Pieces of Places

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I was out of breath, and the thin air was struggling to make it through my lungs. This pile of rocks felt like it was endless and I was wondering if there really was a top to this climb. Then the guide said ten more steps to the top and it felt like a life line being thrown out, ten steps is easy. I reach the top and see much of the group sitting on the right and I start to make my way over when the guide stops me and tells me to go left. He says the views are better. I look over and all I see is fog on either side and think I’d rather go sit with my friends, but the guide keeps telling me to go left, so I go left. I walk over to the edge with a few others following behind. I remember I have my friend Danielle’s lunch in my backpack. She’s on the other side so I yell at her and she comes over. We sit down on the edge of the cliff, and the fog starts to roll back. When the curtain of clouds parts the picture it reveals is prettier than any painting I have ever seen. We are surrounded by mountains and cliffs, rivers are running paths through the terrain that lies below, the fog is still around the edges and creates a frame. I sit there amazed and breathless. Words flood my mind as I try to think of some way to describe the scene in front of me. Then my brain settles on something that was said to me a few weeks ago when I was in Cape Town. “God smiled when he made this place”, and I couldn’t think of any better way to describe what was sitting there before my eyes. Then as soon as it came the picture was gone, the fog came in and the view I had just seen would become only a memory. The rest of our group eventually came and sat by us, we sat there for about fifteen more minutes and ate our lunches. There were times when the fog started to to clear and we would get glimpses of the picture, but never again did I see the place for what it truly was.

Last weekend I got to spend four days in The Drakensberg Mountains. I had the pleasure of having my mid-stay orientation there with the four other YES Abroad South Africa students. We stayed at this backpackers lodge that was snuggled in the northern part of the mountain range. The lodge was great and I got to stay in a room at the bottom of a converted silo. The whole place had a great vibe from the music and loft areas to the really great cook who became our groups best friend. The four days were spent mostly sharing experiences and doing little workshops with our really awesome facilitators. On Saturday we went on the most beautiful 24 kilometer (about 15 mile) hike in the mountains which was and this is where I saw the view I described above. I wish I could have gotten a picture in those moments, but I did not. Maybe it’s for the best though because I don’t know if a photo could have done it justice. It was a very long hike though and I do have some other pictures from the hike that do show some of the beauty we experienced that day.

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I climbed down this ladder and it was one of the scariest things I have ever done.

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Standing at the top of the second tallest waterfall in the world, Tugela Falls. Too bad it’s to foggy to see down.

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As I compare this year to that hike I think that I keep seeing glimpses of how beautiful this culture is, every once in a while I see the picture peeking through the clouds. I see it in when the Zulu women greet each other on the street. I see it during chapel we say the Lord’s prayer in five different languages. I see another bit when I watch the girls dancing during lunch. I have seen pieces of the puzzle that are wonderful, but I haven’t seen the entire picture yet. I don’t know when I will see all the pieces fit together. It might not be untill the end of the year or even after I have left South Africa and am back where I grew up . As I go through these next months I plan on enjoying every piece I discover along the way and will treasure each moment I find another bit of this culture that I had not yet encountered.

~Grace

There are a bunch of excuses I could give for why I have not blogged in so long, but to be honest it’s mostly because I am lazy. So I will make a commitment, instead of doing a really long blog that tries to sum up my last month I will do a few shorter blogs over the next week or two to catch up.
These aren’t going to be in any order and will pretty much just be a bunch of random little stories like the one I wrote today, but I hope you all will enjoy them. Also I did not take most of the pictures that were on this post my friend Danielle did! Hope everyone has a fantastic week!

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