Sunday, February 3, 2008

Cape Town

Table Mountain is a natural landmark
of Cape Town, South Africa. Clouds spill
over the top giving the illusion of a tablecloth.
One retreat sister described it perfectly when
she said it was sensuous.
(Please click on pictures to view larger image.)

My home away from home in Cape Town
District 6 Guest House
(Table Mountain in background)
The first days of the retreat were spent
touring sites in and around Cape Town
as well as getting a sense of local culture
and past/current political and social issues.

Simons Town

On our way to the Cape, we stopped for lunch in Simons Town.

Diners include
Sally, Lucie,
Sandra, Marianne
and Cherie.

African penguins (doing their yin and yang “thang”!)

Sticking my tootsies in the Indian Ocean!

Cape of Good Hope

Lucie, Cherie,
yours truly,
and Sally.
As many of
you know, this
is NOT the southern
most tip of Africa. Rather the south-western most tip.
But it was still thrilling!

All roads seemed to lead back to Cape Town! Here we're atop Table Mountain...
Cape Town below as well as Robben Island - where Mandela was imprisoned - visible in bay

Robben Island

Nelson Mandela's cell on Robben Island.

Exercise area near Mandela’s cell where prisoners relayed information to each other by inserting messages in tennis balls that would then “accidently” get lobbed into other areas of the prison.

Prisoners were segregated by race, with black prisoners receiving the fewest rations. Political prisoners were kept separate from ordinary criminals and received fewer privileges. Mandela, as a D-group prisoner (the lowest classification), was allowed one visitor and one letter every 6 months. Most letters were made unreadable by prison authorities and visitors turned away without prisoners’ knowledge. 3,000+ men working to abolish apartheid were incarcerated as political prisoners on Robben Island.
Quarry where Mandela and other prisoners physically picked away at stone while mentally and spiritually continuing to spearhead the struggle against apartheid.

Though I have yet to read it, "A Long Walk to Freedom" is said to be a stellar account of Mandela's life, written in great part during his imprisonment on Robben Island.

Back to Cape Town

Cape Town Harbor -- A harbor seal welcoming us back! We thought we might never see land again after 40-plus knot winds threw us up and down and up and (burp!) down from Robben Island back to shore.

Statues near Cape Town harbor of notable

South Africans including

Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela

and F.W. deKlerk.


The Sister Sojourner Retreat "officially" began at Volmoed Center located just outside Hermanus.

View from my window at retreat center outside Hermanus. Many vineyards and fruit farms line the countryside in this area of South Africa. (The retreat accommodations were great IF you weren’t looking for luxury rooms, TV and high speed (or any speed!) internet hookup!)

I did not take this photo. It's from an online site, but will give you an idea of the beautiful Hermanus coastline,
an area famous for whale watching. The last two mamma whales and their calves moved to other waters just two days before we arrived. Bummer!

Sally, Lucie, Fikile, Jackie and Nomsa during one of the retreat
sessions in the lovely chapel at Volmoed.

Sisters at lunch in Khayleithia (on our way to Hermanus...)

Retreat sisters, Ayanda & Lungi,
with two new beautiful faces of South Africa.

A bridge on the property some duck friends shared with me (but were apparently camera shy!). By the way, see the high point on the right? We climbed it! (No, not me and the ducks! The retreat gals.) On a clear day you can see the ocean more than 8 kilometers away.

Sojourner Sisters (in background Shirley, Bomoyi, Cathe) Jackie, Lucie, Sandra, Wethu and Fikile. -- By the way, Fikile was also one who climbed the cliff! We called her Mama Africa. --

The retreat was an amazing spiritual experience. A time with new sisters from the States and South Africa who are now and will forever be a part of me.


The following photos were taken during my visit to Hospice in the West in Krugersdorp, the sister hospice to Alive Hospice in Nashville, TN. This marked a journey I'd been trying to make for several years.

Rhoda – A Hospice in the West patient. She lives in a squatter community the government
promises is only temporary.

She is HIV positive, but has found renewed health and hope
through the tireless efforts of hospice sisters (nurses are called sisters in this area).

Rhoda's home which she shares with her 13 year old son. My traveling friend/photographer has amazing photos that better capture our hospice patient visits. Once she has them sorted out, I will be happy to share them with you if you are interested. (Don’t let the outside appearance fool you…each home we saw was impeccably neat and clean – and reflected the personality of those living there.)

This is Isaac, another hospice patient with HIV. He is also diagnosed as schizophrenic, but is the most joyful person I may have ever met! We visited two other patients during our time with Hospice in the West. The message we came away with is in a word, Hope. Hospice gives people hope by easing physical symptoms and increasing their sense of worth and presence in the world.

Joe and the young woman pictured here are "mentors" representing Hospice in the West. Their job is to educate the medical community and patients/families about the benefits of hospice/palliative care. Unlike the States, in SA hospice care is not limited to patients with a prognosis of six months or less. Joe actually came to the States in 2007 and loved every minute! He visited Alive Hospice in Nashville, TN, and attended a hospice/palliative care conference in Washington, D.C.

Remembrance Wall at Hospice in the West facilities.

Kruger Game Reserve

Now what you've all been waiting for! Lions and tigers and bears…oh, my! Okay, at least lions.

Through no fault of this bird, I've forgotten its name. Anyway, hope you've enjoyed these close-ups. Because until I get photos from my photographer friend who used fancy-smancy lens, you’re going to have to squint real hard to see…

a giraffe…(Just to the left of the big tree atop the hill. Come on! You’re not trying!)

…a hippopotamus (Hey, what can I say?! He wasn’t READY to get out of the water!) While you’re laughing, here’s a bit of trivia to chew on. The Big Five in gaming consists of the lion, the African elephant, the African buffalo, the leopard and the rhinoceros. The members were chosen for the difficulty in hunting them, not their size, which is why the leopard makes the list and the enormous hippo does not. Maybe that explains why he’s hiding in the water. Whatever…

Speaking of rhinoceros – official members of the Big Five, that’s two of them under the tree. Well, they are! Okay, let’s move on…

Impala – Kruger recently had amazing amounts of rain, very unusual for this area, and locals said it was most uncommon to see the plains so green.

Zebra and African Buffalo…I think. Hey, that’s what I was told so we’re gonna have to trust on this one. Again, when Cameron, my hero with the camera, has her shots ready for viewing, I’ll pass them along.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ah, there she is, my ole buddy, my pal with the great camera and photographic eye! That’s Johan and Barbara from Hospice—just before we all went inside the lodge to find that yet again there was no power. Fortunately though we were not among the 900 people who were stuck on Table Mountain until 1 in the morning due to power outage. That might have been a liiiiittle scary.

Thanks to all who supported me making this trip. Including this amazing lady, Naomi Tutu.
For without her, none of it would have happened. Hugs, Sister Naomi.