Weigh-in at Halifax: 207.7 pounds (me, not my luggage).
I arrived in Port Elizabeth last night to about a thousand people chanting my name, I was then hoisted onto the shoulders of the crowd, and the party raged all night long. In reality, I was met by Jim* and Amanda with a sign, which was just as good because I do not think that my internal clock has ever been so messed up with when or when not to sleep. I am beginning to get acclimated to the time change here, and did not really have any ill effects. My personal goal was achieved by having an unopened bag of Smart Food travel with me from Antigonish to Port Elizabeth. Mission Accomplished.
The days of knowing when exactly you are going to eat at meal hall are already a thing of the past. Getting caught up with playing with the children and helping out around the different schools makes you forget about that. I did get to sleep-in until 10am so that was pretty sweet, but you eat when you can.
Going to the New Brighton township (or location, as the government calls them) for the first time, did not hit me as hard as I thought it would, it is different for sure, but culture shock has not fully set in. Do I stick out in the township? Absolutely, when Jim and I are the only white people who I seen in the township all day, there is such a racial divide still due to Apartheid, geographical segregation is the epitome of South African cities.
I am also glad that I have a bigger or thicker body than most people here, those who have spoken with Daren and the privileges that physical size creates, I am only thankful now for that talk. I think that also being the only person to be wearing shorts makes people weary.
I am trying to pick-up on the language of the township which is Xhosa, which also presents problems for me because of the use of ‘clicks’ used in some words. The kids have been great with trying to teach me as well. I also had the opportunity today to visit one of the public hospitals, you can count your blessings with the wait times back in Canada, the infrastructure is here in South Africa, but the lack of services and doctors is an eye-opener.
Jim would describe the townships as “the housing being government-made is covered in garbage, but the people are beautiful, where else would everyone say ‘hello’ to you while walking down the street.” Within a day I have only partially experienced this, I can easily say that the people are wonderful. The children are amazing and resilient. Do terrible things happen in the townships? Yes, but wonderful things are happening at the same time. It will take a lot of effort to reverse the effects of Apartheid, especially through a well-balanced multi-pronged initiative, but education is the key. We often view athletics as being a way for some to universities in North America, but in South Africa, education is by far the most important way.
*Jim is my boss.