Published: September 4th 2012September 4th 2012
After an action-packed 10 days, I was ready for a significantly calmer pace for a few days. As such, I’ll cover my last 3 days in just this one entry. :) :)
On Saturday, we had our most hectic morning yet. Our last accommodation was completely booked (meaning no opportunity to upgrade to a private room for the 3 of us), and it was the most “hostel-y” of all. There were 12 people on different bunks (only 5 were our group) in the room, and that particular room had only one bathroom. We also were to report to breakfast at 7am (our earliest of the week). Add to that the fact that most of the people played beer pong the night before, and you can imagine the state of the room and bathroom in the morning. PLUS, there was a crazy windstorm. So, if people were able to sleep, they most likely dreamt they were characters in “Twister” or “The Wizard of Oz”.
On our drive back to Cape Town, we made 2 stops. The first was an aloe farm, where we got to learn a little
about how aloe is used and shop around for some organic aloe products. At the aloe farm, we said goodbye to the other van. The second stop was lunch, at a bakery shop where they are known for their meat pies. I had spinach and feta, and it was delicious. Then, we made the drive back to Cape Town.
Although, I talked with Yi Jiun, Roy, and Martin a little, most of the trip I just took in the scenery and reflected on my experiences so far. I was the first to be dropped off, so I said goodbye to my friends old and new when we arrived at the Aviva house. Then, I unpacked a little and headed right out to the mall. I desperately missed talking on the phone, and I was determined to get a sim card or cell phone to talk with family and friends.
It’s very convenient to have a mall within walking distance. “Bayside” has practically anything you might need: 3 grocery stores, a movie theater, a wolworth’s, many clothing options, a book store, a dvd rental place, electronics, coffee
shops, internet cafes, restaurants, and more! It’s perfect. It’s also very hectic – at least on a Saturday afternoon. My main objective was the phone, so I was pretty focused on making that happen. I had brought 2 cell phones from the US, but both are AT&T phones. I quickly learned that AT&T phones won’t allow a non-AT&T sim card. So, I had to buy a new phone. You can buy cell phones from almost any store in the mall, and I shopped around until I found a good deal – a phone for only 150 rands (less than 20 dollars). Success!
I got started right away, making phone calls on my walk home from the mall. It was awesome! I talked with both my parents, which was so nice. I am still getting used to the time delay – it feels a little like when newscasters are trying to talk to each other from remote locations. Both will start talking, then both will realize that the other one is talking, then both will wait for the other person, then both start talking at the same time again. Hilarious.
I made a simple dinner Saturday night and then went to bed early.
On Sunday, I slept in until almost 10! I followed that up with a super relaxing day. The weather was perfect, so many of us sat out by the pool at the aviva house. I tried to catch up on the blog, which provided a great way for me to organize my thoughts, reactions, and pictures. I also read and watched some TV. Then, in the evening, a group of 14 of the volunteers went out to dinner at Moyo, in Table View, which was delicious. It describes itself as Modern Sophisticated African. It was like higher end African food, traditional food but accessible for foreigners. They had African music playing, plus a singer performed during dinner. They also paint your face, which, although touristy, added to the festive feel.
My appetizer was pea and potato samosas (yum!). For my main dish, I had the vegetarian lentil bobotie – “south african cape malay red and brown lentil bake with raisins topped with savoury egg custard”. I don’t know how good
that sounds, but let me tell you it was scrumptious. I could eat this dish every day. I can’t wait to go back. We took a bus to the restaurant and a cab back. Then, we all drank tea and watched tv. It seems like a cross cultural guilty pleasure in the Aviva house are dramatic, reality crime shows. “Strange and Unusual Deaths”, “When Women Kill”, and “Stalked!” are all favorites. I’m not sure why, but they always suck you in by the first commercial. It reminds me of when my family spent one entire holiday (Thanksgiving? Christmas?) watching “I Should Be Dead: Stories of Survival”. It was some sort of marathon, and we couldn’t turn it off!
Monday (yesterday), I learned how to take the bus into Cape Town, as a couple of us wanted to go to Green Market. Green Market is known as the place to go for good prices on South African art, jewelry, textiles, and other trinkets. The prices are great – as long and you are willing and able to bargain. I am terrible at bargaining, so I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy anything this time.
That way I could start ridiculously low and see how low I could get them to go, knowing that they wouldn’t come down as far as I suggested. So, if someone started at 180 rands for an item, I would say 35. Then, when I got them down to 60, I still walked away. Next time, when I am ready to buy it, I’ll know that I can get them down to 60. My companions will likely not have time to go back to the market, and they were very successful shoppers.
After taking the bus back to Table View, I did some quick grocery shopping. The food here is so affordable. I bought enough groceries for the next several days for only about 20 usd. I cooked a real meal for the first time at Aviva – baked potato and roasted vegetables. Several of us were cooking at the same time – using the oven, stove, toaster, electric kettle, and microwave. When the power went out, we learned that it might be better to cook in shifts next time! Otherwise, it was uneventful. The evening was full of the crime channel, and
I also got the chance to catch up with my mom and the Davis family before getting to bed.
The only other eventful thing is that I *finally* feel settled into my space at the Aviva house. One of the longtime volunteers (she was here for 5 weeks) left, and she had a prime spot. My initial bunk was right next to the bathroom, with no closet or outlet. When she left, I took over her spot. It’s awesome. I have a closet (so, I can finally stop living out of my suitcase), a set of small drawers (to stay organized), and an outlet. Plus, it’s quieter and warmer. I’ll miss Taylor, but I am happy to “upgrade” to a better bunk.
I am anxiously awaiting my start with the penguins. I was supposed to start on Tuesday (today), but unfortunately they pushed my start date back by a day. I’m not sure why, but I’m excited to start tomorrow. I’ve talked with some of the other volunteers who worked at Sancoob, all of whom said that it’s a very rewarding experience. I know that it will be
busy when I get there because there was an oil leak off the coast of South Africa. Twenty two oiled birds have been brought in already, and who knows how many more will come in before its over. I can’t wait to get going on my volunteer project!
There are more photos below