What’s In a Name?

17 May 2015

Last week, a couple of new volunteers came along to Kwantu all the way from Ontario, Canada; Erin and Amanda Maitland. Once we discovered each other’s full names, we were both stunned and excited. Neither of the three of us had met another unrelated Maitland before! We reached the only obvious conclusion: We must, in some way or another, most definitely be related. After all, I do have some relatives in Ontario, and they do have some kind of distant Irish heritage, and how else do you explain such an usual name as Maitland cropping up in the middle of Africa!

There was only one way to celebrate, of course; Dinner at Cubata!

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Lauren and Sofia’s Grand Day Out

30 April 2015

Today was a very exciting day indeed! The day of the night that we travel to Cape Town!

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As our bus was not due to leave until 21:30, selected with the intention to sleep more or less the entire journey, Sofia and I decided it wise to fill the day with lots of eating and walking around- the best way to get sleepy. What better place for this than Port Elizabeth’s Green Acres Mall!

We began with a very hearty lunch at Mugg & Bean, a lovely Restaurant/Café chaining starting up here. They provided us with delicious iced teas and coffees

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GOODBYE SARAH!

26 April 2015

This weekend was Sarah’s final weekend in Port Elizabeth! She is due to fly back to Germany tomorrow afternoon and I think I can speak for everyone when I say we’re going to miss her greatly, but what an excellent last weekend in PE we showed her!

We’d had this master plan to go to the EP Kings Rugby Game and follow it up with dinner at Cubata (after all, I did vow to return, and what better weekend than this to introduce everyone to their meatlicious delights?)

Unfortunately, some genius got the kick-off time wrong, and mistook 15:00 for 5:00… So, everyone missed the game, but we also had quite the adventure negotiating a set of tickets from a touter, realising our error and hastily recruiting a member of the Mandela Bay security to get our money back for us! A close call, a good story and a lesson learned!

Most people had been more keen to see the Mandela Bay Stadium itself rather than any kind of game, so I made up for the mix up with 24/12 hour clock with a charming little line for security

“Excuse, I’ve come all this way with this tour group, who are obviously a bit upset about missing the game. Most of them were just keen to see the stadium, can we please have 5 minutes just to look around?”

They very kindly obliged, and I led my tour group inside.

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Itchy Feet

19 April 2015

Well, once again, the week was fine and the weekend has been lovely.

The lessons for what I thought was a course as a Game Ranger (wildlife conservation) and turned out to be Nature Guide (outdoorsy tour guide) are proving extremely dull. We sit together (a group of 5 including our Course Guide) and read through our nature guide book aloud, normally around two or three pages each, and one module per day. It doesn’t exactly come to life!

We haven’t been on a Game Drive in a while, which seems strange considering the whole aim of this Nature Guide course is for each of us to be able to lead a successful and interesting Game Drive with an examiner in the car, but there we are. What we have been doing is various activities with the Kwantu volunteers, including tree chopping, planting, and clearing overgrown grass from Kwantu’s herb garden. All of this with blunt tools! What a hoot.

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What is happiness?

16 April 2015

Today and yesterday, as part of our Nature Guide course, we were sent on a South African First Aid Training course.

It was interesting for me, in that it was more or less identical to the St John’s Ambulance First Aid course I did in London a few years ago but with one exciting addition… Snake bites!

It also covered when not to perform CPR, which you may think is obvious but I suppose you should never assume. Such scenarios included when a person has been decapitated, or has clearly been dead for a long time eg. 2 weeks…

Anyway, I’m pleased to report we all passed with flying colours!

But more importantly, we made a fabulous restaurant discovery!

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Curing the Homesick Blues with Ostrich Nuts

12 April 2015

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What a simply perfect weekend!

I have been desperately missing the pleasure of cooking just recently, so while most the Kwantu volunteers spent their weekend in Jeffers Bay, and the remaining two (George and Heather, husband and wife from Canada) stayed in a nice hotel in Port Elizabeth, I took advantage of being the only person remaining in Port Elizabeth’s Albeit Lodge Hostel and decided to commandeer the hostel’s apparently untouched kitchen.

When I say untouched, I don’t mean something new and sparkling… I’m actually using a very polite term for something else altogether.

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Work Hard, Play Hard

5th April 2015

What a lovely, easy weekend this has been!

Yesterday, a few fellow volunteers went bungee jumping. I gave this a go when I was 19, and as I’m trying to be frugal during my travels, I used this as a good enough excuse not to pay and participate, however I did very much enjoy going along to watch while indulging in a honey mustard steak wrap and a coooool Savanna cider.

After this, we headed straight for our weekend hostel which is based in the heart of Port Elizabeth, about an hour away from Kwantu. We were given a positive introduction to the place by the existing and more PE experienced volunteers, whom we joined for dinner at a restaurant called Something Good. A most accurate name! Just simple, good eating!

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The night then escalate into more and more drinks, good jokes, a few dances and further drinks…

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The dreaded visa

It’s hard to believe it, but in just 6 weeks and 5 days I will be beginning my adventure! I realise I ummed and ahhed about a variety of routes and may have left some confusion, so for clarity, here is my absolute plan of what’s what:

India

26th February I will depart London Heathrow at 8:50pm and arrive in Delhi, India, on 27th February at 10:40am! I will then engage in a month long guided tour of all the best bits, including a variety of beautiful temples and the Himalayas Mountains!

South Africa

Then, on 29th March I will depart Dabolim Goa, India Airport at 6:45pm and arrive Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mumbai airport at 7:55pm. Then at 1:35am (so, 30th March now) I will depart Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mumbai and arrive in O R Tambo Johannesburg Airport, South Africa at 6:55am. THEN at 10:45am I will depart O R Tambo Johannesburg Airport only to arrive, finally, at 12:25pm in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Here, I will spend two months working within a Game Ranger internship, helping on the Safari and by the end have a FGASA qualification. Will it come in handy one day? Who can say!

Zambia

So! 25th May at 6:10am I will depart Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and arrive at 7:50am in O R Tambo Johannesburg, South Africa. Then I’ll catch another flight at 10:40am, which will see me land safely at Livingstone Airport, Africa, at 12:30pm. I’ll then be transferred over to an area of Zambia where I’ll be volunteering within the community. I will also drift over to Botswana for 4 days somewhere in the middle, to explore the Safari and go bush camping!

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And finally

Wednesday 17th June at 1:10pm I will depart Livingstone Airport, Africa, and arrive at O R Tambo Johannesburg, South Africa, at 2:55pm. I will hostel it up for a night, then 18th June I will get an 11:25am from O R Tambo Johannesburg, South Africa in order to arrive at Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mumbai at 12:05am (now, by all technicalities, on 19th June). Then, at 1:05am I will depart Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mumbai, arriving at Suvarnabhumi International Airport Bangkok, Thailand, at 6:55am!
After what I’m sure will be a memorable night on Khao San Road and a day tour of Bangkok, I will jump on the train all the way up to Surin where I’ll stay for four weeks caring for elephants!

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Love, Life, Food, Adventure

First and foremost, I would like to dedicate this particular post to my parents Dawn and Kevin Maitland, who are celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary today. They are currently dining in the same Italian restaurant we went for Hana’s pre-wedding dinner just a few months ago. What a special restaurant!

Second, and with no less enthusiasm, I would like to give a great HOLLA HOO to my wonderful best friend Ali Cluney who is celebrating his birthday today. I can’t quite recall how old he is. 80 maybe?

I wanted to ensure I posted today, as it’s a significant memory, not just for my Mother and Father and not just for Ali but for me personally. And what better post for what I wish to blab about than this unusual salad I made for me and my Mum just the other day- The Thai Som Tum. Aka, Papaya Salad!

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