Am I too old for this? Nahhhhh

Meeting up at the joining tour group hotel was a tad interesting. I had one of those ‘oh shit I’m too old for this’ moments. The taxi drops me off and music is pumping from the hotel…kids are walking around bare foot and carrying skateboards. I get to the counter and there’s ear plugs in a candy jar. I’m thinking what the hell kind of place is this? They check me in and walk me to my room. When I open the door I finally realize this is not a hotel but a backpackers hostel. My room has two bunk beds and a shared bathroom. Oh dear lord! I am far too old for this. I haven’t stayed in a youth hostel since I was back in Australia. I was far younger and more tolerant back then! But that’s ok…gotta roll with the punches. Turns out they put me in the wrong room and I do get a private room with one of the other girls on my tour.
Meeting up with the group is always interesting. You meet up as total strangers and by the third day in we are probably taking a pee in the bush next to each other. Relationships on tours form at warp speed, but the first ‘hello’s’ are always a little nerve wracking. This time there’s a real mix of ages. I’m guessing anywhere from 21-60. I don’t feel like the granny on this trip this time! This group has an abundance of Canadians. And if you can imagine a father/daughter duo from Edmonton of all places. We also have people from the UK, Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Germany. My roommate’s name is Stef and she is from Germany but I just tell her she’s from Douche Land!
Today we drove up the west coast to a South African town named Lambert’s Bay. Driving down our highways at home we pass by cows, horses and hay bales..not here…the first crazy thing I saw were flamingos. Tons of them. And when they fly one behind each other and swoop around, it truly took my breath away. We also saw ostrich and springbok (well I think they were springbok).  I really do slap myself to make sure this is real. baby monkey
We made a pit stop at this odd truck stop. As you walk in it was like an eclectic mix of knitted goods, souvenirs, pop, birds and monkeys. I thought someone might have slipped me some drugs and I was tripping. Out the back were cages and cages of macaws and other parrots. Although the signs that were plastered everywhere told us that we shouldn’t stick our hands near the cage I really couldn’t resist. I had a couple of the parrots entranced with my bird whisperer magic and they had me rubbing their necks and heads.
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And the birds just kept coming. We made a stop at Bird Island where there were literally at least 20 000 Cape Gannets. These are massive 5lb birds swooping and huddled in one small area. The smell was intense and this would not be a place for anyone that’s afraid of birds.
… I wrote this yesterday and today spent the day traveling into Namibia. Can I tell you the temperature was 45 Celsius!!!! I will give you more tomorrow, if I don’t melt

Cape Town Continues to Impress

 Day 3 in Cape Town and this place does not get old. It blows my mind actually, because this city is the exact opposite of any image you have in your mind when you think of Africa. It’s roads and infrastructure are like any first world western city. (Maybe even a bit better)  I am told that this is the direct effect from apartheid. Only the privileged had access to this part of the city. The city was built for the white upper class, and when you leave the ‘bubble’ you are suddenly faced with shanty tin squatter shacks that line the highway for miles. How is it possible that a country that seems so affluent by the looks of its clean city streets be a place of complete and utter poverty? Humanity is extremely unfair! Spending the last few days with Marlan and picking his brain has been fascinating. It makes me appreciate Canada and how accepting we are of everyone. (not to say we don’t have our issues, but this just is on a different scale) Racism and segregation breeds poverty. Lack of education and access to it causes further divide. I am told that there is a shift and change is slowly happening. They are trying to build low income housing near the squatters.  What I found so bizarre are the tin shacks that are squatting on government land have a spider webs of electric wires coming from the roofs. So my question is who is paying for electricity? Boggles my mind.
Anyway…on to less serious differences. When my vegetarian pizza had toppings of baby marrow and brinjal I was stumped as to what this could be. Any guesses? Baby marrow is zucchini and brinjal is eggplant. Who would have thunk? As well, aluminum is more expensive than tin here so all their pop cans are made of tin. Crazy huh! Try crushing a can on your forehead here and you will walk away with a headache!
Ok…pause. Must go to sleep. I will continue this rant tomorrow.caracal
Yesterday was pretty spectacular. Marlan picked me up and we headed outside of the city to the Stellenbosch vineyards for a little wine tasting. He got a little turned around and instead of finding a winery we stumbled across the coolest thing. A cheetah sanctuary! Here I got to get up close and personal with a bunch of different wild cats. Yes…my kind of heaven! The primary reason for the decrease in population for cats like cheetahs and caracals in this region is that these cats come on to farm land and raid the livestock. Farmers end up shooting or poisoning them. So this sanctuary raises big Shepard dogs to protect the livestock. The program pays for all food and vet costs of the dogs for one year.If after a year the farmer wants to keep the dog they would take on the cost. The cat population has steadily increased since. Genius! So to my delight I got to go in the enclosure one on one with the handler and the big cats. I spent time with baby and adult cheetahs as well as the pointy eared Lynx-like caracal. It was madness!Cheetah Encounterscheetah
Of course in the end we did find some vineyards and I got rather tipsy from all the tasting! At one place, a tasting of 6 wines (glass half full) cost a mere $1.50 cad!!!!
Today I had booked a trip to Robben Island. This is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. I was very much looking forward to this experience however things don’t always go according to plan. The winds picked up today and they can’t get boats out due to large swells. Grrrrrr.
Instead today will be a day of chilling out before meeting up with my tour group tonight. One thing I have to say is that this massive world of ours is very small. Remember when I lived with a group of girls in Australia back in 2001/2002? We called ourselves the Bondi Babes and have kept in touch ever since. Today I will be meeting up with one of the ‘Babes’ parents. Jeni from England’s parents live here a couple of months out of the year and I’m lucky enough to have a visit today. Tomorrow I will start the next chapter of this journey by leaving the beautiful oasis of Cape Town and heading north through South Africa.

The First Glimpse of Cape Town

Hey Everyone!
 I’m here! At the bottom of the earth! After a grueling 27 hours of travel,  I made it into Cape Town on Saturday night. The beauty of arriving at night is that it is a big surprise when you wake up the next day and head outside. You just never know what is around the corner!1
Yesterday I spent the day at the V&A Waterfront. This Marina and harbour is full of beautiful and historical buildings dating back to the late 1800’s. The buildings remain in tact, but inside are neat shops and markets that make for a great afternoon of people watching.
After a lovely invitation to go ‘clubbing’ by my waiter I quickly decided I’d be less conspicuous by heading to the Two Oceans Aquarium. Who knew that this would also become a place of birth control? I have never seen so many children running around in all m2[1]y life. This little German kid told me not to stick my hand in the sting ray tank…I told the kid to go to Heil Hitler! Kidding. I smiled and nodded and slowly side-stepped  away… As I sat there transfixed by the massive sharks in the predator tank I was rudely interrupted by another little demon who stuck a bloody lollipop  to my leg.  Piss on this attraction…it was time to move my ass out of the child vortex and head outside into the sun.
Today was an amazing day. I was picked up by the friend of a friend of a friend named Marlan. He’s this chipper fella who was ready to be my guide. We first drove to Simon’s Town where we had lunch. I had just finished telling Marlan about my love of animals when I nearly tripped over a decomposing rat with maggots all over it. I had to clarify that living non-rodents would be preferable. So we went to the famous Boulder’s Beach where we saw hundreds of African Penguins in their natural habitat. You could literally walk right up to the penguin and sit down next to it while it sunned itself on the rock. It was so cool.4[1]
Driving along the scenic coast was amazing. The water is a turquoise blue and the beaches are powder white. This city is simply gorgeous and the only fault that I can find is that the water is so bloody cold. If you are brave enough to subject your body to utterly freezing temperatures, you might walk out a Popsicle, or worse, be an afternoon treat for the plethora of sharks. Shark signs that line the beach just don’t give tourists like me a vote of confidence for a leisurely swim in the sea!3[1]
After supper we took a cable car up Table Mountain. This is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and when you get to the top there is no denying this! Table Mountain looks particularly dramatic as it rises almost straight from the sea ending in a virtually flat-topped peak. What took my breath away was the continuous rolling of clouds just below. It was like you were walking high above the clouds and it’s just one of those places where you can’t fully grasp it’s beauty. After watching the sun set we made our way down. Cape Town truly is a city like no other10[1]

And the One-man show has left the building

Some of you are new to my adventure escapades, while others have been around the block (or world) with me a few times and have shared in my travel blunders and highlights through my personal emails. Whether you are new or old, I hope that I can share a piece of the world with you and entertain you in some capacity.

 

Tomorrow I venture off on a 25 hour journey to the other side of the world. I will start off in Cape Town, South Africa where I will be on my own for the first 5 days. I am planning to meet up with a friend of a friend of a friend named Marlan, who has said he will show me around. I am looking so forward to seeing this city, as it seems like there is so much to do and experience. Next Wednesday I will meet up with a G Adventure Group. From there we will take off north up through Namibia, then Botswana and finally Zambia.

 

It is perfect timing that I leave, as I just was informed that I opened a major virus onto the University system. I am actually at work right now, trying to finish all loose ends when the IT team flew in and took my computer away from me.  Why not leave with a bang right?

So here I go … and I look forward to you joining me on this crazy adventure!
The G Adventures Tour that I will take – G Adventures Cape Town to Victoria Falls