The parents left on Sunday afternoon last weekend so life has gone back to normal here in Cape Town. My parents coming here was a wonderful break from most everything about school (much needed) but it also allowed me to enjoy some parts of the city and the countryside that I probably wouldn’t have seen without them. Once my brother and Maxine left for home, my parents moved to a self-catering place in Rondebosch near UCT. We were pretty relaxed being out of the city center and I actually ended up going to most of my classes last week. We managed to continue eating out, no surprise there, and spent some afternoons with my housemates. I can imagine my mom was happy to see how wonderful my housemates are; it made her much more calm about who I was with over in South Africa. I had a soccer match last Wednesday night, which my parents were able to come and watch despite the chilly evening weather. We unfortunately lost, but it was nice to have them watch my play!
Last Friday we made our way out to Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, which is located about 2 ½ hours outside of Cape Town in the Karoo. Here we planned on staying the night and taking a couple safari drives. None of us really knew what we were getting into, and by the end of both of our drives, I don’t think our safari leader could have foreseen what the wild animals ended up doing. Our first drive was about 2 hours after arriving. We had a quick (rushed if I say so myself) lunch and didn’t even have time to digest before we piled into the jeep. My dad and I sat in the way back while my mom sat in front. There were two English couples in-between us all.
We first saw some zebras and wild kudu (which are similar to antelope), which to me are very fascinating! It always interests me to see animals on the other side of the world that are just so similar to those in the woods of Minnesota and Wisconsin, although these were much larger. The trails we drove through were pretty hectic. My dad and I in the back of the jeep were bouncing up and down like a roller coaster, while my mom enjoyed the heat of the comfortable front seat, ha. We drove around a little more and ended up seeing a giraffe only when it was about 5 meters from the jeep. I don’t know how we missed a 20 ft animal running in front of us…
Next we ended up seeing the entire family of elephants eating and making their way to a watering hole. This was one of the most extraordinary parts of the trip. It wasn’t the fact that all 14 elephants (babies and all) were together and only 20 meters from the jeep. It was the fact that a hippopotamus was in between the elephants and their watering hole. The hippo was out of water, which is quite rare apparently but was actually chased down by the matriarchal elephant into the woods! The elephant even made its trunk noise. The elephants made it to the watering hole, but not before the hippo decided to come back. Once again the hippo was chased, not only by the matriarchal elephant, but also by the entire family! The hippo jumped into the water with surprising speed for such a blubbery and fat animal. Our driver was shell-shocked, as were all of us in the jeep wondering if the animals were actually mechanical and the whole thing was a rigged show.
We ended the evening drive with a nice drink (beer for me, g&t’s for the parents) on the front of the jeep overlooking the beautiful sunset sky in the Karoo. We didn’t have any luck finding the white lions that were supposedly in the park that night. Once back, my parents and I spent a nice evening eating dinner and drinking wine. I had an entire tent/cottage place to myself, which was very unfortunate because it was literally made for people on honeymoons or anniversaries. I still took advantage of the bathtub nonetheless. The next morning was an early wake-up around 6:30 am to make our game drive around 7:30 after breakfast. This drive included an even more insane coupling of wild animals at the same time. We first set out to find the white lions, which are not albino but are just genetically recessive and still the same species as normal lions. We were lucky to find them down the river valley not only within 10 meters of the jeep, but one of them was eating a recent zebra catch! There were two males that were brothers lounging in the morning sun. It was really cold actually since the desert has next to no heat capacity, all of the heat is directly from the sun, not the ground whatsoever. We were provided with nice warm water bottles to keep our legs warm though, haha. The lions were beautiful animals and seemed very calm for recently dominating a zebra.
We then moved on to find some white rhinoceros. We eventually saw about 6 of them off in the distance and after about a half our trying to get closer, they were only about 15 meters from the jeep! The rhinos are actually very weird looking animals. They seem very prehistoric in their nature and their physiology. Apparently they have horrible eyesight, which wasn’t surprising to hear after seeing their eyes. They are just little nubby dots on their huge bodies. We followed the rhinos to a watering hole and then saw one of the white lions again! We drove away and ended up tailing the lion right back to the watering hole where the rhinos were. The encounter was very defensive by the rhinos, which all slowly moved toward the lion, who quickly rounded them and made it to the watering hole. It wasn’t long until the rhinos went back and the lion retreated since he wasn’t going to take on 5 or 6 giant horns. Our driver again was totally amazed at the sight! We saw more oryx, kudu, springbok and zebra along our way back. All in all, it was a successful first African safari for my parents and I.
The whole having the entire cottage to myself made me miss Bonnie quite a lot, but I will be seeing her soon! My ticket home is officially changed to leave Cape Town on the 1st of July and I will be home on the 2nd in time for a relaxing 4th of July at the cabin in Wisconsin. Classes finished yesterday at UCT and now final exams begin next week. All three of my exams are worth 50% of my grade, which is really scary, but hopefully I will do well! After finals my plans begin to be very crazy. I am going to Durban for a long weekend and then driving to Namibia with some of my roommates. I then begin the most exciting week of my life with three world cup games in three different cities! I have France/Uruguay on the 11th of June in Cape Town; Ivory Coast/Portugal on the 15th in Port Elizabeth; and end it all with the USA/Slovenia match in Johannesburg on the 18th.
Much studying to do, therefore I am going to watch a movie.