I arrived about a week ago in Cape Town after 34 hours of travel. This past week has been unforgettable and full of breathtaking experiences. I would have to write a novel to share everything about this amazing place, but for the sake of this blog I will try to be brief!
Day 1: Arrived in Cape Town! Met by my friend and gracious hostess, Jessica, a good friend from college who has spent the last month working at the University of Cape Town. We spent the evening at a local restaurant eating pizza and watching a soccer scrimmage between South Africa and Colombia...with South Africans and Colombians. It was a rowdy and exciting game and group to watch the game with!
Day 2: Went to a cheetah sanctuary and pet a real live cheetah! Such beautiful animals. Also went through an African bird sanctuary and saw lots of incredible birds. We then went to the Victoria and Alfred waterfront and spent the day walking around there. It is very close to the newly built World Cup stadium and the site for a lot of the tourist traffic they are anticipating.
Day 3: Theme of the day...baboons and penguins! We drove all along the coast and one of our first stops was Boulders Beach, known for the flock of African penguins that call it home. They were adorable! Could have watched them all day.
We continued our drive along the coast and headed to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. Our eyes were peeled the entire time as we scanned for the baboons of which signs every few kilometers warned us about...and finally we saw a pack of them! Just walking along the highway as if we were guests driving on their road. Freaking out and photo snapping ensued.
We arrived at Table Mountain National Park and hiked up to Cape Point, which is the south-western most point of Africa. It was absolutely breathtaking and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The Cape of Good Hope was just as spectacular and known as the convergence point of the Atlantic and Indian seas.
On our way out, we had an ever more exciting and dramatic encounter with the baboons! We discovered a patch of traffic (mind you...we are out in the middle of nowhere) only to find that the baboons were the source of the hold up. About 15 baboons had taken over the road, and one Alpha baboons was claiming ownership over a vehicle by sitting on top of it! Two girls about our age apparently hadn't gotten the memo that baboons are dangerous wild animals and had been out of their car and so the troop began to wreak havoc on their car...we even saw one try to open the car door! (Fortunately they had locked it). Seeing as they didn't seem TOO dangerous, we snapped a bunch of photos and I ended up getting pretty close to a relatively tiny baboon preoccupied with some food. The park staff ended up coming to chase the baboons away with large sticks, the girls got in their car, and we took off with about 30 more photos on our cameras.
We ended the day with a seafood meal at sunset at the marina in Simons Town.
Day 4: Highlight of Day 4 was riding the tram up to the top of Table Mountain to see the view of the entire city. Table Mountain is a contender for the new Seven Wonders of the World and now I understand why...it was incredible!
Day 5: African Safari! Elephants, rhinos, hippos, warthogs, wildebeests, zebras, lions, leopards, giraffes, springbok, buffalo! Spent the morning checking out animals by Jeep, the afternoon by horseback. It was amazing so see these wild creatures up close and personal. Check out Facebook for photos to see the variety!
Day 6: Vineyard tour. South African is known for their wines, so we went on a tour to visit four different wineries in Stellenbosch. Delicious wines, gorgeous scenery.
Day 7: Today we saw the "other side" of Cape Town. We went into the townships, the areas created to segregate blacks and whites during apartheid. Tragically, these areas have remained areas for poor black communities. Millions of South Africans live in these townships in homes made of scraps of tin and wood. Many do not work and the areas are dirty, notorious for crime and unsafe conditions. While a lot has changed politically for SA since the end of apartheid, there is still a long way to go. Throughout the week we have been driving past the townships but we really observed the sheer poverty actually driving through, visiting a school, an orphanage, memorials, and talking with a couple people from the area. It is really hard to believe people have to live in such conditions and was a really eye-opening experience.
After an amazing week of vacation, tomorrow I finally head to Namibia to begin my WorldTeach experience. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to travel, sightsee and vacation before the real work begins. Looking forward to getting to Namibia and meeting my fellow volunteers and starting orientation. My access to the Internet will likely lessen, so I will update the blog again when I can. Thanks for reading and miss you all!