Day 16

Yesterday, I failed to mention that we were surprised in the morning with a new driver. I’d like to give a sizeable shout out to our OG driver, Luvo, for his positivity, punctuality, and 10/10 driving skills. This morning, our new driver showed up 50 minutes late (imagine the extra sleep!!!!). So late, in fact, that I told myself if he didn’t arrive by 8, I. was going to take the day off. Well, this man rolled up at exactly 7:59 so I guess that was my bad karma for the day.

Similar to yesterday, today was also pretty standard. The four interns did lots of the paperwork but some of the nurses on the non-paperwork-friendly staff were watching over our shoulders looking for any mistakes. They ended up sitting with us and watching our every move but were “too tired to write”. This suited me just fine because we got to talk to and hang out with them. Their favorite activity was getting us to call out the folder names for new mothers, trying to pronounce them correctly. Most of the time, we absolutely butchered the Mbuntus, Fundiswas, and Nkululekos but finessed the occasional Amanda or Olivia. One of the nurses took the opportunity to let me know that her middle name is Grace but she absolutely hates it, asking her mother to give her a different name instead. Now she just refers to me as “my name”: “My name, are you going to tea?” or “Good morning, my name!”

As if the 50 minutes this morning wasn’t enough, driver #2 showed up 30 minutes late to pick us up from the clinic this afternoon. Yikes. Once we got back, Maci, Nikki, and I decided on a sunset cruise at the Waterfront. Instead of Ubering, I decided to walk the 2.5 miles through downtown Cape Town and that was, indeed, an endeavor. Lots of checking behind my shoulders and walking at a brisk pace.

We arrived at 4:59 and ran onto the dock to be met with many sales reps trying to get us to go on their boat. We jumped on the first one we saw (only R 300 or $22.37) and set out for the Atlantic. We were aboard a huge catamaran with only one other family. The crew guided us out to the trampolines in the front of the boat and we stretched out, blankets and cider (included) in hand. As the sun began to set, the crew came around with champagne (also included) and we watched the sunset over the horizon in style.

Upon return to the waterfront (~90 minutes later), we ate at Servuga, a taste of international cuisine right on the water. Since we came before 7, all of their sushi was half off, so we ordered a few table-size platters to share for only about $9 each. I’ll never stop being astonished at the low prices we’ve found here. Same as literally every other restaurant I’ve been to, 10/10 would recommend if you’re down at the V&A Waterfront.

A few hours later and it’s now time to “cruise for a snooze” as my roommate, Tess, would say. Xhosa word of the day is “sunset”: kwelanga.

Day 12

After a week of waking up at 6:30, I was ready to sleep in but, alas, there is no time to sleep when you’re somewhere as exciting as Cape Town. At approx. 7:30 sixteen girls from the Connect program boarded a bus taking us to the Garden Route Game Lodge. 3.5 hrs later (filled with sleeping and a lot of reading), we arrived at this slice of heaven on earth. See below (or the photo gallery) for pictures of this place– from the deck where we had “high tea”, dry grasslands went on for miles, completely preserved.

At 4:30, we were introduced to our lovely guide, Ines, and set out for our first game drive of the trip. The first animal we came across was a beautiful white rhino named Tim. This dude was huge and we were only about 5 ft away from him. Ines told us a wonderful story about how one time Tim turned his back and urinated directly into the faces of a bunch of elderly Swiss tourists. Unfortunately, we were not so lucky but maybe next time :/

Next, we ran into a bunch of Cape Buffalo, one of the strongest animals in South Africa who gave us a stare down. They routinely pierce animals with their strong “headpieces” and, honestly, I was scared. Ines explained how the animals are socialized to see our vehicle as one object without humans inside of it and have nothing negative to associate it with. However, if we were to leave the vehicle, we would be charged in a minute. Scary stuff.

We drove around a bit more running into some more rhinos (mother and baby!), ostriches, lots of antelope, a hippo, and cheetahs! About halfway through the drive, Ines put us in park, turned around, and said, “you guys are a little quiet– let’s get some alcohol in you!!” We hopped out of the truck (less than .5 miles from some rhinos!!!) and watched the sunset with drinks-of-choice in hand… a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

After a delicious curry-filled dinner and warm bonfire, we headed back out for a night drive, hoping to see some nocturnal animals (owls, small cats, jaguars, etc.). Sadly, we had no such luck but we did run into a family of porcupines and learn how to tell true South in the Southern Hemisphere from our guide during the nightly hot chocolate break. Still worth it.

Now I’m sitting in bed, ready to pass out even if it’s only 10:30pm. Tomorrow morning we’ll be up early again to head out on our sunrise drive so sleep is imperative! Xhosa word of the day is “cheetah”, the coolest animal of the day: ingwenkala.

Day 6

If I lived today a thousand times over, that still wouldn’t be enough. Today was truly one of my favorites. We started the morning with a lunch trip to Kloof Street House, a delicious and eclectic restaurant on (you guessed it!) Kloof Street. When I asked for her guidance, my cousin Tabor, a Cape Town pro, insisted that we head to Kloof Street House for Sunday lunch because of the live jazz performance they have! Thank you x10000, Tabor, because the jazz made the meal absolutely unforgettable. If you’re ever lucky enough to spend a Sunday in Cape Town, definitely head there but beware: you should probably make a reservation ahead of time!

After a lovely lunch, we browsed down Kloof, popping into a few shops and gathering inspiration for Tess’ budding fashion line that she’s building while here in Cape Town. We ended up in the Company’s Garden, right behind the parliament buildings of South Africa. We strolled a little bit, laughed a little bit, and (I) fed a few squirrels (including an albino one??). Fantastic photo evidence can be found in the gallery. As we were leaving, we ran into the cutest dancing troupe. I’d love to know more about the specific culture/area they were representing, but for the time-being I’ll let you indulge in a video of their performance:

Following a quick walk home (and also a quick change of the Facebook profile picture post-Garden), we grabbed our books and headed out to Camps Bay for the sunset. We lounged on a blanket in the sand and pranced along the coastline, almost as if it was summer! But, sadly, it is, in fact, winter and our toes got quite chilly quite quickly. Around 5:45, we finally watched the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean… not something that people see very often. With the view of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, and Lion’s Head in the background, this view was absolutely stunning. So much so, that I literally had to FaceTime my parents (and my second half, Matt Gillam) to show them the gorgeous vista. We stayed in Camps Bay for dinner, grabbing some delicious pizza at a beachside restaurant (Mantra), then headed home for an early night. A few Mad Men episodes later, here we are. Xhosa word of the day is “beautiful”: entle.

Day 5

This morning got off to a slow start, with Tess, Morganne, and me (roommates) lounging in bed as we listened to the blissful sound of rain. In a city where day zero of a drought looms within the next year, rain is always a feat to be celebrated. Morganne and I zipped off to the local grocery store, Woolworths (very similar to Whole Foods), and picked up more of their incredible premade meals… from samoosas to wraps to soups to pies they have it all.

Around 11:30, we took off for Old Biscuit Mill, a shopping hub in Woodstock (suburb) that turns into a huge food/craft market on Saturday mornings. Food stalls were spread throughout the market offering selections from curry to paella to baked goods to pho and every cultural dish in-between. After a few rounds, I stuck with some Korean glass noodles and a grilled chicken seaweed burrito (“edo”), both of which were absolutely fantastic. This market is a must for any visitors and I place I hope to hit up every Saturday from here on out. The craft booths boasted beautiful jewelry, vintage clothes, and stylish bags and nearby shops provided an array of fashion, spices, and kitchenware. My wallet shed a few tears at the good ol’ Biscuit Mill.

We returned home to bask a little bit more in the glory of rain before heading upstairs to work out in the rooftop gym room (no machines, just mats and space). As sunset approached, we loved getting to squat, jump, and stretch all while looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the Cape Town skyline. Pictures to come. Morganne and I stayed out on the rooftop deck reading as the sun truly set, providing a wonderful viewing point for the ~golden hour~.  Up there, I finished “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas which I cannot recommend enough. If you don’t believe me look at the list of awards it’s received: William C. Morris Award, Michael L. Printz Award, Coretta Scott King Award, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and the longest for the 2017 National Book Award. Published in only February of 2017, this novel is simply incredible and also a very quick read.

Returned from the rooftop to whip up some delicious dinners / bran muffins (Woolworths mix for the win) and now we’re all laying in bed watching movies until we fall asleep. Xhosa word of the day is “delicious”: nandi.