Climb Every Mountain

Hello family and friends! It has been a while since we have written because we were without internet for about three days and then we were traveling from place to place! Here is a little rundown on what we've been up to:

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Luther

On our writing/relaxing/reflecting retreat at Tsitsikama National Park, we were fortunate enough to stay in ocean-side cabins. Every morning we were greeted by crashing waves and blue skies. One morning, Hannah M. and Allison were woken up by baboons on their bed! If you know the tale, "Five Little Monkeys Jumping On a Bed", this was it. Luckily, no one was hurt and it now makes for a great story! While staying at our cabins we were able to hike. Many of us hiked across a suspension bridge while others went to a waterfall. Needless to say, this was one of the most beautiful places we have been thus far!

Here in Cape Town (where we have been for the past two days) we have been doing some touristy excursions. Today (Friday) we were able to go to the top of Table Mountain, one of the Seven Wonders of Nature. We took a cable car up to the top and were able to explore the view of Cape Town. We were even above some of the clouds in some spots! In one direction, we were able to see the city of Cape Town, in another the Atlantic Ocean, and in another, the clouds beneath us. For many of us, we were amazed at how there can be so much beauty in one place!

These are a Few of Our Favorite Things

We have been to markets, museums and prisons. In all of these things, we have had the honor of meeting and learning from some very special people.

Our first day in Cape Town, we went to an outside market where we were able to buy souvenirs for ourselves, our families, and our friends. We bought a lot of artwork, clothing, and jewelry. It was fun to be able to barter and talk with local vendors. We enjoyed it more than going the stores we have see in malls!

The next day (Thursday) we went to the District Six Museum. District Six is similar to Sophiatown in that apartheid caused thousands of black and colored families to be removed from their homes (which were then demolished) in order to make room for white living. While in the museum, we were introduced to a very special and important man in South African literature: Mr. James Matthews. He was a famous Black Consciousness poet who read his political pieces to the masses during apartheid and was eventually imprisoned for his political involvement. He told us that now that apartheid was over, he has been able to write "love poems" (as he calls them) and recited his favorite line he has written, "I am flushed with the lushness of love".

While in Cape Town, we were able to meet up with yet another Luther grad, Lilianna P. (class of '14). After studying abroad in Cape Town her senior year, Lilianna decided she wanted to return in order to work for an NGO. She spent the day with us and gave us insight to life in Cape Town. Last night (Thursday), Lilianna brought her friend Lorraine, a colored (mixed) South African who has spent her life in and around Cape Town, to talk with us about how the aftermath of apartheid still affects the country economically and socially. It was great to hear another perspective, especially from a local resident.

Today we had the privilege of touring Robben Island, the prison were Nelson Mandela was held for 27 years, alongside Eddie Daniels, a colored man who was imprisoned for fifteen years for fighting the apartheid regime. While in prison, Eddie and President Mandela became close friends. Eddie shared many stories as he led us through the prison, showing us both his and President Mandela's cells. Eddie had the "special key" which allowed us to actually step foot inside Mandela's cell rather than peer through the gated door. The other touring groups were a bit jealous! As we walked around, it was clear to us that Eddie is a still a pretty special man, as the staff on Robben Island greeted him by name. He doesn't give tours very frequently, but because he has come to Luther to speak in the past, we were fortunate to have a connection. As Nancy Barry said in regard to Eddie, "I have a new hero"; he is an inspiration.

On our ferryboat back from Robben Island, we saw many animals! It was almost as if we were on an aquatic safari! We saw ducks, seals, seagulls, penguins, and even dolphins! The highlight was when we saw a baby dolphin leaping out of the water to say hello as we passed by!

So Long, Farewell, "off Kathy" Goodbye

On Wednesday we had to say goodbye to our beloved tagalong professor, Kathy Reed (Martin's wife). We enjoyed our time with her and hated sending her off. Many of us were able to form connections with her during our three week stay and we even called her the "mom" of our trip. Luckily, she made it back safely to the States and we continue to send her warm thoughts!

We leave Cape Town tomorrow to spend our last couple of days at Fish Hoek in seaside cottages. We will be enjoying writing and reflecting on our incredible January journey. We aren't sure when we will post another blog, given that we don't know our future wifi situation. We are set to depart from Cape Town on Tuesday around 7:30 pm and will be connecting through London before arriving in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon.

Thank you for your continued thoughts and dedication to our blog!

Eddie Daniels with the group
Our seaside cabins at Tsitsikama
Robben Island Prison Entrance
The group with James Matthews in the District Six Museum
View from the top of Table Mountain
Our professors: Nancy, Kathy and Martin