Where the Wild Things Are

Alexandra Szotka
April 7, 2014

A Mississippi petroleum engineer, 3 middle eastern women clad in full burkas, a burly German, the most annoying nine year old boy from the United Arab Emirates, a crazy Cape-Tonian and the coolest father and daughter you will ever meet walk into a bar…. No wait, it was a safari van. And from there starts a day of adventure!

Daddy in Da Cape!

But first, lets back track to Friday, Eric Szotka, aka, Daddo arrived in Cape Town, can I get a WOOT WOOT! Daddo spent the day sleeping and decompressing from the long flight and then that night after my surf lesson with friends and FAR too much sea salt flushed in my eyes, I took a cab into the city and to Daddo’s hotel. We walked over to a fantastic Italian restaurant that we had both heard of called “Cousins” and ate until we were so full that pants had to be unbuttoned, Sam Olewnik style. We ate basket upon basket of quality bread, we split a giant feta salad and then I had a delicious ravioli dish, while Daddo had some sort of meat pasta. Of course the restaurant was run by two authentic Italian cousins, one of which was a retired male model…. So yeah, I can accurately say that dinner was fantastic.

The 4 “Cousins” in all our glory!

The next morning we had to be ready at 6:15 am for our Safari pick-up. The funniest thing was that the tour guide walks in to pick us up, and kind of whispers to me, “So Alexa I heard from our dispatch operator that your father is the owner of this hotel, the Townhouse Hotel, is that true?” and I was just so confused. Literally I have NO idea how that could have been communicated to the women, but Daddo and I laughed about that long and hard. We then hopped in the mini bus van and made a couple of more stops to pick up more guests for the safari. Finally the van was filled and we drove the two hours to the Aquila Private Game Reserve. Towards the end of the trip, I knew this little boy was no good because he put on his more pleading voice and asked “Are we there yetttttt? How much longerrrr!?!” followed by “there BETTER be bacon at breakfast…” Daddo and I just looked at each other and shook our heads because we knew this boy was a gonna be a problem. I adore children but for some reason, probably the lack of sleep, I was not in the mood for his complaints. We eventually got the lodge after driving through beautiful mountains and wine country, looking very similar to the California coast apparently, according to my dad. We got a glass of sparkling wine right as we walked out of the van and then we had the best buffet breakfast. I ate far too much under the rationalization that I might as well stock up on free food while my dad is visiting and *hint hint* paying.

The REAL deal!

We then started the safari by walking around a more zoo-like enclosure that was being used to protect animals that had recently been rescued from harmful hunters or people that wanted to domesticate animals such as a leopard (sorry, but not possible). Anyways, we then got aboard the super cool safari vehicle and sped off into the semi-dessert that ran on for miles. We saw the big five including the leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo.Anyways, it was just the coolest thing because we got so close to animals that I could basically touch them! At one point, when the vehicle stopped for a drink break, Daddo got so close to the Rhinos that the guide had to yell over, “Not too close aye?!” Fortunately Daddo wasn’t attacked and got some killer photos. Sadly, because the area where the safari takes place is so vast, we couldn’t go all around it. Of course elephants are my favorite animals and on the day we went they had decided to chill on the side of a mountain, with no possible way of driving to them. So I can still say I saw elephants, but just from like a half a mile away.

Safari Loving!

Do you see what I see?!

Hungry, HUNGRY Hippos! And that is a FACT!

Yeah, no words.

Pretty Kitty!

After the safari we ate more food consisting of an even better buffet. Then we popped into the gift shop where I got a postcard and buff for my hair because of this crazy African heat, and then Daddo and I tanned by the pool for 2 hours. At 3:30 our van departed back to Cape Town, with the whole motley crew on board. This is where some problems broke out. I had heard on the way down that Charlotte the Petroleum Engineer had no problem with fracking and actually thought it was safe for the drinking water. When she said that I had to shut my mouth, so an ideological debate wouldn’t break out. Coming from upstate NY, I know the side effects and I also know that you cannot say they don’t exist. On the way home the annoying little boy Youssef began to talk and talk and talk to Charlotte. Fortunately for them they both agreed on hating certain US politicians, as well as getting oil under any circumstances. This whole time that the conversation was going on, I just had to sit quiet. In this case I really wanted to call her out on things, but at the same time, it didn’t seem the like right venue and if a fight did break out, I would be stuck in the car with her for 2 more hours. I let it go realizing that there will be people in the world that disagree with me about a number of issues, I just didn’t realize how ignorant a well educated person could be. Finally we got back to Cape Town, where the annoying boy was dropped off with his parents. The second he stepped out of the van, we all literally cheered. We all laughed about how crazy and talkative of a kid he was and it seemed to bond all of us. We received Charlotte’s and the driver Hyme’s card and got dropped off at Daddo’s hotel. The story continues in the next blog post, so STAY TUNED!

Can you tell that Daddo is really into “selfies”? A big hello from Daddo and our German friend Neils!



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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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