Outside of work, Benjy and I having an awesome time exploring the area and meeting new people. Just after arriving in August, we went to two different “braais” (barbecues) on the same day—one with mostly South Africans and the other with mostly Americans. Since then, we’ve had a lot of fun meeting up with people on the weekends. Once we get a car (GRS should be giving us one to use as interns), we’ll be able to explore more of Joburg. The city is made up of a lot of different areas, each with its own vibe. We especially like Melville and Greenside so far. We’re also hoping to spend more time in Soweto with our coaches. A few Saturdays ago, our staff and coaches played in a big soccer tournament at a festival in Soweto, which was a lot of fun.
Two big highlights so far have been our birthday celebrations. For Benjy’s birthday on September 20th, 10 Grassroot Soccer interns visited us—5 from Cape Town, 3 from Kimberly, and 2 from Lesotho. It was great having a chance to catch up and hear about each other’s experiences so far. We all went to the Pirates-Chiefs soccer match at Soccer City Stadium. The Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs are huge rivals, and our intern group’s loyalties are divided so it was pretty funny making new friends at the stadium (you all should be Pirates fans by the way). We had a big braai at our house that night. Some of the little kids that live in our complex (who love us and come over pretty much every day) stopped by and before we knew it they were having a little dance party with the interns in our living room. Everyone slept wherever they could find floor space (don’t worry, the children went home early)…a great way to celebrate being in our new house.
One of our other friends, Rezaan, has the same birthday as I do so for the last weekend of September we went with a big group of people to Kruger National Park, 8 hours away by car. We went on a game drive at 4:30am and then took Rezaan’s Land Rover into the park later in the day. We ended up seeing about 30 elephants, some giraffes, zebras, impala, lots of birds, an iguana, and even a leopard (which is very rare)—pretty amazing! That night we had another braai with everyone at the great house that our friend Alison had invited us to.
This past weekend, some of the coaches came over for a braai and next weekend we’re having the entire group of coaches to our house for a bigger braai. We have a little yard space in the complex where we live which works nicely. People typically bring their own meat & drinks to a braai, and everyone just hangs out all day around the grill. Sooo basically we’ve become huge fans of the braai, especially since every day is so beautiful and the weather’s getting hot. And we love having such different groups of people to spend time with. Benjy is competing with me to get a better tan, but I’ve tried to explain it’s just never going to happen.
Kruger (Benjy, Jess, and me)
With staff and coaches at the soccer tournament in Soweto
Some of the coaches at our house for a braai (Vuyani, X, Bongani, Frank, T-Bash, and Jerry waving on the right)