“When you try to come for me, I keep on flourishing” I can’t get enough of that line in the Queen, Ariana Grande’s hit track, God Is A Woman. It hits so close to home for me. So many people have doubted me, what I could achieve, and what I was capable of. Particularly, every time I hear that line I think of one administrator in my first charter school that basically told me I couldn’t handle difficult children and would struggle teaching in South Africa. I legit wish I had the guts to email her and say look at me now!!
Thankfully, I’ve had lots and lots and lots of people believe in me and support every step of my academic and professional journey: my mom, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends, first principal, coworkers, etc. The vast majority of people that have always been in my corner, have been women. So, in celebrating SA’s women’s day and month, I was v v v v exciting to spend that holiday with women have been my support network through this Fulbright year.
On August 9th, 1956, thousands of women marched to the Union Buildings in SA to protest the “pass laws” of the apartheid government. These laws were targeted towards black South Africans and required them to carry an internal passport wherever they went. The first women’s day was celebrated in 2006 and serves to celebrate the progress of women as well as shed light on the numerous issues that still face South African women
The #fulbrightbaes travelled near and far to spend the long weekend with Lara and I in our favorite Polokwane and Limpopo spots. Hailing from Rustenberg, Cape Town, and Durban, we have all had such different experiences in SA and it’s nice to get together and vent and catch up and encourage each other as we only have a few months left of our ETAship.
In Polokwane, we took the ladies to a new cafe, Velvet Apple Cafe, for lunch. In the afternoon, we visited the coolest bar, The Grounded Container. And ofc, dinner was at our local hangout spot, Roccomamas. Showing them all our little town has to offer was so fun and the perfect way to celebrate women’s day with my fave ladies in SA. We rounded out the night by chilling with our neighbors/besties, Lebo and Mary Jane.
The next few days we hung out in the prettiest spot, Blyde Canyon. We toured the river canyon via boat, went hiking, and ofc, went on the panorama drive. This was Lara and I’s third time exploring Blyde and I still love it. The lodge managers, Toni and Vincent, of Marepe Lodge, are starting to feel like old friends. During this trip to the canyon, we finally got to meet JESSICA THE HIPPO. She is legit WORLD FAMOUS. She has hundreds of movies made about her because of her bizarre behavior. She is 18 years old and is the only hippo to be both wild and interact with humans! She was found by a couple when she washed up on their farm after a storm and they saved her. Now, she will wander down to Kruger to hang out with her hippo friends and then come back to this couple’s house to sleep their porch. When you visit her, you can feed her, pet her, and (if you’re a girl, Jessica doesn’t let boys do this) give her a kiss! Hippos kill more humans a year than any other animal in Africa — so this experience was both exhilarating and terrifying. She is a sweet sweet animal; you can tell she is very happy.
The last day in Limpopo with our lovely ladies, we hung out in the Magoebaskloof area. We went zip lining, visited Zwakala (which means “come closer” which I think is a pretty neat name) brewery, and stayed in a fancy cabin right on a dam. Zip lining was honestly terrifying; we did it for 2 hours and I was so ready to be done by the end. Despite my adventurous spirit, I have an unfortunate fear of heights and I seem to always forget about that when signing up for adventure activities. The brewery was lovely. Set right in the mountains, it is stunning. Being at breweries reminds me so much of being in the midwest; it was nice to round out our weekend with something that felt like home.