August 11, 2008

Semester at Sea - South Africa

So I am going to actually post my journal entry here instead of attempting to rewrite all of it....enjoy!

I am in love with South Africa! I donít just mean that it is a nice place and I had fun; I mean I am in love with it. I could definitely see myself living there. I will definitely go back. I think everyone should go.

So, we all woke up at 5:30 or 6am to see the sun rise over Table Mountain in the bay of Cape Town. It was so pretty. I am glad that I did it. I probably wonít be doing it again, but it was worth it. Then, I went back to bed. That day was really fun. I was by myself. The shopping is so CHEAP! And the mall is directly outside the shipís dock. I went by myself because I learned quickly that shopping in a group accomplishes nothing. It was really fun. That night I went to see a play. A Midsummer Nightís Dream in an outdoor theater. There was a wonderful wine and cheese reception for us on arrival. It was definitely a Karen night. Sandy and Jennie got busted for videotaping during the performance. I think Sandy even got the bust on tape! At the play Susan met some people from Ireland who couldnít believe that US students could go to Cuba and bring back cigars. It was neat to hear someone elseís perspective. During the play I think I caught my production professor sleeping!

The next day I went to Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve which is about 4 or 4Ĺ hours north of Cape Town. We drove through these massive mountains and it was so cool but kind of scary because we were on narrow and twisty roads on the edge of the mountain in this big bus that could hardly make it up. Fortunately, our AC worked because it was so hot. We actually had to switch our bus at first because our AC wasnít working on the original one. We all napped a little on the bus but Janet totally passed out. She had her head back and her mouth open and it looked so funny. Dave thought it would be funny to put a gummy letter in her mouth. It stayed in her mouth for a while and sort of sucked on it. We took pictures and laughed so hard we cried. She woke up and was a little mad that we put the candy in her mouth but I donít think she knew about the pictures. Anyway, I had never been to the desert before. It was so pretty. Everything was different shades of rust. It is currently summer of South Africa and is NOT the time to go if you canít stand the heat. It was the hottest place I have ever been in. it was so hot. I was sweating in places I wasnít aware had sweat glands. Anyway, we were literally the only ones around for miles. When we arrived they had these delicious drinks waiting for us. Sort of like a champagne fruit drink. There were fruit chunks on the bottom too. I liked that. They also had some snacks out. The food at this place was fantastic. We stayed in these chalets which were like little lodges for about six people. I had to evacuate my room because some large bugs had died in the corner and an army of ants were busy getting dinner. They were all over our beds. This was just in my room that I shared with this girl Veronica. It figures that my room would be the one with the bug problem. Plastic cups were not included in the price of the chalets! Fortunately, my friend Janet had two extra beds in her chalet and we moved there. She and I shared a room and she was my personal exterminator for the evening. She escorted these big hairy spiders outside. I didnít sleep well that night. The pool was beautiful. It was a bit of a walk and we were on top of the Cedarburg Mountains, so high up that our ears kept popping. We did go on a walk at sunset. It was great. It was mostly downhill and we got to take jeeps back up. We walked to this amazingly huge canyon and watched the sunset. It was so amazing. It was a giant fireball. We even saw a zebra. That was very cool. The zebra is friends with this donkey and they are always together. The ranger said you never see one without the other. My friend Trina says they have jungle fever. We also went star gazing since there are no lights anywhere near us. I saw Saturn and its rings and I also saw Jupiter minus the big red spot. We went on a night drive through the reserve but only saw springbuck which look like deer, and an owl. Trina got to hold the spotlight to look for animals but she kept shining it in Daveís eyes, unintentionally of course. Lauren got to sit next to the driver who was totally flirting with her so he didnít do as much guiding as he could of! At one point we got too close to the side of the road and a big bush smacked me in the face. It was pretty funny. Our morning began with a delicious breakfast and what was supposed to be a short walk of about 15 minutes. It was a very long walk of more like 40 minutes. Then we visited the Bushmen or the Sans people just like in National Geographic. It was interesting but I felt like they were putting on a show for us. I didnít believe for a second that was where they really lived and was sort of disappointed by that. Of course we were invading their privacy and they did get money off of us. I bought a painted rock that I am using as a bookend. I bought my mom a bottle filled with different colored pretty sand in it. The Bushmen were all so short. On the ride home we stopped at an open air farm museum which was interesting but I could have lived without. Then we went for a wine tasting. It was okay but it was supposed to be some of the best. Everything tasted a little too woody and my favorite was a white wine which really surprised me. We got back to the ship at about 5pm and wanted to go to an authentic African restaurant. It was 8:30pm and everything seemed closed down. It was so dead. I was shocked. Dave spotted a bar called Bobís Bar and Bistro and really wanted to go there. We walked over and when we got to the front door all these heads turn and stare at us. They were all men and checking out Dave. We were all laughing hysterically that Dave would spot a gay bar. Then they wanted to go to this place called The Purple Turtle which looked like some kind of burger joint. Janet and I didnít want to go there since we donít eat meat. As we turned the corner to the entrance some guy thrust himself out the window to hock a loogie onto the sidewalk directly in front of Trina. He didnít see us so that was cool and he apologized. But we decided it was too dark and dank and loud to go inside. We headed in the direction of Adderly Street which is supposed to be the main street in Cape Town and we were so hungry that we decided to stop at the first place we found. That place happened to be The Holiday Inn. We felt so stupid eating at The Holiday Inn restaurant listening to American music while in South Africa. But Trina had the worldís greatest milkshake, so it was worth it. We also ate on the patio, which overlooked Green Market Square, which was neat but the market was closed. After dinner we went back to the ship. Dave went out to a bar for some girlís birthday and Janet wanted to have a relaxing night to catch up on her journal, so Trina and I went out. We didnít really feel like looking for Dave and we didnít make much of an effort. We ended up going to this great jazz bar called The Green Dolphin.

The next day my friend Janet and I went sky diving. SO FUN!!! I totally recommend it. I am so spoiled. I got to go sky diving in South Africa. We made reservations and a van picked us up along with a kid named Todd from Nebraska. He seemed pretty cool. The day started out foggy but ended up nice. We took a nice drive, about 45 minutes, out of Cape Town and went to this big garage. They were unable to provide us with a video cause they were so busy but I didnít mind too much. Janet didnít bring our receipt for proof of payment so we almost didnít go but luckily they believed us. We were told that all of the equipment was made in the US and that if the main parachute doesnít work that there is a back up and should something happen to our tandem master (the guy strapped behind us) that the parachute would automatically go off at a certain point. Anton was the man in charge and even wore a shirt that had ĎAnton in chargeí on it. He was crazy but fun and he got us all strapped up. I went first and he complimented me by telling me that I hadnít been eating my porridge because I was tiny. The harness was so tight that my posture was bent and I walked funny. Janet said I definitely had a bubble butt. Janet went with a man named Edgar who was so cool. My tandem master was named Chris. We had to run to the plane, which was about to take off without us because I wanted to pee one last time before we jumped. The plane was so small. It was crammed full and there were 7 of us including the pilot. We all sat on the floor. At least the door to our plane closed. Sandy said that her plane didnít have a side door and they just had an open hole on the side of the plane. Chris was wonderful. We had to sit close together so I sat between his legs and he just put his arms around me and held me or rubbed my arms to calm me down. He could tell I was nervous. He started dancing in his seat and I started to dance too but he told me not to dance too much because I might arouse him! more compliments. I felt very safe and completely trusted him. I was so in love with him. There was a bit of a misunderstanding and he had to pretty much throw me out of the plane because I left my foot in too long. He just lifted it up and threw it out. It was so much fun but really scary. How insane to actually throw yourself out of a plane! We were at about 9,000 feet. Janet watched us exit the plane since we went first and she said that we flipped backwards. Chris told me that we would feel weightless and like we were floating. I felt weightless but not so much like I was floating. I felt all the wind. It was so hard to breathe and I felt all this pressure on my chest. My mouth was so dry and the only time I could breathe was when I opened it but when I opened my mouth, it blew up like a puffer fish. It was cool but really scary. Janet said I screamed but I donít remember. When the parachute opened, I expected there to be a big jerk but there wasnít. It was very smooth. There was about 15 seconds of free fall and maybe a minute or two of parachuting. It was too short. I could see everything including Table Mountain. It was so fun. Chris even helped me take a picture of us up in the air. He asked me if I liked the view from his office. I told him that I was jealous of his job but I donít know if I would really like to take people sky diving for a living. He did say that one of the perks of his job was free and constant air conditioning. When we landed, Chris gave me hug. I love him. He even played bumper parachutes with Todd and his tandem master while we were in the air. It was brief though but very funny. After that, we ate a local African restaurant called Mama Africa located on Long Street. I had this yummy grilled butternut squash with cheese and spinach and mushrooms. It was definitely the best mean I have had to far. Sandy and I split an appetizer of mussels in coconut sauce. Delicious. My friend Dave had this wild game dinner. It had the crocodile and springbuck and ostrich and other sorts of safari animals Nasty. Dinner was accompanied by an African band with lots of drums. It was perfect. Then we went back to the Holiday Inn to get more of those perfect milkshakes. They werenít as good as they were the day before but we werenít going to let that ruin our perfect day. We went to a club called Club 169. It was so hot and crowded and only mildly fun. I did meet this cute boy though, unfortunately named Mike, who is also 23. we were both so happy to have met another older person. He was really sweet and really cute. We went home at about 1am and Janet, Dave, Trina and I decided to meet the next morning to go to Cape Point.

On the next day, my friends Janet, Dave, Trina and I went on a tour of the Cape Point Peninsula. It is the southernmost part of Africa and the place where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. Dave and I went to the tourist office early in the morning to book our trip. In our down time before the tour began I called Rick who said that I had a birthday card following me around the world cause he kept missing the deadline. The four of us killed some more time by going to this huge flea market. We paid for a van to take us all of 4 blocks cause we werenít sure where it was. But it was really cheap. The flea market was outside and was so freaking hot. We didnít stay too long and decided to eat lunch on the ship in the air conditioning to save money. Trina was telling us that she got her eyebrows waxed and her feet done and Dave thought that meant she got her feet waxed. We all had a good laugh over that. Our tour was so fun even though we all slept in the van. Luckily a few other people were on our tour so the driver didnít feel totally stupid. We stopped at Boulder Beach and played with the penguins. Well, it was more like we chased them and they ran away from us. They smelled bad. We also got to see ostrich and baboons. It was really windy and extremely gorgeous. When we got back, Dave went out and Trina, Janet and I went out for pizza and had a good bonding night. We all want to have summer reunions in South Africa.

The last day in Cape Town was spent visiting Robben Island where Nelson Mandela served 27 years as a political prisoner. It was really interesting. It was the four of us again. That was my little South Africa group. We were the only Americans in our group. Janet had overslept and was really cranky because we had to rush to catch the ferry. Dave was getting annoyed with her and said if she remained crabby that we would all run in the direction of the sun so that she would have to follow us. She is extremely sensitive to the sun. Our tour guide was a former political prisoner which I thought was cool. We were so glaringly American though especially because Dave was busy stuffing his face with Corn Pops while we were being told how little the prisoners were fed. Of course, in all of our inappropriateness, we thought that was funny. We are all going to hell. We went to Table Mountain next. The three of us girls opted not to hike it while Dave braved the heat and the climb. We didnít get to stay long because the winds were picking up and the last cable car had to leave. The rest of the night we shopped. I ended the night with a delicious blackcurrant frozen yogurt cone.

Of course, this is only a brief summary of what we did. I had so much fun and canít wait to go back. There are so many flea markets but it was so hot to spend a lot of time at the outdoor ones. We were supposed to be going to Kenya but due to current political conditions it was deemed unsafe to go right before we left the Bahamas. All I wanted was a safari to make my African experience complete. Now we have to go to the island of Mauritius, which no one has ever heard of and no one thinks it could ever measure up to Cape Town. I am sure we will try to make the best of it.

Enjoy the pics!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/14203806@N00/sets/72157606671129701/

Posted by karen at August 11, 2008 01:06 PM
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