Thursday Thoughts + African Memories, Part 4

It always seems impossible until its done.

–Nelson Mandela

When Seth and I were in Africa, we were fortunate enough to visit 2 of the 3 prisons where Nelson Mandela was detained, the most striking and memorable to us was Robben Island, where he was held for 18 years, for fighting for the freedom of people. Still today, after everything he has encountered and all the persecution, he remains positive and optimistic.Statue in Paarl 2Statue in PaarlNelsonRobben IslandRobben Island EntrancePrisonPrison hall

African Memories, Part 3

Great White Shark Cage Diving: One of those things you think you’ll never do, plan to do at the end of your trip (if something goes wrong, at least you got to experience everything else first), and think you’ll chicken out on, once you get on the actual boat.

South Africa is the Great White capital of the world, and so when in Rome…blaa blaa. We were promptly picked up at our hotel at 4:45am, for the 2 hour drive to Gansbaai Harbor-where the Atlantic and Pacific collide, for our day of cage diving. We ended up paired with Brian McFarlane and his fabulous crew, unknown to us at the time, but somewhat of a Great White legend and expert, seen on Dirty Jobs and National Geographic among others. I would highly recommend his company for diving in Gansbaai: Great White Cage Diving.

We signed our life away, dressed in our waterproof orange suits, boarded the boat, and off we went. I felt so much more comfortable than I thought I would, because you really do not have to go far out to sea at all. Being able to see land, was a comfort for me. The waters, which were calm, also another selling point. It was so cold, and a little drizzly, with water temps around 48 degrees-so a bit of a shock when it floods your wet-suit  I’d decided based on how cold I was that I was content just viewing the great whites from the boat (aka chickening out)…but seriously, when will I ever do this again? So I volunteered for the third group (Seth and I went individually so we could take pics of each other’s experience).

Once it’s your turn, you drop down into the cage (with about 5 others), and hang on (in very specific areas so your arms and legs are not outside the cage). Spotters on the top of the boat chumming and using decoys, will let you know when a shark is coming, and they’ll tell you “Down, Down! To the left! Down! To the right!” so you know where to look. And then they just sail on by, majestic as ever. Really not as scary as you’d think, and totally awesome animals. Unbelievable. There is no adrenaline rush comparable to a 4 meter 1 ton great white, thrashing against your boat!I still cannot believe we did it. I’d even do it again! Completely worth it, and a lifelong memory for sure.

002 (2)004 (2)006 (2)003017004030031009This experience had special significance for me, as it also happened to be my 6 year diagnosis anniversary with type 1 diabetes. If diabetes has taught me anything, it’s to seize every moment, which I try really hard to do, great white shark cage diving, included 🙂

African Memories, Part 2

Table Mountain

The picturesque flat-top mountain that sits in the background over Cape Town, South Africa. There’s an old wives tale about a duel with the devil, and pipe smoking…which often flows over the table top, and is also called the tablecloth. The weather changes very quickly and dramatically (very windy) in Cape Town, so if you have the chance to ride or hike to the summit of Table Mountain, you have to take your first chance. Because our trip was jam-packed, it ended up being one of the last things we did. The 360 degree view of Cape Town, Camp’s Bay, Lion’s Head (and rump), the Twelve Apostles, is breathtaking. We went first thing in the morning to beat the rush, and it was well worth it 🙂

See why it’s called Table Mountain? This is from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront:

079The tablecloth:740428_4573568291032_1073419813_oLooking out toward the table:035 Cape Town, and the Lion’s Rump (his head is to the left out of the photo), see the 2010 World Cup Stadium (donut)?:343Lion’s Head:029 Selected as one of the new Natural 7 Wonders of the World!036 Seth and me at the top:352

African Memories, Part 1

So many people have asked what my favorite memory is from our trip to Africa, and surprise, I can’t choose. We experienced so many new things, saw culture and diversity we didn’t realize existed, animals in their natural untouched habitat that we thought we’d never see, and quite frankly, had the time of our lives. I’ve decided to post here about some of my favorite experiences. Hope you enjoy!

Wild Game Dinner in Swaziland

One of my favorite memories, was an evening spent in the country of Swaziland. My brother-in-law has some friends that live there, working for US organizations. They were gracious enough to entertain us for the evening while we there, in the capital Mbabane (think “mmmm, ba bon”). They’ve lived in Swaziland for 5 years, and have a daughter, Lily.

We began the evening at their home for pre-dinner drinks (and may have found a black mamba snake-skin on the patio chair before sitting down, so we checked under the cushions 😉 ). Ironically enough-there was a show on PBS the night before we left for Africa, featuring the Black Mambas in Swaziland, so I was promptly instructed by my mom, to be careful. There is something so captivating and charming, about meeting and interacting with individuals who are living and working abroad, they’re special people.

After we had drinks, we headed to a restaurant they’ve been frequenting for years: eDladleni. They had what appeared to be an awesome relationship with the chef, who goes to France for a week each year, and is really into the slow food movement. There was no ordering. She served us creations that she’s come up with, family style. It ended up being probably a 14 course meal-it just kept coming. It was amazing. (Of special note, there may have been an ornery goat, that kept sneaking in the restaurant to try to eat the cushions on the chairs, hee hee).

On the menu: warthog, pop-pop, sautéed veggies, peanut chicken, impala, lamb, filet, spinach, sweet corn cakes, rice, fried bananas…032

We ended the evening, having more drinks back at their home. Not only was the company gracious, the food was amazing, and the conversations fascinating. Truly something I will cherish forever.

My brother-in-law, Noah, Myself, Seth, and Lily (SHE IS MY FAVORITE):034