Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cape Town blog

Traveling is fun and it’s a blessing. But at times it can also feel like a curse, especially when things don’t work out right. And this is often the case when there are so many details, restrictions, and schedules to consider. So when I decided to finally take the leap and get over my fear of traveling alone, I started to make plans to visit Cape Town and see a little bit of a different kind of Africa than Zambia. Of course, my internet is rarely working and then when it did, the website that I tried to use to purchase airline tickets kept jumping the price up by almost $300. Feeling that maybe this trip wasn’t meant to be, I mentioned my troubles to a friend who has a friend who works at Zambezi airlines, one of the major airlines that flies to South Africa from Zambia. When he offered to try and arrange my tickets for me, I agreed. Two days later I get a call that my flights are booked, but payment was due at the airport….immediately or I would lose my flights. And it had to be paid in cash, not by credit card. American dollars to be exact. Unfortunately, it was 4 pm on a clinic day and I wasn’t even going to be back to the House of Moses until later that evening. In addition to this, I didn’t know how much money I had in American dollars, but I knew that I didn’t have enough. So I had a friend dig through my stuff to find my “secret stash” at the House of Moses to find out just how much I had, then I went to an ATM by the clinic. After withdrawing the money in kwacha, I then went to the change bureau to switch my money back to dollars. Anybody will realize this penalizes me twice-first, the ATM fee my bank will charge me for a foreign transaction and then the poor exchange rate the bureau charges to change the Kwacha back to American dollars. Ouch. But after all that I had enough money and was able to connect with lady at Zambezi airlines who booked my ticket for me. She lives near me in Lusaka and agreed to drive me to the airport to pay for my tickets when I returned home that evening. After picking me up she took me to her house, where she told me that she had already secured the tickets without payment and it was okay to wait until the next day to take the money to the airport, but I didn’t need to be there for that. All I had to do was give her my money and she would take care of it the next day. I was a little worried about giving so much money to a complete stranger, but as an employee of the airlines I was going to be flying on, I figured it was okay.

So then I started to plan…what would I do, where would I go, and most importantly-what would I eat???? My friends had just gone to Cape Town two weeks before me and had many great recommendations about where to stay, where to eat, and where to great coffee. They even loaned me their guidebook. Friday morning, I woke up nice and early to catch my 8 am flight. After taking off from Lusaka late, I arrived in Johannesburg late which reduced my layover time from 1 ½ hour to just an hour to take the shuttle from the plane to the terminal, pick up my bags, go through customs and check in at the other airline I was going to use to fly from Jo’burg to Cape Town. I arrived at the check in counter 10 minutes before it closed (thank goodness my bag was one of the first off the plane, and the passport line for me was short and quick) and made it the rest of the way without difficulty. I arrived in Cape Town on a beautiful and sunny day. Once I checked in to my hotel, I took a long walk down to the Victoria and Albert waterfront. I walked around a little bit, but it was starting to get dark by then so I had to make my way back up to the hostel where I was staying. Along the way I picked up some delicious shrimp pad thai for dinner, cookies, and wine and then holed up in my room the rest of the evening watching a movie and reading a book.

The next day I went and had a delicious mocha at a local coffee shop here and then took a taxi to Canal Walk, Africa’s largest mall…It’s not quite as big as the Mall of America but I still managed to spend 6 hours there shopping without stopping, and could have spent more time there if I had it. I managed to pick up some clothes for the cooler weather in Zambia as winter approaches as well as some other things that friends from Zambia requested. Dinner was an amazing avocado and bacon pizza…yummm.  I could have eaten the whole thing if I hadn’t forced myself to stop. Seriously.

On Sunday I was hoping to find a church to go to in the neighborhood where my hostel was, but the only one I found was an Afrikaans speaking church and I figured that wouldn’t be very helpful for me. Instead, I went back to the coffee shop and had another delicious mocha and spent some quiet time reading. After this I walked back down the Victoria and Albert Waterfront and did some shopping down there. My greatest find was a store down there called Melissa’s which had the greatest looking food and goodies…I had to buy a few things there just because they had my name on them =). After shopping for a bit, I then headed out to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, and other political prisoners where held until the 1990’s. For such a touristy kind of thing, the trip out to the island was well worth it and I actually enjoyed the experience. It starts off with a 20-30 minute ferry ride out into the harbor, then a bus tour around the island to show you the different parts of the prison and other buildings there, including a leper’s cemetery, followed by a walking tour of the main prison itself led by a former political prisoner. The views of Cape Town and Table Mountain were also beautiful from the island and we were able to get some great pictures. After returning to the mainland I headed back to my hostel for the evening.

Monday was spent on a day long tour of the wine country. I (along with 7 other passengers) left around 8:30 in the morning and headed into the Stellenbosch region of South Africa, which is like Napa Valley in California. We arrived at our first winery around 9:30 in the morning and sampled 7 different types of wine and champagne as we were taking on a tour of the facilities and the grounds. It’s fall here in South Africa so the leaves on vines are turning pretty orange and red colors and the air was cool and crisp. Our next stop was at a newer winery that was only about 10 years old. It was a very beautiful place and had great views. At this winery we were able to sample chocolate, olive oil, and kalamata olives in addition to 5 or 6 wines. I picked up a delicious white wine to bring back to America with me. Our next stop was lunch where I had the most delicious mushroom risotto and a full glass of wine. From there we went to two more wineries that were so pictures            que I was tempted to move here for good…The scenery is made of up vineyard after vineyard on rolling hills made up of golds, greens, reds, and oranges followed by the stark contrast of the mountains behind. At the last winery we went to we were also able to try many different types of cheeses-like brie, goat cheese, and gouda…I was in heaven. For all that I love about Zambia, they seriously don’t know what good cheese is. By the end of the day we had sampled 25 wines, and I had purchased 3 bottles to try and take back with me to Zambia.
Today, I am sitting in the airport in Cape Town as I wait for my flight to start boarding. Arriving here, I found out that my flight had been cancelled and rebooked for an hour later. Which thankfully works out just fine because I had a five hour layover in Jo’burg on the way back to Zambia. If the rest works out well, I should be arriving Zambia around 9 pm tonight.

While it was a nice treat to get away from Lusaka for a weekend and I loved seeing the water again…this detour has reminded me just how short my time in Zambia is. I only have 6 weeks left and that makes me incredibly sad. I already wish I could stay longer but I know that this isn’t an option. And the thought of leaving my baby behind really breaks my heart. He has just been released for adoption which makes me wonder again why I didn’t go through the adoption paperwork before I came. But at the end of the day, I trust that God had a really good reason for telling me that it isn’t my time to adopt.

Well, I guess that’s all for now. I hope to send off one or two more updates before I return. Until next time…


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