Happy belated Easter everyone! Woo!
Okay, so I promised an entry so VIOLA! Here it is. I’m now back on the ship, chugging my merry way towards
First off, Grandpa sent me an email asking me what classes I’m taking and I remembered, der, I totally forgot to write about that. The basic rundown is that I’m taking Global Studies (a class required for all students that everyone is struggling with and that has no short supply of drama associated with it… but that’s a story for another time), Human Rights and Ethics (our teacher is great – she’s a former human rights lawyer who I now idolize), Warfare of the 20th Century (a class lead by a professor from Texas who used to be a Russian translator during the Cold War – he’s aaaawesome), and Fiction Writing (my professor is the most writer-ish looking person I have ever met in my life). I’m doing okay in the classes but I wouldn’t mind doing better. The ship is still not exactly conducive to learning for me since I fall asleep every time I even look at words. I also find it hard to not just want to hang out with people all the time, seeing as I’m going to be far away from all of them once I’m home… a thought which depresses me. I guess that’s the nature of such things – no matter where I am, I’m missing someone.
Anyway, ship life continues to be good though I still struggle with ways to spend my time. It’s hard not to just sleep constantly but I know that doing that will just make me feel like a giant slug. The crew talent show was a few nights ago and our cabin steward, Andrew (a saint for cleaning up our crap all the time), danced. It was fabulous. We also had a Mr. Semester at Sea which was very entertaining, even though it made me go to bed at about 12 at night with an 8 AM the next day.
So there’s that and mahaps I should start with actual countries now. First off:
So yes. AFRIKA!
I got up at about 5 to go out on the deck, finding it chilly and clear outside though the sun had not yet risen over
Once we had cleared customs and had gotten all our papers squared away, I left the ship with a few of my friends to go exploring. We wandered around for a bit, seeing the ocean-front area that was beautiful with the sun shining bright and various performers presenting their music in the street. We made our way to an indoor market where we looked at various vendors and were generally impressed by how flipping cool everything was. As I had a trip to
As we waited for the ferry to the island, we watched even more seals play. I wanted to join them, though I was later dissuaded by a native South African who convinced me that seals will “rip your bloomin’ arm off as soon as look at you.” I think he may have been a little overdramatic, but still. I like having my arms intact.
After speeding across the lovely waters to the island, we landed on a dock covered in cormorants and not much else. My first impression of
We toured the rest of the island, stopping at a craggy beach to watch
By the end, he took us to the place where prisoners were put into solitary confinement and showed us Nelson Mandela’s cell. I still can’t believe the Apartheid was something that ended less than 20 years ago – the thought that something like that could be possible in my lifetime is mind-boggling. It also makes the leaps and bounds the South Africans have made since the Apartheid, in spite of some set-backs, all the more impressive. A lot of people in
That evening three other girls and I went to a play we had heard about, traveling all the way across town to a local university. After some interesting confusion concerning tickets and where the play actually was, we entered the stage area and ate the South African candy we had purchased. The play was Red George, a one-act put on by a white South African concerning the history of his family in
Once back on the ship, I began packing for my safari and tried to stay awake until my 4:45 AM meeting time (uhg). Unfortunately I wasn’t successful in fighting off the sleep demons and, sooner than I had expected, my phone was ringing. I woke up from a dead sleep to find that it was 5 and the person calling me was trying to see if I was, in fact, still planning on going on the safari. I had a mild panic attack, threw on my clothes, and ran upstairs. Luckily I knew the trip leader and wasn’t penalized for being an idiot. Suffice to say, I’m never sleeping before a trip again.
The plane ride was smooth sailing and I talked to the girls I was sitting with the whole time. We walked directly out onto the tarmac once we were in
We then got to the lodge place to find a group there to greet us, playing the drums and handing out fresh juice in glasses rimmed with sugar. It was pretty dern tasty. The lodge ended up being a series of buildings, the main one being the dining and bar area that was basically one giant open deck looking out into the forest where you could see what I dubbed “stripey deer” and “antelope-ish things” in their quasi-natural habitat.
There we ate a delicious lunch consisting of some sort of meat and other various items that were so good I can’t even recall what they were. I do remember that the desert was good as well. Since I was about to lose consciousness due to the fact that I had been traveling without sleep for nearly 12 hours, I decided to take a quick nap before our afternoon drive.
On my way to my nap time, I saw even more stripey deer! The buck had big antlers and just stood there, staring at me. But, being the brave soul that I am, I just stared back and took pictures. I finally made it to our lodge, a raised hut on stilts that had a porch looking out into the forest. It was sweet. Our bed had a canopy (aka mosquito netting) and a giant fan that, as I said to my roommate, had two speeds: off and cyclone. I chose cyclone which was surprisingly pleasant.
After I awoke from my lovely nap, I joined the others and boarded a safari jeep to drive around the compound we were staying in. The compound had various animals – not only were there stripey deer and antelope-ish things but zebras! And water buffalo. I then got “Everybody’s got a water buffalo” a la Vegietales stuck in my head. Hooray.
The game drive was really nice. Watching the sun set over the savannah was beautiful and seeing the animals frolic and play was amazing. My guide was an Afrikaans man named Richard who called himself “Richard the Lionheart.” He was a character, suffice to say. We stopped to eat jerky and stare at a watering hole that was, unfortunately, sans any actual animals. Then some kid wandered off and made one of the guides nearly have a panic attack. No lions ate him though.
We ventured back to the lodge to eat another scrumptious meal before I went back to the cabin and took a shower before passing out into a blissful sleep. Lovely.
The next morning I awoke to the sounds of various African-sounding creatures. As I went outside, a whole family of monkeys ran around me and sat on the steps of another cabin, monkeying around (hyuck hyuck) and being generally adorable. As I neared the dining area, another monkey ran towards me and stopped, giving me the stink eye. I then noticed that he was clutching not one, but multiple sugar packets in his mouth and paw. After giving me the stare down for another moment, he leapt up into a nearby tree and dashed off.
Once I got to the dining area, I found out that not only had monkeys stolen a variety of items from the drink table but they had also put their heads in the juice jar to lap it up. Seeing as the juice jar had since been covered, we didn’t have to fear anymore monkey attacks but I still didn’t drink any because, duh, a monkey’s head had just been in it.
After informing other travelers of the monkeys’ antics and warning them to not drink the delicious juice either, we headed out for a day-long safari ride in the bigger Hluhluwe reserve (you all will be proud to know that I at least at one point could pronounce Hluhluwe, let alone spell it). We rode to the reserve in one of the open safari jeeps. Mine was once again driven by the brave Richard and we reached the park in no time, passing the many thatch-roofed huts that dotted the sugarcane-coated countryside. We were greeted at the reserve entrance by some guys dancing in what I assume is a traditional African way.
Once in the park, we stopped for a quick bathroom break before venturing into the reserve proper. We passed a family of warthogs rooting around and being so ugly it was almost cute. It was a fairly nice day – not too hot with a pleasant breeze and good cloud cover. We traveled through the jungle-like brush and passed more water buffalo, some zebras, giraffes, and bison. Or something bison-like. And more stripey-deer! Of course, we were so over the stripey-deer at this point that no one was even taking pictures anymore. Unbeknownst to us, we would soon feel the same about all of the other animals I just listed.
After a few hours, it began to seem that our search for any of the other big five (we had already seen the buffalo) was in vain. All the other groups had seen an entire herd of elephants and we were beginning to feel severely jilted by the animal kingdom. But then there were a bunch of rhinos so we began to think things may be looking up. Eventually we stopped our search in order to eat lunch under the now-burning sun. The lunch was awesome – a picnic barbeque cooked by the lodge’s chef who was a food genius. After stuffing ourselves, we ventured out again in search of what we really wanted to see: some elephants and maybe even a lion. Or a leopard.
Instead we saw some more zebras, warthogs, and even more rhinos. And a baby rhino! And more stripey-deer. The highlight of the hour was having a stand-off with a group of three warthogs who wouldn’t let us pass and seeing a group of baboons who seemed entirely unenthused to be in our presence.
Finally, just when we were cursing the entire reserve for not revealing any elephants to us, we saw a bull elephant breaking his way out of some brush down in a ridge. We were, suffice to say, excited. He continued his way towards us, getting closer and closer. I got a little nervous, seeing as I was on the side that would get pulverized if he had decided to charge. But Harold (as I named him) was a gentle elephant and just played in the water of the river, completely unfazed by our presence. Then, much to our surprise, a pair of rhinos came out of the bush, joining Harold by the river. Following the rhinos came a solitary female lion who had apparently been stalking the other three animals. Richard informed us that that meant there were probably other lions in the area since females rarely travel alone. Harold decided to book it, leaving the rhinos (and us) alone to deal with the wrath of the oncoming lions. Richard unfortunately informed us that it was time to go and drove off, leaving the rhinos to their fate. Whatever that fate might have been, we shall never know.
Once back at the lodge, we went to another area to eat under the moon in a fire-lighted dining facility. The food was, again, excellent and I shared a bottle of wine with a few fellow SASers. Once back at the lodge, a few of us headed to the bar to socialize before our early journey the next morning back to
The next morning we got up and drove our way to
Anyway, once we were back in
The next morning I was woken up by my friend Paul to have the following conversation:
Me: Nnngh. (note: this is my standard greeting before 9 in the morning)
Paul: Oh, did I wake you up?
Me: Uh… no?
Paul: Sorry. Do you want to go to the southernmost tip of
Me: What? Where is that?
Paul: …I don’t know.
So after trying to find more people so it would be less expensive to get there, we tried to find a tour group to go with. Unfortunately the tours were all booked up but we eventually found a taxi driver who would take us the $ hours away for a fair price. So soon we were on our way, driving up into the clouds that rimmed the mountains surrounding
Probably one of the most impressive things about
The lighthouse was beautiful and I took a billion pictures. None of which will probably ever be posted on the internet, since that doesn’t seem to be the game plan for any computer I’m ever on. Anyway, after wandering around the lighthouse for a while, we went to the southernmost tip to climb around on the rocks, almost get impaled on rocks, take pictures of rocks, and make friends with an Indian family. It was pretty much awesome.
After we were satisfied with our rock frolicking, we made our way back to
Once I was back in
Anyway, the next morning I got up to get lunch and go out to the big open-air market with some other friends. We wandered around
We then ventured to dinner where I had an excellent/cheap (aka even more excellent) meal. It was really mellow and yummy and it was nice to bask in the glory of
We didn’t end up leaving
Alright, I’m going to wrap up this entry for now. I’m going to finish up my Mauritius entry soon and hopefully post it before we reach Vietnam though, knowing my track record, it may not happen. Here’s hoping it does.
Anyway, I miss you all like crazy. Mom and dad: I tried to call you but apparently phones don’t work in this part of the world. Sorry. Maybe it’ll work in
In closing: everywhere since