Sunday, April 14, 2013

a south african spring break

So apparently the concept of “studying abroad” actually includes studying. And homework. Who knew? This past week I was busy with a history project and had little to no time for posting pictures and blog entries. But good news – I have a lot to show and tell! Spring break was really fun and I was able to bond with a lot of people in my program who I rarely see. I’ll talk about the Garden Route in this post, and the Kalahari stories will be in another this week.

After waking up to leave at 5am, we headed to the ostrich farm on Friday, March 29th. Normally they allow you to ride them, but it was rainy and if they slip they can break an ankle! So yeah, no riding. But we did learn about ostriches and their feathers and eggs. We also learned that they can be dangerous and can kill people really violently if need be. Next we met one of the ostriches and were able to feed her and also feed a bunch of other ostriches for a nice little neck massage!

We went to the Cango Caves quickly after the ostriches. The caves are a little eerie but the rock formations are so beautiful and it was awesome to see the enormity of the caves themselves. We had the options of going on either the Standard Tour or Adventure Tour of the caves and I went with the adventure, being the adventurous girl that I am; it involved a lot of crawling through narrow cracks. One of the openings to crawl through was about 30 centimeters! Can you even picture that? I don’t know how people of all shapes and sizes can wiggle through there, but they do it. Anyway, I actually thought it was really fun and we didn’t have a ton of difficulty getting through them.

Saturday was a very relaxed day for me, and a few of us went to the local mall and market. The markets in SA are so nice and have a bunch of great food and handmade items. We came across a woman named Peggy Diephu who hand-painted canvas pieces of everything—elephants, dancers, the African continent, children, shacks, etc. They were all so beautiful and it was amazing to see all of the art that she painted herself. I bought a few pieces as souvenirs for people back home. Peggy gave us her card and insisted on us taking pictures of her with her artwork. She was so happy that we came and bought her pieces and that it made her day that we were there. She was honestly the sweetest and most talented woman. Here’s her picture with one of my purchases.

The next day was the most exciting for me—bungee jumping! Our whole group went to Bloukrans Bridge together; the ones jumping went and the others stayed in a restaurant/bar area where they could watch the jumpers on a huge TV screen. We walked along a catwalk to get to the bridge and I was so pumped the entire time before I jumped. The workers there were so friendly and fun, and there was a DJ at the top playing music to get everyone excited. Before any of us went, we saw an older man (at least 70 years old, I’d say) jump. It was insane. I told myself that if he could do it, I could too.

If any of you have seen my bungee jump video on Facebook, you know that I was dancing the whole time that the staff members were hooking me up to the cord, and that was because I was SO scared and was trying to concentrate on dancing. The jump itself was so exhilarating. The wind was blowing in my face and it was lightly raining; it was really peaceful to see the river and trees below me. Afterwards, I was going crazy. The adrenaline rush hit me like a bullet and my roommate Daniela (who was the first to jump!) and I couldn’t stop dancing to the music while everyone else jumped.

On Monday, we went to Knysna Elephant Park and touched, fed, and walked with the elephants. We each got a bucket of veggies and lettuce to give to them, and they would just grab the food with their trunks. It was so cute! Then we walked in a small group with a couple of ellies and were able to touch them and walk around with them while taking pictures. They were so calm and beautiful; they are seriously Africa’s gentle giants.

Our last day of activities was Tuesday, and we went to Monkeyland and the Tenikwa Feline Sanctuary. Monkeyland is pretty self-explanatory—we walked around the forest with our guide, Hamidi (such a sweet man, by the way…he was always smiling!) while looking at different species of monkeys. We saw a ton of ring-tailed lemurs at this one feeding station; there must have been at least 20 in the area!

At the feline sanctuary, it started raining so that wasn’t too fun. But we saw wild African cats (pretty much a fiercer housecat), servals, a cat that is pretty much a lynx (go Lynx!), a leopard, and cheetahs! The cheetah part was actually so cool because they were just chilling in front of us without a cage or leash, and they were just hanging out and being so calm. These ones are apparently brother and sister!

On Wednesday, we left our accommodation and headed back to Stellenbosch. We arrived at about 3pm and most of us left for the Kalahari 5 hours later! So we booked it to the grocery store and laundry room to get ready again. I hope you guys enjoyed reading about my Garden Route adventure…I’m really sorry about the length; the Kalahari entry will be coming soon to a blog near you! A.K.A. this blog.

‘Til next time,

1 comment:

  1. WOW - this was very interesting read. I enjoyed every word and feeling so energized by your curiosity and thirst for adventure. I am glad you had a great time and savor every moment. ~mom~