Minestrone Soupy Stew Mix Magic

Sarah and I coaxed Simphiwe Bam, a fixture at the Chiselhurst campus, into coming to our house on Sunday to share a slice of the Xhosa culinary world.  We did our usual weekend morning grocery trek and picked up all of the ingredients that the chef requested.

Ancient Xhosa secret ingredient
samp-dried corn kernels that
have been stamped and chopped

samp in its natural state


we hunted for duds

the building blocks

Master Chef Bam

We cleaned and rinsed the samp and beans and threw them in a big pot with lots of water on a rolling boil.  Then we sliced the potatoes, carrots, and mutton (using our big "white people" knives) and waited for the samp to reach a chewable consistency.  We added the other ingredients and stirred in some magic soup mix powder before letting the whole pot simmer away for a couple of hours.

bubbling samp and beans-3 hours on the stove formed an inch thick layer of
burnt bottom which required 4 days of soaking and elbow grease

all together now!

finishing touches

Once everything was in the giant pot, Sarah cracked open our bottle of Malawian gin and we exchanged our own cultural memento of mixing Simphiwe his first gin and tonic.  Out of respect for him, I opted to exclude the photos of him singing and dancing behind the counter!  Who knew gin could be so smooth on a Sunday at 2:30pm?

Everything tastes better with Malawian gin

When the whole pot was bubbling away, Bam decreed that it was time to dish out.  Even with the burnt pot bottom, it turned out very well and I plan to experiment more with beans, samp, and mutton!  My eyes have been opened to a whole new world of meat cuts!  
The final product


Monday, December 6, 2010


December 6 is St. Nicholas' Day; our Dutch Christmas when Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet fill childrens' wooden clogs with presents and sweets!  Children are told that a record is kept of all the things they have done in the past year and that good children will get presents from Sinterklaas but bad children will get chased by Zwarte Piet with a stick!  
What could be more endearing to children than a giant man clad in red velvet
on a white horse whose manservant threatens to beat you with a stick?

I didn't pack my wooden clogs or speculaas recipe, but I am expecting Sarah to procure red velvet robes and a white steed to parade through our yard today.  And although I did not leave out a shoe to collect my gifts, I am expecting Grolsch, gouda cheese, tulips, and a miniature windmill in the Christmas package my mom sent.

Sancta Claus goed heylig Man!
Trek uwe beste Tabaert aen,
Reis daer me'e na Amsterdam
Van Amsterdam na Spanje
Daer Appelen van Oranje
Daer Appelen van granaten
Die rollen door de straaten. [...]

More Ikhwezi Photos

Registration Royalty

Working hard

Still working hard

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Slow Day at the Office

Three months have flown by and nearly every day holds something new.  They may not be earth-shattering days of excitement, but we work hard to be productive, take full advantage of our precious time here, and cherish the small achievements, lessons, and gifts! We have been given the luxury of creating our own schedules, crafting our own work plans, and essentially acting as our own bosses.  Most of the time, it's wonderful but then once in a while, a certain kind of day hits. One of those days where you have nothing scheduled but waiting desperately for an email from an organization you really want to work with.  You pine by the computer, waiting for an answer, and then inevitably hit the wall of rejection (only to find out later that they were actually on holidays anyway).  You feel guilty for not changing the world, but also wonder why the world won't change as fast as you hope.  At that point, the only solution is to take a “personal day”.
My Tuesday consisted of attending an 11am matinee of the new Harry Potter film, making chocolate dipped coconut macaroons, and reading about the upcoming Zimbabwean elections with a cold Castle beer on our front stoop.  Sarah was by my side on this trying day, albeit with a glass of Two Oceans and playing an observer role in the macaroon creation.  It was astonishing how crowded a theatre can be on a Tuesday morning.  Apparently we weren’t the only ones having a slow day at the office. 
I can't help but share the bounty of our tropical fruit bowl,
especially for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere

Red Ribbons and Ikhwezi Shindigs

Ikhwezi Lokusa Wellness Centre was busy this week!  On Monday morning, we hosted the inaugural “Friends of Ikhwezi Breakfast” to launch their fundraising campaign.  Weeks of planning resulted in the event to attract donors to alleviate financial pressures when the major funding contract ends in February.  It was a baby step but hopefully the beginning of something big!  I worked at the registration table (which meant I got to hang out in the sun with other staff during the presentations and dole out the coveted First National Bank pens), Sarah gave the big push to donate during the presentation, and Jason was head usher.  The Daily Dispatch is featuring stories about Ikhwezi for the entire week—a story about violence and HIV and an interview with Aunt K.

Some of the wonderful staff

On Wednesday December 1, we celebrated World AIDS Day with a full day event that was also very successful!  Clients, Ikhwezi staff, and community members shared stories, prayers, and information.  We passed out condoms and brochures while TruFM, a local radio station, broadcast live.   

Da Boyz-Simphiwe, Big King, and Mpumezi
For my first participations in a World AIDS Day, South Africa was an appropriate place to be.  From the UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2010: With an estimated 5.6 million people living with HIV in 2009, (of which 3.3  million are women) South Africa’s epidemic remains the largest in the world.   I'm  still in slight disbelief at this statistic, but last weekend's Sunday Times reported estimates that 1 in 3 South Africanwomen between the ages of 24-29 are infected with HIV.  AIDS is the largest cause of maternal mortality in South Africa and also accounts for 35% of deaths in childrenyounger than fi ve years.  For those children that live, the UNAIDS report estimates that there are 1.9 million orphans in South Africa as a result of AIDS.                                                                                                    

It's not all doom and gloom and the day culminated with the entire centre lighting candles with each other and gently praying and singing.  It was a beautiful moment, although my experience was cut short as Sarah and I self-appointed ourselves to watch some of the children who had also been given candles.  One of them, apparently still developing his spatial awareness, managed to singe the back of his sister’s head, leaving the lingering and unmistakable scent of smouldering human hair.  I also think the cleaning women will appreciate the trail of candle wax all over the floor. Oh well, it  is a nice souvenir of a touching  commemoration!  All in all, it was a day well spent and I was honoured to be involved! 
Aunt K

Analise and Mpumezi proudly sporting their red ribbons

Sarah saving a life

Mr. Cool