Here is the correct link fo the pictures...sorry about that guys
A Semester Abroad at UCT
Here is the correct link fo the pictures...sorry about that guys
First things first, Happy Birthday Dad, i tried to call on your actual bday but mom's phone was off. Miss you love you hope it was a great day, we can re-celebrate on my return home.
Two Weekends ago i went to an awesome music festival just outside of Cape Town in Darling. It was a 3 day festival but i only went for Sat & Sun. Me and a few friends rented a car and drove out to Darling where the concert was help on this huge wine estate. We borrowed a tent from our program director so we pitched a tent and set up camp. This festival is huge one of the biggest in SA, and even has another version in Jo-burg called Rocking the Gardens. So it was huge and there was 1000's of people and tents but it was so well organized. The main stage area was beautiful, we just hung out listened to music got a free t-shirt, got my face painted ate some food, just did what ever we wanted it was so much fun. It was a beautiful hot day but then got very cold. Headed back to the tent for a change of clothes and a power nap. I ended up hanging out in the tent a bit longer because the heat had wore me out, but i was fine mom dont worry i just drank water slept it off and returned to the party! by the time i was up and running again it was already midnight but i was able to find my friends and spent the rest of my night in the dance/electro music tent. After my nap i felt so much better so i stayed in the tent til about 4am and then called it a night and headed back to the tent. Went to sleep at 4:30 and woke up at 6:30 but we just hung out in the morning and then packed up because the weather was terrible on sunday, luckily we rented a car so could leave whenever we wanted. It was a fast trip but so much fun.
This past weekend was my programs farewell dinner. We still have about a month left but finals are around the corner so we had to do it now before everybody starts getting really busy studying. It was really nice. Everyone got dressed up and we had drinks and appetizers and dinner then we all got funny awards for embarrassing things we have done over the semester...it was pretty hilarious and a lot of peoples dirty laundry came out it was all in good fun though. My award was for wearing my unitard on the bike trip and then falling off my bike. Good times. Then we had dessert and just hung out at the venue for awhile. It was fun to have everyone together including our directors and other Interstudy staff. It makes me sad in a way though because i know my time here is getting shorter and shorter but i extended my stay here until the 29th of Nov so that helps. My best friend here Hellen loves it so much she actually extended her stay for next semester as well so she won't be returning to the US until June!
heres pics of all i just mentioned and more!
For the second half of my spring break I was in Durban which is another big city up the eastern coast of South Africa, in the province of KwaZulu Natal. We stayed at a beautiful hostel literally across the street from the beach; it was the perfect calming spot to end our vacation. In Durban we had a lot less structure than in Kruger so we went to bed and woke up when we wanted and just made it up as we went along. The first day we went on a bus tour through the city. It was cool because in one afternoon we got to see all of Durban. That night we went to the University of KwaZulu Natal to meet up with my friend Macy’s friend who was studying abroad there. We meet up with her and her friends and piled into a mini bus. Mini buses are a very common and cheap way of getting around SA. They are vans that drive around and pick people up and drop them off, they are really cheap bout 5 rand (less than $1) will get you where you want to go. We had at least 20 people in this bus and we drove to a township. In Durban some of the abroad students stay in townships, so i met local kids who live there and kids who were just studying abroad. I volunteer at a township in Cape Town but it was very cool to hangout there and with kids my age. We were there to eat and have a few drinks before we went out downtown. I ever got to go into some of the houses which was pretty cool, it was a formal township so there were proper homes with water and electricity. The houses were really nice compared to other townships I’ve seen. After that we went to very cool reggae bar called Cool Runnings. The bar was chill only played Bob Marley but the coolest part was that in the back room there was a drum circle. People would just jump in and out of the circle all night long. I jumped in a few times and just went with it. Some people were really into it and as the night went on people were dancing and singing too, it was cool because it was so different from all the other bars i’ve been to out here.
The next day we had another chill day, went to a huge mall, i got my hair cut so that was exciting. That night we went out to dinner close to the hostel and then meet up with the other Durban kids at a local club/bar. It was cool to hang out with locals and other study abroad students. Our last day in Durban was probably the best. We slept in and took a tour of the Durban World Cup Stadium. We took the long tour and got to go all over the stadium. It was amazing we got to touch the field, go into the changing rooms and the presidential suite. We took so many pictures there it was honestly one of the coolest things i’ve seen here, the stadium is beautiful. For our last night in Durban we all got dressed up and went out for a very nice dinner. We went to Roma Revolving. It is on the top of a skyscraper and is a revolving restaurant. The views were incredible and it was a fun dinner but the food and the service was terrible. The whole evening just kind of turned into a big joke but we took it in stride and tried not to let it taint the end of our trip. The next morning we were woken up by a call from our cab driver who was waiting outside for us and had been waiting for awhile...it was hectic but we managed to get up, pack everything, check out and make our flight. Spring break was great but I was happy to be headed back to Cape Town!
Kruger National Park
Im not even sure where to begin. SB was amazing but i guess it is appropriate to start with the airport. School ended on Friday. I had 3 papers due so it was a long week leading up to break but i was so happy when it came. We flew out Friday night. Cape Town to Johannesburg. We stayed the night in Joburg and bright and early we got picked up and made the very long trek out to Kruger National Park. We got there and had our first game drive while making our way to our campsite.
This first drive was incredible. It started out slow, i didn’t know what to expect, would animals be close or far. All over the place or hidden behind trees but as we drove we started finding more and more animals. Impalas and other deer and antelope like animals were everywhere. They are beautiful but after seeing so many they lost the charm they had on the first day. We also saw elephants, giraffes, tons of baboons, water buffalo and the hardest to spot a leopard! It was incredible within an hour or 2 of being in the park we saw 3 of the big 5. The big 5 are the animals to see in South Africa they are elephants, lions, water buffalo, leopards and rhinos. These 5 are also represented on the 5 bills of South Africa’s currency (rand).
We got to our camp which was made up of a small area with several tents. We were sleeping in tents but we weren’t roughing it too bad. We had mattresses and a chef so once dinner was ready we ate very well. That night we were exhausted from all the travelling but i stayed up and watched a Bafana Bafana game in the restaurant down the road from our campsite. They won so it was a lot of fun and after that i passed out.
Next morning we were up at 5:30 am and on the road at 6. That morning was really cold but really nice we saw another member of the big 5; Rhinos! After the morning drive we had another wonderful home cooked meal. Then we packed up and headed off to our next camp. The next camp was the same set up. All the drives and days kind of blur together at this point but we saw so many amazing animals and so many beautiful sunsets and sunrises. The pictures really speak for themselves.
Highlight had to be seeing lions. We saw a male and female lion they were beautiful and we even saw them mate! And then hours later we saw the same couple mate again and this time much closer! I don’t want to sound perverted or anything but the whole thing was very cool, very national geographic.
For our last night in Kruger we actually drove out of the park and stayed at a lodge. It was beautiful, real beds and air conditioning, much more luxurious then the tents. More great food and we even got to sleep in til 7:30! We had breakfast in the morning and then made the long journey back to Joburg. When i say long i mean long. We were in the car something like 11 hours on the way back, 3-4 of which we were in Joburg but were driving around dropping people off. I was going crazy in the car but we finally arrived at our hostel after getting lost of course. We ate and slept and woke up the next afternoon to make our way to Durban.
check out my pics!
As if being almost attacked by a whale wasn’t enough the next morning i was up bright and early to go shark cage diving. It was amazing and not as scary as you would think. We went out on a boat and got suited up; full wetsuit and a face mask, no need for scuba because we were only going to be on the surface of the water. The cage was large enough to hold 5 people and was held against the side of the boat. The water was freezing but the excitement of seeing the sharks made it worth it.
We attracted the sharks by throwing out chum into the water. They would throw out the chum and then pull it away as the shark drew near, you wouldn’t want the shark to actually get the chum because the government regulates how much chum each boat uses, that being said there was a few times the sharks grabbed it. Once in the cage it was really exciting. You wait with you head above water and when they see a shark coming they yell go go go go down on your left! So you take a deep breath and submerge. It was incredible to see them so close up. Sometimes the sharks would get so close to the cage that they would hit or bump the cage. As scary as it was i felt was very safe in the cage. I even got an underwater camera and took a few pics, although i have no idea how they turned out...
The sharks were incredible; sometimes they would jump out of the water and go for the chum. Most of the sharks were about 2-4 meters so about 6- 12 ft. Some we’re very scratched up, mostly from attacks by other larger sharks or from mating if it was a female. One sharks fin was even broken off at the tip.
After the sharks we went back to our hostile and go ready for the next activity. The afternoon was for paintballing and quad biking. We got there and split into 2 groups. I was paintballing first and was terrified. I had seen my friends bruises from the group that went the previous weekend and was not looking forward to getting shot at, but after shark cage diving i figured i could handle it. The 1st round was the worst, we lost and i did absolutely nothing for my team i was so scared that i just waited it out inside a tree house. It didn’t help that we we’re playing against all grown men, including ex-military guys. After the first round i got better though and became slightly less afraid. The third round was my fave though. It was my last round so my roommate Jen and i just decided we’d go for it. Just use all our ammo and go out with a bang. The last round my team was at the top of the hill guarding 2 houses, the other team was going to try to take us out and get into the houses to win. This round lasted the longest and was so much fun. I actually was helping my team out and took a few of the other teams players out. It was still terrifying but i was so excited that i actually played in this round. After the adrenaline pumping paintball we switched with the other group and went on a really nice and soothing quad bike ride. It was so nice to ride through the hills and check out the scenery, we stopped at this amazing viewpoint that looked over Hermanus and out into the ocean. It was so peaceful and relaxing, one of the nicest and calming activities I’ve done especially compared to all the extreme ones I’ve been doing lately. It was a perfect way to end the weekend and return back to Cape Town.
For all of you not on facebook here is a link to see all my pictures from the Garden Route. Enjoy!
This past weekend by program planned an overnight excursion for us. It was amazing! We split the group up over 2 weekends so there were about 20 of us, which was just enough. My group was really good all my close friends and the people i usually hang out with were there so from the start it was good.
The excursion was to Hermanus, about 2 hours from where i am staying in Cape Town. Hermanus is famous for its whales, this is the main attraction for most, so we had whale watching and all kinds of activities planned for the weekend. We got there Friday night and just hung out at our hostile, which they call backpackers out here. They provided us with dinner and we watched tv and relaxed because Saturday was packed with activities. Saturday we woke up early to go sea kayaking but because the weather was so bad everything got pushed back later. So we ended up taking a walk to the old harbour from the view point we could see whales breaching. They were far but the view was beautiful. After that we walked over to the market that was nearby. We had lunch and then headed back to catch our boat to go whale watching. We went out and the water was a little rough, people were getting seasick all over the place. Luckily i was fine and once the boat slowed down i went out to the front, it was scary but i held on and waited for the whales. We found a good spot and followed 3 whales for awhile. It was so cool how close we were but they didn’t do a whole lot and it was freezing so i was happy to head back to land. After my group was supposed to go kayaking but i wasn’t sure if i wanted to go, it was already late and i was cold and other people bailed. I decided i might as well go if its horrible then i can stop.
Let me say this was the best decision. Kayaking was so much fun. I was in a 2 person kayak with my friend Anne Marie and we were having a great time. We weren’t sticking to the group as much as we should have but we had control of our boat and were just having fun. The water was freezing and it was really overcast and windy but it didn’t matter. Before going out our guide gave us a quick safey lesson and in it had mentioned that whales are in the area and that by law we have to stay 300 meters away from them.
Anne Marie and i try to switch places in our kayak (it was a challenge, the guide asked us to) but instead flipped over, so now we are completely soaked but safely back in our kayak and places our switched. A few minutes later a whale comes out of no where and it was so close to our kayak. We were freaking out! When i say close i mean close like within 20 ft. It was terrifying and so exciting at the same time. As cool as it was though we wanted to get away. It was so close that it could easily hurt us and there is no way we should ever be that close. So we try to calm down so we can paddle away, which was very difficult by the way. So we lost the whale and are calming down. I look out into the water and see a weird patch of water, it is very still and calm while the rest was very choppy. After i saw this patch the whale surfaced again, and this time even closer. It surfaced on one side of our kayak then submerged swam UNDERNEATH our kayak and then its entire tail came out of the water 10 ft from us! It was crazy i was screaming because i was terrified it was so so so close to us. We were freaking out and trying to paddle but could not clam down enough to make much progress, we moved away and could not calm down. The guide said that it was a younger and more playful whale and that when it shows its tail it is getting ready to jump, and that we really needed to move away because it could get very dangerous very soon.
Hermanus to be continued...
ps. Happy Anniversary Parents. Love you.