Cape Town's Date & Time

Sunday, February 28, 2010

(2/27) Food + Soweto Gospel Choir = What more can I ask for

SATURDAY, February 27: I started my day with a run through UCT campus (up mountain) to Rhodes Memorial. This incredibly built monument literally sits on the side of the mountain peering over the suburbs of Cape Town. I did abs and stretched on top along side a hundred boys practicing some form of karate on the memorial. So cool.
Rhodes Memorial

After a quick shower, a group of us headed to the Old Biscuit Mill, an open market. I don’t even know how to describe this place besides as the most wonderful place in the world. Over a hundred different food stands serving anything from vegan meals to ostrich burgers to hand rolled sushi. I had an incredible chicken sandwich and ice cream before heading to the clothing portion of the market. Besides food and clothing, there are also furniture outlets, boutiques, jewelry stands, and everything in-between.

Fresh produce, home-made honey, and much, much more

Weird vegan food and goodies...

The market closed at 2, which was a good thing because I could have stayed and eaten myself into a stupor. We had tickets for the Soweto Gospel Choir concert showing at the Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens, so we quickly had to get home and pack up some snacks for the night. Lindsey made hamantaschen in celebration of Purim. Delicious. We were able to catch free buses from UCT to the gardens before the show started. The venue was beautiful. Although we had blankets to sit and watch, we were quickly brought to our feet by the incredible performance. The singers were incredible; they could really put the American Idol contestants to shame.


When we arrived home we had received word of another giant earthquake, this time in Chile. CNN Online came in handy, but this has been another reminder of how nice some cable would be. These natural disasters better stay on the Western Hemisphere!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Monday (2/22) - Friday (2/26)

This week has been pretty dedicated to class and “getting stuff done” in preparation for the upcoming weeks of school and life in general. Following this weekend, I have the next 5 consecutive weekends booked with exciting plans. Next weekend, March 6 & 7, my study abroad program has put together an overnight excursion to Aquila Game Reserve, home to the Big 5 and only 2 hours away from Cape Town. The following weekend, March 13 & 14, marks the beginning to the Hersh girl holiday reunion in Cape Town. I am just going to assume off the bat I will be doing a lot more Cape Town exploring then studying for their entire stay. My mom and sister leave March 20th, the same day I leave for a 10-day trek through Botswana and Zambia for a safari during my spring break! While in Botswana I will be heading to the Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta, Chobe National Park, and ending in Victoria Falls, nuzzled in-between Zambia and Zimbabwe. After being home for four days of class, we have received Good Friday and that consecutive Monday off for ‘Family Day’ for a four-day weekend (which I may or may not head on the ‘Garden Route’). Although this next month is literally jammed packed with incredible things to look forward to, this week/weekend has been dedicated to ‘getting my shit together’ and organizing my life so I can actually end this semester with some what respectable grades.

MONDAY, February 22: Unfortunately, the troubles with Alphie did not end the minute the car was returned to the rental company. We were charged an additional fee for the flat tires (FACT: spelled tyres here), and needless to say there were a few words exchanged between the management and ourselves. I know the tires were technically our responsibility, but there is no way that car should be rented as a ‘reliable’ car, it is well past its due date and should be retired for from road trips if it could not safely and efficiently get clients to and from their destination.

Class is becoming exceedingly interesting, especially Liberation of Southern Africa and Gender, Sexuality, and Politics. Although my professor for my liberation course is himself quite dull, he has continuously found incredible sources to speak on behalf of liberation movements with direct experience. We were graced by the presence of Dennis Goldberg, the only white member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC, created to be the ‘spear of the nation’ to fight during the 1960s armed struggle movement. His involvement with Umkhonto we Sizwe led to his arrest in 1963 and infamous life-imprisonment sentencing at the Rivonia Trial, the same trial that granted Mandela life-imprisonment. Mr. Goldberg was not only incredibly informative, but also a great orator. I guess one of the benefits of studying history and politics in a recently liberated country is that of having the ‘history’ speak on behalf of itself.

After a day of class, Lindsey (my New Yorker roommate) and her family took me to Observatory for dinner at an Indian-African fusion restaurant. Her family’s vacation in Cape Town was coming to an end and it was exciting to hear all the fun places they went and get ideas for when the Hersh women unite. Plus, the food was great. We ordered a ton of different dishes and pretty much passed our plates around so everyone could try something. I had a lot of fun just being near a family dynamic.

TUESDAY, February 23: Tuesdays are becoming my LONG day a.k.a. need a glass of wine by 5 day. After a full day of classes, I have a 2-hour break before heading to Kensington to tutor. Tutoring has been extremely interesting. The 7th graders I have been working with are extremely bright and ask the most ridiculous questions. They have defiantly been keeping me on my toes. I work with one of Lindsey’s friends, Kara, from Tufts. It is nice to have a familiar face to work (and reflect/complain/laugh) with on the bus ride home.

After returning from tutoring, I quickly had to get ready because it was my friend Georgia’s birthday and a bunch of us were going to head to Panchos for margaritas and burritos. Panchos is the go-to birthday place and I am more than pleased with that. Unfortunately when we arrived, we had 3 people too many for the seating reservation, so two others and myself decided to head to café I had gone to the day prior with Lindsey’s family. We ordered some tea, pita & humus, and samosas; which was a needed alternative to margaritas and burritos (I need to relax with the overindulgence). Following dinner, we headed home for some cocktails before heading to Tiger Tiger to celebrate Georgia’s 21st dancing the night away.

WEDNESDAY, February 24: Waking up was unexpectedly easier than I anticipated. I managed to edit my African history paper before heading up to campus for full day of classes. Wednesdays seem to fly by with all 4 courses back-to-back. I always come home in school mode and manage to have a productive day on our porch. I finished both my African history paper and Gender studies paper pretty early in the afternoon and was able to relax the evening away.

THURSDAY, February 25: After turning in our papers on the practice of clitorodectomy in Kenya, our Gender, Sexuality, and Politics tutorial began discussing colonialism and the myths surrounding black/white peril. The classroom dynamics of our class is quite fascinating; we have only 2 men (one white, one black) with the rest females of all different races and nationalities. Each person truly has a significantly different perspective on cultural practices and gender relations.

My history tutorial was dreadfully boring again. In contrast to my Liberation history class covering the 1940s until 1994, Africa: Making of a Continent covers pre-1800. Our discussion was focused on archeological findings and debates surrounding the migration of mankind throughout the continents. I enjoy modern history so much better. Ugh. Lindsey invited Kara (we tutor together) over for dinner. She cooked us a chicken roasted in tomatoes with cuscus and veggies. The girl can cook. We enjoyed a relaxing dinner and opted to stay in and relax rather than head down town for a night of festivities.

FRIDAY, February 26: Fridays are Interstudy treat days! My study abroad program has an office on campus, which they stock with donuts and pastries as an end of the week indulgence. Besides devouring a donut, I may have gulped 3 cups of coffee. I have been struggling to find plain coffee on campus, so it was a pleasant surprise to have freshly brewed java with my donut.

After class, Lindsey and I headed to Cocoa Wah Wah for lunch and free internet connection. I set a goal of ‘internship shopping,’ but spent most my afternoon looking at hotels and B&Bs to stay at when my women folk visit. I eventually need to lock in some sort of job or internship during the summer, but I will worry about that some other time. It is too beautiful outside to be inside on a computer.

After Cocoa Wah Wah, Lindsey and I headed to Woolworths and Pick n’ Pay to pick up ingredients for our dinner with our neighbors, Will and Justin. After they cooked us a fabulous chicken dinner last week, we were returning the favor with a shrimp scampi pasta, baked tomato topped with mozzarella and fresh basil, and a plum and nectarine crisp. Although we overestimated how long it would take to cook everything, our meal turned out pretty fabulous if you ask me. Will had gone to a wine tasting earlier that day and picked us up some dinner wine to compliment our seafood dinner. I think our dinner-dates are turning out, who can complain about life with great food on the table and excellent company sitting next to you.

Top: Mozzarella topped tomatoes (pre-baking)
Bottom: Nectarine and plum crisp (pre-baking)

Top: Shrimp scampi with mozzarella & basil topped tomatoes
Bottom: Damn, we did good.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

(2/19 - 2/21) Cederburg

So where to begin... Although the trip began with the convenience of our car being delivered, I certainly would say that was not the case for the remainder of the trip. Alphie, yes we named him, was a straight up piece of shit (pardon my French). But I will get to that later.

Daniel originally was going to put the car under his name and drive for a majority of the trip, but his stolen wallet had his license and credit card in it, so somehow the car became under my name. Lovely. Matt, thankfully, took over the driving to get us out of the city and to Citrusdale, a town just south of Cederburg, where we were staying at the Gekko Backpacker for the weekend. However before arriving at Gekko we may have hit a road bump on the way… About 30 km from our destination we hit a pothole and ended up with two flat tires (spelled tyres here). LESSON 1: Check car for a spare tire and repair kit before leaving. We had been driving in a pretty desolate area, so it was a miracle that the first car to pass us on the side of the road was a police officer. LESSON 2: Don’t expect miracles, come prepared with phone numbers and a flash light. We had one spare tire, so Matt had to drive into town with the police officer to find a replacement tire for the back wheel. Unfortunately it was getting dark quickly (accelerated by the fact that there were few lights), so very few auto-repair shops were still open and the drive for a wheel took a little longer than expected. LESSON 3: Leave with more than enough time to arrive before sunset! Matt left us (Daniel, Tiffany, and I) on the side of the road for a good two hours, which were a little nerve wrecking. We found a nice hill to sit on and watch the sunset and the stars illuminate like I have never seen before, but I would have much rather not had to have a flat tire (or two) to experience the awesomeness of the stars. After Matt and the police officer made their way back with the tire, we were on our way to the backpacker.

Above: Boys fixin' wheel 1
Below: Chillin' with Alphie

We finally made it to Gekko about 3 hours later than expected and immediately ate dinner. We had packed peanut butter, jam, bread, and chips for the weekend away, a perfect meal combo, I LOVE PEANUT BUTTER. After dinner we grabbed some beers and a blanket to star gaze. LESSON 4: We see different star constellations in the Southern Hemisphere than in the Northern. The stars were literally lighting the sky and I saw multiple shooting stars. Stargazing was a perfect, relaxing end to a turbulent start of the weekend.

Saturday (2/20): Tiffany and I woke up earlier than the boys and checked out the backpacker. The hostel is in the middle of an orange farm! The oranges weren’t ripe but it was awesome walking through the fields. We woke the boys up to get an earlier start to the day (they could seriously sleep the day away if you let them). From Citrusdale to Cederburg it is only a 50km drive; unfortunately we soon discovered it was a 50 km drive on an unpaved road with a beat up car is rough. LESSON 5: Find out the terrain you will be driving on and get a car accordingly. Poor Alphie could only go 25km an hour, so our early morning departure ended up being necessary. By the time we reached Cederburg, it was at least 100 degrees and we were ready to get out of the car. Cederburg reminds me of the Grand Canyon, but with baboons on the side of the mountain. We literally drove through mountainsides and saw nothing until this winery came out of nowhere, like a little oasis. At the winery we were able to obtain permits and head on our hike to the Maltese Cross. The three-hour hike was a little intense in the heat. I think we were all seeing hallucinations by the time we made it to the giant rock in the sky. To get to the Maltese Cross, we started at ground level and hiked into a mountain pass and on top of the mountain the cross literally protrudes form the ground.

Above: Maltese Cross, Cederburg
Below: Artsy Fartsy photo by Tiffany

The hike back was ridiculous. Although there was one path to the cross, we struggled to stay on it and a few times found our selves at dead ends. LESSON 6: When you think you have too much water, bring another 2 liters. By the time we reached Alphie, we were dirty and dehydrated! We had some water left in the car, but it was on fire. When we went to start Alphie up, something may have died under hood because a TON of steam shot out. We used the lack of water to head back to the winery and freshen up, but more importantly to get some phone numbers in case Alphie did not make it. LESSON 7: Get phone numbers of places you plan to stay. Although we had some bread and peanut butter left, it was pretty yucky after sitting in Alphie all afternoon, so we decided to detour to find a restaurant and ended up in Clanwilliam. Alphie was really struggling on the drive home, so I was pretty nervous the entire ride. Thankfully, we found a radio station and rocked out. LESSON 8: A good song can make any situation better, especially if it’s “Man in the Mirror” by Micheal Jackson. Clanwilliam was bizarre. We must of come at a weird part of the day, because we were pretty much driving through a ghost town. Restaurants close in between lunch and dinner so we stopped at a burger stand on the side of the road called McClan. It was pretty disgusting, I’m not going to lie, but I sure ate everything on my paper plate. LESSON 9: Be prepared to eat only what you bring or at places like McClan. When we made it back to Gekko, we immediately jumped into the little pool they had in the back. So refreshing. After a shower, I was pretty much exhausted and fell asleep within 30 seconds of hitting the pillow.

Team Cederburg: Daniel, Tiffany, Matt, and myself

Sunday (2/21): Tiffany and I woke again pretty early, so we went on another orange farm adventure. I attempted to be like an Afrikaner and walk barefoot, but I ended up walking through thorns and Tiffany had to carry me back. Sad. We once again had peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast. I think everyone minded a lot more than me, I could and do eat PB sandwiches everyday and will probably never get sick of them.

We left for Cape Town soon after breakfast. We originally had planned to drive the Atlantic Coast home, which would be an extra 2 hour drive, but with Alphie sucking it up so bad, we decided we would rather break down closer to Cape Town than further.

All in all Cederburg was an adventure filled with a few misadventures. Although Alphie was a pain, each road bump was handled and was funny to talk over with a beer and the stars overhead. We are in Africa and Cederburg was in a rural area, so speed and efficacy is impossible, but patience and a relaxed attitude can make a world’s of difference to everyone’s happiness level. I learned some valuable “road trip” lessons: don’t sweat the small stuff.

(2/17) Stones, (2/18) Dinner bet, and (2/19) Off to Cedarburg

SO, I should begin with an apology. I have been away for the weekend in Cedarburg and let my blogging go astray. Here is a quick brush up of the end of my week so I can give a full update on my interesting weekend of road tripping.

Wednesday (2/17): Wednesday is the only day of the week that I have every class: Liberation of Southern Africa; Gender, Sexuality, and Politics; African Instruments; and Africa: the Making of a Continent. I quite literally have the classes on the hour, every hour from 9AM until noon. I don’t even know how to explain how much African Instruments is equivalent to life therapy. Just as I am getting a little tired in my day, BAM African Instruments. For 45 minutes every Tuesday and Wednesday, know that I am having the best time, period. We moved on from the stomping and clapping to a xylophone like instrument. Amazing. I think African Instruments should be mandatory for all students and adults alike.

Shot of the rugby field we walk through to get to class

After a full day of classes, I may have brushed writing a paper aside to head to Stones in Observatory for a 2 for 1 drink special. I think it was a quality decision; the class only requires 4 of the 7 paper assignments to be accepted for grades, so the paper won’t be held against me and Observatory is quick taxi ride, as it is the neighborhood beside ours. Unfortunately, Observatory does have a poor reputation for it’s night life (a student was fatally stabbed last week), so we made sure to take the taxi straight to the bar and call the same taxi for a ride home. I just need to constantly remember that Cape Town at night is a whole different place and it’s not a bad thing to keep my guard up. Misfortune struck my friend Daniel when he realized his wallet had been stolen out of his pocket. Always a lesson to be learned: the front pocket is still not the safest place for your possessions. Hurray for the clutch, one would physically have to rip my clutch from my hands to take it.

Walk home from class... How awesome does Table Mountain look?

Thursday (2/18): Thursday is my tut day. I have two tutorials, one for my gender politics class and the other for my early African history class. Tutorials are required and I have found them to be much more informative than lecture and more personal.

We discussed virginity testing in my gender politics tut. Essentially, hundreds of young girls are publicly “checked” to determine whether or not they are still virgins. As teenage pregnancy, HIV, and sexual abuse has risen in certain areas of South Africa, this dying practice has once again re-emerged, occurring a few times a year within certain communities. This class has exposed me to a huge variety of cultural practice that seem extraordinarily foreign to me. Even more so, the class has really opened up my “judgment zone” as I have been actively trying to stop looking at practices from my “Western lens” if the practice itself is not “western.”

Fast forward to dinner: Thanks to a won bet over “Ace of Cakes” and its home channel of The Food Network, Lindsey won us a fabulous dinner cooked by our neighbors, Will and Justin. We brought wine and dessert, but the boys truly went out of their way to cook a fabulous dinner of extremely well marinated chicken with roasted veggies topped with melted cheese and risotto. Apparently the boys had found a cook book left behind from past residents of their flat, so we had a perfectly prepared meal. With some light Frank Sinatra in the background, it was truly a relaxing and delicious dinner. Lindsey and I are preparing dinner for them next week, we are thinking of doing something shrimp orientated. I am already excited

Friday (2/19): In my Liberation of Southern Africa class, we had a political prisoner who had served time on Robben Island (on the island for a small portion of time overlapping Mandela’s imprisonment) lecture on the move towards armed struggle during the 1960s in South Africa. Our lecturer (I am angry at myself for not writing down his name) was extremely eloquent and quite refreshing compared to our professor. Although he was an active member of the communist party, he had worked with my ANC leaders during the 1960s and was extremely informative on the different movements of that time. The shift to an armed movement was a drastic change in South African politics, because before 1960 the resistance movement had been purely a passive resistance taking example from Gandhi and his non-violent fight in India.

After lecture, I made my way to Interstudy for coffee and pastries (on Fridays there are always goodies) to discover that I also had a package from my Auntie Andy waiting for me!! It only took 3 weeks to get to me, but I was pumped! Although the pastries were delicious, I was hungry for some real food, so Tiffany, Lindsey, and I headed to Cocoa Wah Wah (local internet café and general hang out) for some brunch.

After class I had to get a quick run in and some errands completed before heading out for Cedarburg. The car rental company was kind enough to drive the car to us, which was super convenient.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

(2/15) School, (2/16) First day tutoring

Monday (2/15): Woke up to a cloudy day and to my uncompleted paper. I had no troubles completing it in time for class; I just needed to save it on a disk drive to print it later in the day. Tiffany and I are on a roll with walking everyday to class, so it was nice to know that I wouldn’t be doused for my first class. Once again our Liberation of Southern Africa professor proved to be a little difficult to follow. He uses a projector and hand written notes; a severe contrast to power point presentations back home. We discussed A LOT of different concepts in the 45-minute period of class. I seriously need to get reading on my own time to help strengthen my own knowledge base.

My gender class is always entertaining. We discussed the sex-education film we had watched last week and were also able to discuss the gender/sex debate surrounding South African runner Caster Semenya just last year. Caster won the gold medal in Berlin after having destroyed the 800-meter record. She went under fire after it was leaked that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAFF) was conducting a “gender verification test” after speculation surrounding her gender/sex grew. This will easily be my favorite class this semester.

Pictures of campus

After class I ran to the Interstudy office to print off my paper due at noon for Africa: Making of a Continent. The paper was dull and on the use of “loaded” terms (specifically tribe, primitive, civilization, and race) while discussing the histories of Africa. During class we watched a film and I (in the front row) slept through the entirety of it. I don’t know what it is about the front row, I just can’t maintain any sort of composure when I am that close to a professor/screen/board/etc.

Tuesday (2/16) I had a big Tuesday! Not only did I attend my first African Instruments class (amazing) but also had my first tutoring session for SHAWCO. I came home absolutely exhausted.

Before African Instruments and SHAWCO, I had my first tutorial for Liberation in Southern Africa. Basically a small group of us met under the supervision of a graduate student to discuss this week’s lecture. We were asked to prepare some sort of review of an article, chapter of a book, movie, etc. that correlates to the liberation struggle of South Africa. I reviewed a New York Times article discussing Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990. Our group discussion was incredible. Our tut leader was beyond impressive, he was on his 7th year of university and spoke over 8 languages. The students were equally fascinating, I have the most eloquently spoken class ever, these kids are orators. Instead of silently listening to each other ramble, students actively participated in discussion, which led class to fly by. The tutorial will make up for the professor’s lectures, although I learn a lot during them, the tutorial did prove to really dig deep into things we just brushed through in lecture.

African Instruments is going to change my life. When I walked into the studio, I was initially a little perplexed by the lack of instruments, but the class was told to remove our shoes and create a circle because we needed to understand “beat and rhythm” before we play anything. Basically the entire class was a stomp and clap dance session. Let me tell you, I have no beat, but I loved every minute of it. Some kids really picked up things fast, but for the rest of us our professor was really patient and in great spirits. I got a high five at the end of class.

I headed home for lunch (peanut butter and banana sandwiches are beginning to dominate my meals) before heading back up to SHAWCO to wait for a bus to take me to Kensington. Lindsey’s friend Kara (both go to Tufts) and I both were allotted 7th graders with another girl. By the time we arrived at the community center the 37 students were already in a room waiting for us. We were yet to receive our curriculum manual so there was quite a bit of improvising going on for the first day. All the students can speak English, but they speak Afrikaans mainly at home. Despite South Africa having 11 official languages, it is beyond evident that one’s success is correlated to one’s ability to communicate in English. Our tutoring sessions are only an hour and fifteen minutes, but it was enough to wipe me out (I slept the entire bus ride home). The kids behaved great considering the circumstances. We were in a really small space and getting through logistical stuff (what's your name, mine is...) is enough to bore any one, so it was a good start. For our first lesson I had each student write a short story about their neighborhood/community because it is an easy ice breaker. I need to bring a map of the U.S. to show them were Wisconsin is next time. And apparently Beyonce and Manchester United are hugeeee! We got slightly off topic for a while discussing music and sports. It will be interesting to see how many continue to show up as the semester continues.

Dinner was amazing. We had Taco Tuesday. It was a bit of a flash back to freshmen year in the dorms, but it was delicious. I can’t take any credit for the cooking, but I did do a great “clean up” job after we made a bit of a mess with the guacamole.

Above: Our kitchen
Below: Family room/study area/general hangout

Monday, February 15, 2010

(2/11) Long street, (2/12) New book Friday, (2/13) SHAWCO training, (2/14) Devil's Peak

Thursday (2/11) : Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from his 27-year long imprisonment. Exciting day in South African history! In 1994, Nelson Mandela became president after the first elections were held in which all adults could vote. Today is just one of those days you feel the need to reflect on the past and present.

Since tutorials do not officially begin until next week, I had no class. Tiffany and I decided to take the train downtown and do some shopping and see if anything exciting happens in celebration of the day.

Long Street is the “party” street in Cape Town and it also is a great shopping street during the day. Different cafes, boutiques, antique shops, and corner markets line the street. I found a beautiful boutique and bought two dresses (my first clothing purchases since being here). I am really excited to wear them out sometime soon, maybe even to Long Street.

The train proved to be super easy. It is a bit sketch after rush hour, but it was a great alternative to a taxi (price wise) and minibus (comfort wise).

Friday (2/12): I just had two classes today (Liberation of Southern Africa and Africa: the Making of a Continent), so it was a rather relaxed afternoon. Apparently, no one really attends class on Fridays (shocking), so our professor had a librarian come in and talk to the kids who made it to class about sources and the problems associated with sources written during times of liberation (propagandistic, dirty editing, etc.).

I stayed in and began reading 'The Lost World' by Sir Arthor Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, since I needed to be up early for the SHAWCO training the next morning. I am in good hopes that The Lost World will be a much better read then Wicked. Lets face it, it can't be worse.

Saturday (2/13): We had to be up bright and early for SHAWCO’s training orientation. SHACO stands for Student Health and Welfare Cenres Organisation and is the main student run volunteer program on campus. I have joined the education sector, in a program called KenStep. Every Tuesday afternoon I will be busing to the township of Kensington to tutor 7th graders in English. Apparently the older kids are a little more “unruly,” but the curriculum seemed more stimulating all around. I guess I am up for the challenge.

We had a lazy afternoon on our porch reading and relaxing in the sun. We (Daniel, Tiffany, Ben, Lindsey, Lina, and myself) decided to head downtown for dinner to Miller’s Thumb for seafood. I was really excited to go out because I was sporting my new dress from Long Street. We basically ate like kings. Lindsey and I split a Cajun spiced calamari appetizer before I moved on to a seafood stir-fry. Holy yum. We may have splurged for some dessert; I mean it was the day before Valentine’s Day so it basically was our job to get something chocolate covered. Following dinner we headed back home because Lindsey’s family had just arrived in Cape Town from New York and were going to stop by and check out our flats. Despite their 6 hour plane delay in JoBurg, they were in great spirits and made me SUPER excited for my mom and Lee to come visit next month.

Above: Lina, myself (rocking my new dress), Tiffany, and Lindsey at Miller's Thumb
Below: Best dinner ever. So good.
Sunday (2/14): I woke up nice and early to start my day off right with a hike up Devil’s Peak. I had only peaked Table Mountain and had not quite conquered the peak that shadows our university. Ben and I headed off and by 10 o clock it must have been at least 80 degrees. I made the mistake of wearing black, which was literally drenched in sweat by the first check point, the King’s blockhouse, one of the three preserved 18-century stone forts that were built during the first British occupation of the Cape. The hike to the 1000 m (3,280 ft) peak took a total of 3 hours up (5.5 hours in total) and was really exhilarating. Most of the way there is some form of path; however, there were some points we were just trying to find the best way up. I am thankfully not afraid of heights, but I had a bit of a freak out towards the top of the peak. We passed a cross (presumably marking the spot someone had fallen and died), which was a little spooky. Well the only way up from that path was about a 15-foot freelance rock climb to the path and Ben easily made it up, but I froze halfway up (literally froze for 5 minutes) and could not get my body to take another step upward. The cross was staring at me. So, I climbed (gracefully slid) down and found an alternate path up. I was not pleased (note: no tears or hyperventilation, just a slight moment or two of panic). From there it was clear sailings to the top for lunch. The way down proved to be almost as tricky as the way up. While going up is a physical test, heading down is much more mental. Each step has to be carefully chosen and I had to resist the urge to run down to make it easier.

Starting point. We climbed to the lower right peak before heading to the higher peak on the left
View from the trail
The top! Cape Town in the background.

Once down I headed straight to the corner 7/11 for some yogurt and cheerios. I was famished. Only home did I realize I have completely destroyed my running shoes, not only are they black from dirt, but also there are literally chunks missing from the bottom. Tear. My socks were so black they may just end up being tossed. A cold shower was defiantly refreshing before consuming around half a box of cereal. Then nap.

I hadn’t started on my paper due tomorrow, ugh, must get into school mode.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

(2/10) Ostrich steak!

Back to back to back classes: Liberation of Southern Africa; Gender, Sexuality, and Politics; and Africa: The Making of a Continent to 1800. It was a rather cool morning and even misting, but in a non-shocking swing of weather, by the time my first class was done the sun was beating in full force and it was at least 90 degrees outside, the makings for the most disgusting hair-do possible. I was a sweaty mess. The lecture halls don’t have air-conditioning, so thankfully, I am not the only dripping student.

Lecture was a little intimidating. Our professor spoke on behalf of Botswana’s significance in the liberation of Southern Africa. He literally word vomited more names and dates than I though possible (not to mention most of the names have unfamiliar pronunciations). This was a major acknowledgement to the non-colonial historical aspects of Africa NOT mentioned in any of my history classes attended. I may need to do some behind the scene brushing up on my own this weekend. At a minimum, memorizing all the African countries, their political leaders, and capitals.

My gender class is taught by this middle-aged woman, who wears her hair in her face and she wipes it from side to side every other minute or so. She also arrives at least 5 minutes late to her own class. Besides these inherently distracting traits, she brilliantly lectures and leads outrageous discussions in class. She is the devil’s advocate if I have ever seen one.

In Africa: the Making of a Continent, we went over the subjective histories produced by colonial historians and Africanist or Nationalist historians on pre-1800 African history. I have my first paper due in that class for Monday already. I am really excited to have to put some pen to paper in an academic effort (not that this blog hasn’t been stimulating, its just I am craving to not see the word I or we in every other sentence I write, I feel vain).

After lecture, Lindsey, Daniel, and I headed to Cocoa Wah Wah for some quality free internet time. It is shocking how quickly one can burn through internet mega-bites and I had a list of emails I wanted to write, so I figured if a muffin could score me free internet, then I was getting a muffin (pumpkin to be exact). After Cocoa Wah Wah, we headed to Wolworths (basically equivalent to Lunds or any “nicer” grocery store) to pick up some ostrich steaks for our barbeque later that night.

Daniel was the ultimate grill master. Besides ostrich, he prepared hamburgers, zucchini, and asparagus. Delicious. Ostrich steak essentially taste like a much lighter form of steak. I really enjoyed it and now my desire for an ostrich egg omelet has expanded considerably. Sorry for the lack of pictures from the feast, my camera is still acting funky from being overheated. Hopefully a few days of shade in a drawer and it will start to act functionally again.

After dinner, I stayed in to finish Wicked. I did finish it and with reluctance. I have never hated a novel more. I have tried two times prior to finish and just couldn’t get through it and I figured here I would be able to really get into it, well I dragged through it. Now, I am absolutely no book expert and I have never seen the musical, but after listening to the soundtrack a couple tens of times on repeat, I have no idea how that book becomes the musical. I guess I will just have to head to Chicago for a viewing this summer.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

(2/9) Beach then class!

Life is good. I seriously can't complain. I walked to class at 10 and by 11:30 I was on my way to Muzenburg beach. During class we watched a film distributed to high schools in the area regarding dating, sex, and HIV. Considering the huge HIV rate here, it was shocking to see how candid the film makers were about young people having sex. The documentary basically talked to young adults about their experiences and these kids were pretty explicit. Where as the "sex talk" in the US is pretty taboo (but nonetheless happens), it is not here, but I guess that comes hand in hand with a nation that has HIV rates as high as 3 in 5 people.

The train ride to the beach was pretty brutal. With just a few windows open, the heat accelerated quickly. Daniel, Tiffany, and I were itching to get out by the time our stop came. I literally dropped my beach bag and walked straight into the ocean once there. I have been dragging through the novel Wicked (I honestly have never hated a book more, but for some reason I will not not finish it). I am so close to being finished, which is perfect timing since I have a few recommended novels for class to put under my belt. After two hours on sunbathing, we headed on a walk through the beach and around town. We found an absolutely incredible ice cream stand and I may have gotten a cone of chocolate chip cookie dough. On a sad note, I think my camera has internal injuries. It has been acting up after a long day in the sun and it is not taking the highest quality pictures. Hopefully it just needs to cool off and it will be able to sort itself out.

After the beach, we headed into Rondebosch to find some ostrich burgers to barbeque tomorrow. After running a few errands, I headed home to eat the rest of my HUGE burrito from Panchos and relax (aka detox). GREAT day. Period.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

(2/8) Tiffany's birthday

I woke up for my first full day of classes not only hung over but still reeking of tequila. Not one of my classiest moments in life. I met Tiffany at 8:15 to walk to our first class, Liberation in Southern Africa, which began an 9AM sharp on upper campus. I was not officially enrolled in the class yet, so I had to make sure to get there a little early to see if there were spots still available and luckily there were. Just like most first days of class, we collectively read through the syllabus and discussed expectations for the semester. The class has no required readings; however there is a list of 8 books that the professor recommends (one of them being A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela that I was able to read over winter break) and I plan to get a few of them read. This week is sort of a historical week for South Africa as it marks Nelson Mandela’s 20th anniversary from being released from prison. It is rumored that on Thursday he will be in Cape Town to give a speech, so a few of us are going to head down after class to see if we can catch any action.

I had Gender, Sexuality, and Politics: Debates in Contemporary African Contexts directly following my first class, and Lindsey, my roommate, had a coffee waiting for me. Once again we discussed the syllabus, but our professor was able to lecture for the end of class. I am extremely excited to be in this class; it reminds me of a course I took at Minnesota called Politics of Gender, Sex, and Family, which to this day ranks as my favorite class of college.

Since I was adding Liberation of Southern Africa, I needed to drop A History of Anti Semitism. Being that nothing here is done on a computer, I needed to fill out paperwork in order to request the change of courses and then wait in line to meet with an advisor. After waiting in a cue (line) for over an hour and a half (and officially 15 minutes late to my next class), I was informed that my Minnesota transcript was not required, but my UCT blank transcript. UGH. I pretty much stomped into my next class, Africa: The Making of a Continent to 1800, and had to sit on the side of the classroom in order to not completely draw attention to how late I came in. I felt like a complete ass hole. After class I attempted to print my UCT transcript, but the printer wasn’t working so I headed to the Interstudy office to print it off. When I arrived back to the cue with all the “correct” materials, it was 3 hours long, and I essentially marched my way to the front and the adviser literally did not look at my transcript before signing the OK to change curriculum. Come on UCT, update into the digital age!

From campus, Lindsey and I headed into Rondebosch to grab some notebooks and search for folders. The standard paper size here is different than the US, so none of our handouts fit into our folders. Also, folders apparently DO NOT exist here, only portfolio folders or the equivalent to a large paper sized zip-lock bag. We also picked up cake mix to make for Tiffany for her birthday. After baking the cake, I would go as far to claim I lack simple domestic skills. I completely undercooked the cake, but thankfully, Lindsey threw it back in the oven and did a fabulous decorating job.

Lindsey and I made that! French vanilla cake with chocolate frosting and oreo and sprinkle toppings!
Seriously, the size of a cat...
Action shot... Obviously enjoying the margaritas...

We headed to Panchos in Observatory for Tiffany’s birthday dinner for Mexican food. Delicious. We ordered “Mexican margaritas,” basically a lemon and strawberry blend and proceeded to order burritos that were the size of a new born baby. I was able to resist the impulse to eat the entire fetus and am super pumped to eat the left overs later. At least next time we are craving Mexican food we will now to order one burrito for three to share.

My next day's worth of meals

Monday, February 8, 2010

(2/7) Cave exploring and Tiffany's Birthday

I was able to get a quick run in before heading back up Table Mountain to find a series of caves that are apparently not far from a previous hike we had taken. Of course, instead of taking the leisure trail up the side of the mountain, we hauled ass up the “short cut.” After 2 hours of hiking we managed to get ourselves directly below the caves, so being the college-educated people we are, we chose to scale a cliff to shorten the time. At one point I was literally able to look straight down and see my death. The experience for the other members of the hike was exhilarating, I on the other hand did not enjoy the adrenaline rush. I will be sticking to the trails from now on. The walk home was excellent. Usually the trek up is done in relative silence and the hike down is where most the conversations take place.
Top: Trail blazing...
Middle: View from the cave
Bottom: Walk down (water front in the far right hand corner)

Once home, I took a quick shower and a brief nap before getting ready to celebrate Tiffany’s (my neighbor) birthday. Tiffany, Lindsey, Ben, Daniel, Matt, and myself headed to Café Caprice in Camps Bay for the evening of celebration. We have sort of formed a clique for going out or just hanging out during our free time. Café Caprice was once again a ridiculously good time. After taking tequila shots at midnight to celebrate her big 22, the boys wanted to make sure they could make it to a sports bar for the kick off for the Super Bowl starting at 1:30 AM. Needless to say, the girls passed in order to get some shut eye before our 9AM class the next morning.

Group shot: Lindsey, Ben, me, Matt, Tiffany, and Daniel

Saturday, February 6, 2010

(2/6) Rugby match at FIFA stadium

Despite waking up even sorer and a bit hung over, I decided it was time to buck up and go for a run. I would prefer to not come home as a fatty, so if I am going to indulge more than usual, I need to get a good workout in. Although my run started off rough, I was cruising by the time I had gotten home and had I not been in a rush to get ready for the rugby match, I would have kept going. Also, there is a half marathon in April in Cape Town and I am thinking about running it, so I am going to need to start getting some longer runs in eventually.

We had a pre-game party in our front porch for all of us (basically all 50 Interstudy students) before heading to the newly built FIFA World Cup Stadium. While others played beer pong, I stuck to water. The FIFA stadium had only been used once prior, so the rugby game was the second event ever held and more fans allotted tickets to this game then the previous. We took a mini-bus to the stadium before finding our seats. The Stormers (blue and white) played Boland (black, yellow, and green). The fans in the row ahead of us cheered for the Stormers, so we decided to help them out.

Above: The Stormers
Below: Shot of inside new stadium

The Stormers crushed Boland. Rugby is an interesting sport, played with two 40-minutes halves (the clock generally does not stop until the end of the half). A player can score by either running the ball into the end zone and touching the ball to the ground (5 points) or kicking the ball through the field goal (3 points). I have no idea what the actual terminology used for the sport is, so bear with the football terms. It may be a bit too aggressive for my liking, I noticed myself more afraid for the players then excited for them. I went through a stroll through the stadium during the game, the prices for food and drinks are WAY less expensive then they would be at home. For example, beer is 15 rand, which is equivalent to $2 American dollars.

After the game I headed home to skype the entire family for the first time. We finally figured out how to three-way call. I am hoping now that I am settling into an academic schedule that three-way skype can happen more often.

(2/5) First day of class

Needless to say, no run this morning. I am a wee-bit sore from the hike. On a positive and exciting note, first day of class!!! After a week of miscellaneous trips to and from campus, it was time to make my way to lecture. I went to campus early to turn in my “clubs” sign up form after deciding to participate in the Mountain and Ski club and the Film Society (apparently they serve sushi during the movies, sounds glorious to me). I also had an interview (more for placement purposes then actual acceptance/rejection) for SHAWCO, a student volunteer group, earlier this week so I needed to hand in some paperwork at their office as well.


After I ran my errands I was able to attend my first lecture of the new decade and on the African continent, Gender, Sexuality, and Politics: Debates in Contemporary African Contexts. My professor opened class by asking for 5 commonly spoken languages in Europe and then 5 commonly spoken languages of Africa (in countries north of South Africa) that were not colonial languages. Needless to say, I was able to come up with two languages (Swahili and Arabic) spoken in Africa, and I was not alone with the lack of African knowledge. Lecture eventually found its way to South African President Zuma, who just this week took responsibility for a love child with his mistress (did I mention he is a polygamist having just married his third wife this summer (he has been married to two others but one passed away and the other marriage ended in divorce)). This so called “love child” makes the president father of 19 children. We ended lecture by reading a BBC article about President Zuma, in which he is addressed as Mr. Zuma rather than President, as well as refers to his tribe the Zulus, as a group of people who engage in polygamy, which to an extent undermines the legality of polygamy in the country by making it a “group practice.” I was thrilled by the end of class by the discussions and will probably attend this class more than any other course this semester.

The rest of the day was dedicated to random adventures. Lindsey and I spent some of our day in Rondebosch to grocery shop and look at school supplies. FACT: the standard size paper here is different than in the U.S. AND folders are non-existent. We also managed to find a South African television show (on one of the two channels that we have on our TV.) that is equivalent to American Idol. The host is more annoying than Ryan Secrest, which was shocking, so I am guessing there is going to be minimum TV. watching this semester.

Much to my dismay, I ended up heading to Long Street to bar hop for the night instead of staying home and cuddling up to some episodes of LOST. We started the night at the Dubliner before heading to the Waiting Room. Long Street is more of a place you head if you are excited for a LONG night, so its not so much my scene, but I still enjoyed myself and am glad I went out for the night. However, when I got home I foolishly spent way too much time on the Internet and used up all my megabites. New rule: no Internet for me after a night at the bars.

Friday, February 5, 2010

(2/4) Platteklip Gorge

Today we climbed Platteklip Gorge, a trail beginning at lower cable station to Table Mountain and ending at the top station. Although it is one of the relatively shorter hikes time wise on Table Mountain, the 2 ½ hour hike from 400m to 1050m above sea level was basically equivalent the stair master on crack. With the suns beating on our packs, we quickly went through over 2 liters of water each.

Reaching the top was exhilarating. The views of both the city and ocean were fantastic and lunch was devoured. We took the same trail down, which was more of a mental test than physical (how not to fall face first down a mountain as opposed to falling backwards). We met quite a few groups of people ranging from England, Australia, and New Zealand. At one point we met some Brits who informed my friend Daniel (who was wearing a Virginia shirt) that they once "owned us." Needless to say an interesting conversation of post Revolutionary War America and President Bush managed to find its way on to the mountain. I love random conversations!

After hiking we met some friends at Tank, a sushi restaurant, for half price cocktails and sushi. Delicious. My legs were quivering by the time we sat down and although I originally thought sushi might not be a fitting food choice for dinner, it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

(2/1) Back porch, (2/2) Clifton beach, (2/3) Observatory

(2/1) O Week has begun on campus. Clubs have booths in the main area of campus and are soliciting for members, class schedules are being posted throughout the different departments, and tutorial sign ups are available. Basically every time I enter campus with an initiative, I leave having 5 more things I need to return for.

Today was a lazy day. After being on campus for a while, we headed back to our porch to relax and take in the sun. It took the sun setting before we realized we had chatted the day away.

(2/2) I headed straight up to campus bright and early to speak with my African Instruments professor about the course and expectations. It is going to be ridiculous. We meet twice a week, once in a small group of students to learn a portion of a piece and then with an entire ensemble to play the pieces collectively. The instruments we will learn to play are beautiful, but it may take me a while to figure out how to pronounce their names.

We caught a minibus to Clifton for a day at the beach. Clifton is on the Atlantic Ocean and the water is so cold that it made my feet numb within seconds of touching the water. Four hours later, I had a sufficient sunglass tan line and a bit of a burn. We walked from Clifton to Camps Bay for appetizers and cocktails. The walk was a bit of hike following Clifton’s four different beaches to the Bay. The most beautiful summer homes line the cliffs over the ocean.

(2/3) I am burned. Fried. A freakin’ tomato. And I am rocking a sweet sunglass tan on my face. Thank God the sun is hiding this morning behind some of the first clouds Cape Town has seen in weeks.

Today I was able to head to the different disciplines’ departments to acquire further details of which days of the week I will have class and where. Although I registered last week, I was merely told that I was in four courses in 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th periods. Each period lasts 45 minutes and there are nine periods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, M, 7, 8) throughout the day beginning at 8AM, meridian or lunch at 1PM, and last classes being held at 3PM. I have two classes on Friday; I foresee some conflict of interests…

Lindsey, my roommate, and I decided to explore Observatory, a neighboring suburb. Although we had ventured there before, we were confident the day scene would be different than the night scene. And that it was. We had found hippie paradise; organic cafes and markets, huka shops, and sushi on every corner. I will most certainly be returning to a corner café to study, have coffee, and a sandwich during a hard school week.

I made two stops up to campus today. With most of my course schedules pretty much ready to go, I made my way to the sports pavilion to register for the Mountain and Ski club, as well as interview for SHAWCO, a student volunteer group.

For dinner I had my virgin taste of Indian food. I had a medium spiced dish and went through a good 5 glasses of water. Lindsey basically had to order everything for me. I will be returning and will be prepared with tums.

Off to bed, we are hiking Table Mountain tomorrow morning.

Monday, February 1, 2010

(1/31) Peninsula Tour

The one great thing that came out of registration was receiving free tickets to participate in the Peninsula Tour, which drove along the coast beginning in downtown Cape Town, to Clifton, to Boulder's Bay, and ending at the Cape of Good Hope. After the LONG day of drinking, big hats, fabulous horses, and all around fun, it was a bit difficult to wake up early and make the hike onto Campus. But with massive buses and orange juice waiting, I felt rejuvenated for the day.

After a drive through the heart of Cape Town, we were driven along the coast (literally on cliffs towering over the ocean on double decker buses, I was a bit nervous) to Clifton. Clifton is an absolutely beautiful beach. The blues in the water are so intense the pictures just don’t do them justice. Clifton is split into 4 smaller beaches catering to different interests, such as Clifton 4 is primarily for surfers and Clifton 2 is for the nudists (the only nude beach in Cape Town).

After Clifton we headed to Boulder’s Bay, the general hangout for the penguin population in the South Africa. Penguins everywhere. I still don’t understand why they are here, but they are adorable and I will never be disappointed to see them waddle around in the sand.

From Boulder’s Bay we headed to Ocean View, a township of colours forcibly removed from their homes in the 1960s. Symbolically naming their new home Ocean View, the township lies in a pretty desolate area, with no train to take people in or out of the region, and no ocean in sight. The township had a huge braai set up for the 500+ international students on the excursion. During lunch, a bunch of kids gave performances, including a tribute to Michael Jackson. It is truly fascinating how connected the kids are to the American hip-hop and pop scene here. I guess music and dance can cross over cultural lines and oceans. I never really know how I feel about townships. I know it is necessary to see the townships in order to truly see the extreme range of living conditions in South Africa; but I always feel uncomfortable when the townships are feeding us a feast after they discuss their hardships and needs of the area. Stop feeding us; we are already fat from our processed foods and over eager parents.

Straight from Ocean View we headed to the Cape of Good Hope. After driving pretty much through un-touched land, we reached cliffs reaching out into the ocean. To the east lay the Indian Ocean and to the west the Atlantic Ocean and the Americas. It was a pretty intense hike up to the sole lighthouse in the area, but the views were incredible. From the lighthouse we hiked to the Cape of Good Hope and I literally felt like I was at the edge of the world.

Don't feed the baboons.