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Published: December 10th 2007
I am re-publishing this post without the map for those of you who had computer problems when trying to open it last week!
Tomorrow morning, at the ridiculous time of 3:00 am, we leave Sasha's house to begin a long journey to Thailand. It is crazy to think we are leaving tomorrow after an amazing 3 weeks in South Africa, and I think we are a bit shell-shocked by the idea, but excited all the same to go to another very different country. Here's how we spent the last week or so of our lives...
On arriving in Cape Town we took some interesting highways to get to our friend Sasha's house (Sasha from the Y for those of you who know her). In and around major cities in South Africa are these informal settlements that are literally just shacks stacked so closely together you can hardly see in between them... and people LIVE there. They are huge communities surrounded by razor wire fences (not intended to keep the livestock in as evidenced by the cows and goats grazing on the side of the interstates!), and are the most visual representation of the 43%!u(MISSING)nemployment rate in South Africa. SA has some issues, and it's a shame because it is a really great country with a troubled past and an uncertain future. Crime is high - people get shot of 20 Rand which is about $3 - but we have taken precautions and haven't had any issues personally (though I shouldn't jinx us since we don't leave until tomorrow!)
Sasha was at work but we found her apartment and were greeted by her sister Janke and their friend Diane. They live in Big Bay Beach Club if you can imagine that! The directions included "When you get to the beach turn right so the ocean is on your left and..." Anyway, we settled in and went to the restaurant where Sasha and her sister work - it's called Blowfish and is a fancy-pants seafood joint with a great view of both Table Mountain and the sunset. Ladies and gentleman, I had my first true sushi experience that night. It wasn't HORRIBLE, but I wasn't that excited by it so won't be going out looking for sushi anytime soon (although I will use it as a medium for wasabi... I love that stuff!).
The second day we... what did we do? I think that day we went to the Waterfront in the city. It is a huge shopping mall down by the docks and really overwhelming for Chris! Afterwards we walked down Long Street and went to Greenmarket Square where I finally bought another necklace (going for one from each continent now). It's cool, made of copper, and as Sasha pointed out I'm pretty sure I now know what happens to the telephone cables that get stolen.
That night we went to Blue Peter, this wicked bar and pizza joint. Their seating area consists of picnic tables and a large expanse of grass which overlooks the ocean, and their busiest time is around sunset. One of the best customs we have adopted from South Africa is the Sundowner... drinks at sunset, and it's pretty much a given that you will participate in saying goodbye to the day. Our other favorite is the Braai... to the Americans that just means grilling dinner, but it's usually an open fire and the braai racks are standard, designed to balance as much meat as possible over your flame. The apartment complexes we have seen come with built in braai pits with chimneys, etc. It's great and yummy and makes dinner interesting!
The next day Chris and I laid around the pool for a while. There are nice walls around the pool area which helps to block the incessant wind. Cape Town has got to be the windiest place we have ever been... it is crazy to try to walk down the beach because you can almost lean into it and stay upright. Anyway we heard some music down the beach so we went and got sasha and walked for a while. It was by far the best day weather-wise since we got to Cape Town - we could hear each other over the wind, there was plenty of warm sun and no clouds (not even a tablecloth on Table Mountain) and after a Boerwoors and and ice cream we ended up back at Blue Peter for another sundowner. Then we went back to Sasha's to have a braai.
Yesterday I also experienced my first live cricket game (fortunately a one day one!), between SA and New Zealand. It wasn't as bad as I expected it to be, and it was actually a nice cricket ground and the food was cheap so I was happy! Mom, tell Bona I had some samoosas, but they weren't nearly as good as hers! OK, here is a good example... for 8 samoosas, two chicken burgers and a bottle of Coke we spent something like $11. Try doing that at a Cardinals game! And later we got some ice cream which put us back about $4. It's a good thing we went to Europe first and got the expensive stuff out of the way.
After cricket (SA won, by the way) we dropped by Table Mountain. It looked pretty clear so we though we would go up. It was an amazing view from the parking lot and we thought about saving the money on the cable car to the top, but in the end we decided to go up especially after we learned of the sunset special which made it half price. Well, when we got up there I felt like I was on some weird movie set. A horror movie with the thick mist rolling over the terrain. Really it was the ONE CLOUD that obstructed our view of the city and made it excruciatingly cold and windy at the top of this mountain. It was cool, and the cable car ride was worth it, but we both agreed that in better weather circumstances we would have hiked a trail and stuck around for sunset. As it was were were cold so went back to the bottom. After we got out we looked up and it was COMPLETELY CLEAR at the top. Had our hot chocolates been just a little bigger we might have been there to see the clearing of the clouds and the setting of the sun, but alas.
Today we are getting ready to leave for our journey tomorrow and reflecting on the amazing time we have had in SA. We would definitely come back here (everyone should bring their kids to Kruger Park!).
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving (I almost missed it), and that your holiday season is good for you and yours. It doesn't feel like Christmas since it is getting warmer by the day, and all the Christmas decorations look very out of place. Even weirder is that we will probably be in Thailand for Christmas where 99.5%!o(MISSING)f the population (literally) don't celebrate it. It's a growing experience for everyone, right?
Love to all of you.
Sabrina and Chris
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