Thank God I have Zack with me, because he made the whole airport situation a lot more manageable and bearable. We had a 12 hour layover in Germany, so we decided to explore around a bit. This was especially exciting for me because I had never been to Europe before. Luckily frankfurt was only a short train ride away from the airport and Zack ‘s also kindly reserved a hotel room for us to leave our stuff in. As we walked out of the station out to Frankfurt, the first thing we heard was Jewish people speaking about the holocaust out on a megaphone. As we walked around more, Frankfurt gave me a NYC vibe, except it was more beautiful, more clean, and the people even seemed cleaner somehow. The majority of the people were dressed in business attire. We decided to stop somewhere and eat. I don’t remember the name of the place, but it was a cute little food/coffee spot. I ordered some falafels & iced coffee and it was great. We got some gelato a went to go sit at a park. As we were walking and while we were sitting at the park, it was so interesting to see how everyone acted familiar – you had your gossiping teenage girls to your right, a couple in love to the left, children nagging in the distance – but the only difference was they were all talking in German. Funny enough, the nagging children sounded more intelligent and sophisticated simply because they were talking in German. Then Zack and I walked to this bridge (while Zack scopes out for attractive males as always) and we just admired the view. Here, Germany looked different then the city, but still city- like. There were more colors, and the buildings were constructed different, almost like old fashion buildings. I remember telling Zack that I didn’t want to go to Africa anymore, and just wanted to stay in beautiful Germany- not knowing what was to come in Africa. After exploring around one of the main tourist -y centers of Frankfurt we headed back to the airport for our 10 hour flight or so to Africa. Luckily we had the whole row to ourselves.
We landed in Africa and it was time to search for our Ecolife representative at the airport which we found after a long while. He was all the way in the back holding up a small sign, and there was one student there with him. The first student we met was Kelly. As we walked to out our stuff in the cab, you could see the immediate difference in people from Germany. The police wore these blue army camouflage outerwear with hats tilted on the side. Kelly was very nice, we all talked for bit and interchanged information. We loaded our stuff into the car and drove to our lodge. At first I thought we were going to have to wait for everyone to land and then head out like we did in Belize. But they drove us to the lodge and then went back to the airport to pick up the rest of the students at their arrival time. On the drive to Journey’s Inn game lodge, the thing that stood out to me most was how there were large walls and fences with electric cables and barbed wire on top surrounding practically every house/ apartment complex. It was like they were preparing for a Zombie apocalypse. I’m assuming all this is to prevent break-ins, theft, or any crime of that sort, since I know that the crime in South Africa is high. Another thing I immediately took notice was, that there weren’t any stray animals in sight, which gave me some relief. Journey’s Inn was beautiful and they had a pool and nice bedrooms. But unfortunately and unexpectedly, South Africa was really cold and no one was going to want to jump into any pool. After our Journey’s tour, we settled in and met/ waited for the rest of the students. Kelly and I met Jenny, Tiana, and Amanda in our room. While Zack was sharing with the only other guy in the group, Hailey. No one knew Hailey was a guy, so we were all surprised when we heard there was another male. The rest of the students looked him up of FB. Later on I met Melissa, who I would be sharing a large bed with. We all gathered by campfire and met our guide Louis. I don’t know why but he intimidated me a bit. Maybe because I was unfamiliar with him. Louis immediately seemed very wise and knowledgeable about everything in Africa. We heard him tell stories and talked for a bit until dinner, where we then met the last two students, Nicole and Emily. They were very accomodating for Jenny and I who are vegans and Hailey who is vegetarian. There was a cat that would hang around with us that belonged to one of the people from Journey’s Inn. She was so sweet and slept with me everyday that I was there. She would even come crying at our door so she could be with us. She was my first animal friend in South Africa.
Our second day in South Africa, we went to go visit North West University. We went in our Ecolife bus, who would become like a second home to us. It was funny to see how they have the steering wheel on the right side and drive on the left side of the street. I know I would’ve gotten confused if I was driving. We all eventually made the mistake of going up to the passenger seat thinking the steering wheel was on the left. Our drive there was my first real take in of different parts of Africa. A alot of South Africa was very well developed (more than Belize in lots of areas), with beautiful houses, but then you would enter an area where you would see an endless amount of tiny shack houses made out of metal pieces and wood. We got to the University and explored a bit. It was a nice university, well developed to most people in SA but still not as advanced compared to the US universities. There were students of all races there and a lot of the professors were Caucasian. Some people even appeared to be coming from britain, but that could just be me confusing the South African accent for the British one. We were led to a classroom where our professor Peet Van Der Merwe lectured us on the different animals in Africa and made us watch long videos. At one point Emily went up to try to fast forward the video and just as she was doing that, Louis walked in and caught her. It was pretty funny and we all laughed. From that moment on I knew Emily would be the more daring, funny one of the group.
The third day we went to CLAW veterinary volunteering. When we arrived there was a dog without a leg that pranced all around and got the group’s attention. The lady from CLAW, whose name I forgot, gave us a brief intro and explained that their purpose is to help provide people with pets more affordable treatment, but to also control their overpopulation. They don’t let any of the animals they treat leave without being spayed or neutered. If the owner refuses to spay/neuter their animal, then they refuse treatment. She told us she had many surgeries prepared for us yesterday, but somehow the schedules got mixed up and we went the day after. So all we had left to do was to check on patients, help around, and play with the animals. There were a whole bunch of dogs that they had up for adoption in this outside area. I was the first one to go in and had all the dogs jump all over me and greet me. We all played with them and enjoyed this time so much. There was a super sweet border collie mix that the whole group fell in love with. Playing with these dogs was definitely one of the highlights of this trip because it made everyone so happy, and it made the dogs super happy. After we assisted with checking some of their patients, we gave some shots, took temperatures, treated a uterine prolapse case. The dog with the uterine prolapse came with a uterus that was double in size than what we saw, but they has been treating it with something that made it shrink so that they could eventually put it back in. Then we switched off with half the group and got to walk their animals and let them go for a run. Zack, me, Tiana, and Jenny went around back and let them explore around. It was a good day.