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  • Writer's pictureCassie Stockamp

Oh Africa...

In Chobe National Park in Botswana, the safari guide pointed to the star on the farthest right point of the kite and drew a straight line to the farthest left star on the kite and then continued the imaginary line out into the black sky. He pointed to the two brightest stars above the kite and drew a line between them. At the center of those two stars, he drew the imaginary line straight down, and where that line crossed with the kite line we found due south. The Southern Cross.... As we dropped our heads back and peered into the diamond filled sky, it was if you could dip your hand into the Milky Way and pull it into your chest. The sky felt more vast than I had ever experienced before...

And now for the heavy stuff. I can’t claim to understand the systematic racism that is still prevalent post apartheid in South Africa. Many whites feel like they are being discriminated against, yet are the ones living in the beautiful homes in clean, safe neighborhoods and hold good paying job.... Most of the blacks have homes in the townships.The slums. People fall into the groups of: Black, White and Colored. Colored is the term used for people that are the prodigy of black and white marriages. My white privilege has never been so apparent and yet, as a tourist, so cloaked. I wonder how to reconcile it all. I can only assume that the people here are not unlike the way I, and many of us live back at home in the USA - numbed to the institutional racism and unclear how to unwind centuries of oppression. In my mind, becoming aware of social injustice brings responsibility and the question I’m grappling with is, “How do I live with this expanding awareness moving forward.....?”

Meanwhile, I was picked up in Cape Town by an amazing couple that rounded out my last stay while in Africa and discovered that they had taken their family on a year long bike trip across Africa. Of course they did!

Dad is a peaceful meditator and has completed an Iron Man.

Mom has completed a 90K/55 mile ultra running race.

Eldest daughter is am amazing cartoonist and illustrator. You should check out her amazingness (is that a word?!) at Oh, and she created her own personal grueling competition and ran, swam and biked 2,000k around the South Island of New Zealand.

Youngest daughter just completed her degree in fine arts in Sweden. Her work randomly hangs around the house. I feel like I’m at the Tate Gallery. In awe.

How did my volunteer picking find this amazing group of humans!?

I borrowed their Surly touring bike to ride the 2.6 miles to the craft cafe - a cafe that hires people with disabilities, founded by the mom of the family. Now you must know that crafts are a thing here in South Africa, and many women take great pride in their creations. The true focus of the cafe is the hiring of disabled adults of all ages and walks of life and train them to be the servers and kitchen staff. The NGO founder is an OT who had worked extensively with the disabled and saw a gap.

Lucky me as I found another interesting and meaningful volunteer experience at Lucy G Craft Cafe!

And while in Cape Town I was stopped by a pinched nerve in my lower back that truly unnerved me... This kind family nursed me, and after a few days of immobility and pain, I was reminded that there may be more to my back than just a pinched nerve. Now some of you know I am a bit woo woo, so I googled Louise Haye and found that lower back issues may be a symptom of fear around money or feeling financially unsupported. So interesting.... I have done some tough work around money after going through a business bankruptcy and then a divorce which found me - both times - financially starting over. I have recovered to a place where I have more than enough and try to focus on the abundance of the world, but it seemed that my back was telling me that I had more work to do around that issue, so... Meditation, a bit of journaling and time to reflect on my thoughts about how money shows up in my life was how I used my “down time.” After few days into it (along with some acupuncture), I slept through the night without having to take any pain meds... I’ve found that deep dives always lead to some kind of release whether it be physical, psychological or spiritual!

So Africa has been more than expected spanning the range of being delighted by an amazing shiny city, to feeling overwhelmed at the blatant poverty and trying racism, to being in awe when seeing herds of wild animals, to feeling the pain of lepers, to being full of delight when viewing the soaring coast line and mountains, to the frustration of political corruption, to..... Oh Africa.

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