Wednesday, February 20, 2013

PART 2 – Traveling through South Africa!

PART 2 – Traveling through South Africa!
Day 15-December 10th – I get up at an ungodly hour in the morning, say my good-byes to Mac and Dylan who later that day will catch flights back to America and head off to airport where I’m bound for one of the coolest cities in the Southern Hemisphere, Cape Town South Africa!!

December 10th – December 16th – Cape Town!
Cape Town is picturesque city located towards the southernmost point of South Africa.  The city follows the sea coast wrapping around a small mountain chain that creates the dynamic view of seeing ocean and palm trees in one direction and the huge face of Table Mountain in the other.   My time in Cape Town was spent hanging out with a bunch of great volunteers and now returned Peace Corps volunteers, hiking up the mountains, chilling at the beach and eating.  There was lots of eating.  My first day in Cape Town was spent going to the Stellenboch region about 45 minutes outside of the city with Anna, Valarie, and Amanda where we went on a full day wine tour.   (4 fun and animated people + 6 wineries * goat cheese = AWESOME).
For the next few days I found myself hanging out with my good friends Chris and Laurie (yep! Those same two from Mapinhane!), Anna and climbing up Table Mountain and Lions head mountain, going to the beach and in general just relaxing and letting each day take me to the next adventure.

December 17th -19th Parting ways with my fellow PCVs and hanging out in Wilderness South Africa.
  These next few days were a crazy time for me.   I said good-bye to my friends and my security blanket and headed 7 hours along the coast of South Africa which brought me to the town of Wilderness.  Wilderness is a nice ocean side town which has a rich forest that comes right up to the beach making for a dynamic contrast between the ocean waters and the thick surrounding forest.
I ended up spending 3 days in Wilderness (it was only supposed to be two but there was a hic-up with the ride I was hoping to take).  I passed the time running, canoeing and visiting waterfalls.   The waterfalls in Wilderness were my favorite part of my time there.  The first set of falls I saw were fun because the rocks had formed multiple pools of water that one could go swimming in.  And to top it off there was one area which you could jump from about 4-5 meters into one of the pools formed by the water fall, needless to say I spent my afternoon doing that!   The second water fall I visited was a lot smaller but a lot more fun to get to.  The trail I took literally looked like something out of The lord of the rings.   The forest was thick and in some places overgrown so that it felt like you were going into a cave of leaves.  As you get towards the end of the trail you arrive at a small waterfall deep within a rock formation.   The appeal of this waterfall was there was almost no one on the trail and when I finally arrived, I had the whole waterfall to myself. 
My time in Wilderness was also spent getting to know some fellow travelers.   As funny as it may sound I may have met more people from Germany in my 3 weeks in South Africa then I had at any other time before Peace Corps in my life.  On top of Germans I met people from Switzerland, Lithuania, England, a handful of Americans, and of course a bunch of South Africans.   Apparently December is the tourist month for South Africa, and I was traveling in the peak!

December 20th – I spent the majority of the day traveling from Wilderness to Port Elizabeth which acted as a Pit stop on my way to Coffee bay.

December 21st -22nd – I Left Port Elizabeth, bright and early, in the morning of the 21st. And I ended up arriving in Coffee Bay in the early afternoon.  Coffee Bay was an interesting place that I am going to have to visit again at some point in my life.  Coffee Bay South Africa got its name because at some point in its history a boat carrying coffee beans shipwrecked off the coast and for a period of time there were coffee beans aplenty on the coast. 

I got to know a few fellow Americans on the bus that brought me in so I ended up spending a good portion of my next day and a half in coffee bay with them.  Some highlights of the trip were watching the sunrise while doing some Yoga with some South African Peace Corps volunteers, watching the sunset over the spectacular set of cliffs that looks over the ocean in Coffee bay, and going to a dinner/cultural dance that they had going on the night I was there.     My time there was short but memorable,  I was sad when I left that I didn’t get more time there.

December 23rd –December 24th – Left Coffee bay and made my way over to Durban where I spent Christmas Eve.   On Christmas Eve day Clemens and I (Clemens was a German traveler who decided to join me) walked around the city trying to see as many sites as possible.   We went to a huge market where we ended up trying bunny chow, bunny chow is a large piece of bread with the center pulled out filled with an Indian curry,    and it was SO GOOD.  I have a deep love of Indian food and Durban having the highest population of Indians outside of India itself, was a number 1 food destination for me.   After the market we visited the botanical gardens, passed by the huge soccer stadium in Durban and then passed the rest of the afternoon on the beach.  Durban was only a one day stop but I’m happy I was able to pass some time there, though the whole time I was there I was starting to get really excited about my family who were going to arrive on December 26th.

December 25th -  I spent the whole day traveling from Durban to Johannesburg.  Not the best way to pass Christmas Day but I was holding out for my family to come on the 26th.   I ended up grabbing dinner with a mismatch group of travelers,  a couple from Uruguay, a Frenchman, and a Canadian.  Half of the meal was in Spanish, some was in French, and the rest was in English, it was a whirlwind of languages.

December 26th – My family touches down in South Africa!!!!!!   I meet them excitedly at the Airport and we travel to the hotel we would be staying in.    My father, mother, and brother all arrived safe and sound and I couldn’t have been more excited, though maybe a little nervous at the prospect of being their guide through South Africa and Mozambique.   The Skvarchs made it to Africa!!!

To be continued….

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