Thursday, September 29, 2011

Try-Umph Travels: South Africa

I spent six lovely days in the amazing city of Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town is ridiculously beautiful with its ocean and mountain views. Even as we sailed away I remained in awe.

On the first day I took a sunset hike to the top of Lion’s Head Mountain. I had no hiking experience and didn’t know what to expect. The hike up was tiring for me and made me nervous. When we reached solid rock I noticed how close I was to the edge. If I tripped or misjudged a step I thought for sure I would end up being a headline in the newspaper. It was a long way down! I had to tell myself to stop looking over the edge several times. As exhausted as I was, I am so glad I did it. The view was incredible and I am very proud to say that I hiked up 900 feet. That feeling of amazement and accomplishment will remain with me for many years to come.

After seeing one of the most beautiful sunsets, the next day a group of us took a cable car to the top of Table Mountain. The view of the city from there was as stunning as the sunset I’d experienced the previous night. I remember feeling extremely grateful to take in that scene and all the feelings that came with it.
I didn’t spend all of my time with my head in clouds. There was lots of food involved as well. When I saw a Thai restaurant I was so excited! I hadn’t eaten Thai food in over a month and for me, that is unusual. After getting one of my comfort cuisines I decided to try new dishes. I’ve eaten Cape salmon, an ostrich steak, and grilled crocodile. I wasn’t disappointed. Which one would I eat again? Probably all of them. What I didn't want to try was warthog. Yes, that was an option. Each time I looked at it on the menu I kept thinking about Pumbaa from The Lion King. I just couldn't eat Pumbaa!

One of my favorite mornings came when a group of us visited the University of Cape Town. I love being on a college campus because of the energy and willingness to learn. We spent quite a bit of time walking around, chatting with people, and I enjoyed my group's company. Part of the allure of Semester At Sea is developing relationships with people experiencing the same types of joys, pains, and reflection at the same time.

On the last day in Cape Town a special guest embarked on the ship. Archbishop Desmond Tutu met Semester At Sea faculty and staff during a reception in his honor. He is nearly 80-years-old, but maintains a youthful sense of humor and presence. Following the reception, he addressed the entire shipboard community. His message of interconnectedness and dependence on one another was inspiring. It reminded me of my place in this world as well as the place I should continue to hold for those I am blessed to have in my life. 

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