Poems through ephemera

Parker B. Coates

Day to Day Travels

Sorry for not posting day to day like I should have, but over my travels I had no internet access.  I will post all of my journal now and number the days.

Day# 1 or 1/16-1/17:    The past 27 hours have been excruciatingly long.  They consisted of nothing, but waiting in airports and sitting on airplanes.  When we finally landed in Cape Town and were picked up by Rhys, who will be our tour guide in Cape Town, and driven to Rosedene, the hotel we are staying at, we knew the long hours were well worth it.  The drive to Rosedene was beautiful, I think I’ll be using that word a lot here.  On the scenic ride we saw many things ranging from townships, which are like South African projects, to the breathtaking Table Top Mountain.  Once we arrived at the home-like hot el our friends appeared and we had a little reunion, filled with New York style pizza.  So that was our 4 hour first day in Cape Town.  I can’t wait for what tomorrow holds.

Day # 2 or 1/18:  This morning started with a filling breakfast of fruit and bacon that was not in strips, but in slices and chunks.  After that we started on our two hour ride, only to stop after 20 min.s to look around a little ocean side market.  In the market we saw a ton of hand carved things and funny instruments.  Down by the dock we saw seals in the water and a big fat seal on the dock.  The fat seal was being fed by an old man, who was putting fish heads in his mouth and having the seal eat them.  You could tell that this seal was the fattest and happiest seal in all of Africa.  I got to sit on him and his fur was rough and fuzzy.  After our seal encounter we set off to our next destination, an ostrich farm.  Here in South Africa ostrich meat is almost more popular than beef.  Right when the car stopped, us kids ran over to where some four month old ostriches were held in a small fence.  They were all too young so we didn’t know if they would have black feathers which meant they would be male… and eaten.  There was food like in a petting zoo so we were able to hand feed them food pellets.  After seeing the ostrich farm gift shop where they sold hollowed out eggs with detailed paintings and carvings, we went onward.  On the way to our next stop we saw some ingenious baboon who had opened a fire hydrant to get a drink.  We had lunch at a nice restaurant that was literally on the side of a mountain.  We then went up to Cape Point which had beautiful views of both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.  By the way Cape Point is not the southern most point of Africa.  Next we went to see The African penguins.  Yep, penguins in Africa on a beach.  Rhys told us that they are the smallest species of penguin in the world.  Finally  Rhys and our driver Grant dropped us off in a water front area of Cape Town.  This is where we played on a horrifically windy beach and ate dinner at  restaurant named Blues where I ate a delicious ostrich burger.

Day #3 or 1/19:This morning we went straight to the second best place to view all of Cape Town, Signal Hill or the Lion’s rump.  We had to settle for second best today because the first best, Table Top Mountain, had it’s “Table Cloth” on it or clouds, which meant no visibility.  Second best was still pretty OK though.  We saw the whole city from there including one of the six world cup 2010 soccer stadiums being built.  After some scenic shots of the city we went over to an African mall to exchange money.  All Rand, South African currency, is really colorful and has a different animal on each bill.  After the exchange we went to a market where hundreds of locals were selling anything handmade.  It was a bit too overwhelming though with all of the different stands selling all of the same stuff for different prices, and you had to haggle the price down.  After shopping we went and had lunch at a “family oriented” winery called Constantia.  I guess it was  a bit family oriented because the kids were able to run around in the fields.  Then we were off to the Cape Town aquarium where we said good bye to Rhys who was a really awesome guide.  At the aquarium we saw all of South Africa’s marine life including their national fish which is and elf fish that has a huge fore head.  After a long day we went and had a late dinner at Panama Jack’s.  At Panama Jack’s they served seafood galore including an endangered animal called abalone.  I didn’t try it because I don’t like to help endanger animals very much.  So that was our 2nd and final full day in the city of Cape Town.

Day #4 or 1/20:  This morning we got up early and quickly drove over to Tabletop Mountain before the Table Cloth appeared.  The view was amazing.  The rock formation was really incredible because the top is completely flat.  You could see everything from there.  I think that going up and down in the cable car was really cool because as it went up it would spin in a complete 360 so you see everything around you even if you stand still in the same spot.  After the mountain we had a 2 hour drive to Grootbos, our next hotel.  When we drove up to the massive and beautiful grounds we had some lunch and met our Grootbos guide, Brummer.  After being acquainted he took us to a nice beach near the hotel.  The beach is on the Atlantic ocean so the water was freezing cold.  The water didn’t really matter though because we went to look at some small caves.  In the caves and excavation sites there were layers and layers of different human life.  In fact in these caves were where the oldest evidence of nomadic people are found.  The reason we know they were nomads is that they kept sheep so they had to move to different fields.  When we got back to the hotel we watched Obama’s inauguration and speech, then had some dinner.  The dinner was made up of five courses including a sorbet cleanser.  My comment on that was “How fru fru.”

Day#5 or 1/21:  This morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and went to go great white shark cage diving.  After getting a briefing on what’s going to going on, we boated out about 1 mile.  When we got out far enough we started chumming the waters, which is when they put fish and blood soup in the water to attract shark.  While we were waiting we got on wet-suits.  It took about one hour and fifteen minutes to get a shark.  I was in the first group of people to jump in the cage.  The cage was at the surface of the water because the water was too cold to be under for too long.  Let me tell you it was cold!!!!  Looking at the shark was so amazing that the cold water was scarier than the shark.  After getting out of the cage, getting back in again, and taking some awesome underwater video, we went back to the shark diving base.  Over a cup of hot chocolate our shark guide told us that we saw 5 sharks which is pretty rare.  For the rest of the day at Grootbos we relaxed by the pool, played some football, and watched a movie.

Day #6 or 1/22:  Today after having a nice breakfast we went on a horse back ride around the property.  This was my first time riding a horse and the same with my sister so we didn’t even get to a trot.  My horse’s name was Lightning, and he farted… a lot.  The property was beautiful and completely covered with lush forest.  In the middle of our ride we rode directly into fog and it felt like I was in a Sherlock Holmes book.  After the fog came the rain so we had to take a quick way through.  Then we met up with everyone else and went over to Green Futures College.  The college is a school that the owner of Grootbos put on the property to help out the community.  The school helps out the community by taking in up to 12 adults that are jobless and teaching them everything from horticulture to computer skills.  After finishing a year of schooling Grootbos helps them get jobs easily because of the hotels connections.  After that we ate lunch and were off to a township.  Our guide that lives at the township and works at Grootbos was Nzuzo.  He told us the name of the township is Masakhane.  When we got there we were greeted by people who wanted their pictures taken.  We also met Nzuzo’s nephew who is 6 years old.  We saw a houses and were amazed at how lucky we really, really are.  We then saw everyones plumbing, which is in the middle of the town and is made up of a few toilets, sinks, and hoses.  Everyone there was really nice and were full of hospitality.  After Masakhane we went to the soccer field that the owner of Grootbos built for the community’s kids to be together.  There we played a game of soccer with a team of the girls, that were practicing.  We lost 3-2, but I think that we would have won if Brummer had played on our team instead of theirs.  So that was our 2nd and final full day at Grootbos.

Day #7 or 1/23:  This morning we had to say good bye to Grootbos and move on to a hotel/winery called Spier.  At Spier they have a bunch of cool stuff to do, but the cheetah reserve interested us the most. At the reserve they had a bunch of cheetahs in captivity where they are safer.  You were able to go into the cages a nd pet them which was really cool.  We pet a cheetah named Joseph who was hand raised for educational purposes.  At the reserve they also had dogs that are bred to scare cheetahs away from livestock so that farmers will learn not to shoot the cheetahs.  Right next to the cheetah reserve was a birds of prey reserve where, like the cheetah reserve, they take in hurt or sick birds.  All of them were really cool and we even got to see a hawk feed on a baby chicken.  Before we left the reserve we got to see how a secretary bird attacks snakes.  A secretary birds kick is faster than a cobra bite.  After playing at the pool for a while we went out to a restaurant called Moyo.  At Moyo there was a buffet with lots of African food, like impala or antelope. They also painted our faces like African warriors or princesses.  So that was our one day in Spier.

Day #8 or 2/24:  After driving to the airport near Spier we said good bye to Grant.  We flew to Kruger National Park and checked into Sabi Sabi.  On the way to Sabi Sabi inside the park, an elephant crossed the road behind us.  When we went into our room we looked into the little patio and saw vervit monkeys running around and playing.  After a lunch filled with crocidile and ostrich, yum, we went out on our first game drive or safari.  Right out of the box we saw a leopard stalking a wildebeast, but it gave up pretty quickly.  We also saw impala, which is an antelope with an M on it’s butt because it’s the MacDonalds of the forest.  We also saw giraffe and zebra which was awesome.  After having sundowners, which is game drive talk for a drink and snacks, we went back to the hotel.  On the way back we saw a honey badger which is really, really rare.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrows forest holds in store.

Day #9 or 2/25:  This morning we woke up at five to go on the morning safari.  We drove straight into a pride of lion.  They were so amazing and it was really cool when the cubs started to play with each other.  After the lion we saw some zebra and giraffe.  After sunuppers we saw a male elephant and then two more crosse the road.  After lunch we played in the pool until the afternoon safari.  We went over to a watering hole right away and saw a myriad of wildebeest, zebra, and impala all together.  We even saw baby zebra and baby wildebeest.  After that we went to see a smaller watering hole where we saw some cape buffalo.  After the buffalo we were called over to the bigger watering hole where a leopard had been spotted.  The leopard was crouching in the grass and we all thought that a baby zebra was gonna be its dinner.  Lucky for the zebra that a smaller herd of zebra came up to meet them and one of them almost stepped on the leopard.  The leopard was so surprised that it jumped in the air and ran up a tree. A few minutes later it ran back down and into the bush.  We thought it was going to circle around and go for the impala at the edge of the bush.  Then the  impala were chased away by a hyena that popped out of nowhere.   Today was awesome and I can’t wait for more.

Day #10 or 1/26:  This morning we went out early and immediately saw the same pride of lion, but with two males.  The males were especially cool and we also saw a female nursing her cub.  Right after that we saw a bunch of rhino, warthog and giraffe.  After sunuppers we saw kudu nursing its fawn and a huge elephant bull.  After hanging out at the pool for a few hours we went out on our next game drive.  Our driver took us all the way to the edge of the camp to look for hippo.  On the way for hippo we saw a snake in a birds claws, and water buck , which are antelope with a target on their butt.  The first pond we looked at didn’t have a hippo in it,, but the second one did.  We had to get out of the jeep and walk to the pond so we didn’t disturb it and the driver had to bring his rifle because hippo take more lives than any other animal.  It was really cool and even cooler when we were about to leave in the car because it got out of the water and opened it’s mouth.  After sundowners, on the way back, we saw a leopard.  We thought it was hunting for impala, but then we realized it was marking it’s territory.  Tomorrow is our last game drive, and I have a felling the animals are going to put on a finale for us.

Day #11 or 1/27:  This morning we had our last game drive and the first thing we saw was african wild dog, which is the rarest thing we could have possibly seen.  They were so funny looking with their long skinny legs.  When they went onto another property we couldn’t follow the six of them.  After the dog we saw rhino including little baby one.  After breakfast we had a five hour drive to our hotel in Johannesburg.  The hotel is nice and pretty outside of the city.  Tomorrow we got to the next country.

Day #12 or 1/28:  After having an early breakfast we flew to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.  After driving to the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, we checked in just in time to watch the 1:00 vulture feeding.  It was pretty cool, but the stench was horrific.  After lunch we went over to Victoria Falls.  Te falls are really made up of a bunch of falls, but all of them are just completely amazing.  The water doesn’t just fall off of them, it explodes off the side.  There were a lot of stairs to walk down to get better views, and at one ledge you could see a rainbow in front of the falls which was really beautiful.  Zimbabwe dollars are worth absolutely nothing, so people were willing to give us large ills for a few US dollars since no one in Zimbabwe excepts Zimbabwean dollars.  When it started pouring we left and had dinner.

Day #13 or 1/29:  his morning at breakfast a vervit monkey attacked the bread at the buffet and spilled the basket of it onto the floor.  Then all the monkeys appeared to help take the bread to their nest in one of the straw roofs.  After breakfast we got into rafts to go on the Zambezi River.  We saw a lot of hippo and had some fun on the small 2 level rapids.   At the end of the ride we saw one croc, but that’s it.  The scenery was pretty nice and for part of the ride we were in Zambia.  After lunch we all took a needed nap.  Then we went to dinner at the Boma.  This place was truly African and ten times better than Moyo.  We all got African robes and had our faces painted as warriors or princesses for the ladies.  I tasted the most delicious thing ever there, wart hog.  I also tasted the mopani worm which was disgusting.  From now on I think I’ll stick with the Canadian night crawler worm.  After we finished dinner we got to play drums and dance.  Before we left I got my fortune told by a real African fortune teller whose eyes were both lazy.  So that was our second to last full day in Africa.

Day #14 or 1/31:  This morning we woke up pretty early to go elephant back riding.  On the way to the ride we saw a baboon funeral, which is where they drag around the dead baboon and scream.  It was so sad, especially because about 100 baboon had come out of the bush.  When we got there a bunch of elephants came out and we all hopped on the one we wanted to ride.  I got and elephant named Tendai who was nursing her baby Tambi.  Riding them was so cool, and their skin is really, really rough.  We were on a reserve and we got to see how beautiful it is especially the view of some of the rapids on the Zambezi.  When we got back we packed up and left to Ibabala Lodge.  The lodge is a lot like Sabi Sabi except all of the three families had the lodge to ourselves.  After eating lunch we went out on our sunset cruise on the Zambezi.  We saw a ton of crocodile, which was really cool.  Our guide also showed us how to make necklaces and hats out of lilys and lily pads.  After that we saw an amazing sunset with hippo that stood completely out of the water with their mouths open.  So that was our final day in Africa.  This trip was so amazing, I would go back to Africa in a heartbeat.  The only thing I dread now, is the long trek back home.


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