Rotary AIDS Hike 2006

Leading the Way in the Fight Against AIDS, six international students in South Africa will hike 2010km - from Johannesburg to Cape Town - to raise awareness of the AIDS Orphan Crisis and highlight the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Africa. エイズ問題に関する意識向上のため、5人の国際親善奨学生が、2006年12月、ヨハネスブルグからケープタウンの距離を徒歩で行進します。エイズ撲滅のための道を切り開きます。

Monday, December 18, 2006

Day 3: Vereeniging - Parys

Total Distance Covered: 140 km
Distance Remaining: 1,870 km

We left Vereeniging a little later than planned this morning, but today is our last relatively short day (60km) until the end of the hike, so it isn’t much of a problem. The roads are much better than we expected (wide margins to safely walk in) and there’s very little traffic, so the overall hiking conditions are great. The sun is bright and it’s quite hot today…by the end of an 8km segment we are absolutely drenched in sweat and very much in need of a break.

For the most part, we’re all feeling pretty good physically and some of us are walking with other hikers during their shifts to cover a greater distance while we’re still feeling good and relatively fresh on the hike. One big help is the beautiful scenery…

The first blisters of the hike have appeared! A momentous, but certainly not desirable, occasion. No doubt there will be dozens more. More troubling, however, Jacob’s foot seems to be bothering him quite a bit and he wasn’t able to walk today because of the pain, which is a very serious concern for us so early in the hike. A first year law student with us at Wits, Jacob is a very serious rugby player and is on the roster of both the University of the Witwatersrand’s Rugby Team and the Golden Lion’s – the professional rugby team in Johannesburg. Unfortunately, Jacob fractured his foot in a rugby game not long ago and has been on the mend since. The timing of the hike didn’t allow him enough time to properly heal, but he courageously decided to go on with the charity hike as planned, risking a lot of pain and possible further injury. It says a lot about his character and we’re certainly proud and appreciative to have him with us. Let’s just hope he (and everyone else) remains healthy and uninjured over the next 18 days!

We were amazingly fortunate to have Shell (through the generosity of MC Lamprecht and Andre Strauss) sponsor the petrol for the hike. Without this donation and support, the hike simply would not have been possible as we could not, ourselves, afford the cost of the diesel and gas for our support vehicles.

So, yesterday, while in Vereeniging, we decided to fill up the tanks for the first time. We took the sponsorship letter provided to us by Shell to two of the company’s petrol stations and, despite an hour of explanation and eventually argument over the matter, we were still without petrol. The first manager completely disregarded us and sent us to another gas station for assistance where we were then outright denied assistance by the second manager. NOT A GOOD OMEN to be denied assistance (especially when that assistance is much needed petrol) by your sponsor on the first day of a charity hike that still has almost 2,000km to go. J

Fortunately, after a few calls to Shell we’d worked out a solution and Leslie at the Southern Regional Office kindly offered to help us contact each of the shell stations along our route to secure petrol down the road. We are eternally grateful to everyone at SHELL for their generosity and kindness…none of this would be possible without you.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

By mid-afternoon, we arrived in the town of Parys (pronounced Pa-Rice with a heavy afrikaaner accent). As everyone knows…when in Parys, you MUST see the Eiffel Tower and the Arc d’Triumph!

Hendrik, a local Rotarian, gave us a quick tour of the sites and we were able to get our picture taken at the city’s famous landmarks before heading to our evening’s accommodations. That evening, the Parys Club put on a great braai (the South African equivalent of “barbeque”, although here braaiing is far more a part of everyday life and common cuisine than it is in the states).

At one point, Ikumi impressed the South Africans by fashioning a pair of chopsticks out of two branches and started braaiing with them rather than use the bbq tongs and fork. Needless to say it was quite a cultural experience with 8 Afrikaaners, 3 Americans and a Kenyan watching a Japanese woman barbeque with chopsticks alongside Hendrik (a self-described “real boer”) here in the rural Afrikaaner territory of the Free State. It was a great time and the boerewoers (beef sausage) was delicious.

After the meal, the Parys club surprised us all by donating to the hike. We can not thank you enough for your generosity and kindness…we will not soon forget Parys.

We all spent the night there at the Rotary Lodge…a series of wonderful boma-style lodges renovated and maintained by the Parys Rotary Club to provide low-cost or free housing for local individuals and families in need of shelter. It’s a great program and set of facilities they’re managing…something more Rotary clubs should consider establishing in their local communities.

Despite a few sore muscles and blisters beginning to appear, we’re doing great and feel ready for the road ahead!

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