Greeting from South Africa

Okay so to quickly wrap it up I’m just in love with Africa as a continent, these were the best two countries (Ghana and South Africa) to experience because they were complete opposites yet both were beautiful and breathtaking. I could see myself living in both for different reasons.

Let’s start off with how my trip began a little bumpy; we arrived in the area of our harbor on Thursday like expected and scheduled. So we all woke up at 7 am excited to go to breakfast and get off the boat; we all realized as we were getting up that the boat was still moving meaning we hadn’t gotten into port. Long story short it was too windy to dock in the harbor. We weren’t able to dock until the next day. I guess you learn nothing is certain when you are on a ship and we are at the will of the ocean.

Having our plans a little ruined we decided to take the day as it went so my friend and I decided to go by ourselves and explore. We took the red line tour bus around the city which was really cool. This was a nice and efficient way to get around the city and learn about history. We saw the stadium that was obviously a huge part in the world cup, we saw downtown, went to St. George’s Cathedral which played a big part in their battle for desegregation and the apartheid (this is where Desmond Tutu gave sermons as they were peacefully demonstrating against their government and its corruption). We saw their parliament building, supreme court, president’s house, slave museum, South African Museum, went to a coffee shop, talked to some locals, visited District six which is where all the people got thrown out of their homes in the midst of the corruption, it was the most heavily populated with Black Africans and the government wanted to send a message. It was extremely touching and super informative. We visited the beaches and stopped to take pictures. We ate at a cute restaurant along the beachside and just enjoyed the view. We took a taxi back to the water front and stopped by a couple shops, got cake and tea at this coffee shop place and then headed back to the ship.

My morning started early (Saturday February 20, 2011) at 5:30 am to be exact, we were getting picked up at 6:15 for our SAFARI!!!! When we got there (Aquila Game Reserve) we were served breakfast buffet, we decided to eat outside because the view was absolutely gorgeous, hundreds of thousands of acres of open land, an infinity pool and some lodges for the overnight guests. While I was eating my croissant, I saw an elephant approaching in the distance. Being my favorite animal, I dropped the croissant and grabbed the camera, angry that this man was in front of me but cautious of getting too close because after all the elephant is wild, I moved a little and tried to get a good angle. I was so amazed by how close it was, it seemed to be getting bothered by the constant flashes and noises from all the attention of the various cameras so we put them down and enjoyed the view. This animal is majestic; I saw every deep line with many smaller ones that made its skin look old but cute. Amazed at how it was using its trunk I found myself in awe just starring haha. We finished up with breakfast, took a few pictures, absorbed the view and headed towards the front of the reserve to get in our jeep safari vehicle. Our tour guide was extremely informative. Long story short because I could go on forever… we saw soooo many animals! Giraffes, ostriches, buffalos, rhinos, hippos, baboons, zebras, lions and alligators. There was this one lion that got so close to the jeep, it was kind of scary he just had his eyes on me and was slowly making its way towards us. Needless to say my heart was beating fast! Lol! OOO and I got to feed an ostrich! It was cool! We came back for lunch, went to an ostrich farm (Which is actually where I got to feed them) and then were back on our way to the waterfront. On our way to the ship I saw my second forest fire (1st was in Ghana) kind of crazy, the flames were really intense. When we got back we went to an Italian restaurant that was delicious! We bought some snacks and drinks at the local market and headed back to the ship because the next day we had to wake up really early!

Get excited! Sunday (February 20th) was amazing! Well I woke up at 4am and went SHARK DIVING!!! It was AWESOME! Worth every cent! We drove for about 2 hours (same with the safari) they are kind of a drive away. But anyways, we get to this place and get briefed on what we are about to do. I have to sign a paper that says if I die the company is not liable, I had to fill out who I want to be called in case of death! That is what traveling is all about though right… the adventures? I figured if I lived to tell about it, it would be awesome. It was shark cage diving but they take it really seriously because we are obviously dealing with sharks. And they were a little startled because on the group dive before ours the shark was trying to bite someone’s fingers when they were holding onto the cage. Well I had a blast, we got on a boat, went out for about 15/20 minutes, set out bate and waited for the sharks to come. As soon as we saw a shark I was one of the first to jump in. There are five in a cage and we just get to go under water to watch the sharks closer. They are all great white sharks around that area and the largest one we saw was 12 feet long. We saw four different great whites but we saw them many times. It was a clear day and really easy to see them under water. I was on the end of the cage one time and I saw the shark really close to my face, he opened his mouth and ate the bait right in front of me, pretty crazy!!! We finished up and went back at around 1pm, they had lunch waiting for us and a video of our day. We then went back to the boat because we felt gross with salt water and all so we showered and went out our friends for a nice sushi dinner! We then went to the same coffee place for dessert! It was delicious!

Monday, February 21 2011: I woke up early again! Lol got breakfast on the boat and climbed Table Mountain. It’s this huge mountain and touristy site as well as what seems to be the center of their city. You can see it from pretty much anywhere and way back when most everything in front of it was actually under water and now it is part of their city. Crazy! But anyways it’s normally a 3 hour hike and everyone says it’s like the most intense stair master because it is at a ridiculous incline. Some people die doing it because of dehydration and stuff. Well we went up and then about half way there are two different routes and I decided to take the route along the mountain so that the view was better seen.
After Table Mountain we rushed to our room to get changed and then were on our way to go WINE TASTING! South Africa is definitely well known for their wine and although they only produce 4% of the world’s wine, they are world renowned for it. When Barack Obama was elected president they had South African Champagne! Our guide was amazing… he was really knowledgeable and I learned a lot! I’m pretty much a wine connoisseur now haha. I tried white, red and rose. Five or six wines at each place and I went to three places. I was all wined out at the end haha. I know it’s really not my thing but I thought where better to immerse myself in the culture of wines but South Africa. I wanted to learn how to drink it, how they are made, and be able to differentiate which wine is what. I did really well and learned to appreciate the process of making wine and all the different wines that are in the market. The second vineyard I went to was voted best wine in the world in 2009 (don’t quote me on the year but it was recently). I had South Africa’s special white wine and many red wines. That day we went back to the ship, got ready and headed to an Italian restaurant with a bunch of my friends.

Our last day (Tuesday, February 22) : Woke up a little later… went to get breakfast, had these amazing waffles and went shopping for souvenirs. We ate a nice sushi lunch, walked around and then went back to the ship.

Bye Cape Town!!!

Although it was amazing, it is still extremely segregated, they only became a democratic country in the late 80s/early 90s and went away from their apartheid movement and although now more socially acceptable to mix between their different sectors (black, white, colored and indigenous) as they call them, economic equality is still extremely far from evident right now. I liked Ghana for that reason because everyone acted the same towards each other and politically they seemed to have less corruption and if there are problems people are more willing to talk about it where here it seems more hushed and swept under the rug. They have a long way to go but it is a beautiful country with amazing views, nice people and a great vibe.