I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a good start to 2017. It feels weird to think that I’m going to be in South Africa for the majority of this year but I feel like this is going to be one of the best year’s of my life. There’s so much I’m looking forward to and I know that this year will have its ups, downs and changes but every second will be worth it.
We finished off our holiday by spending two weeks in Cape Town with 24 other Project Trust volunteers. Talk about mayhem! It was really nice to see everyone again as some of these amazing people I haven’t seen since July (on training) so it was nice to catch up with them all.
We started off our Cape Town experience by heading to Camps Bay which is an absolute beauty of beach. Long stripes of golden sand accompanied by ice cold water is the craziest image to get your head around. It meant that no one could complain about being too hot in the 32°C heat as you could just go for a dip in the water. Whilst we were relaxing on the beach we were harassed by so many Africans trying to sell us sunglasses, ice creams, New Year’s Eve tickets and so much more – something you’d never find in the UK.
The next day we did a sightseeing bus tour. This was a great way to see more of Cape Town and understand more about this beautiful place. Cape Town, even now, baffles me as you have a typical city with one of the world’s seven wonders sitting right in the middle of it.
Christmas Day was a whirl. The night before everyone in the Backpackers we were staying in was busy cooking in the kitchen (including us) as we were having a buffet half way up Table Mountain inside a cave. We all woke up relatively early on Christmas day and we exchanged presents in our secret Santa. I received some traditional African designed candles which will go down a treat in the colder months. We then hiked half way up Table Mountain to Woodstock Caves and the view was absolutely amazing. We could see the whole of Cape Town from the cave and every now and again I’d have to pinch myself to check that this was actually real. We then got the meals out and it was so nice to spend Christmas with a bunch of other travellers. It really was like one big family. We hiked down the mountain at around 5pm and once we got back everyone was tired from the exciting events of the day.
On Boxing Day, we were invited to a Project Trust’s friends house for dinner. It was so nice to visit their house as we were treated like family and it finally felt like Christmas. Due to the heat and unusual environment it hadn’t felt like Christmas but it was so nice to see a Christmas tree and the family spirit. They cooked us a braai and for once there were veggie burgers! We tucked into dinner which was shortly accompanied by a variety of ice cream flavours for dessert. Whilst we were there we took a dip in their swimming pool which rounded off a really good day. I headed off to bed quite early that night was we were climbing Table Mountain the day after so I needed to be fully energised. We hiked to the top via Platteklip Gorge and it took us two hours to get up and two hours to get down. It was a tiring hike and by the time we reached the top I was absolutely shattered. When we got to the top it was really cloudy so there wasn’t even much of a view but by the time we walked to the edge and started to hear down the fog started to clear up. Hiking Table Mountain was definitely a challenge but I’m so glad that I did it.
The day after we got the ‘tourist train’ from Cape Town to Simon’s Town where we walked to Boulders Beach to see the African penguins. They were all so cute and very entertaining to watch. The endangered bird began from just two breeding pairs in 1982 and has grown to about 2200 in recent years. It was incredible to see so many small animals gathered in one place. The following day we went to Ratanga Junction which is a theme park in Cape Town. I had so much fun on the rollercoasters and the log flume was a great way to cool down from the hot sun. In the evening all the volunteers and I went out for dinner. We had a massive struggle trying to find an unreserved table for 24 people but after some searching we managed to find somewhere that would take us.
The next day a few volunteers and I went to the swimming pool. It was nice to swim in reasonably warm and unsalted water but the main activity of the day was yet to come. We went tobogganing at Cool Runnings site and it was so much fun. You sit in a cart whilst you whiz down a metal slide and try to not crash into the slow rider in front of you (or in my case, go as fast as you can so that you don’t get crashed into). A few brave volunteers decided to go down on the same cart which resulted in one of their wrists getting ran over and had to be bandaged up! Luckily everyone else was okay.
New Year’s Eve was a great. I started off the day by doing Green Point park run (which is a free, weekly 5K run for anyone who is unaware). It was my first park run in an actual park and compared to my normal park run in Durham this one was absolutely amazing. The views, the sun and the people made the experience incredible. I sadly only managed to persuade one other volunteer to come with me but I still had a really good time and I can officially say I’ve done park run on a different continent. After park run, I went to Kirstenbosch, one of South Africa’s 10 national botanical gardens. It was nice to see a clear open space that was so beautiful to walk through and it made a contrast the the busy city life of Cape Town.
The last few days in Cape Town were spent in a chilled out way by visiting the shopping centre at the V & A Waterfront. I found a Lush (there’s a Lush in South Africa!!) and I treated myself to a bath bomb. We then had to say goodbye to all of our Project Trust friends. It was sad to leave everyone but I was ready to return home to Mthatha. We drove home in two days, only stopping overnight in Pletternberg Bay. When we arrived home it was so nice to see all the kids again and I realised just how much I missed them.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my Christmas holidays and I hope to write soon.