South Africa: The Mountain, part 1

I’m sorry for the delay in posting. I’ve had some technical difficulties, but finally gotten them sorted out. Because of that, I’m a few days behind in my postings. This post covers my experiences for Saturday and Sunday. I’ll post again about the past few days, but it continues to be amazing.

Yesterday (Saturday), I didn’t have anything planned that I had to do. I spent the morning sleeping in a bit, and then decided to hike Lion Head mountain. I’d heard that it was an easy hike with amazing views. I was doing good for a while until the path turned into a ledge cut on the side of the mountain with some scrambling up rocks. When I first saw this, my heart started racing. I managed to push past my fear several times. Finally, I reach what I would refer to as the mane of the lion, and decided that was far enough for me. There was a nice plateau where I could set up my tripod, and take some amazing pictures I can stitch together into a panorama.

Sometimes we push past our fears. Sometimes our fears are trying to tell us something. Sometimes we aim to summit the mountain and still fall short. It doesn’t always happen in a day. The circumstances aren’t always right, sometimes we aren’t in the right place. But even though I fell short, I celebrate my effort and my personal growth. In many ways, this entire trip has felt like that: pushing myself up the mountain…pushing past my fears. Tomorrow is a new day, and I get to try again. This time, I have a guide as I hike to the top of Table Mountain, the centerpiece of Cape Town.

After hiking Lions Head, I had time to spend with one of the new friends I’ve made through dancing here. Hillary is one of those beautiful Christians that lives her life as an example of what Christianity can be at its best. I had originally planned to see a big band concert, but it was sold out. So instead, we managed to just barely catch the sunset over the Atlantic before getting dinner, and then heading out to a club to swing dance. While the tourist experiences here are amazing, the best moments keep coming from the locals.

Which brings me to today. This morning, I visited Hillary’s church, an Anglican Church that reminds me of the small and diverse congregation at Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church where I work. After the service, I helped her bake in preparation for a tea she was hosting, but had to head out before the tea to get to the Langa township for a concert. On my first day here, I met a lovely young woman who mentioned the concert. I had given her my card, and asked her to email me the details. The concert was amazing, and a highlight of my time here.

Before the main group, two local groups part of a collective called Langa Arts performed. Thami, the woman I had met, was the singer for the marimba band. She is a dynamite powerhouse. I was blown away. And to state the obvious, I’m not blown away easily. After those two groups, a third band that had been brought in from France performed. They were a Voodoo funk band, really an Afro-funk band. Everyone was dancing, including me. One of the older women from the township started teaching me to dance. It felt wonderful to be immersed in this world and let myself go.

I am ever grateful to all of the people I have met here who have embraced me so whole heartedly. All of my most amazing experiences are things I would never have found researching on the Internet. Baltimore will always be my home, but there is something in this place that calls me to be a part of it in some capacity. I can’t help but think that this is what love is at its core: when you open your heart to the world, and the world opens its heart back.

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