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South Africa Baby!

sunny 70 °F

It’s that time again! I apologize for such a hiatus on writing these blogs, I have been so busy on this voyage compared to my last one that I can hardly find time to let everyone know back at home what is going on! For this blog entry I will be skipping Mauritius, since there is really nothing to talk about in that country, and going on about South Africa.
I woke up early to see the sunrise come over Table Mountain and I must say, it was the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. Blue, purple, orange, red purple and black were all a part of this gorgeous scene and soon I will be posting a picture, although no picture will ever give that moment justice. When the sun finally did start rising it shined through the clouds and the introduction to “The Lion King” started playing in my head. Such a long wait on this voyage, but we were finally in Africa. When the ship started to pull into Cape Town I noticed all of the landmarks I had been to before and couldn’t help but dance in excitement for one of my favorite countries.
When the ship finally did dock it was time to say goodbye to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He had been sailing with us since Ensenada and it was really sad to see such an honorable figure and role model leave our ship. I waved bye from Deck 5 as he walked away with his wife. I noticed that the local security were astonished to see him and were so nervous shaking his hand. “Yeah, no big deal, just traveled the world with Desmond Tutu,” I thought while realizing the privilege that the shipboard community had to be with such an amazing man.
All of my field labs were done at this point so South Africa was open to anything I wanted to do, which mainly consisted of drinking wine, my favorite beer, and taking in such a wonderful country again. That first day I took some friends to the V&A Waterfront where a bunch of restaurants are. We talked about how amazing the voyage was, how it wasn’t, and what we were going to do for the next six days. It was great to just relax and talk for once instead of always being on the go trying to see so much in such a small amount of time. That first day was amazing but ended short for me because I may have drank a bit too much beer…I just can’t say “no” to four beer towers when they are right in front of me!
When I awoke the next day I gathered my friends and we made our way to the base of Table Mountain. I remember my hike and how hard it was last year so I convinced everyone that we should take the cable car up to the top. It was a wise choice because we were all a bit hung-over and weren’t exhausted when we got to the top. We all had organized to have a picnic at the top and had bought food at the local grocery store before going up. It was one of the best things I have done on this voyage, making a small picnic while looking down at Cape Town, the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. I don’t even know how to describe what I was seeing, but it was truly epic in its beauty. We even celebrated our friendship with a few bottles of wine! Now I know what you are thinking, this entire post is going to be about drinking…well that isn’t necessarily a lie. I did do a fair amount of boozing while I was in South Africa, but it was totally worth it and I never let it get out of hand, except for this night. We watched the sun set on one side while the moon came up on the other. South Africa kept blowing me away with its beauty and has sold me on moving back there when I can establish a career. To leave Table Mountain back down to the V&A Waterfront we all had to take a taxi. When I hopped in I started speaking with an accent and told the driver that I was from Kommetjie taking American students around Cape Town. I don’t even know why I thought this would be a good idea, but I kept it up for the entire night and it ended up being hilarious, even if the driver knew I was lying. When the driver dropped us off I paid him and we all left to go to a local pub for a few more drinks because the night was young. We sat down on the bench outside and I went to reach for my phone to take a picture when I realized it was not in my pocket. My buzz disappeared and I instantly started to freak out. I thought someone had taken it or that I left it at the top of Table Mountain. We tried calling the cab driver but it wouldn’t dial. I left the table and started pacing back and forth outside the pub trying to think of what to do. I was so angry at myself that I crushed my sunglasses in my hands and ended up cutting my fingers. Then, a miracle happened. The phone started ringing when I tried the cab driver again. He had kept my phone because knew I would want it back and he agreed to bring it back asap. When he arrived I thanked him so much and got his contact email to send him postcards from my travels. I also gave him all the money I had in my pocket, $7, so that he could get a little something more for my appreciation. Once I had my phone back I was able to calm down and continue enjoying the night. We drank a few more beers and I talked with the locals for a few hours before returning to the ship and calling it a night.
The next morning I went to Stellenbosch, wine country of the Western Cape. I had an apartment rented for the night and when we arrived we were so impressed with the place, it was by far the nicest place I have stayed in for either of the voyages. It had two bedrooms, a Jacuzzi, heated towel racks, a kitchen, giant living room, washer and dryer, and the best part-a patio on the third story overlooking the streets of Stellenbsoch. I had such an amazing time there; we went wine tasting and went to a festival that was in the street that night. I passed out pretty early that night but woke up to another beautiful scene with the sun rising over the vineyards of Stellenbosch. We cooked breakfast, the first time I could cook in three months! It was so awesome, but I let my friend do most of the cooking because I was working on contacting family and loved ones back at home. We left Stellenbosch that afternoon and returned to Cape Town.
For the next few days I spent my time exploring the city and getting a feel for a place that I definitely want to live in. I went to Robben Island as well, the island with a maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela was held captive for 27 years. It was amazing to see the tiny cell that he was in for 18 years of his imprisonment. The prison made me think a lot about the harshness of Apartheid and how it lasted so much longer than civil rights in the US. I thought it was great to see how much South Africa has grown since the end of Apartheid and can see how much more it needs to grow. The United States has come a long way since the 50’s and 60’s but it too has a lot of improvement to be made.
I cannot wait until I return to South Africa as it is a place I will definitely be living in the future, no words can truly describe how much I love this country, but I love it so much and I think that counts for something.
I will be posting soon on Ghana and Morocco about the incredible experiences I had there. I will leave you with another quote about travel that I really enjoy. Until next time, much love!

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”
- Marcel Proust

Posted by MVVincent 13:23 Archived in South Africa

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Sounds like an Awesome time Mike !!
When you get back i sure hope you come stay a night here and talk with me, show photos and enjoy a few beers ourselves. Lee
PS. I've tried to SKYPE with you a few times... did you forget about me again ? :)

by Lee

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