Monday, August 10, 2015

Concluding thoughts, final adventures

      In about 12 hours, I will be boarding a plane for AMERICA! I cannot actually believe or process that I am leaving, but I have had a rough time sleeping these past few nights because I feel anxious, dismayed, excited, and lost. I have become so accustomed to South Africa, which is very unlike home - what is home going to be like? Well, I guess home is not the changed one, I am the one who is different. 

6AM view from Forest Hill 


       On Monday, I took a 9 hour bus ride from hell to Plettenberg Bay to see the elephants at Kynsna. They played the Passion of Christ VERY loudly (I sat under the speaker like an idiot) and the guy next to me was VERY sick, and at one point even laid on the floor of the bus. Also, it was a red-eye bus that kept stopping at least every 30 minutes. Needless to say, I did not fall asleep. It dropped me off at this this gas station in the middle of the night, and learned there were no cabs running. I called my airbnb hosts, and they picked me up IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! They made me tea, gave me rusk, and even made me a crepe with cinnamon and brown sugar! The bed I stayed in was outdoors, in a sheltered room specifically for the bed. It was an experience! It was storming, so that had a really comforting effect. I was snuggled in bed with tea while the world crashed around me. Adventure.


       I spent three hours with the elephants and basically cried at them. They were gargantuan, and smart! I talked to the guides and asked a million questions. The elephants were all rescued from different parts of Africa, and they would try and sneak around us to eat the plants as we talked. Up close, looking in those giant beautiful eyes, I see that they are such majestic, wondrous, awe-inspiring creatures. I am in love. My dream is to come back there and do an elephant walk with them, and spend more time with them! The rest of the day I spent with my airbnb hosts, who took me kayaking and on a beach walk by the Indian Ocean. I read 100 pages of this book on secret Kynsnian elephants in the forest around that area - so captivating, I need to get that book and finish it! Did you know elephants bury humans like their own? They also can die of a broken heart and transmit their pain and anguish silently to other elephants within a radius of 1,000 miles! They are magic. For the bus home, my airbnb host packed me a dinner (SO kind, such a nice family) and I found a buddy in that terrible gas station - English Guy! He was a pre-med, pre-pediatrician student in Cape Town for 3 weeks. I was really grateful for English Guy because I felt safer being at that gas station with a friend and also the bus was 45 minutes late, and having someone who was in the same predicament as me kept me sane.






      Grace and I went paragliding the other day, spur of the moment, because our skydiving extravaganza did not work out scheduling-wise (they cancelled on the only time that was good for both of us - I HAVE THE EMAILS TO PROVE IT). Paragliding was like flying through a bright paradise! I laughed the entire time, and they even did "tricks" that felt like a rollercoaster. To get into the air, I had to run off of Signal Hill on a tarp. I have an embarrassing go-pro video of it given to me by the company. I could have done without seeing myself do that, especially from the terrible angle they took the video. 


     Lately, I have embraced the Cape Town coffee culture and studied in a lot of cafes - fun, my work environment, great coffee! My tests came and went nerve-wrackingly and in a frigid huge sports hall. THEY ARE DONE! I especially loved getting done my last final, because it is just so freeing. Who doesn't love that? After, I talked with Aisha and her South African friend and got delicious bagels. We went into Cape Town to get souvenirs and haggled a lot. This past week I also went to one of the best bakeries in Cape Town, Charley's Bakery, which was very colorful and delicious. Speaking of delicious things, we also managed to get a reservation at the 28th best restaurant in the world, the Test Kitchen! We ate like kings, and man, it was mouth-watering and perfect. Another great evening for the books was when our group went to Milnerton to see the sunset, and got sushi after. These last few weeks, even though they were final-filled, have been an adventure-per-day, making them gr8 mems. 


Right after I finished my last final 

Mini macaroon @ Old Biscuit Mill

I Heart SA 

CAKE TOWN - CHARLEY'S BAKERY 

Best in CPT, some say 

Table Mountain view from Milnerton Beach

Sunset w/ my girls - we got SUSHI AFTER!

Eating at the 28th best restaurant in the world - the Test Kitchen! 

Hungry, Sam?

      I also went to Food Jam, which is held at this lady's pimped out house that is straight out of a designer magazine. It was interesting because our group was with local South Africans, so we all drank wine and partnered up to make our dish. There was suave music playing as me and my reporter South African partner made Cape Malay mussels and these delicious potato chips. We all laughed a lot and got to know the South Africans and drank too much wine. The food was to die for, and we all made it ourselves! It was a little hectic, but so worth it. 



Love these girls

Magical

We aren't drunk..

      The last day in Cape Town was started with meeting Sam and Aisha in Vida Cafe and eating rusk and drinking rooibos tea - my favorite South African breakfast. Our last day was spent stopping at different places throughout Cape Town via train, because we figured that exploring Cape Town is how we should say goodbye. We stopped at Muizenberg to see the colorful houses again and made our way to Simonstown to greet the penguins. The train was slow and we were goofy. We got off too early, so we found a minibus to take us the rest of the way. True adventurers. My favorite part of the day was either when Sam and I got into the cold clear water to swim with the penguins, or on the train ride back, when the sun was setting and the beauty of Cape Town struck me for one of the last times. 


Yo, Peng. 

Crazies 


Perfection




       I am going to miss Cape Town more than I can express. The sights, adventures, friends, independence, confidence, and knowledge that this experience has given me cannot be traded for anything - they are priceless. I have grown exponentially since I first arrived, and learned and gained experience in a different way about myself, society, and the world. It's kind of funny to look in at your life from a different country and see how truly comfortable you were - I think that is called gaining perspective. Adjusting to the culture and the lack of familiar surroundings in Cape Town was not fun at first, but after the hard part is over, it's eye-opening to embrace a new way of looking at things. I love my life at home, but I also feel like I am cutting this short - my friendships are truly starting to blossom, I know my way around and recognize strange phrases, places, and names that are truly Cape Townian, and I feel comfortable - comfortable enough to call myself a local. It's sad to let go and know I won't be back for a long time - but I will make it back. I just am grateful that my parents didn't for a second prohibit me from going, and that La Salle offered this opportunity for me. I doubt this paragraph truly captured all of the emotions I feel leaving Cape Town, or that any of these posts sufficed in conveying just how beneficial this experience was for me. 



*******

Back in the states: 

      Well, after copious amounts of wine on my plane and sleeping for 14 out of my 20 hours of flying, I made it back! Back to humid, bustling NY, and then straight home. Seeing my dog again was magical, and hugging my family and entering my room was surreal. Luckily, I got to see everyone right away as my brother Kevin's graduation party was that day. Hearing Nikhita's voice from upstairs made me run downstairs and hug her as we cried embarrassingly in front of everyone. Reunions are so sweet - and I loved reuniting one by one with friends I haven't seen in a long time. I loved being on campus again, although I didn't love my summer class. I loved seeing Elise sitting on a bench on the quad from afar and greeting her again with a shaky voice, hugging Ariane again, walking into work and seeing Jocelyn, and later, John, getting bear hugged by Jake, and then surprising an angry Ben in Buffalo, and peaking my head into Erin Carrol's office and smiling so much (just a few fun reunions). 


Art Museum loves 

Missed that Joce. 

Ma 

<3

Meeting Jeremy Loops w/ my best 

 @ Ingrid Michaelson 

Pre-guac 

      People ask me all the time about how it was, and it is so hard to convey. Elise sat down and asked me a lot of questions over dinner (took us like 40 minutes to actually open the menu), which I needed, and I thank her for.  Family friends and even strangers have sat down with me for over an hour to get to know more, and have asked some insightful questions. I dislike when people judge me for choosing Cape Town, or scoff at details that sound horrendous to them - I wish they knew how wonderful it is there, and how I would go back in a heartbeat.


"Let's just get some cake from Coco Wah Wah" -us, once a week 

Rhodes Memorial View 

Beer House favorite Cider 

Facetiming goofs 

Peninsula Tour Week 1 

Roomiez 

Honeybun Deli sandwich 

seeing Trevor Noah

Why aren't there any mountains in Philly?

UCT <3


Beautiful host mom 

Old Biscuit Mill for the first time

Kirstenbosch gardens has more biodiversity than the entire UK

Beautiful view driving back to the dorm - every time

Miss u 

"We'll have some house red, please" 

This face describes this night 

Dan's cookies in Rome 

Water Front

Know the lady on the corner who makes these in Bo'Kaap - so delicious

Miss that colorful $$$

Gr8 White

Pls don't eat me

Namib. 

The best RAs there are. 

       I think back to the amazing days I had over the last six months: drinking and dancing at the Parklife music festival; laughing with my family while shark cage diving; that beautiful, bright day spent on Lion's Head, and those delicious burgers from Jerry's after; seeing Cape Town fully, for one of the last times, while paragliding; seeing the elephants all on my own; seeing Dan's face when I walked through the door in Rome and laughing and shouting in Ostia Antica; my first day on Table Mountain as tears filled my eyes at such a beautiful world; swimming with the penguins in my underwear; my passionate teachers in my Medical Anthropology class making me want to change my major; seeing the most magnificent starry sky as I sat on the passenger side window as we drove through our campsite in Namibia, and then eating the most delicious s'mores and having deep conversations before sleeping out in the open, under that sky that seemed to alter me; getting sushi or Indian with friends on a random day just because; Robben Island; Cape of Good Hope (one of my favorite places in this world); baboons. But even just making my usual salad for lunch or walking home from class, looking up at Devil's Peak while on my run - I miss it. Don't get me wrong - I love my home so much, I love La Salle. But a part of me will always consider Cape Town home. 


Flying in to my new home; Quote: "Oh, wow" 

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Just a girl who loves dogs, traveling, laughter, and being a goof.