September 24th, 2005

Last night the view out of the window was absolutely breathtaking. Jess and I were in Lyn and Jed’s room and all of a sudden we looked outside and the moon was shining brighter than we had ever seen. It illuminated a path on the surface of the water; a path defined in such shimmering tones that it looked like something out of a fantasy novel. We were moonstruck! πŸ™‚ The other weird thing was that Jed has a glass cross stuck to his window and I looked down for a second and the shadow of the cross was falling on my chest- right above my heart. It was quite a poetic moment. Ok I’m done. Sorry you have to suffer through my ramblings.

Anyways, we had to advance our clocks again today so we went to sleep soon after that. Natalie and I woke up EARLY so we could get good seats in the Union. We were there at 8am for our 9:20 lecture! Archbishop Tutu was our lecturer in Global Studies today so we really didn’t want to be stuck in the back. It was actually more of a panel discussion than a lecture. The panel consisted of 3 students (Emanuel, Tal, and another girl) and 3 faculty (Strumpf and two others I don’t know). It was great. Jed and I were talking last night and we don’t know how so much goodness can come out of just one person. He has made an indelible impact on each and every one of us in the most humble and inspiring way. What amazing things he has done. I will definitely transcribe today and yesterday’s lecture when I get a chance. There is no way I can summarize his words because they will lose all their eloquence and meaning.

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Archbiship Desmond Tutu and his lovely wife.

After the panel discussion, Dean Tymitz came up to the podium bearing some bad news. WE’RE NOT GOING TO KENYA ANYMORE. The State Department heightened their travel warnings for Kenya and the East Coast of Africa so Kenya is off the itinerary. We will still reach Cape Town and Chennai as scheduled but where we are going in between is up in the air. Everyone is pretty upset- especially the people who did independent safaris because they are losing some of their money. Not to be heartless, but SAS did send us an email advising us not to do independent trips in Kenya and Myanmar that require a deposit because there were existing travel advisories for these countries and our plans were always up in the air. We will be reimbursed for any trips planned with SAS. Honestly, I am not that upset about Kenya because I’ve been there before. I know I would have a completely different opinion of it now but I’m not as torn up about it as I would be about South Africa or Vietnam or something like that. Also, I think it’s kind of exciting. Maybe we’ll land up in some random place. I’m looking at my map right now and some people were saying that we could be diverted to the Seychelles Islands because apparently SAS has done that before. Maybe we’ll go to Madagascar or Mauritius or Sri Lanka? Anything works for me. I hope people don’t get too worked up about it though. I completely understand why people would be upset but one of the most important attributes we need to have for this trip is adaptability. I’ll post as soon as I hear any news. Although, it will probably be up on the message board before we even find out! haha Oh I meant to mention this before but I think Dean Tymitz was really an excellent bearer of bad news. He said it so tactfully and explained it so well. We left feeling like this decision was justified and in our best interest. He looked like he was about to cry as he was telling us…

My goodness the waves are higher today than any other day. They are hitting my window a little bit and I live on the 4th Floor! It’s crazy. I’m just waiting for the nausea to ensue.

I’m sitting in the Union right now waiting for our Bering Sea meeting. We just had our cultural pre-port and now we’re having a Movie Night for our Sea. I don’t think we’re staying though. Game time πŸ™‚

Love to all.

September 26th, 2005

Hello from South Africa!!!! We docked EARLY this morning and now we’re just waiting to get off the ship. Let me backtrack though. Logistical preport was actually quite entertaining- especially the song from the medical clinic staff (post from public folder).

Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Words by Bob and Christi Cooley

Stumble, stagger, trip and fall
Throw up, Puke, we’ve seen it all
Beatings, muggings, STDs
All are possibilities
Please drink wisely if you must
And drink with the ones you trust

If you get drunk and fall down
Makes for bad times in Cape Town
Break an ankle, get sent home
And no more the globe to roam
Keep your wits, don’t be so dumb
Careful with your cokes and rum

As for sex hear what we say
It’s the same day after day.
Play it safe, don’t get surprised
Keep alert, open your eyes
Sex is not just fun and games
Foolish choices can cause pains

Cover up, don’t be a fool
Wear a condom, keep your cool
Bring back pix and memories
Souvenirs, not STDs

Natalie and I presented Dr.Vawda and Mikhail with gifts for being interport guests. We had to dress up nicely ( we wore the same outfits from the first day..haha) and say some words of thanks to each of them in front of the whole shipboard community. It was fun. I was so nervous but it went well. We finally had a hip-hop lesson after pre-port. It was a LOT of fun but kind of chaotic because there were so many people there. The rocking boat didn’t make it any easier either. After that I walked by the Piano Bar because I was looking for Ashish and them to play Trivial Pursuit with. Turns out they checked out the Canadian edition….lol. I went downstairs to shower and by the time I came back up they had switched it for a Genus (or Genius as I like to say? hahah Aman, Chris, Ronak anyone remember?) Edition. Me and Jarett teamed up and played for awhile and then I went back down. We had a sleepover tonight because we had big plans to wake up to watch the sunrise over Cape Town. We did wake up but it was FREEZING cold outside so we watched the sun rise from the staffulty (staff +faculty) lounge on the 7th deck. My goodness it was so cold outside. I’m always cold anyways so you can imagine how I was feeling. We sat up there for awhile and then went down to get breakfast and showers.

There was no embassy briefing today so we disembarked around 10:00 am. The line was so long to get out…people who don’t understand the concept of lines frustrate me. There were people who just came up the stairs next to the 5th floor exit and snuck their way right to the front of the line. Ugh. haha sorry. We finally got down to the gangway and stepped foot in to Cape town, South Africa!!! What a gorgeous city. The backdrop of our ship was Table Mountain…absolutely amazing. The port is an interesting place…I feel like I’m back at home. It really feels like Baltimore Harbor. Everything is in English and their are shops and restaurants everywhere. It’s a weird feeling. Me, Lindsay, Natalie, Nessie, and Ashish walked around to find pay phones and an information center. I finally called home. It makes us so happy to call home- Lindsay and I were talking abut that after our short conversations with our parents. It really made my day. After that we just walked around some more and grabbed some lunch before heading back to the ship. I had this amazing brie panini…mmmmm. Oh, there’s an Indian restaurant right near the ship. πŸ™‚ I might have to check that out before we leave.

We went back to the ship to get ready for….SKYDIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah that’s right, I went skydiving. Mom- sorry for not telling you on the phone this morning. I didn’t want you to worry!! Can you believe it? I can’t believe I actually did it. Me, Drea, Lindsay, Natalie, Lyn, Shane, Tania, and Ashish went together. We did it through SkyDiving Cape Town- a reputable group (you can look it up online if you don’t believe me). We met them near the aquarium and got to the place around 4:00pm. The anticipation was crazy…just waiting around and getting more and more nervous as time goes on. Oh before I forget, we watched Red Dust in Phil. and Film yesterday. It was a really great movie. I don’t think it’s come out in the US yet, but when it does you should definitely go see it (Hilary Swank, the guy from dirty pretty things, and the guy from gods must be crazy,). It’s in English and I just thought it was an excellent film. Ok anyways, so we had an odd number of people so I went last and got separated from our group. 😦 Everyone else went and I went with Maddy and Kelsey -two other girls from SAS. They were reallly nice so it worked out well. The plane ride up there was insane. For some reason i thought it would be a bigger plane with seats and a big door to jump out of. NO. It was a TINY tiny plane that was being refueled out of an oil barrel as we were walking up to it. We sat on the floor in between the legs of our tandem jumper. It was only 6 of us in the plane and it took us about 20 minutes to get to the altitude we were jumping from- 9,000 ft!!!!!! Sometime in between my guy told us that we were halfway up…I was ready to jump from there lol. Why go the extra 4500 ft? Haha i’m jk. The view from the plane was amazing- ocean, sand dunes, Robben Islands, houses, the dock. Anyways, we kept going higher and higher and finally it was time to JUMP. My jumper checked my harness and gave me instructions for the jump: grab on to my harness, put my head back on his shoulder, stick my hips out forwards, and kick my legs back between his. He opened the door ( and by door I really mean this plastic covering…) and told me to stick my legs out. I was sitting on the edge of a plane 9000 ft in the air with my legs sticking out of the side flapping in the wind. It was insane. All of a sudden I hear him saying ” Bring your legs back inside!” I think something was off with the wind direction or altitude? I don’t know. But that false start made me even more nervous. He opened the door again and I guess the conditions were ok so we JUMPED. Thank goodness I went first because I think if i had seen someone else do it I would have psyched myself out. The free fall was as scary as it was exhilarating. I have never felt like that in my life. I think we flipped a little bit but I can’t even remember. He pulled the chute and we jerked upwards for a second until we settled into a leisurely descent. I had my camera duct taped to my wrist so I took some pictures and video but I was too preoccupied to take a lot. The memories are all in my head. They didn’t offer the videotape/picture service because they were too busy. The descent and landing went really smoothly and I was back down in what seemed like a few minutes. It went by SO fast. I’m writing this and I still can’t believe I did it. First canyoning, then paragliding, and now skydiving. What’s next? The one thing I could never do is bungee jumping. I don’t think I could physically make myself jump off of something. With this I didn’t really have a choice…I was strapped to someone who was going to jump anyway. Oh, so when we landed I was expecting everyone to still be there but apparently there was an empty van so they made them leave. I wanted them to videotape my landing 😦 Oh well! I hung out with Maddy and Kelsey and her parents while we were waiting for everyone else to jump. They had this cafe type place outside and I found my Lipton Mango Iced Tea!!! I have been looking for it since I had it in Athens a couple years back. haha ok so that was exciting for my and nobody else. The last 6 people came down and we got back to the ship around 8:00pm. We walked into Purser’s Square and they had big signs up with an update on our next port: SAINT LOUIS, MAURITIUS!!!! And…WE’RE STAYING IN CAPE TOWN FOR TWO EXTRA DAYS!!! We are here until Sunday now- a full 7 days!! Then we are at sea for 7 days and our stay in Mauritius is 3 days. Too bad I know absolutely nothing about Mauritius…I’m going to go up to the library later to check it out. I’m so excited!!!! A lot of people are mad about the new developments. That, in turn, makes me kind of upset. lol We’re not going to Kenya. Nobody on this ship is going to Kenya- you’re not the only one who is upset. It’s time to get over it and realize that there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s for our own safety that we’re not going there. A voyage of discovery. To discover is not to have everything planned out beforehand and expect it all to work out perfectly. Some people are even saying that the main reason they came on Semester at Sea was to go on a safari. If that was their main reason they just wasted about $15,000. Ok I guess I’m being a little too harsh. Sorry.

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Me and my tandem jumper- Nicky or Nico or something. I was too nervous to remember.

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Ready to jump!

Anyways, after all that excitement we got ready to go out (But not before napping for half an hour or so…). Me, Lyn, Shane, Lindsay, and Mandee went to this great little German brewery near the Clock Tower. It was called Paulaner. I was the only one who hadn’t eaten so I got this delicious noodle dish- spatzle I think it was called. Well the actual name was a lot longer but that’s all I can remember. Mandee explained to me what it was. I also got guava juice which was soo good too. Dinner was a lot of fun. We were sitting there for a couple hours just talking. There were some SAS guys right behind us and one of them (we remembered each other from the message board later) turned around and asked me if I was from Cape Town. ” No, Semester at Sea” – while pointing at the SAS hoodie I was wearing. lol They told us about some club called Cool Runnings on Long Street that they were going to later. We ended up just heading back to the ship though because we were exhausted. On the way back we passed this Cantina restaurant right next to our ship and they had a DJ and good music playing so we went inside. There were a few groups of SAS students here and there. We didn’t stay there for long but it was fun. We got one of the security guards to pretend like he was drinking. I think being around drunk people gives me more energy- I feed off of their drunkenness. It is kind of getting to me now though. I’m feeling a little bit like I was in the Bahamas. If it’s going to be like this for 7 days- everyone going out drinking every night- I’ll go crazy. I love everyone when they are sober. That’s why I like our time on the ship because everyone is sober pretty much the whole time. Alcohol changes people and makes them act ridiculous. It’s one thing to act like a drunk fool at home and another to do it in a country where you are their guest. You are an ambassador of your home country. I can’t even imagine what kind of impressions we are leaving in our ports of call. Granted the majority of us are responsible and respectful but all you need is one incident to make people forget the positive and dwell on the negative. I feel so guilty and so stupid. I see the looks people give us and I don’t even want to know what they are thinking. I’m pretty sure everyone thinks I’m crazy and that I live in a bubble at home. I think my reactions to drinking are too harsh because I’m just not used to it. For one thing I’m not 21 yet so I’m not really in this type of environment too much at home. There is no such thing as social drinking because when you are underage you have to drink in the confines of your dorm room or someone’s apartment or whatever. I’ve never been bar hopping or any of that so this is totally new for me.

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Natalie, Lindsay, Lyn, and me at Paulaner’s brewery. I’m just holding the beer for effect, promise. Or for shock value I guess.

September 27th, 2005

We woke up at 8am today and got ready to go to the aquarium. Yay! It was me, Amy, Natalie, Lindsay, and Jed. We just got back a little while ago and I wanted to take a nap but I also wanted to update my journal. Journal wins. I’m so exhausted though. Last night after we got back things got kind of crazy. I didn’t get to sleep until 3am or so. Ugh. Ok I don’t want to get started. lol. I’m not going to pretend like this is going to be 100 days of absolute bliss. You can’t stick 680+ college students together and not expect petty drama, controversy, gossip, etc. It just so happens that a lot of it comes out when people are drunk. Oh, so ship gossip is pretty amazing. It’s like playing telephone with 700 people. Did I mention that there was a rumor before that either me or the other Aparna was going home? lol Anyways, the aquarium was pretty cool. It was smaller than the Baltimore aquarium but I still really liked it. On the way to the aquarium we were walking on the waterfront and we saw one of our lifeboats out in the water. I guess they do test runs on them. Ok I’m going to try and sleep for 20 minutes or so before our Township and District 6 visit.

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A very contemplative penguin.

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Planet Earth’s Most Dangerous Preadtor. How true.

TEJAL- Thanks so much for the letter!! Lindsay knocked on my door this morning and brought my letter inside b/c it was on my door. Mail call is probably the most exciting thing in port. haha. Thanks again. Love you and miss you!!!

The air here seems so much cleaner and fresher than we are used to. It’s almost like you can taste the difference. Haha too bad we are in one of our more expensive ports for a week. I’m going to spend a good amount of money here…without even trying. The prices are comparable to the US but we are doing a lot of things in a short amount of time so it really adds up.

Ok so I just got back from a crazy night. Let met write about the Township Visit first. We went to the District Six Museum first which was fascinating, I wish we had more time to spend there because I didn’t get to see all of it. The guy who was talking to us used to live in District Six so he was giving us a first hand account of all that happened. Here is a brief history of it (taken straight from the brochure):

District Six was named the sixth district of Cape Town in 1867. Established as a vibrant mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants, it was closely linked to the city and port. By the beginning of the 20th century,the process of removals and marginalization had started. The first to be “resettled” were “Africans”, forcibly removed from the area in 1901. As the more prosperous community members moved to the suburbs, the district became the neglected ward of Cape Town. In 1966, under the Group Areas Act f 1950, District Six was declared a “white” area. By 1982, the life of that community was over and 60,000 people were forcibly removed, their houses flattened, by bulldozers, to a barren outlying area aptly known as the Cape Flats. The District Six Museum was born on December 10, 1994, to work with the memories and experiences of those affected.

After the museum visit we drove through a few townships. It was so weird because we hadn’t even gone that far from the port and already the socio-economic disparity was evident. The townships varied in “grandeur” so to say. We first stopped at a handicraft cottage industry type place. They explained that they are teaching such things as pottery, metalwork, etc. to people so they have some way to support themselves and their families. The next place we stopped was an actual township. As soon as we got off the bus we were swarmed by kids. We were told not to give them any money or gifts or anything because they didn’t want to teach them to be beggars. They all wanted their picture taken and then they wanted to see it. It was great at first but I felt a little strange about the whole experience. I felt intrusive and it seemed like we were only there to take pictures and leave. I couldn’t even bring myself to pull out my camera too much outside. I did take video from the bus though. Our tour guide, Ivy, told us that the people of the township don’t mind at all but I still feel unsettled about the whole thing. We saw two households in this township. The first was a tiny room for one family and the second one was a more modern place with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living room complete with TV switched on to MTV. The funny thing is that these 2 places were not more than 50 feet away from each other. I guess the difference in rent (20 Rand a month to 200 some Rand a month) says it all. It was interesting to see. We drove to another township and walked around for about 15 minutes. We visited another house and I met this little boy who said he was 14 but didn’t look a day older than 7. I guess he gauged my reaction when he said 14 because he then explained that he had a brain tumor and the chemotherapy had stunted his growth. He even showed us where the incision was from when they removed it. He told us all of this so nonchalantly and then he went on playing. Another interesting experience. As I am writing this I feel like I’m not being appreciative of the opportunity we were being given, but that’s s not it at all. Imagine taking a big tour bus into Northeast DC and getting down to take pictures of people, their houses, their kids, etc. I know it’s different but I was just trying to clear it up a little bit.

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Township visit.

Ok so we got back from the township around 6pm and we had to be ready by 6:30 so we rushed and cleaned ourselves up. We were going to this show called Bouncers. Jed set it up for us- he would make a really great trip leader! πŸ™‚ We had 30 some people going and somehow he collected all the money, bought the tickets, and made sure everyone got there ok. The theater was called On Broadway and it was small but really nice. The show was FABULOUS. It was these 4 incredibly talented actors doing little vignettes from one night out. They acted out different sets of people; bouncers, girls night out, guys night out, etc. It’s really hard to explain but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life. Well maybe at the comedy club in NYC last summer (good times right girls?). Anyways, after the show was over we hung out there for a little bit and chatted with our waiter Matthew. We decided to go out afterward to a club called Cruz so we walked there but it was closed. We went to another one close by called The Bronx I think. We were in the gay district of Cape Town so the experience was interesting nonetheless. I’d never been to a gay club before….this trip is all about new experiences right? haha Liz and I had fun dancing by ourselves. At least in a gay club you don’t have to be afraid of sketchy guys- they’re not after you after all. It was fun for a little but but it was kind of a trashy club so Liz and I left after an hour or so. Matthew kindly came back with us in a taxi and we just stood outside and talked for another hour or so. It was a lot of fun because not only was he a really nice guy but while Liz was on the phone he was telling me his opinion on the current government and all that. It was good to hear the other side of it. In my opinion, our knowledge of South Africa is a little bit slanted. He was also telling me how they have affirmative action in South Africa that creates just as much if not more controversy between the races. Ok so I came back to the ship and hung out with Lyn and Jess until we all fell asleep. Os so I thought this was funny: in the club they had music videos playing on big screens all around and I looked up for a second and guess what video was on? Jay Sean- Stolen. There was no sound because they were just playing videos to add to the atmosphere I guess (Prithvi- I did think of you though)!

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Me with Jess’s floppy hat. πŸ™‚

September 28th, 2005

I slept in today. It was bad but I really needed to catch up on my sleep. I met Lindsay, Drea, and Natalie at 12:30 to go to Robben Island. We bought our tickets on the first day in port because the spots were filling up quickly. We walked over to catch the ferry to the island and the tour started once we got to the island. Robben Island was a prison and most people know it because it is where Nelson Mandella was held for 18 some years during the apartheid era. The first part of the tour was basically a bus tour around the island where we saw the rock quarries that the convicts worked in, some of the cells, a school, church, etc. The view of Cape Town was really nice from the island because you could see Table Mountain in the background and the city underneath it in a completely different perspective. The second part of the tour was led by a political prisoner who was actually interned on Robben Island for 7 years. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for him to give tours of this place day after day and all the while reliving his experiences as a prisoner. At the end of the tour he told us that the reason some of the prisoners choose to do this is because they don’t see any point in holding a grudge. He even said that they reconciled their differences with the former wardens and guards as well. It’s a miracle that no civil war ensued after the ANC took over the government. Granted they still have their problems today but they are only 10 years into it.

On the second part of the tour we got to see the actual cell where Nelson Mandela was held. Our guide was really good and explained a lot about prison life and conditions. After the tour was over we walked over to the edge of the island to see the penguins! That was cool but we had to catch our ferry back so we didn’t get to hang around much. We got back to the ship around 5pm to clean ourselves up before dinner. Me, Linz, Lyn, Drea, Natalie, Ben, Chris, and Amy went to this South African restaurant near the clock tower for dinner. It was pretty good. I had an African omlette with all kinds of vegetables and mushrooms and all that. After dinner we went to Mitchell’s bar. We pretty much hung out there all night and just got back a little while ago. It was fun I guess. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just can’t stand everything being about alcohol. It’s like people are so suppressed on the ship that when they go out they really have to live it up. I’m not judging I swear. I just wonder what people think of us. The security crew who watch people stumble up the gangway steps every night- do they laugh and say ” oh I was a college student once, I know how it is” or do they roll their eyes in disdain and say ” these kids should make better decisions.” Apparently some girl today got alcohol poisoning and had to be taken to the hospital. I hope she’s ok. Yeah ok well it’s almost morning and I’m sleepy.

September 29th, 2005

Today has been pretty relaxed so far. Lindsay and I just walked around the waterfront and took care of the little things we had been meaning to do for awhile; postcards, internet, phone calls, etc. I promise I’ll send postcards from here- I’ve been really bad about it so far. I checked my email and looked up some information about Mauritius- more than 50% of the population is Indian! I’m excited. πŸ™‚ I also got a really nice email from Rob’s mom which made me want to post in my journal more often. We made our way to the CD Warehouse near the Aquarium because I wanted to find the Amandla! CD. I found it but it was reallllly expensive and I’m 99.99999% sure I can find it on Amazon. It’s one thing to buy souvenirs and things that you can’t find at home but it makes no difference to me if I buy this CD now or later. I swear I’m not being stingy I’m just trying to be practical. I also made a new friend today at the CD store πŸ™‚ His name is Yasir and he’s from Surat, well born in South Africa but Gujerati.

Fun night tonight!! We were supposed to go to Mama Africa’s but we couldn’t get reservations until 9:45pm so we decided to go to Quay 4 instead. I wasn’t very hungry because I ate on the ship but I still managed to eat onion rings and half a slice of cheesecake. πŸ™‚ Dinner was a lot of fun- there was a live band and they were singing really good songs. We left there around 11pm and went to Long (Lang) Street. We had plans to meet Matthew our waiter from On Broadway at Cool Runnings at 11pm but we were a little late and we couldn’t find him or contact him. No cell phones for us. haha people always ask us how they can reach us and there really is no way. Ah…we are back to how life was before the advent of the cellular phone. I think it’s good in a way. Anyway, Cool Runnings was pretty empty so we went to a club called The Fez near Green Market Square. They were playing hip hop so I was happy. I got all my dancing out of my system- well not really…I was still dancing on the way home. I don’t know why I’m so hyper today! It’s 2:40 am right now and I can’t sleep for some reason so I decided to update my journal and then finally post it! Amy and I are going to try and crash Project Hunger tomorrow. If that doesn’t work we’re going to go to the winelands for the day or wander around Long St. We’ll see πŸ™‚ Ok I guess it’s bedtime. Or maybe I’ll go read. I just started reading God of Small Things, it’s good but some parts are hard to get through. It’s written in an interesting style to say the least. I think I just have to read more to really get into it. Hope all is well at home.

September 30th, 2005

My big plans to post this journal last night didn’t seem to work out so well. I was just finishing up when Brandon came by Purser’s Square. We started talking any all of a sudden it was 4:00 am. Good times. Probably the best part of my night! I just love getting to know people- more than just the “hi, how are you” stage but a deeper understanding of who they are and where they come from. Anyways, Amy and I decided not to do Operation Hunger today because we were both so worn out. We walked down to Long St. instead with Jed and Lyn. We had a good day just wandering around, in and out of stores. I finally bought something! I bought a purse from this place called Out of This World. It was one of those impulse purchases that you just know you would regret not making. It’s this weird patchwork kind of bag that I absolutely LOVE. It’s also one of those things you say ” Oh this would be a lot cheaper in India…” but then you can’t find it. Yeah so I was happy with it. πŸ™‚ Other than that we just went to some thrift stores, internet cafe, and we had drinks and dessert at the Manhattan Cafe in Waterkant (the gay district). We walked back to the waterfront and Jed and I went to the mall to look up movie times and buy stamps. I finally sent out my postcards today! Expect them in a month or so…

We went to St.Elmo’s tonight for dinner. It was SO good. Drea and I shared a vegetarian pizza that was delicious and we also had some amazing dessert. It was some warm chocolate brownie cake thing with whipped cream and ice cream. The one thing that is cheaper here is food. My whole dinner (half a large pizza, drink, dessert, tax, tip) came out to less than $9. Excluding food, everything else is comparable to the US if not more expensive. After dinner we went to Mitchell’s pub again. It was fun but I decided to come back early tonight because I am drained. The South African guys we met the other night came back tonight so that was fun. I talked to Rick for a LONG time too and I really enjoyed that. I was on my way out and Rick made his roommate walk me back to the ship, it was really sweet. The ship was really not far from the bar and there were a lot of people around but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I’m sure some more interesting things happened today but right now I am too exhausted to write about them. Plans for tomorrow: University of Cape Town, Table Mountain, movie. We are hoping for NO rain. Ok Good night!

October 1st, 2005

I forgot to mention that last night we met these 2 guys from the states that weren’t on SAS and one of them happened to work at some club in LAUREL. What a small world! Anyways, so today we woke up around 9:00am and me, Natalie, Lindsay, and Carri went to the University of Cape Town. We met up with Natalie’s friend and she showed us around for a little bit. The campus is absolutely gorgeous and I could definitely see myself studying abroad there. I would LOVE to do it but I would also like to graduate on time. Eh…minor details. πŸ™‚ It reminded me A LOT of CP strangely enough. I think it was the architecture of the buildings, the high columns, and the sporadic fountains! After we walked around the upper campus she took us down to the res halls. There are two “American houses” where the students from the states stay. The houses were amazing and the rooms were SO big. We met some other people who were staying in the house too. Haha oh yeah when we were on the upper campus we saw all these signs for an “American Toga Party” The flyers were hilarious- they said it would be “just like in the movies” and on the bottom of the sheet had instructions for how to put on a toga. Ok so we were there for a couple hours and then taxid back to the waterfront. We had an amazing lunch at the fast food St.Elmo’s in the mall- cheese and garlic sub and a chocolate milkshake. After eating we took a much-needed trip to the Pic N Pay grocery store inside them mall. Did I mention how much I LOVE grocery shopping in other countries? I’m fascinated by all of the different things that are offered and I honestly could spend hours just looking around (stop laughing). Since my grocery bag is right next to me (oh yeah, you have to pay for grocery bags- a novel concept that I believe we should take to the US) I’ll tell you what I bought. Choc-Kits- the greatest cookies I’ve ever tasted…kind of like Samoas if you remember them?, spiced Dutch cookies, passion fruit creme cookies, mango creme biscuits, Tinkies (filled with bubblegum blast, strawberry tingle, chocolate potion, caramel swirl, cream soda bubble, and vanilla whiz!), Tuc biscuits (I have been searching for these since Finland!), a six-pack of Mango iced tea, and passion fruit juice boxes. Hopefully all this will last me until India. Rumor has it that this is the last port where we will be allowed to bring food on the ship? As of now we are only allowed packaged food but apparently that is attracting bugs to the rooms. We’ll see about that. I think it’s just a rumor. We lugged all of our groceries back to the ship and got ready to go to a movie at the Cinema Nouveau theater in the mall. Me, Lyn, Shane, Natalie, Rafi, Courtney, and Kyle went to see “Boy Called Twist” a South African movie based on the Charles Dickens’s classic “Oliver Twist”. It was good I guess. Not as good as 2 Flhas de Francisco but I don’t think anything can beat that.

Sometime this evening I made the best purchase of the day- a 50 Rand phone card. πŸ™‚ I called home and then Ronak, Tejal (who didn’t pick up), Jess, Poonam, Arpit (who also didn’t pick up), Kavit, and Dipak Kaka. The card was only supposed to last 15 minutes but that was a lie thank goodness. I tried to call people who lived with other people so I could kill more birds with one stone. Arpit didn’t pick up but I did get to talk to Karen. πŸ™‚ Good times. Talking to you all made my day.

Anyways, after the movie we went to Harrie’s Pancakes near the Clock Tower for some excellent crepes. Mine had butternut squash, feta cheese, and sweet pepper sauce in it. We came back to the ship and Lyn, Shane, and I tried to find a comedy club nearby but we were too late and all the shows had started already. We all went to Mitchell’s instead. It was more fun tonight because 1) nobody was drinking too much 2) there were some different people there so I met new people and had some good conversations. We left around 12:30 and stopped by KFC on the way back to the ship (it was the only thing open). For some strange reason we were all craving french fries. Craving satisfied we headed back to the ship and now I am just writing my journal and debating posting it. I’ve waited this long and said that I’ll post it every night so what’s one more day? Maybe if I do it tomorrow I’ll put up some pictures too.

October 2nd, 2005

AMAZING last day in South Africa. I woke up this morning to go have coffee (tea actually…but it doesn’t sound the same) at the CD Warehouse. I got back around 12:30 and me, Lindsay, and Al went up to Table Mountain. We found our same taxi driver from yesterday to take us there so that was nice. Everyone in Purser’s Square was telling us that it was too cloudy and that it wouldn’t be worth it to go there. WRONG. I’m so glad we went. The drive there was great in itself; nice houses and a great view of the city as we were climbing up to the base of the mountain. We took the cable car up which was a great idea because it was a little bit chilly today. The floor of the cable car rotated so we could get a 360-degree panoramic view. When we first got to the top it was clear so we had a great view of the city, port, ocean, etc. After a few minutes we could literally see the clouds moving towards us and they were moving pretty fast! It was such an amazing thing to see the cloud cover from such a unique vantage point. I was so click-happy today! It was so peaceful at the top of the mountain and it turned out to be a great way to spend our last day here- reflecting on the whole experience. We walked around for a while and somehow ended up on a trail that was going down the mountain. We turned around and headed back towards the cable car but it was hard to see due to all the clouds so it was a little bit more difficult to find our way back. No worries though, we got back safe and sound but very cold. Silly me decided to wear flip flops because I didn’t think we would be hiking at all. It wasn’t bad though, my flip flops seem to have good traction! Hiking up Table Mountain would have been awesome but I’ll save that for when I come back and have more time. Yeah that’s right, I am DEFINITELY coming back to South Africa.

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Me on top of Table Mountain.

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Al jumping off the edge of the world.

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A beautiful view from the top of Table Mountain.

Anyways, we got back to the cable car around 4pm and we took a taxi back to the waterfront. We went to St.Elmo’s again to eat because we wanted something fast and cheap. I had a creme soda milkshake today that was neon green but really really good. We split up after that as we all had to take care of our own little things. I definitely needed some time to myself too after such a crazy week. I walked around the waterfront for a while and then into the mall to use up my spare change. I found a great little beaded AIDS ribbon pin at some store. Did you know that approximately 1 in 5 people in South Africa have HIV. We would joke about it sometimes this week but I realized its not really a laughing matter. Pete organized some trips to an AIDS clinic near here and just to hear about their experiences is heart-wrenching. This really makes me want to get more involved in SGAC, One and organizations like that when I get home. Prevention is just as important as treatment. I wonder what I can do about it?

Concluding thoughts about South Africa:
I love it here and definitely want to come back. The people here are incredibly friendly and helpful. I never really felt like I was being cheated or swindled by anyone. I am amazed by how this country has evaded a civil war in light of its history (which isn’t really history if you consider how recent it was) and I am curious to know what it is about this interesting mix of people that has allowed them to live relatively “peacefully” in the post-apartheid era. Oh, something we noticed while we were walking around is that even though this country is VERY diverse it is not very diversified. There are people of all races but you do not see them hanging out together. It is very segregated in that sense. Racism is still rampant here and I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice it. On a more light-hearted note, the men in South Africa are very good-looking. Especially the Indian ones. I think it’s because they dress and act more European. You don’t see anyone here scrubbin it in sweats or even baggy pants.

Ugh. You know what I just thought about? I’m missing GARBA!! You all will have to live it up for me. Pull out the Raas Chaos moves. πŸ™‚ I’m thinking of having a garba lesson on the ship just so I can get it out of my system. There’s only one other guju on this ship and I don’t think he knows how to do garba ( no hard feelings because I didn’t do garba until last year…) so it looks like I’ll be doing it all by my lonesome. Oh well! At least I have enough garba music to last a lifetime. Yeah, so have fun!!!

Well I have 7 days at sea so I’ll try to post one or two times in between. If not, I’ve given you more than enough to read!

Missing everyone at home. Love to all!

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This is what I look like when I’m writing in my journal. All wrapped up in my beechwood blanket! Well, at least I match.

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