South Africa #4: Keep Dancing Through Life

Oh just running on the beach catching frisbees
Helen did not enjoy the frisbee, tea, nor the sunset. Bah Humbug. 
This past week was another great example of work hard/play hard. Juggling three projects and dealing with internet blackouts can be a bit frustrating at times, but I feel like I'm living fully here. Overall, it was another great week and I accomplished quite a bit of work while still playing ;)

It was Helen's last full week, so Ella, Helen, and I took off Thursday evening to throw a frisbee on the beach and eat at a nearby restaurant. It was kind of one of those perfect friend dates where you order macaroni and cheese, wine, and spring rolls and laugh while the stars come out.

Team Awesome!
And in the spirit of celebrating the last week, Helen and I took a few bottles of wine to ballroom dancing on Friday. Let me tell you, there is something beautiful about an all female dance lesson (no leads? we must run around like chickens with our heads cut off!!). We learned Mamba, drank our wine, and danced like maybe we had occasional moments of rhythm :)

Saturday and Sunday were the real adventures of the week though. Helen had co workers (Becki and Phil) who were staying in Cape Town on a work trip, so we decided to spend the weekend in Cape Town with them (1.5 hour drive away). We kicked off Saturday by hiking up Table Mountain. The hike wasn't bad, but I will say this: the 34 C humid weather at 13:00 was pretty nasty and can make going up a mountain mmmm uncomfortable. But hey, we made it  to the top and it's a beautiful view up there.

We had an incident where we were separated going up, I looped back, and I followed a couple that I SWEAR looked just like Helen and Becki for about 30 minutes on the top of the mountain.... but hey, everything worked out and it wasn't too awkward when I accosted the two girls who were not Bekki and Helen but wearing the same clothes... whoops!
Just a really small portion of the ... 

Cape Town does a great job with the Table Mountain National Park. You have the option of taking the cable car up/down (we opted for down!) and there are many trails on the top of mountain.It's a great day to spend an entire day, but we had more plans.

Next stop was the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens. Once again, you could easily spend an entire day here wandering on the trails through the park to dozens of gardens. Our personal favorites were the weed garden (Bekki: They're so mean to the weeds! We should be nice to them to make up for it!), the canopy walk through the tops of the trees, and the fragrance garden (honey? YAY! garlic? GROSS!). There's a lot of British-like humor here, so in the extinct garden (Yeah, it didn't make a lot of sense to us either) they had a tombstone for a plant that was last seen in 1907...

Canopy Walk
Once again though, we had to continue on with our crazy plans. We cleaned up (remember 34 C and hiking up a mountain?) and went out to a fancy dinner on the Waterfront. It was beautiful to see everything lit up, and there are dozens of amazing restaurants there. We wandered for a bit till we found one that appeased the two vegetarians and the two non vegetarians, and it was absolutely amazing. The menu had just about every type of food imaginable, and I was convinced I died and had gone to heaven after a day of hiking, exploring, and being outdoors. I fell asleep mid-sentence talking to Helen once we got back, haha!

My day, as per usual, started at 5:45 AM the next. While the others slept in a bit, I took a wander along the water front out to sea point. I must have seen about 200 runners and 100 bikers all in full legit gear doing their Sunday morning exercise. Cape Town works hard to maintain this image of colonial Great Britain. There's a lot of wealth in Cape Town; however, you're constantly aware of the polarization. As a tourist, being frank, I'm in the 'have' category so I am shuffled into the 'have' lifestyle of fancy hotels, nice things, expensive clothes, jewelry stores, etc. Even as a student, I felt like a queen walking around the waterfront in my dress and sunhat. And I can't deny it, I saw it happening and I didn't fight it... It's something you always feel, but when you go outside your 'lump', it's a different situation. You cross a road and you switch from hotels like the one with the gold seal on the left to an alley covered in broken glass with a group of men smoking and staring at you - because you're not supposed to be there. It is nothing short of bizarre, but I guess it is something to keep in mind, even as I'm talking about our wonderful lives... it's not fair, and  I know it, but  I don't have answers as to how to fix this.

An ostrich egg omelet is a new life goal :D
Maybe half a meter away!
I regrouped with the others after the morning walk and we went to breakfast and then, because our group had three girls keen on shopping with an extremely good exchange rate, a little bit of shopping (don't judge us!) before World of Birds. Thank you to Andrew for the World of Birds reference - it was an awesome time. The name is a bit of a misnomer because it's more of "Sanctuary for a crap ton of birds and then whatever else people give us". We saw monkeys, penguins, porcupines, tortoises, macaws, ostrich's, and boa constrictors. They even had a forest of gnomes (it was awkward).

The best part was you walk through the cages... for those with bird phobias, this is actually the stuff of night mares. For the rest of us, you just get a little skeevy when the owls are looking at you and go crossed eyed for a moment.

We ended our tour of the World of Birds with the penguin feeding in the afternoon. Did I mention I was centimeters from a penguin?!?! At this rate, I am going to have a penguin pet soon!

Please bite me penguin!!!!

The last thing on our Sunday Cape Town adventure was to go to the Mount Nelson Hotel for evening high tea. It was my first high Tea, and it was a totally delightful experience. We drank our tea, ate our little sandwiches, and watched the sun set over this garden.

Hight Tea... where the tea cups match the couches, the plants, and the menus
It literally radiated perfection. 
 I guess I should add, this wasn't just any High Tea... we were at the hotel where the rich and famous go.. where you can't even drive in to *see* the hotel unless you are on the reservation list. While drinking our tea, no joke, we saw a private security tailing a woman. Everyone was wearing insanely nice clothing... I felt a bit self conscious in my tevas (see above), but hey, if I was fabulously wealthy I'd still wear them.

Also the bathroom in this hotel was the most beautiful bathroom I've ever seen in my life. I actually took a picture it was so gorgeous.... what it must be like to have a bathroom like that every day... the picture doesn't do it justice. I had to run back to get my camera to take this picture too, facing the extreme judgement of the hostess and general hotel staff.

And that was it! We drove back to Hermanus under a clear sky (so many stars!!) playing Lo's favorite sing-a-long car game - Guess the Song! How does one play? You find a song that you have never heard before and you try to guess the words to the song while singing it. Great fun, lots of bleeding ears :D

Cheers everyone till next week...  my advisor and I are going to Sutherland next weekend for a project he's on... always something new here :)

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