Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Hello friends. I'm now safely in Mozambique. I've been working at an orphanage and so far much of my time has been spent helping a team assemble a playground. It is certainly the other side of the world. Temperatures are generally very hot and the sun beats down - especially in the morning. The place where I'm staying is within sight distance of the Indian Ocean and I got to take a swim the other day. A far cry from the cold Atlantic that I visited in Yzerfontein, SA. It feels like bath water here.

As soon as my place first touched down in Maputo, MZ I could tell that I was really in Africa now. Confusion, language barriers, and capriciousness were the order of the day and the difference from that states could be noticed immediately in the details as small as the grass growing from cracks in the airport runway.

Finally i was issued a visa and herded back onto the plane for the short flight to Pemba where I'm now staying. In the Jo-burg airport i met some of the people who have become my frequent companions over these next days. A team from Mississippi was flying in on the same flight. Since being here they've all become good friends. And the Canadians. It's good to hear American accents again. I love Africans, but there's something that's just reassuring about talking to another American.

The Canadian team came to build the playground that I mentioned earlier. Some of the required hardware did not arrive so we have been using out God given brains to come up with so many different ways of accomplishing seemly straightforward tasks. There's Billy, Allie, Grant and Lyle from Canada. Laura, Betsy, Amy, David and family from Mississippi. June from South Korea. People from Pennsylvania and South Africa. And so many wonderful children from right here in Pemba! I wish I could show you some of their faces, but this computer is not allowing any posting of pictures.

Rice is pretty good. Especially when you eat it with your hands.

It's really different to go to the market and be locked in a full hug by a crippled man that you've never met. And then of course asked for food or money. It's different here. But I feel at home here anyway. I'm happy and content.


Link to Pictures:
Africa IV

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Colesberg, SA

The kind matron of Die Kleipot (The Claypot) Guest House in Colesberg, SA let me use her computer and internet connection. My fist priority was to access my e-mail and do some printing. Communications in the Africa continent are not exactly what most of us are accustomed to in the US. For months I have been e-mailing with the staff at the Iris Ministries orphanage in Pemba, Mozambique. I sent them an email to let them know that I was in Africa, and would soon be coordinating my flight to their area. This week the time came right for me to make that jump so I decided to call the number that I had been provided for their center. No go. Tried the second number - again no go. At least this time I get a message in Portuguese and English telling me to try again later... At this point I had already gotten a quote on a ticket and was just awaiting their confirmation before making the final purchase - the ticket agents were cautionary as there was no backing out or refund once I said I wanted to purchase. Also I had reserved a rental car for 16hr drive to the Jo-burg airport where my flight would depart from. When the calls failed I sent an e-mail and expectantly waited all day for a reply. Nothing. Putting off my decision till the very last minute yesterday morning, I went to the internet cafe again and checked for a reply from Pemba. Nothing. I talked with God, and my host Shawn and tried to decide what to do. Finally we agreed the best course of action was to proceed and let God sort out the details as I moved forward. I phoned the travel agent and told her to go through with the ticket purchase. I went to AVIS and picked up my car. I packed my bags and with SA road map in hand I hit the road a little before noon. Shawn gave me advice for the best route and this mostly involved taking the N1 right through the heart of South Africa's Karroo. I pulled out of the Cape region and wound my way through the Stellenbosch wine country. Mountains towered on either side of the road and when you went around bends you could see miles of vineyard filled valleys bellow. Slowly the road crept higher and the climate began to become more and more arid. High on one mountain peak I saw a few tiny remains of my first Africa snow. The mountains began to level and I was soon driving across vast dry expanses of scrub brush and cactus. Sheep and goats foraged in the rough grasses, and occasionally I saw a wild buck feeding. If I hadn't known that I was in Africa, I would have believed without doubt that I was in the American West. Everywhere were sights that reminded me specifically of northern Arizona, southern Utah, or eastern Colorado. In the areas where the highway was cut through rock you can see the exact same veins of light green and purple rocks that fill the mountains in Utah. The three buttes that give the town of Three Sisters its name are what you'd expect to see in a cowboy film. The dry air had parched the ground leaving it in many places a maze of cracks. This is the Karroo. I left the Western Cape and drove into Northern Cape province. By now sitting on the right side of a vehicle and driving well over 100km/hr while passing all over the road feels almost completely natural.
As the sun set I saw ahead a few towering flat topped thunder heads. They were beautiful and majestic as they reflected the rosy evening light. Then the lighting began to flash. With night coming on more and more bolts began to dance between the clouds and down towards the ground. Central south Africa is extremely dark at night, but these flashes would momentarily illuminate the landscape. There is as sparse powerful beauty in the plains.
At around 9pm i checked into Die Kleipot. Shawn and Karien had recommended it highly. As soon as i got my key, my new host advised that I hurry if i wanted to get dinner. The Horse and Mill is a local pub with plenty of character and pretty decent lamp pie. The walls are covered with the signatures of visitors and the rafters with flags and the currencies of just about every nation imaginable.
This morning held good news. In my e-mail box was a response from Iris saying that my Friday arrival should be just fine! Also the e-tickets that I need for my flight had arrived and I was able to print them out. Praise God. Everything SHOULD now be in order. I drive the 700 odd kilometers to Johannesburg, drop my car at the AVIS airport return, check into to departing flights. Hopefully I'll be able to catch a little sleep in the terminal overnight. Then, at 8:40 am my flight is scheduled to depart for Pemba. There I plan to spend the next 2 1/2 weeks before returning to spend some time in Jo-berg area with a paster who works among the black communities of Soweto. What amazing opportunities and experiences I am living.
Love to all. Thanks for the picture comments and notes. It's always wonderful to hear from friends in the States!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lots of Pictures!

Ok, not much time for a post right now, but lots of new pictures! Africa III

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yzerfontein, SA

When you're living on the road there's an enchanting game that you get to play that I call "hunt for the switch". Each new home that you're welcomed into has a totally different light switch arrangement. "And here's the bathroom that you can use", says your hospitable host. The first thing that usually comes to your mind isn't generally, "and where might i find the light switch?" The rules are ever changing and dynamic. Here in SA there's a new and fun twist thrown into the game. The standard switches in the country are much flatter and don't stick out as far from the wall (this making them more elusive to a preliminary hand sweep of a wall). Next, it is standard practice in SA to put a light switch outside of the room concerned. Occasionally far outside... And on a panel with multiple switches. The fun never ends!

Couldn't resist that small aside. SA continues to amaze and enthral. I've not started to bounce around the country. After getting my legs with Shawn and Karien, I've now gotten comfortable enough to take to the road and start really getting to know new people. In Strand I rented a car and began my education on driving in the rest of the world. Thankfully I was able to rent an automatic, because I would have been lost if I were on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road, and shifting with the wrong hand all at once. Amazingly the transition has been rather quick, and appart from a few brief terrifying moments, it's all gone by rather smoothly. My little white VW has taken me to places like Malmesbury, Langebaan, Paternoster, and Yzerfontein. It has taken me into the lives of people like Carel & Litisha and their family. Awie, Benita and their boys Ruan and Abrie. Ricardo and his little band of brothers. It's taken me to a lot of joy - and to some sorrow. To the best of West Cape Boer hospitality and to the reality of boys less than 10 living and sleeping on the streets.

There are many things that I'm always noticing as different here in south Africa. Some of the things are as small as the fact that South Africans usually grate rather than slice their cheese into a sandwich rather than slicing it. Some are a little bigger like the fact that drivers here pull onto the shoulder of the road and drive there when a faster moving vehicle wants to pass - and then the grateful passer signals his thanks with a quick rotation of his four-way flashers. And then some are as big as the fact that some of my new friends would never think of dating a girl of a different color. My guide books taught me a lot of about this country, but there's so much more that I can only learn by walking in the shoes of the South Africans. The shoes of these people whom I have sofar found to be warm, hospitable, and giving irrespective of race, and class. As an outsider I've gotten the best though - I get to experience so many of the joys, without having to live so many of the pains. It boggles my mind as I begin to understand the challenges that this young country is grappling with. There are so many hundreds of years of undoing that must be done before the doing can really begin in earnest. Yet, it's like the old story about the school - where they decided to build the new school on the foundation of the old one - but couldn't afford to have a lapse in classes. It would be great to just have a time out - call everyone together and sort things out. But you can't. Everything has to keep going, and changing at the speed of history.
My friends have introduced me to Johnny Clegg. Back in the days when such things weren't done, white Johnny began making music with the black Zulu people. In a unique hybrid he create music that can be equally embraced across SA by people of many colors. He sings about the beauty of Southern Africa, about the sky, about common experience. It is the perfect soundtrack for a drive through Western Coast farm country. It's the kind of music that can feed a sort of euphoria when it's combined with the perfect and inimatable visuals that inspired it. But then as quickly as you can be brought from 120km/hr to a dead stop by a road construction zone - a face and story can bring you down from the soaring of "African Sky Blue". On the beaches of Paternoster I met some of the most delightful boys of my life. Down where the colorful fishing dories where camped on the sugar sand beach they were playing, running, and jumping with a careless vitality. We fell into conversation and soon we were taking pictures together. Finally I had met some people who possibly enjoying taking more than I do myself. They wanted to pose for one more and one more. When I started taking individual pictures they insisted that each one must get as many shots as the last. "Take three of me! Take three of me!" Finally we parted - each thanking the other for the pictures. As I walked away tears of joy came for the beauty of the moment. But then, something else happened. Over on the other side of the small town I ran into one of the boys again. He began excitedly pointing me out as the one who had taken the pictures. He was walking with an older woman and she explained to me what was happening. His father had been killed some time ago and his mother had found a new boyfriend. She was now pregnant with a new child and as pregnant mothers often are she had a craving for a drink. Her boyfriend had gone out to the store for her and was later found dead. This is the realities of the life of the small boy who so joyfully played with me just a few hours earlier. He and his friends had crowded around me so happy - so trusting. As we reviewed the pictures together they all pilled over me - putting their hands on my shoulders, and arms. Leaning on me and so recklessly entering my space. Oh, the joy and beauty that I have seen - and then the sorrow as numbing as the icy atlantic water that drives against the beaches here in Yzerfontein.
God has brought me down the most interesting of roads. I don't question for a minute that he brought me here and established this road in his imagination. There is so much to learn here - to feel, and see, and live.

More picture here:Africa II

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Baboons and things...

People in SA often refer to the rest of the continent as "Africa". "This is Jared and he's hoping to go up into Africa". It's spoken of here as a very different and far off place. There's almost an identity breech the separates this place from that. If geography doesn't something still can. Even though I can get on a bus and ride there... This sometimes seems very reasonable. Most Americans would likely be shocked by the completely urban nature of Cape Town. As much as it is beautiful, it is also metropolitan. The mall that I visited is probably one of the largest of my life - and I'm told it's the small one by comparison. But then there are reminders that this is indeed a part of the African continent. My new friend Adrian drove with me out to Cape Point where I got the chance to see the meeting of the oceans and the windswept point that demonized and defined so many mariners of past centuries. Along the road a troupe of baboons played on and by the road. It was so completely foreign from my experiences, while yet being on a road between towns that would probably fit more with our imaginations of Europe.

I left my camera behind when I came to the computer today, so no new pictures, but there will be a lot of good ones coming soon.

Stay well!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Report from Strand, SA

Dear friends,

I'm here at PC08 at ComputerLand, the most affordable internet cafe in Strand. Right now the Rand (SA's currency) is hanging at right around 10 Rand to the US dollar. This is very good for me, and also good for the country my friends tell me. It makes tourism and travel like mine quite affordable. With the exchange so near 10, prices can easily be calculated in my head by just moving the decimal point one place. Some things here are are quite close in price to what I'd find in the states, but some things such as food, are quite a bit cheaper. Paying $3-5 for a full restaurant meal would not be uncommon. But I don't really care to dwell on economics.

From the moment I was picked up at Cape Town International Airport I have been whirled into another world. There is so much familiar, and yet so much that is absolutely mind boggling. Every time that I hook my GPS unit to my camera and see the coordinates load, I almost do a double-take. The coordinates have a south component rather than a north. Summer is just beginning rather than winter starting to creep its way in. In the airport restroom i was somewhat surprised to turn around from washing my hands and find a young man waiting with a paper towel ready torn for me. This was the opening salvo for the barrage of new racial and cultural experiences that has intensified in the ensuing days.

In the morning i'm getting used to a first meal consisting of tea with milk (the south African way), rusk (a dipping food that lives somewhere in the divide between biscotte and short bread), and Weet-bix or Tiger B-fast. So far I've enjoyed all the foods that I've been given. Biltong is a jerky like product very popular in the country, and for good reason. Boereworst is a lovely sausage served hotdog style in a bun with your choice of chutney, tomato sauce (ketchup), or mustard. Or maybe it will be served up with a gravy made of tomatoes (say it toe-ma-toe) and onion. Overall the food doesn't seem to venture often into the truly spicy side, but there is a nice assortment of flavors, and Indian curry or sweet chilly are probably the most common "spicy" flavors.

In the past few days I've met such an array of people. Andrew is a fighting coach who teaches jujitsu and would someday love to fight UFC. He is a passionate worshiper of God and only wants to fight if God wants it. Dean is a jolly round man of Afrikaner background who has an infectious smile and spirit. When he greats you he hugs you powerfully and says "blessings, blessings". Jean Baptiste is a Rwandan Tutsi with complexion so dark that even his eyes are dark colored. He escaped the killing as a boy when his mother hid him in a hot brick oven. Kate is a fair skinned English girl and Heinrich is a man with light brown complexion and a heart so very large. Mark is from the UK and moved here to be with his fiance, and Stefan, who is about to take his law exams is a true kindred spirit and in the course of an evening felt almost like a brother. This is the delightful cast of characters who are populating the my time here.

And Cape Town and it's environs are breathtaking! I've gotten to have a wonderful non-touristy tourist experience. Shawn, my host, was scheduled to speak in Hermanus a small town about an hour and a half south of Strand. He took me along for the ride, and what a ride! California's Highway 1 may still hold the place as the most beautiful drive of my life, but it is now facing stiff competition! A serpentine road writhes along the coast with light colored palisade cliffs rising on one side of the road and the deep blue ocean stretching away on the other. Large colorful Protea flowers jumble along the roadsides. Hermanus, our destination, is a quaint seaside town known for its excellent whale watching - known as some of the best land based views in the world. And I was in for a treat. Although the whale season is well advanced, i was able to see a whole handful of whales swimming, raising their tails, and breaching playfully from the cerulean and ultramarine waters. The powerful mammals sank back into thewater with a massive splash of white raging foam. It was one of the most beautiful sights of my life.

Shawn preached that night to a youth group. His message was mixed between English and Afrikaans. Though I can only understand a few works of this Dutch infused language, for some reason it doesn't really sound foreign to me. I feel so completely at home here, that it doesn't seem strange at all. I have been spending time with family members, really and truly. There is a bond that I'm always amazed at - instant and more complete than that which takes years to form much of the time. With brothers in sisters in Christ there is a connection that spans oceans, miles, cultures, and continents. Humorously I've found that Shawn has often told people the story of our unusual meeting in rural Arkansas. So now when I'm introduced, it's often as "remember the guy in the story that I told you?" Apparently there are some cultural things that I was unaware of upon that first meeting. When Shawn was told that there was a man who was "traveling between California and Florida" he immediately thought of the vagrants in South Africa. When a person truly has no place to stay and is on the road and looking for hand outs, it's common to say that you're "traveling between this place and that place". He thought that I was like this and almost refused to meet with me. There was something in his spirit that told him to do opposite of his first impulse... and the rest is history.

Shawn is back to pick me up so I'll be signing off. Many more stories to come. Love to all.

More pictures posted here:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've arrived

I'm here in and internet cafe in Strand, SA. I haven't yet been able to post pictures so that I can show them here, but here's a link to a facebook album:


I'm safe and sound and will be posting more later.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


God willing I will depart for Africa in just a few hours. This is the site where I hope to post updates and occasional pictures from this trip. E-mail me at or just comments on my blog posts.

Much love,


Saturday, November 1, 2008


Fall in the North

Fall in the North, originally uploaded by JaredsEyes.

yes, blog this too.


A New Blog

I'm considering migrating my blog to greener pastures, and thought this was worth a test.