Thursday, August 29, 2013

Week Two in Cape Town

Good morning from Cape Town!  Today is my last day in the city.  Tomorrow I move to Hawston!  I've been spending the week getting ready and sorting out things like internet connection.  Internet is a little counterintuitive here for an American: you connect through the cell network, and buy a router that converts airtime to data.  Then you pay for your data.  I paid 300 rand for 3 GB of data (that's about 30-35 dollars) and I have no idea how long that will last me.  As I said in my last blog post, I took Tuesday to explore the city with Emily.  It was awesome!  Here are some pictures:

The Victoria and Alfred waterfront

The clock tower at the waterfront.  It happens to be my favorite color.

Look!  Emily and I got a photo with Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu!  Also two other South African Nobel laureates who I am unfamiliar with.

We ate lunch at an African restraunt called Moyo on the waterfront.  I tried a lentil bobotie.  It is basically a lentil and veggie bake, topped with baked egg.  It was delicious.

The servers come around and offer to paint your face.  Emily was really enthusiastic about that!

A little touristy, but tasty and fun!

Next we headed to the St. George's Cathedral downtown:

Clearly I haven't quite gotten the stained glass obsession out of my head yet.

They had a chapel dedicated to prayers for Nelson Mandela.

The Company Gardens are just a block from the cathedral:

According to Lonely Planet, which is clearly the end-all on Cape Town information, the gardens started out as the vegetable patch for original employees of the Dutch East India Company when they first occupied Cape Town (Kaapstad to them).

Today they are a lovely garden with all sorts of ponds, plants, paths, and people playing football and taking photos.

I believe this is an Egyptian goose.  Please correct me if you know that I am wrong.

More of the crazy birds from the rugby pitch!  Still don't know what they are.

Bird of Paradise.  I do know my flowers.

So you can see why I'm a little sad to leave Cape Town tomorrow.  Everyone I know on the entire continent is here!  It seems a little scary to pack up and move again.  I know it's nothing compared to the move I made two weeks ago to leave the US and come over here, but still it's another change.  However, I am excited to get to Hawston, settle into the house where I will live for the rest of the year, and get to work on my real job.  This is the reason I am here!  

For now, I will leave you with this:

Daffodils grow at the southern tip of Africa!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Coffee, bays, and charity walks: my weekend in Cape Town

Hello from Cape Town!  I have to admit, I think I slightly underestimated the South African winter.  It is quite cold here!  Tomorrow it is supposed to be 14 degrees.  I have no idea how cold that actually is, because I don't have any feeling for Celsius temperatures, but I am told it is quite cold.  I think the problem for me is that in general the buildings aren't heated, so even if it is only a little cold outside, the houses often get quite cold.  It was so cold last week that I was forced to do something I would NEVER do in the US:

Yes, I am wearing socks with my Sperrys.  I'm not proud of it, but it's true.

Please allow me to take you on a small tour of Anhouse, where I stayed my first week in Cape Town:

Here is the Anhouse kitchen.  It has all the conveniences you would need to cook here.  I personally didn't cook much, mostly because I knew I'd only be living here for a week and it was too much trouble to buy ingredients.  Easier to buy pre-cooked meals for a week.

The entrance hall.  Lovely floors.  There is a meeting room and a TV room off the hall.  I watched some TV with some of the residents, including a South African soap opera, which was awesome because all of the characters speak different languages, so you get to hear three or four different languages going on at once, all in the same TV show!

The front of Anhouse

This cat lives around Anhouse.  He is super friendly and talkative.

 Now for a tour of the HOPE Africa offices:

Melanie and Khilowe, two of HOPE's interns, are hard at work sorting paperwork.  I helped them buy punching holes in the pages and putting the papers in binders.  These two ladies are awesome!  

The HOPE Africa offices are in a building owned by ASCA (the Anglican Church of Southern Africa).  It's a beautiful building that used to be a house for retired bishops.

The HOPE staff all eat lunch together.  Friday's lunch was delicious, as you can see.  Fresh cheeses, interesting and tasty crackers and bread, pickled watermelon, and jelly beans (provided by me at the request of the staff, flow all the way from Virginia!)

Over the weekend, I was able to convince some of my Anhouse roommates to take me signtseeing.  Actually, it wasn't that hard to convince them.  All I had to do was say "I have a car.  Who wants to go do something fun with me?" and here was the result:

Walking around Bo-Kaap.  This is one of the most photographed neighborhoods in Cape Town, according to Lonely Planet.  It has cobblestone streets and colorful houses and is situated on the slopes of Signal Hill.  Many Muslims live in this area, and it is common to see a mosque tucked in between the houses.  It is a lovely section of town.

A pretty house in Bo-Kapp

More from Bo-Kaap.  The peak you see sticking up is Lion's Head, part of the same spine of rock that makes up Table Mountain.  Next to this neighborhood is another section of town called De Waterkant, which I believe is my favorite neighborhood so far.  It includes lots of beautiful homes, as well as some upscale shops and cafes.  We stopped for coffee and breakfast in a FABULOUS coffee shop called Origins.  I should have taken a photo of the cafe because it was beautiful inside.  The coffee was even more beautiful.  I bought a bag to take home so I can have fresh coffee in my french press mug instead of drinking Nescafe.  You have no idea how excited I am about this.

Table Mountain from the car window.  The cloud that often covers it is called the 'tablecloth'.

On Friday after work, I took a walk and stumbled upon the Rhodes Memorial.  It was really beautiful and offered great views, so I vowed to come back and take some pictures, which I did upon our return home from our morning in town:

Apparently a bridal party had the same idea:

The view from the memorial.  It's totally worth the 15 minute slog up the very steep hill to get there!

Above is a photo of the upper campus of University of Cape Town.  If that photo doesn't make you want to go to college here, then you're nuts.

These strange birds were all over the rugby pitch, pecking at the grass!  I don't know what they are, but they have these long curved beaks. They're pretty cool looking.

Later on Saturday, I convinced one of the guys to take a drive to Hout Bay with me.  We drove over the spine of the mountain and came out here:

Hout Bay is a fishing community a few miles south of Cape Town.  It is easily the most stunning place I have ever been in my entire life.  We saw seals playing in the water right by these boats!

Hout Bay, taken from the road above it.  The sun had just gone over the mountains and the light was incredible.  Like even more incredible than you can see in this incredible photo.

On Sunday I participated in a charity walk called Blisters for Bread.  This is an annual event that supports a school lunch program in town.  The Archbishop of Cape Town is a patron of the program, so a big group of people who work for his office or one of the church's programs came out to the walk.  It was fun to hang out with my coworkers outside of the office, and the walk was in a gorgeous area!

So, that was my weekend in Cape Town!  I am staying in town through this Friday because my house in Hawston is not quite ready yet.  I have enjoyed a few extra days in the city, and Emily, the YASCer who is stationed here, arrived on Sunday.  I was so excited to see her!  The only problem is that I was sleeping in her room in Anhouse, so I have moved.  That worked out GREAT for me, though, because I am staying with Mari, one of the HOPE employees, and her husband Ari.  They have a lovely flat about a 10 minute walk from Anhouse, and they are fabulous cooks!  I'm really being spoiled this week.  I kind of don't want to leave them.  Like right now, I'm writing this snuggled up under some warm thick blankets on a super soft mattress in my own room with its own bathroom. I wonder if Mari and Ari would want to adopt me....

Anyway, today Emily and I took some time to further explore Cape Town together.  I'll post some photos from that soon, maybe later this week.  For now, good night from what is clearly the most beautiful city in the world!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

As promised: pictures!

My first night, one of the guys in Anhouse, the place where I am staying, decided to make cookies.  He didn't have a recipe, he just started making them.  I was really skeptical.

Lo and behold, they turned out delicious.  Sort of snickerdoodle-like, which meant of course I had to explain what a snickerdoodle is.  Also, cookies are called biscuits.  I said that in the US we have biscuits, but it means something different.  Which meant that I had to explain what a biscuit is.  Easier said than done.  I described as 'like a roll, but more buttery and fluffy'.

There was a full moon the second night I was in town.  Anhouse is on the campus of Cape Town University, which is in the Southern suburbs.  So, this is looking west from the lower slopes of Table Mountain, roughly towards Stellenbosch.  You can't see it, but there are more mountains just under the moon.

The excellent view of Table Mountain, taken from the yard of Anhouse.  It's much closer than it looks in the photo!  But still a great photo, and probably my favorite that I've taken so far.

The view from my room.

The yard

Also taken from my window

This is actually from the Amsterdam airport. There were those little things of tulips everywhere!

That's all I've got for now.  Totsiens from Cape Town!