Day 4: Tuesday July 23rd 2019
I have slept well although I woke several times and instinctively checked my phone – but all seems well as there are no messages from home or the students. All quiet on the Western Front!
My early morning call is at 6am, but I am awake before that and showered, dressed and down for breakfast by 6:45am. There is the normal selection and variety. I enjoy fresh fruit and yoghurt and a ham, cheese and onion omelette. A fantastic start to the day for the staff, but what news from the students, we wonder?
We are on the bus at 7:15am as school starts at 7:3-0am. The weather forecast is not wrong. Cape Town has been in the grips of a drought and there is a severe water shortage. The situation is certainly going to be improved now, and there is a sense of home as the rain lashes against the bus windows.
We are at school by 7:40am as the traffic is heavier than usual. All the students are present apart from two – Caradog and Vikran. There is much more chatter than normal on the bus as the students recall their experiences of the previous evening.
I do a quick trawl of the bus and even though they are tired, they seem to have had a good experience apart from the fact that the homes are a little cold-very few of the houses have central heating and they are built with a more open plan style to allow air circulation during the warm weather. I console our students with the fact that if they feel cold then their billets will feel even colder.
We ask the students to write a brief comment about their billets here’s a selection:
James Northey and Noah Myerscough; Very welcoming family, learnt some funny words ‘Mooi’ and great food, massive house although pool was freezing. Our billets are very nice and polite. (*****)
Tom Barrington; Lovely people, nice food, minor issues but overall was good (****)
Olivia Gibbon and Amy Tomkins; Very nice and welcoming-Lovely food and overall good company (*****)
Robyn Williams and Kian Webb; Great food and accommodation, nice people. They have two very friendly rotweilers!!!!
Tom Davies, Rhys Flower and Mabon; Had a tasty and juicy medium cooked steak. Learned a lot about the South African culture which was interesting. Room was cosy and had a very good night.
Sam Wells; Nice people, nice attitude, nice food, nice house, nice bed, nice host-sounds like it was nice Sam.
Cameron Clayfield; Great experience, my billet, Michael made me feel right at home-amazing food.
Iwan Jones, Sam Parry; Very welcoming and nice-the family speak a lot of Africaan. It was cold.
Jack Thomas and Charlie Catto who were in the house with six; Massive house, lovely tea-on the chilly side but warmed up with cup of cocoa. Wicked game of pool-Jack won.
Ben Lewis and Reid Davies; lovely house and really friendly-unfortunately they smoke a lot. They have 3 really cute dogs. Very interesting people to talk to and we learnt a lot about their lives.
Leah Hyatt and Brianna Richards; Such a lovely friendly family, nice food, very relaxed we get along really well with Sam our host.
Natalie Edwards and Nia Hopkins; Family is very welcoming. The house and pool are huge and spotlessly clean. The younger sister is cute but hasn’t stopped talking!!
Sam Terry, Ollie Freeman and Alistair Morgan; it’s cold-no heating.
Tom Richards; They are very nice people, had chicken curry on the bone. Went to bed very early-had a comfy sleep.
Seren Howells; Nice people but don’t speak much, keep a scary doll on the floor at night. Weird man sings outside at night-cold.
Olivia Goodfellow; Disappointed that I’m on my own. Mattress is hard-my billet was OK but didn’t talk a lot.
Betsan Gates and Molly Madden; the family are really friendly and welcoming. They have two cats that roam around because there are no doors-it’s cold.
Will Griffiths; Large family that are very nice, friendly and welcoming.
Leon Bevan; Lovely food, very welcoming.
Alex Hughes and Darragh Cahill; A bit boring, they didn’t really bother with bus until we had food.
Eve Andrews and Freya Evans; Hosts were really friendly and welcoming. Really nice food and comfy bed.
Annie Gegeshidze and Niamh Bradley; Our hosts’ were really friendly, the food was so good and they were really helpful and made sure we were comfortable.
Casey Williams and Chloe Collins; The hosts were very chatty and easy to get along with. We liked how jam came in a can.
TeIgue Williams and Joe Richards; Our billets had a lovely house and were a nice family. They cooked some nice chicken for dinner. It was cold, but they made us a hot chocolate and gave us extra blankets, so we can’t complain.
Megan Nicholson and Ashleigh Coppin; Our hosts were very welcoming but it was cold.
Liam Butler; He was on his own but enjoyed the evening as his host and family were really nice.
Matthew Davies and Jacob Purcell; They were in a lovely house with a very caring family. The food was nice and it was warm and comfy.
Zac Johns; He was in a lovely house with a very caring family. The food was amazing, it was a bit cold in the morning but it was sound.
The two students who are late arrive just before 8:00am – traffic problems, they tell me.
We depart for Langa but may have to do a bus tour rather than the normal walk through. I can imagine it’s been a very difficult night for those living in a township.
Events of the previous evening begin to filter through the bus, and our young apprentice, Joe Hawkins-Cole has given the second one of his pan pipes to the younger brother of his billet. A fantastic gesture – one I’m sure Lord Sugar would be proud.
We arrive at Langa township at 9:00am after a longer journey than usual due to the traffic. We are greeted by our two guides – Eric and Dudu. Bus 1 are to spend the morning with Eric, and bus 2 with Dudu.
What a humbling experience. The Langa township was first developed in 1920 with a population of around 1,500. Today, the figure is approximately 100,000. We are shown around the township first on foot. Eric and Dudu explain to us just how far the township has developed, particularly following the end of apartheid in 1994. There is a real variety of homes within the township; small, box sized sheds made of metal that contains everything in one room with no electricity, to comfortable looking homes with sky dishes featuring on the outside. Small steps made for many, but still a long journey to go. Having visited Langa in 2000 it was clear that they had made significant strides forward, but clearly there was still a long way to go.
On a positive note, Eric and Dudu show us the Langa playing fields. We see an impressive rugby pitch and astroturf. They tell us that sport has played a huge part in the development of the township and they now boast five professional cricketers brought up within Langa including Temba Bavuma who represents the national team at present. Dudu himself is an aspiring footballer and dreams of one day representing his country. I hope that this example sits well with our students, as sport can teach us so much about ourselves and life itself; it has inspired individuals within Langa who were born into nothing and have striven to become something. Sport is a powerful concept.
Eric and Dudu explain the initiation ceremony that young males have to through between the ages of 18 and 21 before they are accepted as adults. It sounds like a quite gruesome process; After a party with family and friends at which either a sheep or goat is slaughtered and eaten, they are taken to an isolated area where they are to stay in a tent for 8 days during which time they are not allowed to eat or drink anything. If that doesn’t sound tough enough on its own, the worst thing is that when they are initially taken to the tent they are circumcised without any anaesthetic!!! Some of our young people said that’s nothing-in Gowerton our parents send our young people on tour to South Africa and Australia for 3 weeks!!! In all seriousness, it serves to remind us how cultures have evolved so differently.
Next is lunch at Sheila’s, a fantastic little place in the middle of Langa that is a product of individual success of the township. We receive a warm welcome from Sheila herself and all her staff, as well as a local band playing marimba instruments – what a treat! After enjoying the local music, Sheila talks to us about how she developed the restaurant. It started as one room that was her home. Through putting herself through night school and selling second-hand clothes, Sheila turned her once childhood home into a restaurant in 1999 and hasn’t looked back since. Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible if it were not for the abolishment of apartheid in 1994. An excellent story with a strong message for our students. Sheila emphasises that listening is the number one skill needed in life – unfortunately, the year 10s are not as attentive as should be and as a result are last to get fed. A harsh life lesson learnt!
Food is served, and what a treat. A wide variety of dishes and pineapple juice followed by coconut sponge and ice cream. We have certainly been spoilt today with our meals! It is heartening to see our students tucking in to the local cuisine. Dr Michael Lewis, Doctorate of Food and Nutrition, was in his element. Da iawn and diolch, Sheila!
During the time we are there Mabon Kaniewski collided with a display shelf in the shop, knocking it over and destroying most of the items on sale-the words ‘china shop’ and ‘bull’ spring to mind.
After our meal, the band play a special song for a special young lady – it’s Miss Morgans’ birthday! She has made it clear that she hates being sung to on her birthday, so naturally it is our mission to embarrass her as much as possible throughout the day!
The time has come to say goodbye, and we say thanks to the band, our guides Eric and Dudu, and Sheila and her staff. What an enlightening and entertaining morning.
At 1:00pm we board our coaches and journey back to school for the fixtures. We arrive at school at 1:50pm. The signs don’t look good – the rugby pitch is waterlogged. We make our way to the changing area and while we are there it rains heavily again. At one point it looked like the 22 of the training pitch was a lake. There’s only so many times we can remind our students that they are in fact, waterproof!
Shortly afterwards it is confirmed that the rugby games are cancelled. There was a lot of standing water on the hockey pitch but they would make a decision at 3pm if it was to go ahead. The netball game will take place in the sports hall.
Good news – the hockey game is to go ahead. Parel Vallei race into a half time lead of 5-0. However, we find our feet in the second half and eventually lose 6-2. Ashleigh Coppin was outstanding in goal and Fern and Freya Evans, Olivia Gibbon, Eve Andrews and Seren Howells all give their all. Goals were scored by Niamh Bradley and Matthew Davies.
Inside to watch the netball. They go down 39-9, but what a performance from our young ladies. Casey Williams, Natalie Edwards, Lucy Steadman, Brianna Richards, Arianna Yadollahi and Leah Hyatt all impress with their efforts.
Despite the results, it’s a really encouraging start to the tour.
After the game, the students go home with their billets for a quick shower and change before returning to school by 6:30pm for a function in school. In the meantime, staff use this spare time wisely and commence a questionable game of netball/basketball/rugby. Regardless of skills, Mr Thomas, Iowan Thomas and Miss Preuss emerge as victors.
Our students return with their billets at 6:30pm. They scrub up well in their shirts and trousers and take their seats in the main hall at Parel Vallei.
After introductory speeches from Mr Schenk the Head teacher and myself we enjoy a formal meal of burger, salad and potato wedges. Our students mingle impressively with their billets and it’s clear that a strong bond is beginning to develop between both sets of young people. Parel Vallei are touring England and Scotland in April 2020-perhaps they’ll make a short diversion to Wales.
At around 8.30pm the parents collect our students and Thinus Pienaar, Head of Rugby at the school, uses the minibus to transport us back to the Lord Charles hotel. The hotel is as ‘posh’ as its name and the staff spend some time relaxing in the lounge updating paperwork and editing photos, videos and writing the tour diary to keep those back at home up to date with our progress.
Mr Meredith has taken over from Mr Long as our tour media expert and is spending a long time working on videos and photos. Miss Vaughan, Miss Morgans and Miss Preuss are keeping our social media sites updated. The tour diary is now a joint effort between myself and Miss Preuss. For those of our young people hoping that there will be another tour in 2022-the future looks bright. Sorry mums and dads, it doesn’t look like you’ll reach old age as wealthy people while this group of staff remain at the school.
The roles on tour don’t end there though-Mr Thomas and Peter Cort ensure we are entertained, and with a gin and tonic priced at less than £2 in the hotel, it didn’t cost a lot to keep them ‘well oiled’.
We depart for bed at just after 11.00pm. Another big day tomorrow. An early start followed by a 4 hour drive to the Game Lodge and our first Game drive in the late afternoon.
© Gowerton School: Powered by just 2 easy & Hwb