South Africa is notorious for having a million public holidays in April, and as exchange students, we take FULL advantage of these days off. For one of the recent long weekends, a couple friends and I decided that we wanted to go back to the Garden Route, which we had visited during the beginning of our stay here. We wanted to do some different things at our own pace, without the rush of having a set schedule everyday. We ended up taking a 6 hour bus ride down to Wilderness, which is a town along the garden route, where we had to pick up one of our friends Sam’s pillow, that she left at a hostel months ago when she visited with her mom. Surprisingly, the pillow was safe and sound.
We finally arrived at our hostel in the pitch dark at 11pm, to find that the hostel was NOTHING like advertised. We seemed to have walked into a Hippie Haven filled with people cross dressing and sporting wigs while partying around the reception office. What we didn’t know at the time was that they were having a going away party for two members of their staff. We felt delirious at that point for being on the road for five hours, and we quickly devoured our cold dinner that they had saved for us. At this point I wasn’t even really comprehending what was going on around us, and I think my way of dealing with the shock of this hostel was just to laugh uncontrollably. However another friend, Atara, was all no nonsense about the hostel and was freaking out, which I loved because everything she complained about, I was secretly annoyed with too. We were then shown to the communal bathroom, which I can’t say I was very fond of. This bathroom featured a wall complete with ceiling to floor mold, and other unknown substances. After I processed that I was expected to actually bath in dirt, I followed our guide to our room, that they had previously told us would include just us 5, a balcony and a private bathroom. What we got can only be described as a Hobbit Hole. I haven’t even watched the Lord of the Rings, but I am confident in my assessment of this hut/shack/military barracks?! Anyways, we settled, or got as comfortable as one can when people are sleeping, there is no working light and wet clothes are hanging from clothing lines over your head. I was pretty confident before that I wouldn’t really be a fan of camping, now I am pretty sure that “roughing it,” isn’t quite for me. Maybe trailer camping is more for me? We went to bed right away so that we could get up early and enjoy the beautiful scenery and views along the Garden Route. We started the day off by going to Bloukrans Bridge, which features the largest bungee jump in the world. We watched some people take part in this activity and then my friend Delise and I went into this music festival featuring “trance music.” Before coming here I had no idea what this music was, but apparently it is the music that is really trippy and includes only heavy beats and no words. Although Delise and I only stayed at this festival for 2 hours, we really appreciated the Hippie vibe that was going on. People were just dancing about and feeling the love.
After the festival, we all went to this wildcat sanctuary called Jukani Lodge. This sanctuary is home to lions, tigers, mountain lions, and leopards, basically any wild cat, which has been abused or raised in captivity so that it can no longer be able to live in the wild on its own. It was really cool to see all these animals up close. The black leopard was the coolest, because in the sun you could see the leopard spot pattern shining through on its black fur coat.
At the end of the cat viewing, we decided that we wanted to go to the beach. However, on the way there we saw a really cool gas station that we had to stop at. This prominent gas station is probably the only gas station where you can spend 1000 rand because of its super cool and unique craft market. Delise and I proceeded to go crazy and buy jewelry, scarves, clothes and other miscellaneous merchandise including, in Delise’s case, an unknown African instrument, (that may or may not be broken) and what we thought to be a wooden Rubik Cube, that Delise claimed she would “paint herself.” Lets just say that Delise and I are friends because we constantly convince each other to buy whatever we want to, dangerous, I KNOW!
After the shopping spree took place we finally arrived at the beach just in time for sunset! We spent a hour taking beautiful photos and reenacting Beyoncé’s Drunk in Love music video, so I can say we had a very productive weekend.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Alexa is a sophomore at Ithaca College studying both Public Health and Politics, while also hoping to dapple in her new found interest in gender studies. She grew up in Windsor, Connecticut, famous for being the first town in Connecticut. When Alexa doesn't have her nose in a book, she can be found singing, eating (especially anything pumpkin), being sarcastic or exploring the fantastic world that we are lucky enough to call home. Studying in Cape Town in a dream come true, and Alexa is ready and willing to soak up every last bit of adventure that comes her way!</span></p>