Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Mauritius was a quick stop on our voyage. We had about 6 hours in port. While most of the ship left early to do catamaran rides, otherwise known as “booze cruises” my friends and I opted to go explore the town. From the dock we had to take water taxis into the town so we hopped on one for 2 dollars and a 10 minute ride to the city. There wasn’t much there, and because it was a Sunday the few stores that were nearby were either closed or would be closing at noon and it was already 10 am by the time we got there. We wandered through the water taxi port and walked towards all of the buildings close by. We found a mall but the shops were all closed so we kept walking and came across a “craft mart”. Many of the vendors were selling handmade crafts and Karissa and I found collages with dried flowers mod-podged onto banana leaves. We each got one and those were our purchases for the day. After the craft mart we went to lunch at a small cafĂ©. I ordered a chicken Panini, but it was pretty much just bread. When we were finished with lunch we went back to the water taxi’s because Karissa went back to the ship since she was suffering from a fat lip. The cause of that is still a mystery.

After we waved Karissa off my friend Chelsea and I decided to wander in another direction. As we walked we came upon an open air market/street fair kind of thing. We walked up the street browsing the tables filled with sandals, perfumes, knockoff boxer briefs, Tupperware, kids toys, and more. Once we walked the whole street we decided to go back to the craft mart and make sure we didn’t miss anything. Unfortunately at that point it was already passed noon so we were out of luck. The city was pretty much shut down by then so there was really nothing left to do. We headed back to the water taxis and back to the ship.

We got back around the same time that people were getting back from the booze cruises and it was quite the scene on the ship. Dinner was filled with kids swaying with the ship, except that the ship wasn’t moving. Everyone was in sunglasses trying to cover the drunk eyes, dresses on backwards, cowboy hats, and lots of yelling. And those were the kids that got past security. Apparently a lot of people were written up getting back on the ship. Good things we skipped that mess.

Cape Town

Cape Town wasn’t one of the ports that I was excited for so when our ship was stuck right off the coast over 24 hours after it should have been docked (because it was too windy to dock), I was much calmer than most of my peers. But as soon as we docked and I could see the port area, my opinion quickly changed. First of all, the weather was perfect and after being in Brazil and Ghana where it was miserably muggy, 80’s and sun couldn’t have been more exciting. From the ship we could see the port area which was no more than 100 feet off the ship with a mall, restaurants, a Ferris wheel, markets, and tons of people wandering around. Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to explore the town quite yet because I would be leaving for my trip to Johannesburg and Pilanesberg Game Reserve shortly after our ship finally docked.
After a lot of waiting to hear what the new itinerary would be, the ship finally announced that my trip had gotten on to another flight and we would continue with our schedule, it would just be a little bit delayed so we would have to go faster through the first day in order to get everything in. We boarded our plane in Cape Town for our short flight to Johannesburg. We got to our hotel and had an amazing fancy dinner that none of us expected and before we knew it was 11 pm and we had to be up at 6 for our site seeing and then our drive to the game reserve the next day.
After breakfast we went to Nelson Mandela’s house which is now a historical site. They’ve built brick walls around the house and the bricks state facts and Mandela and his family giving a timeline of his life and the big events in it. We went in the house which is still equipped with many of the things that were there when he lived there. Looking at his daily items like shoes, family photos, hats, and things like that I couldn’t help but be taken aback at how amazing it is that somebody can be so influential and important that their everyday items are now monumentalized in a museum. How awesome is that, to have made that big of a positive impact on not only a country or culture but really the whole world.

After Mandela’s house we visited the Apartheid Museum which was amazing. I’ve been to a lot of museums and this was one of the best. It was small but full and modern with lots of colors and images and the timelines were huge with the writing broken up so it wasn’t overwhelming.

From the museum it was time for our three hour drive to the game reserve. Aka, nap time. We pulled up to a resort that kind of reminded me of family camp, just nicer. There were individual buildings with rooms instead of everything being in one building like at a hotel. We walked through the lobby to see endless grassland with a fence blocking the safari land from the hotel so that animals couldn’t cross the barrier. We had time to eat lunch and put our bags in our rooms and then it was time for our first safari drive. About 2 minutes into our drive we saw a pack of zebras on the side of the road. It was amazing to see these animals that are normally only seen behind bars in a zoo, roaming free on their land. In the next few days we had 4 game drives and saw four out of the big five. The big five are elephants, buffalo, rhino, leopard, and lions and we saw all but the leopard. They are the big five because they are the most dangerous animals. We also got to see baboons, zebras, and a few other animals.

When I got back to Cape Town I had one day to explore so Karissa and I walked around the port area and then went to meet her roommate Olivia who is doing a study abroad program in Africa and happened to be in Cape Town at the same time as us.
I wish I had had more time to spend in Cape Town itself because it seems like a really cool city. Of all the places I have been so far, this was definitely the one that I could see myself going back to, but that’s probably because it was the most like home.