Tuesday, 30 July 2013

5 Good Life Decisions…in South Africa

1. “Climb” Table Mountain & Watch the Sunset
Crazy beautiful view
All 14 of us on the trip decided to hike Table Mountain on a free day we had off from our community placements and class. I was super excited, but failed to dress appropriately as I was wearing heavy hiking boots and black fleece pants on one of the hottest days we had in Cape Town (if not THE hottest- yikes). I was essentially melting, but kept going because I knew it would be worth it afterwards to see Cape Town from the top! To my dismay, after about 2-3 hours of walking through random trails that people directed us towards, we found ourselves at the bottom of where the cable car takes you up the mountain. I could not believe that the whole time, instead of walking up the mountain, we were walking across the mountain from our residence at UCT. Since I was already roasted in my poor clothing choices, I decided to take the cable car up with a few others who were tired as well. 
Ah, look at that sunset!
That ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made (if not the best) on this trip) as I got to truly breathe in the beautifully majestic views from the top of the mountain without feeling too exhausted. After eating a scrumptious oven pizza and taking various silly pictures with some of my friends, we decided to stay until the last cable car ran so that we could watch the sunset (those are my favorite)! Alongside good company, I felt so relaxed and was simply on cloud 9 just sitting there, breathing in the crisp air while my eyes got lost in the hues of the skies.

Who could resist taking silly pics on top of Table Mountain?

2. Seeing Penguins- Up Close & Personal
Penguins have actually been my favorite animals since the fourth grade, and the thing I least expected prior to my trip here was to see penguins in Africa… but I did! Thanks to our tour guide, Conroy, we were able to go to Foxy Beach to see African penguins (including the babies!) basking in the sun, and playing around in the water. It was the closest I have ever been to penguins, especially because the glass at the zoo truly ruins the experience of seeing penguins in real life. So this experience was basically a dream come true for me, and while you may or may not be a huge penguin fanatic prior to going to South Africa, trust me- you’re going to fall in love with them after you see them there!
3. Seeing (& Eating) Ostriches: “Be one with the Ostrich”
 Ever since I bought an ostrich figurine at a local market in Soweto, I have been semi-obsessed with them. After we left Soweto and settled into Simon’s Town, our group went out for a nice dinner during one of our nights there. Guess what was on the menu? That’s right, Ostrich! It is a common delicacy in South Africa, and I really wanted to try different foods while I am abroad here so I ordered the ostrich curry. The verdict? Deliciousness! It was almost a mix between beef and lamb in my opinion- yum and yum. (sorry vegetarians!) 

After we left Simon’s Town, our tour guide Conroy took us on a bus tour to some popular sightseeing points before we settled into Cape Town (including Foxy Beach as mentioned in #2). On our way back from one, we were able to see an ostrich right next to our bus! I have never seen one up close like that either, and I was so excited to see that lil (well, not so little) guy. I later felt bad that I had eaten ‘his kind’ only a few days prior, but it was conflicting since it was tasty.  When I tried to explain my contrasting thoughts to a friend on the trip, they just told me to say I wanted to be “one with the ostrich”, and I guess by eating it, I was? It was hilarious to me to think about this way, and nonetheless, seeing an ostrich up close was pretty cool.

4. Feasting at Old Biscuit Mill
Delicious pizza anyone?!
After hearing about this place from other volunteers at St. Joseph’s Home and reading about it online, I was excited to see this amazing, so called “hipster” craft and food market place. And alas- it was amazing! Not only did friends and I pick up some beautiful rings, scarves, and other gifts in the crafts area, but we ate really well at the gourmet food market! Anita and I decided to split everything in half so we could try double what we usually would, and I am so glad I did! They had everything from smoothies to macaroons to bruschettas to pizza to crepes to paella and everything in between! We ended up eating one of the most amazing four-course meals. With every flavor beautifully outdone itself in the market, I was in bliss as a foodie.

5. Paragliding Over the City & Water
Paragliding in action!
A few of us on the trip had really wanted to go paragliding in Cape Town since the beginning of our time in South Africa. Who else wouldn’t want to fly like a bird over this beautiful city? But, going paragliding proved to be a lot more difficult than expected. Every time we called, the conditions weren’t right for the weekend. It was either too much wind, not enough wind, rainy weather amongst other reasons that made it unsafe. We had basically given up hope until we got a call on the morning of our last full day in South Africa- the conditions were good enough for us to go that morning! It was crazy. Before I knew it, I was strapped to a pro, and was literally sailing off a cliff, over the city and towards the beautiful blue water. I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening. It felt like I was in an IMAX theater or something along those lines since I wasn’t attached to anything on the ground. I was actually floating over this whole scenery with just a guy strapped behind me controlling the winds with a giant parachute! It was one of the BEST decisions of the trip and man- just look at that view!
 P.S One bad life decision? Not backing up your files, having your laptop die during your last, important work week in South Africa, and having to upload a blog post once you’re home after you wait to get your laptop fixed and have your pictures uploaded! Yikes- let this be a lesson to everyone: Use a USB or Google Docs for important files!!! You won’t regret it :)

-Jessica Lee

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