More Penguins, More Problems

Alexandra Szotka
March 6, 2014

The lack of blogging has not been because of a lack of activity. Unfortunately I still don’t have a reliable internet system so it is hard to find a time at school to write a blog until we have our modem, but anyway…. Cape Town is still AMAZING! Although it happened over a week ago at this point, this blog post is going to be dedicated to my visit to Boulder’s Beach, home to the over 3000 penguins!

View from the train window. Something I will NEVER get used to!

The little loner

Penguins everywhere, just chillen

“You talking to me?!”

Never leaving!

Trekking through the water

My apartment mate Delise and another IES student Lily who is our downstairs neighbor decided that it was about time that we finally start crossing things off of our South African bucket list, so at around 3pm we decided to catch the train down to Simonstown where you can go to the beach, swim and tan, all while be surrounded by penguins the whole time. We started off by taking the scenic route down the coast and just enjoying the leisurely 30 minute trip.

A quick snapshot of the always lovely DELISE!

Once we got to the train station we were kind of in shock when the penguins weren’t literally right outside the train station. For some reason we all thought that they would just be out in the open and flaunting their beauty for everyone. Luckily, we asked a local couple where the penguins were and their directions included telling us to walk about 10-15 minutes up the road and once we were based the naval base, we had reached our destination. Unfortunately, though this walk was not just 10-15 minutes, and it definitely wasn’t a nice leisurely walk either. After about 30 minutes of walking up hill for quite a bit, we finally came to an area where we saw signs for penguins and from there we just were happy that we made it. We had heard that if you walked a little further up the beach you could see penguins without paying to enter the main penguin area. Being the broke college students that we are, we opted for the free penguin approach. We followed a group of people that looked like they knew where they were going and eventually we started to see penguins huddling in the bushes along the boardwalk. Once we got to our destination, we were disappointed to find out that this supposedly “free” spot actually cost us R50, which is the equivalent of like $5. Another minor hiccup in our plans was that the women didn’t have change, which seems to be a common trend at stores here, so luckily one Lily just paid for everyone and we paid her back later.

The home stretch!

We entered the beach and were blow away by the amazing view. Boulder beach is by far the best beach we have been to since coming to Cape Town. Although other beaches have the palm trees and shops, this one looked man-made, but in reality was super natural and unique.  From there on out we took pictures constantly of any penguin we could find.

Photos cannot do this beach justice. A real natural wonder!

At one point during our first photo opt, this one little boy was running up to a group of penguins, saying “Hello Jefferey, Hello Jefferey….” basically assuming that all the penguin’s names were randomly Jefferey. Then when his mom went to snap a picture, he struck this little angelic pose with his rugby ball and said, “Mom, I think Jefferey wants to play rugby too!” It was just so random and cute and reminded me why I love kids.

The much needed “penguin selfie”

After that we ventured across literal boulders trying to find a good spot to see even more penguins. Eventually after wading through thigh-high water and scampering up bird-poop laden boulders, we saw a site for sore eyes: endless penguin mating. Apparently it is the season, and they really don’t seem to care who is watching. No need to get into details, but basically the guy penguin continually slaps the girl penguin in the back… so that was weird. Once we decided that we had seen enough, we walked back the entrance, promising each other that we would all come back for a proper beach day and we began to roam around looking for a restaurant.

Penguins in their private love nest

A true “angry bird”

Just at a casual penguin party

We found this cute little place that had delicious food and a beautiful view of the water and mountains. The whole time we were eating we were wondering where all the people were because we were the only people in the restaurant, but we thought maybe it was just a slow day. After we paid, we began to get more and more suspicious about why we seemed to be the ONLY people in this entire town, when an hour before the beach had been packed with locals and tourists. Half hour later we found our answer, as we ran and missed a train that apparently was the last one of the day…. What started as annoyance quickly escalated into a series of unfortunate events. We sat in the train station while trying to contact a cab, all of which said they didn’t drive all the way to Simonstown.

Finally we got a number for a cab that did service the area, and we were told that someone would pick us up in 30 minutes. The 30 minutes came and went and there still was no cab in site. At that point we were the only people in the pitch black train station, besides the train security men. The security guys were done with their shift and had to close down the station so we thought we were going to have to stand on the sketchy street corner, but then on of the security guys said that we could stay in their little break room. Seven of us, Delise, Lily, me and the four security guys, squished into the tiny room and after realizing that they didn’t speak much English, we decided to bond over listening to the radio on one of the guys songs and singing along. After an hour we were starting to get worried, because the cab still wasn’t there and these guys were waiting with us, when their shift was over and I’m sure they wanted to go home and eat and be with their families. Meanwhile we kept apologizing to the men and they would just smile and say “yeah, yeah” haha. I’m pretty sure they still didn’t understand that we were sorry for keeping them for so long. During this time we kept getting calls from a frantic cab driver who kept saying he would be there soon, but then changing his mind and saying he wouldn’t and that he didn’t know where we were etc. etc. Basically he didn’t make any sense and sounded drunk, while continuously hanging up on us. I thought it would be wise to call Vongani, one of our RA’s to let him know the situation and after telling him the story he just laughed and laughed at us for not checking the train schedule earlier. All laughing aside, after waiting for 2 hours for this cab we were pissed.

Finally we bid our friendly security guys one last thank you and jumped into the cab, convinced that we were going to yell at the driver. Unfortunately, the driver seemed a little drunk or crazy, so we quickly learned that we were going to have to do what he said. He told us to cut a deal with him and pay him R400, instead of going by the meter and since we didn’t know what the meter would say, we just had to agree. Of course he totally did rip us off, but we somehow got home safe nonetheless. The moral of the story is always look up the train schedule and don’t let penguins cloud your judgment!

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Alexandra Szotka

<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&#39;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>

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