Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 14: Soweto

Today, we recovered from the madness that was last night.  We regrouped early at 9 AM and headed out on a tour of the South West Township (Soweto).  It was amazing to see the other side of the city.  We've been in pretty nice facilities and areas this entire time, but we got to see the poverty sticken area of JoBurg. 

We saw a lot and learned a lot.  The biggest hospital in the Southern Hemisphere is actually in Soweto, and many international medical students come there to learn as they are exposed to almost everything.  Right next to the hospital, we were able to talk to a healer who operated our of a small storage closet with various roots and potions intended to heal various cases.  She even showed us a powder called "waking the bull" which is their substitute for Viagra. 

We then were able to walk inside of Nelson Mandela's house that he lived in before and shortly after his prison term.  It was amazing to think I was in the same house that he once lived in.  Actually on that street in Soweto, Archibishop Tutu also lived there.  2 Nobel Peace Prize winners lived within a block of one another on the same street.  Wow.

We then went to another museum depicting the uprising of the Soweto area in 1976.  It was very moving.  The struggle that South Africans had to go through is tough to imagine, and only ended less than 20 years ago. 

We left from there and headed to the Orlando Towers.  It was here that Patrick, Cammy, Allie, Wes, and I bungee jumped 300 feet under the watchful eyes of Mitch and Ron.  Wes and I are terrified of heights.  I walked in to the check in station, and immediately walked out to join Mitch and Ron on the viewing deck.  After watching 3 other jumps and hearing Wes give me crap for walking away, I went back and got strapped up. 

We took a lift up the tower, where we were scared by the lift operator as he shut off the tiny lift.  When we got to the top, I immediately sat down and starred at only my shoes.  Of course, I would have to wait until everyone went and then be up there by myself before I was able to jump.

Patrick was first, and although he was shaking, didn't hesitate a minute and went over the ledge like a champ.  Cammy got a little freaked out, backed away, and then went again.  Kudos to her, I don't think if I backed up, I would have been able to force myself to go again.  Allie jumped off without a hitch.  As soon as Allie left, it was just Wes and I at the top, the two guys most afraid of heights.  To make matters worse, the pump up music they had going up there stopped, so we were forced to sit there in silence, both freaking out.  Wes walked down the bridge sooooooooooooooooo slowly.  You would of though he was in a wedding procession thinking "step, feet together, step, feet together."  He got over there and jumped off.

My turn.  So not only am I now up there by myself, but I'm just insanely jealous of the people on the ground.  I can here Wes yelling at me from the ground below.  I made my way to the jump platform.  The crew was very good.  They went through every check point 3 times to make sure everything was set to go.  It's no wonder why they haven't had an incident in 3 years.  I inched my way to the front and hurled myself over.  I didn't look down until I was actually in the air.  Scariest moment ever and I still can't believe I was able to do it, but I concerred my fear of heights just a little today.  I even got a "When the Yanks Go Marching In" chant while hanging upside down. 

Here are the photos:

Anyways, only two days left before I fly back.  I'll see you all soon.

- Ryan

1 comment:

  1. Glad to know my last........Stay Safe.......comment hit home. I just am glad your mother is not alive!!!! Oh, the way son.......?????