Sharks & Wine

Wednesday many of us took on the so-called “shark Mecca” of the world. We left Cape Town for a two-hour drive to Gansbaai where we signed up for shark diving through the White Shark Projects shark diving company. After a much-needed continental breakfast, we put on our lifejackets and took a very rocky 15-minute boat ride out to into the bay off of Dyer Island, which has a large seal population. Since it is breeding season for the seals, there are many great white sharks hunting the waters. The water was “chummed” with fish oil and guts from tuna, and the “baitman” was ready with his head of tuna to be thrown to lure the sharks in. We were told that it could take up to two hours for sharks to arrive but within 10 minutes, we had two great white sharks circling the boat. Four of my friends and myself were the first ones into the five-person cage. We had our wetsuits on and goggles to view the sharks underwater. While in the cage, we would have our heads above water and held onto the lid. Once the spotter saw the shark take the bait and come close to the cage, he would yell, “DOWN, DOWN, DOWN!” We would submerge ourselves and grab onto the front of the cage with our faces pressed as far forward and within seconds, see one of the largest creatures on the planet swiftly glide by. Before being in the water, the boat was very rocky and the atmosphere was quite hectic, but once underwater and seeing these beautiful creatures, it was surprisingly peaceful and quite calming. The shark lengths ranged from two to 3.5 meters (7ft to 12ft), which was incredibly large compared to the aquarium sharks we saw earlier in the week. There were many seasick people after a while but it actually seemed to bring more sharks to the area with “natural chum,” if you will. Over the course of the day, we saw nine great white sharks in all. Seeing them from the top of the boat was very cool, as you could kind of figure out their patterns in how they approached the bait and reacted to the people in the water. They didn’t notice one bit that humans were in the water, since there was bloody tuna head floating near us. I felt very safe and 100% recommend shark diving to anyone if they have the chance!

White Shark catching the bait in front of the cage

Thursday was another full contact day with our “Bikes n’ Wine” tour in the Stelenbosh wine lands of the cape. The train took about an hour and half after transferring through the city center but upon arrival, you knew you were in the rural wine lands of Cape Town. Complete with scenic landscapes, barrels of wine and of course, the standard, beautiful little African children, the wine lands were remarkable. Our route consisted of three wineries (one brandy and one for lunch as well) and a nice watering hole to take a swim before the end. I must say, biking after the brandy stop was definitely not the easiest thing. Once we low-geared a large hill though, all of us were ready for more tasting, ha. I really enjoyed the mountain biking portion of the trip as well. We actually need mountain bikes, as we were crossing many rough paths and bridges that a road bike would not be able to handle. We arrived home around 7pm and were completely wiped out. I went to bed pretty early after skyping for a bit. Which, by the way, has been really nice to hear many people’s voices from back home and from other countries. Thanks for talking ☺ it was also Will’s (Simmer) birthday yesterday (Only 5 ½ more months my friend, haha). Wish him a happy birthday if you haven’t! When we all got back yesterday, those of us who were waiting for world cup tickets were finally graced with FIFA’s love. I got tickets to the France/Uruguay opening match at Green Point Stadium, Cape Town! I didn’t manage tickets to the England/Algeria match, but I am going to try again on Feb. 9th for first come, first serve final tickets. Hopefully I can give myself a good birthday present.

Glass of red over a rolling creek

Hardcore at the top of the hill

Today was the “first day of class.” I quote that because the first day of class is only packed with people who have no clue whatsoever of what is going on at the university. Naturally, I was part of this group of people who were to go to class as if it were Tuesday. My first class (at 11am) was Principles of Ecology, which should be interesting. Unfortunately though, they rescheduled our five-day fieldwork camping trip over spring break. I was planning on doing a trip with people to Botswana and Victoria Falls, but now I must do some research for class. I will still have five days after this trip, so I might try and find some people here to do the Garden Route around South Africa, which is a 4-8 day driving route that covers much of scenic South Africa. It also covers the Bloukrans Bridge bungee jump. Classes were pretty unnecessary today, since the professors didn’t even show up to most of them. It was more for people to figure out where their classes were located. In order to find out what building and room the classes were in, you had to go to the department of that class and check a paper list on the walls, which usually led you to a random classroom on the other side of campus for the class you were already ten minutes late for. Good thing it’s the weekend now!

Tomorrow we are going to a township to eat a big braai. Apparently they have the best cooked meat in the world. How exciting… It should be rather interesting though!

Goodbye for now!

table mountain background

Ps: I miss LOST.