Friday, 30 September 2011

Lion's Head

My Favorite view.  Those mountain peeks are called "the Twelve Apostles"
Almost to the top! just another brutal rock climb and we're there

We made it in time for the sunset! well done us
SO I know I already talked about my astonishing hike up devil’s peak—the tallest and most wicked, dangerous, epic hike there is. . . but it was not my first hike in Cape Town.  The first hike I went on was Lion’s Head, the mountain that over looks the whole city and is a wicked fun hiking activity.  I've climbed it twice- once at sunset on the full moon and once at sunrise.  The sunset hike is a definite thing you have to do here-- says people on my program (I personally almost didn't hike it because I found this statement annoying, BUT I did climb it and I'm very happy I did).  For the sunset you climb it and watch the sunset at the top then you can turn around and watch the full moon rise up over Table Mountain.  I personally liked the sunrise hike better because it is light out, so you can actually see as you hike your way down.

This is the "elephant" holding up the mountain.  The Face is on the left- can you see it?

The first part of the hike is the hardest.  While it is a straight path, it is a straight path at a 75-degree angle and you are trying to walk quickly because it looks easy, which it is not.  Once you get to the rockier sections it gets easier.  The rocks make it a nice steady climb. . . until they turn into a rock wall.  You are truly rock climbing up parts but there are steel rods and chains hammered into the side so you have places to grab and pull yourself up.  I thought I was super tuff because I just lunged up and grabbed hold of these very stylish steel spikes and swung myself up.  It was not until I was half way through this climb that I realized if I leaned back and lost my grip I would be lost over the side of the mountain.  I started white knuckling the chains for the rest of the journey.  The next section after the rock climbing is still almost like rock climbing, but much less dangerous.  The rocks are shaped like stairs but at points you need to stretch up and use your whole body to get over the rocks and in certain parts ladders are installed because it is too steep. 

The sun rise!
My Roommate Jen climbing on up

Repping the Denver people and the awkward hand stance
The views are absolutely amazing.  You can see all the way around the city stretching from the suburbs to downtown to the waterfront.  My favorite views were from the little caves we found.  In the caves you can see all the strata lines from when the mountain had been under water.  There was a section on the hike that I thought was even more dangerous than the rock climbing, but it was the coolest part of the hike.  There was a massive tree with tangled roots exposed that were so warn from people traipsing all over them that they were molded to people’s foot holds and very slippery.  Honestly this hike is a bit more dangerous now that I’m thinking of it.  If you slipped at any section not just the rock climbing you would get very hurt and tumble off the side of the mountain but while your doing it families, children, and dogs are all about so you don’t really appreciate the danger.  Another activity of South Africa checked off the list!

Also!  sorry for the weird arrangement of photos- despite both my parents and brother working with computers I have no clue as to how to work them.  fail.


Some art work around campus

This one's my fav

I DO love it but. . .

Let me preface this in saying that I love South Africa.  I really am having so much fun here and enjoying all the places and people. BUT I would not be myself if I did not have a few things that enraged me beyond all measure, so here they are:

In no particular order

1) The fact that every store (exception for one particular grocery store) closes at 5 p.m.  Without fail at 5 on the dot they will close those barred gates in your face and shut down.  The fact that they don’t open until 11 am or the fact that they take a 2 hour lunch break has no baring.  If the store has been open for at most 4 hours then it is time to stop working.  Absolutely brutal.

2) Boys here wear sleeveless shirts proudly!  No one even comments or makes fun of them. They think its cool or something!  Wildly Inappropriate.

3) South Africans are all skinny.  Clothes shopping is a hugely depressing matter because A) the sizes here run two sizes smaller so you already feel bigger and B) everyone here is skinny so nothing ever fits!  Jerks. 

4) Now this is probably the thing I hate the most . . . Pigeons.  They are everywhere and anywhere.  I walked into the place where people buy lunch and sit at tables- I don’t know what it’s called . . . the food court I suppose?  Anyway, I walked in there to find 7 pigeons eating at a table!  No one even flinched!  These stupid pigeons were a welcome diner at this establishment.  And then getting home there was the most idiotic pigeon freaking out in the stair well.  I freaked out too until our cleaning lady came along.  I’m not exactly sure if she heard me raging at the ridiculous pigeon or what but she scooped it up in her bare hands and delivered it to the freedom outside like she was Noah setting lose a dove.  What the!?  Her bare hands!  That brainless pigeon wouldn’t have even been around if not for the fact that randos on the street insist on feeding the pigeons’ already spherical bodies massive amounts of food.  Not even scrapes mind you but actual bird food.  It is by the grace of God I don’t go out there in a blind rage and smack them for their inconsiderate behavior!! Honestly!

5) People who sing outloud in public – not specified to South Africa.

6) The fact that I now feel guilty for wanting to kill a bee because a girl called it murder.  What does she know anyways! She probably wears mismatched socks as a fashion statement and uses Tom’s Natural Deodorant.  I bet she even brushes her teeth with baking soda because she doesn’t want to support big business but at the same time will buy a $500 long hemp coat.  She seemed like the type.

So this blog was not suppose to be about complaining and I told myself the 3 complaints would be enough, but I think 6 complaints is ok. 

Here are some pictures to reaffirm in saying that South Africa is really amazing and I love it- but it does have its faults.

There are hidden stair cases every where on campus-- it makes it feel a little like Hogwarts

Campus at sunrise- I'm up before the sun here a lot for some odd reason

This is a mini bus that brings you everywhere for one dollar. . . you also have to sign your life away to ride in one too.  I wish they were all painted like this!

This was were I saw literally 25 pigeons sitting at a table having lunch with NO one reacting! I missed them all sitting there but here's one on his way out after a nice lunch

the regale pigeon
  The Thing that enrages me the most out of anything in the world is the internet here and my inability to blog

Hermanus Weekend

South Africa loooves these animal signs
Let me start in saying blogging with pictures is impossible so forgive the weird lay out.

Last weekend my abroad group took a weekend trip to the Harbour Town of Hermanus.  I do realize I just spelt Harbour with a “u” in it but apparently that’s how you spell certain words here.  “Labour” is another . . . those are the only two I can think of right now.

Anyways the weekend was so much fun.  We stayed at the Back Backer’s Lodge- my first ever stay at a hostel.  It was covered in tapestries, paintings on the wall, and there were couches at every turn.  They had a pool in the back but it was a bit too cool to go swimming.  The best part about the hostel was the two dogs.  One was a pitbull mix that was pure mussel and looked more like a miniature lion than a dog, while the other was the biggest husky I’ve ever laid eyes on.  I swear we was part wolf.  They also had a ginger cat running around who I was obsessed with scooping up- as soon as I did though everyone wanted to hold it- it’s pretty tough being the cool kid and having everyone want what you have. HA!

We were scheduled to go one two whale watching adventures: Kayaking and a Boat watch.  I didn’t think the boat was going to be as exciting as kayaking was but the boats have permits, apparently, that let you get a hell of a lot closer to the whales out at sea than the kayaks are allowed.  This seems peculiar to me but who knows.  We drove (boated?) for ever to finally reach a bay were they had spotted some whales.  There were like a billion. They were I think trying to mate with this one female whale- but I did not like that so I blocked out whatever the guy over the loud speaker was saying.  They were enormous.  After a while the amazement of seeing 13 million whales kind of wore off so I walked to the back of the boat to get some treats- it was vacation! So I was at the very back of the boat (the stern) and just as I leaned over the railing a whale came swimming by so close I could have touched its face!  No lie! That was the coolest part of the whole boating extravaganza.
Look out!  It's comin' at you!
oh heeeeeyyyyyyyy
I have about a trillion pictures of whale backs but if you weren't there it is not as interesting to see this black mark in the water.  I really wish it looked more impressive but take what you can get!

literally I was this close to a real whale!

oh casually twenty people in the back of a pickup truck driving us back from the whale watch

I put the whale watching via boat first on the blog because blogging is impossible and I don't know how to organize pictures on it what so ever.  In reality we went Kayaking in the morning then whale watching on the boat-- why I needed to state this distinction is beyond me but I have spent numerous days trying to put the kayaking pictures first and I've given up.  This is why it takes me for-effing-ever to do posts! 

For kayaking I was in the first group early, early in the morning.  This turned out to be the best group though. The water was filled with kelp, which I previously thought was kind of like a weird seaweed plant that just floated on the top of the water.  This is dead wrong and in hindsight I’m critical of my self for thinking this.  It was long, huge dark brown stalks that looked like the type of stuff otters dart through.  When kelp cleans itself it produces white foam that floats on top of the water- paddling through the white foam in the sun made it look like the entire ocean was covered in it.  It reminded me of one of the Narnia books with a sea involved. 
Some whale bones

When you’re in kayaks by law you’re not allowed to go too close to any of the whales.  I think the rule was about 300 meters.  BUT!  When we were kayaking the first whale we saw was a baby who popped up 20 meters away from us to check us out.  Our kayaking tour leader guy kind of got pretty nervous and tried ordering us to kayak backwards further away from the little whale (who was in reality enormous) but all of us kind of just flicked at the water with our paddles to stay a bit closer to whale.

After the baby whale got board of us and swam away another whale in the distance started to leap out of the water and slam down- just like on all those documentaries about whales.  Apparently it is not as common as the documentaries make it seem because it takes a person’s full day’s worth of calories to jump out of the water one.  If they do leap out of the water they always do it more than once- about 3-7 times.  Its to clean there blow holes from all the gross build up like algae or whatever- but this is a feast for birds so as we were watching the whale dovens of seas gulls started flying over head.  It felt a bit like they were the monkeys from the wizard of us flying off to grab dorthy . . . I must have been feeling deprived of books/movies because thus far all my references have been to them.

After getting back from kayaking we walked around the town were all these little shops were set up.  I felt like this was a mini vacation so I got mini donuts! They basically were fried dough rings and I wasn’t over the moon about them or anything.  We shopped around for a while until everyone else had gone sea kayaking then we got to go on a boat for whale watching- I was quite smug with myself b/c everyone not in the first group didn’t get to walk around town at all.  The early bird gets the worm!  I actually hate this saying but it applied so there you go.  While I was walking to the boat launch with a few other girls (eating gelato b/c it was vacation!) we looked out over the water were people were standing on cliffs and pointing.  There was a whale just playing around in the cove.  It flipped all around, making it look like it was waving to us.  How cool is that?  People who live there can just walk out side or to the park and sit and what whales just hanging out on the beach. 

I couldn't get a wicked clear photo of the whale but if you look really closely it's the dark line between the two white sections in the water.  In person you could see the whale even when it was under water


Up close to the kelp it is pretty amazing.  The water was so clear you could see the kelp going down deep to the bottom

How could I not have tried these

the market was really fun but they have the same thing at pretty much every market.  I think I really liked it because only the first Kayaking group got to go.  I'll try to work on that.

We left the next day to go on a bus tour of the other towns.  It was rainy and cold though.  We went to a candles factory, only it wasn’t the actual factory part like I hoped but the place were they displayed all the candles.  People from town ships (ghettos) get paid and trained to paint them so everyone was a little bit different.  AND it is one of Oprah’s favorite things.  I must say- good choice Oprah, it was really cool.  Then we went to the southern most tip of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.  I thought this was the Cape of Good Hope but wrong again.  This is where the longest sandy beach is in the world and it has wicked clean air.  Facts.  You can tell which ocean is which because Atlantic as every knows is as cold as ice (unless youre on the gulf or something) and Indian is beautifully warm- kelp ONLY grows in cold water.  Fact.

So it was a pretty good weekend.  I’ll be excited to go to more beach towns when it finally gets warm out.

Not a shark, just a whale waving