Thursday, February 25, 2010

literacy at bonnytoun

I went back to Bonnytoun (awaiting-trial center for adolescent boys) today and worked with a literacy program in one of the dorms, Mars 1. The dorms are named after planets. Mark and I found out a couple hours before the program that we were actually in charge of leading it… So that was a surprise! Mark, eight CIEE Arts & Sciences student volunteers, and I went to Bonnytoun, found the boys... and did the best we could with last-minute planning. There were fourteen boys in Mars 1. First, we did a few ice-breaker games and introduced ourselves. It started out a little rough; we need to think of better games for next week. Once we broke up into smaller groups to read, the program went wonderfully. Annie, a friend in Arts & Sciences, and I worked with two boys, Sabelo and Siyanda. (I finally got their names down, after having each one repeat his name about seven times. Due to the boys’ accents and unfamiliar names, I often have a hard time remembering and pronouncing them correctly!) We started reading The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. The four of us took turns passing the book around and reading excerpts from it. Siyanda wouldn’t read at first, and I didn’t want to push it. Some of the boys at Bonnytoun cannot read at all, and I was unsure of their literacy levels. As Sabelo was reading aloud, however, I noticed Siyanda helping him with words that he was struggling with… so with a little urging, Siyanda joined in reading aloud, too. I convinced him to read just one short page aloud... he ended up continuing for almost half the book. Both of the boys were able to read the book steadily, but slowly, with occasional help. Sabelo is 18, and Siyanda is 17.

I was taken aback by the boys’ attention to the book, and willingness to participate. No matter who was reading, both boys had their eyes glued to the book, following along, sometimes laughing, and helping one another if they struggled with a word. There was not a moment when either boy looked bored or disinterested. They certainly did not have the typical American teenage boy’s outlook on reading. After we finished the book, Annie and I chatted with them for a little while. We asked about what they like to do, where they are from, what they like to eat (Siyanda said “MEAT!” with a big smile.). They both love soccer, and I told them I might be helping out a little bit with the soccer program that Max will be doing twice a week. I told them I’m not very good at soccer, and they quickly told me that they could teach me. Sabelo asked about where we are from, and about snow, which they have never seen. Before leaving, I spoke a little bit of the Xhosa I have learned with them, and they seemed impressed! Both of the boys are Xhosa. I now have more motivation to study Xhosa tonight, which I have been putting off all week. I hope to learn a few new phrases that I can say to them next Thursday.

I’m already looking forward to working with Sabelo and Siyanda again next week, and I’m excited to work on a more beneficial and structured curriculum with Mark. Also next week, I will start teaching classes at Bonnytoun three times a week. Mr. Williams, the educational coordinator is going to pick five boys for each me, Max, and Mark. I will have the boys in class for two hours, three times a week. The curriculum is still in the works, but we are going to focus on creative writing and geography, and the three of us will combine classes sometimes, and have them separate sometimes. More details to come later. The classes we teach will supplement their general literacy and mathematics classes that they are already taking.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

peninsula tour and rugby game

Friday I went to Bonnytoun and met the educational director, Mr. Williams, as well as a few other staff members and teachers. Mr. Williams was enthusiastic about having us work at Bonnytoun, and everyone was welcoming. He is interested in us (me and the two other service-learners that will be working with YIP) teaching small groups of boys in almost special-topics type of classes, on whatever subject we choose. The boys already have classes that go over basic literacy and numeracy, though the effectiveness of these classes seems questionable… but Mr. Williams wants us to provide another dimension to their education, to spark interest and help the boys have more well-rounded knowledge. As of now, the plan is that I will do this three times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10:30 to 1:00. On Thursdays I would stay on and help with the literacy program from 2:00 to 4:00. For the other days and times, I will either be doing research/planning work for a new literacy program, or helping out with other programs that YIP has at Bonnytoun. But of course, plans change all the time, and who knows how I’ll end up spending my time! I am going back to Bonnytoun tomorrow at 10:30 to observe a few of the classrooms, just to get a feel for how they are set-up, run, and how the boys respond to the teachers.

Yesterday we went on a peninsula tour with our driver Mark and tour guide Thabo. Early on, we drove by Pollsmoor Prison, where I was originally hoping to work. Thabo described it as essentially the most terrible place in the world, at least in the men’s sector of the prison. He told us that three main gangs prevail in the prison: the 26s the 27s and the 28s. The 26s just want money, and their activities revolve around attaining money. The 27s want money, but are also more bloodthirsty, so they kill a lot of people. The 28s are homosexuals, and according to Thabo they pick “girlfriends” from new male inmates who they give special treatment (clothing, food, etc.)… provided that the “girlfriend” engages in sexual activity with the 28 member. I would be curious to learn how South African prisons differ from United States prisons.

After driving by Pollsmoor Prison, we stopped at Simon’s Town, which is famous for its population of African Penguins. We walked around and watched the penguins for a while. They were smaller than I expected, and humorous to watch. They didn’t move around much… most of the penguins were just standing or lying down, not a lot of motion. I was excited to finally see the penguins!

View from Simon's Town... one of the first pictures that has (without any color/photo editing!) almost accurately represented the vividness of the scenery.

From Simon’s Town, we drove out to the lighthouse at the Cape of Good Hope. On the way, we saw a group of baboons on the side of the road. We stopped to watch them for a while. One was munching on a cucumber, and it’s funny how human-like the baboon looked while he was eating! Apparently the baboons are very aggressive, and I saw signs all over the places warning people to keep a distance and to NOT feed the baboons. At the Cape of Good Hope, we stopped to take in the spectacular view, and then walked to the top of a peak where the lighthouse is perched. From the top, the view was even more stunning. I’ll let the pictures speak for me.

When we returned to the bottom, we pulled out our lunches to have a quick picnic before heading on the road. As we were eating, we saw a baboon with a baby on her back… before we new it, the baboon jumped out of the bushes behind us and swiped a bagged lunch that was less than a foot away from Max’s hand. Once we settled down from the excitement, we were quickly finishing up our lunches, and the baboon made a second attack and jumped out again. I don’t think she managed to snag anything that time, but everyone in my group let out a scream and started running away. I can imagine the baboon laughing to herself at the sight of us scattering.

From there, we went to another point on the Cape of Good Hope, the Southwestern most tip of the African continent. This was a beautiful place to find a spot on the rocks, watch the waves crash, and just sit in peace. We stayed there for a while.

At night, we went to the Stormers vs. Waratahs professional rugby match. The Stormers are Cape Town-based, and the Waratahs are from Australia. Somehow, CIEE hooked us up with front-row tickets, and this just added to the excitement of the game. I’d never seen a professional rugby game before… and that won’t be the last time. To me, knowing very few of the rules, it looked like chaos. There were so many men on the field, and they mostly seem to gravitate to the same area. And when they battle over the ball, it’s pretty brutal. None of those pads like in football, just contact. The clock doesn’t stop, so the game goes by quickly and isn’t as technical as football. It’s a fun game to watch... and the atmosphere was pretty rowdy. Interesting to note that the crowd was very disproportionately white. I wonder if that is more of a socio-economic status thing, or the nature of the sporting event. The Stormers won!

Jonah, Jesse, me, Tina, and Aly in front of the field, enjoying our front-row seats

Thursday, February 18, 2010

big house and cottage

It's about time I post some pictures of where I live: 6 Chapel Road in Rosebank, Cape Town. It's on University of Cape Town's Lower Campus, and our houses are on the same site as the CIEE Community Engagement Office, where Angela and Ronel work.

The big house. Ten people live here, nine service-learners and our RA, Thandi. Unfortunately, we don't have access to the balcony. Apparently one year a girl climbed on the roof from the balcony and it was a big safety issue, so now they keep it locked.

The cottage, where I live, with six other service-learners. The window on the far right bottom floor is the window to my bedroom.

This picture gives a little better idea of how close together the big house and cottage are, and what our little courtyard area looks like.

My favorite spot to relax - on the cottage porch. Erin was smart enough to bring this hammock from home.

I would include a picture of my room, but I'm too embarrassed by the mess. I'll upload pictures of my room and the house interior another day, when it's cleaner!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

meat in south africa

This post is a little different from the previous chapters of my blog... Because I am beginning to settle into a bit of a routine, my posts will most likely become somewhat more speculative at times, versus just informative. Just a warning to my readers!

A significant aspect of my impression of South Africa so far has been food. Food is a central part of all cultures, and a great way to learn about the values, traditions, and customs of the people. I could see straight away when I got here that South Africans love meat. As a vegetarian (though admittedly a rather loose vegetarian since my arrival here), I was a little skeptical. People in the States love their meat too… and what I didn’t realize at first was how different meat is viewed here. As a result of this recent realization, I’ve come to view meat and meat consumption somewhat differently. I have never been one to think that it is “wrong” to eat meat. Certainly not. But the excessive meat consumption, and despicable methods of the meat industry really turned me off from meat at home. I never thought my eating habits could change the world, but why not remove myself from a system that hurts all parties involved, including myself? So, I stopped eating meat (my reasoning was a little more in-depth than that, by the way... headed by environmental concerns, which are still prevalent in my eating choices but I won't address for the sake of this post).

Here in South Africa, however, I found myself occasionally trying meat as a way of embracing the culture, being open to a new experience. I have only eaten meat if it is a new experience (i.e., I don’t eat hamburgers, but would try springbok). I have sampled oxtail, some sort of traditional lamb/vegetable stew, a gatspy, biltong (the South African version of beef jerky), and the meat at Mzoli’s, simply because it’s the most famous meat restaurant around. But even aside from eating meat as an experiential/cultural act, I have found that generally speaking, meat is not merely eaten, but treasured. My research methods teacher, Cina, was talking about meat the other day in class, and the way she talked about the South African love for meat further led me to question my own eating habits, and my perceptions of meat consumption.

Westernization and modern technology has surely undermined some of the more traditional forms of farming and consuming… but historically at least, South Africans value their animals. Animals are treasured; they are expensive and time consuming, and the act of slaughtering and eating an animal is a special event. South Africans seem to better recognize where their meat is coming from, rather than disconnecting the package in the store from the cow across the street as Americans seem to do so easily. Rather than turning the consumers away from meat, I think this connection and recognition leads to a greater appreciation for the meat, for the animal, and for the process by which it ended up on the dinner table.

I realize that one of my main problems with eating meat isn’t the act of eating meat itself, but rather the disassociation of food from its source. South Africans seem to have a much greater connection to their food, and I admire the way they recognize and value the animals they eat, rather than taking meat for granted as a necessity. If I ever become a regular omnivore again, I will only do so if I can feel such a connection to, reverence toward, and understanding of the source of my food… without it making me squeamish, but instead more appreciative, humble, and respectful in my consumption.

young in prison and xhosa culture


Last Wednesday I met with Chenge from Young in Prison (YIP) about the possibility of working with female prisoners ages 12-21 at Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison. The information was not encouraging. My only options at Pollsmoor Prison would be from 10:00-12:00 daily, and I’m class until 10:00 or 10:30 every day except Monday. Apparently that two hour time slot is the only time of day that the girls are not in lockdown. Can you imagine a twelve year old in 22 hour lockdown daily?

After feeling pretty hopeless about YIP, I went to see St. Michael’s home for abused girls on Friday. We met with the woman in charge, Claudia. The home seems like a really great place… but I didn’t quite click with Claudia, and I didn’t see a clear place for me there. I didn’t get to meet the girls, and I know that would put a different spin on everything, but it didn’t feel quite right. After that, I was getting more and more stressed out and frustrated about service, feeling like I didn't have a place here at all.

This Monday, however, I gave YIP another shot, maybe as a secondary project. We went to the YIP office, which is in a really cool building that apparently has a lot of historical significance (Maybe I’ll get back to that in the future when I know more!). It’s a tiny little office in two rooms, and there are only four full time staff members and two full time interns. I loved it. I loved the atmosphere, and the people, and the unstructured, kind of hole-in-the-wall way that the organization works. Just a few people can really get a lot done. Best of all, I was exposed to many opportunities. Apparently YIP is completely disassociating with Pollsmoor Prison because, sadly, the administration there is impossible to work with and pretty much not allowing YIP to do much of anything. But, the staff member went around and introduced themselves, their field of tasks for YIP, and what we could do with the group. Everything sounded wonderful to me, but one project really stuck out. I, with another guy in my group Mark, will be designing a curriculum for a literacy program for Bonnytoun, an awaiting trial center for adolescent boys (ages 14-18). Bonnytoun is essentially a prison, but, from what I understand, it is somewhat more of a nicer setting, and the boys are given access to various programs that YIP runs. Some of these programs are: magazine making, soccer, Thai boxing, lifeskills, games, karate, and literacy. Many of the boys cannot read, and most of those that can read at a very low level. As of now the plan is that Mark and I will spend a few days in the office, researching, meeting, and doing those sorts of tasks related to designing the literacy program… but I will also be spending a couple days a week on site at Bonnytoun, working with the boys on literacy with the program already in place. Implementing a program is a huge challenge because of the high rate of turnover of the boys, as they go to trial, and new boys enter. The goal is to produce a curriculum for a program that is so specific and clear that anyone can pick it up after we leave and implement the program without us. I’m excited, and I love the combination of work that will have a clear, concrete result, with work that is hands-on and interactive with the boys.

I haven’t seen Bonnytoun yet, but will be seeing it for the first time in about three hours. I will also be going back tomorrow to work with the literacy program. I’m sure I will have more to report on the outlook of my service in a few days.

Classes have moved out of our living room to various locations on or around campus… these locations are temporary until more permanent classrooms are found, so we’re up in the air every day about where we will be meeting the next morning. I’m loving my Xhosa class (language). It’s pretty easy to read Xhosa because it is so phonetic, but we started learning clicks yesterday, and that adds a challenge to the mix. I have learned greetings, and words for family members, titles, and a few other things. (“Molweni,” the opening of my post, means hello to a group of people.”). Yesterday’s class was especially interesting because Tandeka, our professor, talked about various aspects of culture as well. She talked a lot about the significance of clan names. Your clan name comes from your forefathers, and you take the clan name of your father. It is separate from a surname/last name, but you also introduce yourself to others using your clan name. Tandeka emphasized the significance of this, because you cannot marry or have sexual relations with someone of the same clan name, even if they are from another place and you have never met them. If two people have the same clan name, they are considered brother and sister, and any sort of sexual relationship would be incestuous. Tandeka also talked about the significance of traditional healers, and of all the ceremonies performed in the Xhosa tradition.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

high africa, xhosa, and service

On Friday we loaded up the bus, and our faithful driver Mark transported us to High Africa, an “Adventure Camp and Conference Center,” for our Expectations Weekend. We stayed in cabins, did a ropes course, climbing wall, and other fun camp-like activities, made s’mores, and also had several meetings discussing expectations and plans for the semester. On Friday night, I saw stars more clearly than ever before. I could see all the little stars that are usually too small to spot, and I could see the band of the Milky Way with clarity. We saw about five shooting stars, and spent a while trying to pick out constellations. They’re a bit different here than at home, but Orien’s Belt was still clear. It’s a little strange to be seeing the same stars here that I do at home, over 8,000 miles away. I guess I’m really not SO far away, relatively speaking.

One interesting cultural tidbit I picked up was about teeth extraction in the Coloured community in South Africa. Apparently, it is common for coloured people to have front teeth (I think usually the front four, maybe six) extracted. These people then get decorative dentures as a sort of fashion trend (i.e., grills). Angela explained to us the origin of this strange phenomenon. During Apartheid. Coloured communities and schools were provided with more than their Black counterparts. Dental care was provided for Coloured children, but the dental care essentially consisted of yanking out any teeth with the slightest problems. Angela told us how she avoided this fate for a very long time, but eventually went to a dentist and ended up leaving without six of her front teeth. This occurred a month before she was supposed to be in a wedding, so the dental fitting process had to be expedited, which meant it was incredibly painful. She said she was in tears every day for a month.

The drive to and from High Africa was jaw-dropping. I spent most of the ride staring out the window in awe…. I have never seen mountains like that. What an incredible landscape. The mountains here look nothing like my Appalachians.

Yesterday, I had my first class, Xhosa, which is one of the most widely spoken African languages in South Africa. In the Western Cape, Afrikaans is spoken by about 58% of residents, while Xhosa and English are each spoken by about 20%. Despite this breakdown, one can very easily get around and communicate with almost everyone around them speaking exclusively English. Nearly Capetonians can speak English, even if it is not their first or preferred language. In South Africa as a whole, Zulu is the most common language, with Xhosa in second place. These two languages are similar enough that you can understand Zulu if you know Xhosa. Xhosa has clicks in it, which we haven’t gotten to after only two classes. The great thing about it is that Xhosa is completely phonetic, so it’s relatively easy to read Xhosa and pronounce it correctly. So far we have only learned basic greetings. Molweni! (hello to multiple people) I think I am going to like this class. Our security guard, Nopi, who is around from 6 pm to 6 am most nights, is Xhosa and he agreed to help me out if I need a little extra practice!

I’m having a change of heart about my service work. I’m getting really interested in an organization called Young in Prison, which works with youth at Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison here in Cape Town. Another girl in my group, Tina, and I are both interested in working with the girls (mostly ages 12 to 21) that are incarcerated. We will get to see the boys’ part of the prison tomorrow, but won’t gain access to the girls’ section for about a week. I’m not quite sure yet what the work would entail, but I’m getting some ideas. We’re also considering trying to work at St. Michael’s home for abused girls a couple times a week, too, and doing a sort of compare/contrast research project. St. Michael’s has counseling sessions in the evenings that we could aid. We’ll see.

More to come after my visits to Pollsmoor Prison and St. Michael's!

the castle, slave lodge, and parliament

Last Wednesday (Febuary 3) we toured the Castle of Good Hope. It is really more like what Americans would call a fort, and it also housed prisoners. We got to see some of the prison cells. One of the prison cells had a powerful and dark poem carved into the door.

We were then taken to the rooms used for torture. If those in power decided someone was guilty, they would torture them until they confessed. First, they would lash them (I don’t remember how many times, but it was certainly a lot). If they didn’t confess after that, they would hang them upside down for an hour or so… and if they STILL didn’t confess, they would put them in a room with only a tiny little window, and no light otherwise. After all that, if they confessed they would most likely be executed, or punished however was fit for their crime. If they didn’t confess, they would either be executed or sent to Robben Island. (They clearly didn’t go by the “innocent until proven guilty” model).

After the castle, we visited the Slave Lodge, which I thought was one of the most (or perhaps THE most) moving tourist sites we have seen yet. The manners in which slaves were transported was vividly illustrated (with a 15-30% death rate during transport), and the treatment and harsh realities of human slave trade was presented in a powerful series of exhibits throughout the lodge. There was a column with spinning sections that listed names of slaves that had stayed in the Slave Lodge in Cape Town. There was something stirring about reading through these strange names of deceased people who were completely unrelated to my life. I felt compelled to read through them all, to recognize their lives and the suffering they went through at the hands of other humans.

Afterward, we ate at a park a little off Long Street in Cape Town. The park was beautiful and reminded me a little bit of Savannah, Georgia. There were pigeons everywhere, and a few strange, aggressive squirrels. I thought Vanderbilt squirrels were aggressive, but these were a whole other story.

On Thursday we went on a tour of Parliament. We had probably the best tour guide I’ve ever encountered, and I absorbed more information from this tour than I have from most others. He showed us the rooms where Parliament meets, where decisions are made, and where presidents are elected (I THINK it kind of works like this... The people vote for a party. Then, those heading that party, in Parliament I suppose, choose the president. I could be wrong on this). I was impressed with the presence of women’s representation within Parliament. They have a whole Women’s Parliament which meets regularly to address issues specific to women’s and gender topics. Within Parliament itself, 41% are women, which puts South Africa at #3 in the world for female representation. We walked down a hallway that was lined with portraits and brief captions of women that have impacted Parliament and South African politics over the years. I was most intrigued by Helen Suzman. Helen Suzman, a white, English-speaking Jewish woman, was the only woman in Parliament for years in the mid twentieth century, and openly opposed the Apartheid regime. Our tour guide described her as a “thorn in the side” of the National Party throughout Apartheid. I’m hoping to find more information on her.

The room where the president of South Africa is chosen

After Parliament, we went back to Clifton Beach. There are four beaches at Clifton Beach... one for families, a gay beach, and two other less strictly defined beaches. We always go to beach 2, which apparently the guidebook says is for "models and narcissists." We got a kick out of that.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

clifton, lira, and township tour

On Saturday we tried a different beach, Clifton Beach, where we went briefly on one of our first nights in Cape Town. Clifton Beach was MUCH nicer and more “beachy” than Fish Hoek. It was warm, sunny, and only slightly windy… but the water was frigid. To get to the beach, we took the train into Cape Town and then hopped into a minibus to get to the actual beach. It took about an hour of total travel time. After spending a few hours on the beach lounging, hopping in the freezing water, and exploring the giant boulders scattered across the four beaches, we headed back home.

The next day, we went to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to see Lira and Friends put on an outdoor concert at the most beautiful venue I have ever seen. It was the probably the most uplifting, positive concert I’ve attended… Lira’s lyrics and comments were all along the lines of “I’m doing really great,” “You’re beautiful,” and “I love you all.” She’s a very well known artist in South Africa and drew quite a crowd. People around us brought blankets, wine, and elaborate picnics, and everyone was dancing, laughing, and having a grand time. Before the concert started, I walked around the trails of the botanical gardens for a while, and it (like everything here) was stunning. I plan to go back when I have a longer opportunity to appreciate the surroundings. We saw these funny birds that somewhat resembled small wild turkeys, but had spots and little blue heads. I have yet to figure out what they are.

Yesterday (Monday), we wandered up to UCT’s campus club and organization fair. CIEE pays for each of us to join three clubs or organizations. The gym counts as one of them (students have to pay to join the school gym here!), so I plan to do that. I also want to try out the Ultimate Frisbee Club. The girl at the Ultimate Frisbee booth was excited I was an American, because apparently ultimate isn’t as big here as it is in the US! My other club is still up in the air, but there were plenty of appealing options.

Today we went on a township tour, which started at the District 6 Museum in Cape Town. The museum houses various remnants, stories, and information from the removal of black and coloured Capetonians from their homes and into separate townships. We didn’t get enough time to look around, however, and I really want to go back. From there we went to the township of Langa, where our tour guide Tabo (not sure on the spelling there) grew up and lives. He took us to the Langa Community Center, which was a bustling artistic hub where member of the community make pottery, put on theatrical performances, paint, dance, and so on. I took the opportunity to get my mom a souvenir from there (You’ll see it in a few months, Mom!). Before we left, Tabo ran into a man he used to act with, and the man requested our audience while he put on a short solo play. It was quite entertaining. South African theater, in my experience so far, has a distinct flavor that I can’t quite describe.

District 6 Museum

Langa Community Center

Then, we walked around Langa and saw the Love Life Center, which was a big, incredibly nice youth center for the community. Tabo said something about how P. Diddy was there at one point…? They have eight playstations, really bright, nice furnishings, and one of the workers told us they have about 47 youths come in per day (It seemed like a rather arbitrary number to me). The center was really wonderful, but I couldn’t help but think maybe they could have spread the money a little more widely into the community. But, it’s hard to criticize a good cause.

Tabo then took us through the town a little further, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the kids who were walking home from school. They were clearly seeking our attention, giggling, and following by us. They didn’t speak English (It’s a Xhosa community), so we couldn’t talk to the kids, but watching them was enough entertainment for me. We ventured to a small, unmarked, shack looking house that Tabo told us was a pub. I was positive the entire group would NEVER fit into the building, but somehow we managed to comfortably fit in, where we sampled some authentic home-brewed Langa beer. It is called umqombothi ( We passed around a rather unsanitary looking metal bucket filled with a very frothy batch of homemade beer, and drank it communion style straight from the bucket. Based on facial expressions, it wasn’t a big hit with the group, but I kind of liked it personally. Kind of had an earthy, smoky taste to it. Apparently the women will make the beer to earn some extra money, and the men sit around in this pub and drink while they discuss politics, current events, and the movement of the country. Men and women are not permitted to drink together.

Inside the pub... Tabo is on the left, teaching us about the process and significance of umqombothi

Next stop was at Mzoli’s, a widely famous meat restaurant. I did try some meat (chicken and sausage), and it was excellent. From there we headed back to Langa to see the resident healer/medicine man/witch doctor (not sure of his exact title). It was dark and smelled like urine inside his building, and there were animal skins, animal feet, random papers, and various other objects hanging from the ceiling and scattered throughout the room (we even saw lottery tickets and condom wrappers hanging from a clothes line – just to give a further detailed picture of how ridiculous this place was!). We then listened to the man talk about his profession. From what I gathered (he was difficult to understand), he mostly just heals stomachaches and various ailments in one’s love life, such as a cheating spouse, impotency, or unrequited love. I’m 90% sure he was on some kind of drug. It was interesting, but I was also kind of disappointed that he fulfilled the stereotypes of a crazy witch doctor. He did say, however, that he fully agrees that science, modern medicine, and hospitals are necessary. He explicitly stated that he does NOT believe he has the power to help those who are HIV positive, and he said that if someone is very ill he sends them to the hospital.