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Stephanie's Blog

A Final Farewell To A City Of Beauty

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The last morning in Cape Town had surprisingly the nicest weather. The sun was shining, and rain was not evident. This situation made for the perfect sight seeing trip. So after breakfast we all loaded the bus, suitcases and all, to head out to Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. Once again we were left driving through the countryside. Along the way we ran across a rather rare type of antelope. We also passed by an ostrich farm. That is when our guide told us how to tell female and male ostriches apart. Telling them apart is by the color of their legs. Males have pinker legs the females. It amazed me how close the biggest birds on earth were to the bus. They were about 6 feet away and posing perfectly for the camera. Roaming around in the streets were baboons. Our guide told us to be careful with our belongings because if we set our backpacks aside a baboon would most likely take it and run up the hill with it. Baboons need food. A bag of chips a day is what they need in order to survive. It is much easier for them to steal from tourists rather than search for it on their own. The baboons can not tell whether food is present in bags so they steal the whole thing to have a better chance of receiving the food.
When arriving at Cape of Good Hope the mystical area came to life as the waves roared against the rocks and the mountains glowed in the sunlight. Right outside of the bus two ostriches waited patiently to get their picture taken. Cameras began to flash because we all wanted to take in the unbelievable sights in the 10 minutes we had there. Cape of Good Hope is the most south-western point of South Africa. This point was somewhere that a lot of sailors got lost and they wanted name the cape something else but were not allowed therefore the place received a more promising name. After taking in all the beauty we loaded back onto the bus to travel to Cape Point.
At Cape Point we hiked up a bunch of stairs as our legs burned just to see the view that was found at the top by a lighthouse built in the later 1800's. The hard climb was well worth the view at the end as we were able to see where the currents of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet. At the top there was also a sign saying how far we were from other cities in the world. Too bad Cedar Rapids, Iowa wasn't on there. I wonder why. But the sign did say that there were only 12,541 kilometers to New York. After finishing the photos and taking in all the fresh salty sea water air we raced down the mountain to have some time in one of the shops there. In the shop there was a lot of neat African handmade jewelry.
From Cape Point we went to see where some of the animals that live along the coast were. To do this we went to Boulder's Beach in Simonstown, South Africa. Here we were able to see the African Penguin in its natural habitat. The African Penguin lives along the coast of South Africa and is listed in the Red Data Book as a vulnerable species. The beautiful fur of the penguin glimmered in the sunlight. I was surprised at how much fur the penguins had on them. I would have thought due to the hot conditions of South Africa they would have had less fur. The fur does keep them waterproof while they're swimming so maybe that is just the amount that they need. As the cute penguins walked around I tried with all my might to prevent myself from petting them. The penguins seemed friendly, like a pet I would have at home, but looks can be deceiving. African Penguins bite, along with all other types of penguins. The penguins in a warm environment was quite unique and something I would have never expected to see. I am in South Africa, so anything is possible. Outside of the National Park were little street markets. There I put my bargaining skills to the test to see what bargains I could find. We were short on time so there were only a few things I was able to come away with. Also in the streets a performing group put on quite the musical show. Singing songs from their homeland. The music filled the street with a rhythmic beat and helped me to come to reality that I am in South Africa.
My stomach growled as I got back on the bus. Next stop, Harries Pancakes. When I heard of where we were going I thought, oh good American food. Once again I was wrong. Yes, there were pancakes, but the pancake was wrapped around African food. Mine was filled with Thai chicken and mushrooms. I gave the new cuisine a try, but my taste buds rejected the experimenting. I took a couple more bites and decided this food just wasn't for me. Instead of sitting there and waiting, a couple of other people and I decided to go shopping at the center in which the restaurant was held. Unfortunately, we ended up missing the dessert, which supposedly was delicious, a pancake covered in cinnamon and sugar. That's a bummer. The mall seemed to not have much in it that was a "true" symbol of Africa. There was a World Cup store, but since I'm not a big fan of soccer I decided to pass on buying anything. The World Cup is a huge deal in South Africa since in 2010 they plan to hold the event. All of the South Africans are excited and everywhere you go there is a count down until the day when it begins. I believe today in the airport I saw the count was down to 368 days. When arriving back at the restaurant there were street performers out. These men were doing eye compelling tricks with fire. Breathing and licking the flame, attempting some pretty dangerous stuff. This is another example of the true African culture.
From the restaurant we went to SANCCOB. A rehabilitation place for birds that find their home near the ocean go when injured or sick. There we met a penguin by the name of Rocky. Rocky was involved in an oil spill and was washed ashore. There they found him and cleaned him. Due to Rocky not being an African penguin they could not release him into the wild. So Rocky finds his home at the SANCCOB center and is a spoiled but nice penguin. Rocky is one of the few penguins there that do not bite. I was fortunate to have the chance to hold Rocky and his skin was extremely smooth. At the center we learned about a major oil spill of 2000 and how over 30,000 penguins had to be washed and 1,000 of those died. The washing process is complicated and very time consuming. When the penguins first come in they are evaluated. In the case of an oil spill the penguin's digestive system is rinsed out with charcoal and water. This is to take any oil out of the penguin that may be in there. Next the penguin is gently washed with soap and a tooth brush. The cleaner has to be extremely careful because at this point the penguin's life rests in the cleaner's hands. From there the penguin is disinfected and rinsed. This whole process takes one or more hours. Everything in the center is washed carefully to prevent the spread of disease. Fish is hand fed to the penguins. To do this the feeder has to wear particular clothing to prevent from getting bitten. Many precautions are taken at the SANCCOB center for the penguin's well-being, such as mosquito nets and mosquito repellent is hand applied to all the penguins. Penguins in the wild usually get malaria and it doesn't harm them, but when a sick penguin gets malaria the penguin will most likely die. There we also met a penguin by the name of Caroline, who had become almost blind. She permanently lives at the center and like Rocky she does not bite. Most of the people that work at the center are volunteers. The penguins at the center made me start to consider other fields of marine biology that I have not thought of before.
Our time in Cape Town was up and the Table Top Mountain experience was lost, but all the other amazing sights in the city had made up for the lost one. As we said our goodbyes to Tabby, our tour guide for Cape Town, and I realized what an amazing experience this was and how I will probably never come back to Cape Town, South Africa in my life. I took in one last breath of the coastal breeze as we departed for a city with more adventures waiting, Johannesburg.


Sudhir Surendran said...

Fantastic narration! Thank you for taking us along with you, through these beautiful words.

Liz said...

Your descriptions make us feel as if we can touch, smell and see everything you are writing about. Hope you have a smooth flight to Joburg and that the adventure continues to be a great one. We love you and miss you.

Liz said...

Kirsten wants to konw if you still have all of your fingers and toes after the shark dive ? P.S. Kirsten has taken up residence in your bed.

Susan said...

I enjoyed reading your blogs, I felt I was traveling with you. You will have a wonderful diary of your trip upon your return home.

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Essential Programs Details

Duration 12 days
When June 2nd - 13th, 2009
Focus Wildlife Research/Conservation
Political History