Next stop: South Africa πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦


It’s been 6 months now since I left home and I’m presently visiting my 6th country on my itinerary, South Africa. So far my journey has been way above my expectations. The people I’ve met, the places I’ve seen, the cultures I’ve come across, have all changed my perspective on life. This experience has open my mind and my heart on a whole new level. I’ve learned to fully embrace every day, to appreciate the little things life gives us and to simply be happy! 😊

Ok enough with the cheesiness! 😝

I arrived in South Africa at the end of February to attend the Ultra electronic music festival, which I’ve been impatiently waiting for since last year! After having spent six months in developing countries arriving in Johannesburg (the largest city in the country) was a bit of a reverse culture choc, but at the same time, it felt good to be in a familiar environment. Flashing my Canadian flag throughout the festival was an easy way to make new friends, but also a great way to get the attention from the DJ’s. I must say I was pretty stunned when Skrillex yelled “Canada is in the house!!” during his set!! πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

After the festival, it was now time to start my second volunteering project. I am currently based in Soweto for the next few months. Soweto is a large township outside Johannesburg with a population of two million (Soweto stands for SOuth WEstern TOwnship). It was originally developed in the early 1900 for the black population who were working in the gold mines. Soweto is also famous for being the hometown of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu; both Nobel Peace Prize winners. Despite being strongly affected by the apartheid, Soweto is now a modern and touristy place. I’ve been living here for three weeks now and I’m already feeling at home.

I am presently working at the Othandweni orphanage, which means ‘Place of Love’ in Zulu (one of the eleven South Africa official languages). There are 90 children living in this lovely government-funded children home. I’m mainly in charge of taking care of the babies in the nursery (bathing, feeding, changing, playing) but I also spend time with the older kids helping them with homework, house chores or simply being a shoulder to lean on. My goal for this project is to give as much love, attention and care to those beautiful little souls. These children all have different past and individual stories but they are all looking for the same things: affection, friendship and love.

“Give your hands to serve and your heart to love.” -Mother Theresa

Surfing the world from couch to couch

After a few weeks of traveling on my own, I was kind of fed up with loud hostels, grocery food and having the same conversation with every traveller I was meeting ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Where are you going?’ Blablabla! I didn’t want to be a tourist anymore. I wanted to meet locals and experience their culture. This is when I got the idea of Couchsurfing. My only past experience has been with my big sister RenΓ©e in New York City, 8 years ago. Since then, she has been traveling this way all around the globe. I decided it was now my time to give it a try!

Couchsurfing is a hospitality exchange network where travellers crash for one night or more on locals’ couch, floor or bed if you are lucky enough to have a guest room! Through the Couchsurfing website or mobile app, surfers browse, find a host and request their stay. On their side, hosts read the profile and references of the surfer and decide whether or not to accept him or her as a guest. The concept is free of charge but normally the surfer will thank the host in some kind of way (by cooking a local dish for example). The Couchsurfing culture is all about meeting new people, discovering new cultures, visiting new places and sharing the same passion for traveling with others.

I began surfing in Kenya and then South Africa. So far, I only had very positive experiences! Couchsurfing gave me the opportunity to stay in a house five minutes from the Indian Ocean, to go hiking with my host and her 7 dogs, to jump out of an airplane for free (thank you Skydiving Diani!), to party my head off at the Ultra South Africa music festival, but most of all, to meet amazing people from all around the globe with whom I share great memories and friendship.

From now on, I will definitely continue to surf couches across Africa, but also during my future travels. There’s nothing better than experiencing the culture through locals. Couchsurfing is a fun, economical and exciting way of traveling. You never know where you’ll end up staying for the night or what kind of bond you will have with your host. All you need is an open mind and a vigilant attitude. According to their website, there are now 10 million members in more than 200,000 cities! There is a home for every traveller in this world, which one will be yours?