Because of its history of colonization, Cape Town is a pretty westernized city. We docked not too far from the V&A Waterfront which resembles San Francisco quite a bit. There’s a huge mall full of the stores you’d find back home. I spent my first day checking out that area as I had a field trip early in the afternoon. For the field trip we visited with a local hip-hop artist, Dat, in one of the Townships. He told us a bit about his life and his inspirations for his music. Afterwards we went to a local community center where some other artists were preparing for an upcoming concert that Dat had put together. There were young girls (middle school age) practicing a dance. They were absolutely amazing. I would post a video if I could but I guess that will have to wait until I have a better internet connection! After my FDP, I headed to meet up with my friends for my roommate’s birthday dinner. We went to a restaurant called Moyo that served South African dishes. There was live music and they painted our faces for us. All in all it was a great time. The next day we explored Long Street, which is an area full of fun shops, restaurants, bars, etc., for a while. We had lunch outside at a quaint little restaurant and watched the street performers. The whole area was a strange fusion of African and European culture. Next we visited a market for a bit. After coming from Ghana we expected to be able to bargain quite a bit, but we found that the sellers were much less willing to make a deal (most likely because Cape Town sees quite a bit more tourism) so we didn’t stay around long. We grabbed a cab over to Table Mountain and took the cable car up to the top. We stayed up there and explored a bit before heading down to grab dinner and head back to the ship so I could meet for my second field trip. For this trip I visited two local jazz musicians. The first one played some experimental jazz and unfortunately seemed to be a bit drunk/drugged for our meeting with him. The second performer was a young woman with an amazing voice who is supposed to be featured on South African Idol sometime soon. After that I more or less just headed off to my Safari at Kruger National park, so I’m just going to post pictures!

Ghana

Ghana (Days 2-5)

At 7:00 on the 2nd day I found myself scrambling frantically to try to make a trip that I had signed up for before even coming on SAS. It was a tour that spent a night in a local village and visited some other famous Ghana sites such as the Tafi Atome Monkey Village where lots of friendly mona monkeys reside. I was supposed to be meeting with my group at the bus terminal outside the ship at 7:00, but had managed to sleep through my alarm. I quickly threw random articles of clothing into a backpack and ran to try to catch my group. As I made it off the gangway I found out that I had just missed the bus that takes us to the terminal, so I had to sit and wait for the next one to arrive. By 7:30 I was finally on my way to see if by any stroke of luck that my group would still be there… and they were! Success. Our tour operator was also apparently running late. So I sat down and tried to collect myself a little bit. Finally having some time to breathe I realized I had forgotten a number of things: tennis shoes (we were supposed to go on a hike), sunscreen, bug spray, and my camera among other things. 10 minutes passed by, then 20, then 30 with no sign of our tour operator. At this point the excitement for the trip started to dwindle as I realized how unprepared I was for the trip as that any possibilities of doing something else for the day were going out the window if the tour operator were to not show up. By 8:45 I decided to embrace one of the lessons that Semester at Sea had already taught me

Ghana (Days 2-5)

At 7:00 on the 2nd day I found myself scrambling frantically to try to make a trip that I had signed up for before even coming on SAS. It was a tour that spent a night in a local village and visited some other famous Ghana sites such as the Tafi Atome Monkey Village where lots of friendly mona monkeys reside. I was supposed to be meeting with my group at the bus terminal outside the ship at 7:00, but had managed to sleep through my alarm. I quickly threw random articles of clothing into a backpack and ran to try to catch my group. As I made it off the gangway I found out that I had just missed the bus that takes us to the terminal, so I had to sit and wait for the next one to arrive. By 7:30 I was finally on my way to see if by any stroke of luck that my group would still be there… and they were! Success. Our tour operator was also apparently running late. So I sat down and tried to collect myself a little bit. Finally having some time to breathe I realized I had forgotten a number of things: tennis shoes (we were supposed to go on a hike), sunscreen, bug spray, and my camera among other things. 10 minutes passed by, then 20, then 30 with no sign of our tour operator. At this point the excitement for the trip started to dwindle as I realized how unprepared I was for the trip as that any possibilities of doing something else for the day were going out the window if the tour operator were to not show up. By 8:45 I decided to embrace one of the lessons that Semester at Sea had already taught me

Ghana — Day 1

First off, sorry it’s taken so long to update! Unfortunately right before Ghana my compute broke, so using email and the Internet has been even more difficult than it was in the first place. I’ve finally gotten a temporary solution worked out to my computer woes so I should be updating much more frequently again.

My first day in Ghana began with waking up to watch the sunrise and our ship dock. We woke up, but it was so overcast there wasn’t much to see. It took a while for customs to clear us, I think partially because of how many visa problems there were (me included). We ported in Tema, which is a city that’s really just based around the port so it’s pretty industrial/commercial. Accra, the capital, is 16 miles away so we hopped on the shuttle to head that way. We quickly learned that 16 miles in Ghana might as well be 3x that. What should take 20 minutes took about an hour and fifteen minutes. Immediately upon arriving in Accra we were swarmed with people trying to sell us stuff. Mainly sunglasses and these bracelets that they makes with your name on it. If you made eye contact or engaged in conversation with them you were guaranteed to be followed around for at least 10 minutes. We walked around Osu for a little, which was the area that our bus dropped us off. After a bit we decided to grab a cab over to Makola Market, which is Accra’s main market. It is a huge sprawling market jungle. While some other SAS kids we talked to said they had a touristy experience there, our experience was anything but. Our cabbie dropped us in the middle of the food section. There were fish sitting out in the sun with flies swarming around and the stench was bad enough to make us gag. As we made our way through the market our semi-large group got separated as people shoved past us. It was nearly impossible to even stop to look at things since people kept pushing us around. When we tried to take pictures, women started yelling at us. As we walked through we saw things like shampoo and nail polish. It seemed to be divided up into different sections. We only lasted about 15 or 20 minutes until we all just became so overwhelmed that we decided to head back to Osu and get some lunch.

We went to a cute restaurant that had been recommended to us by a professor from the ship called Country Kitchen. It seemed to be relatively upscale, though most dishes still only costed around $7 USD. I ordered something random off the menu called Gari Foto with chicken. It was an orange dish with quite a bit of spice, but I’m not entirely sure what any of the ingredients were. Either way it was delicious and a much needed break from the city around us. After finishing, we headed back to Osu to check out all the little vendors that line the street. We walked around there for a while, stopping to shop here and there. Bargaining is a skill necessary in Ghana as the vendors tend to jack up the prices as much as 6x what you can get it for. One women gave me a pretty good discount on a dress after telling her that we had been to Makola Market and I knew that they sold them for cheaper there. “YOU go to Makola Market?” she laughed “that’s where I buy MY dresses” She thought it was absolutely hilarious that we had attempted to navigate the maze that is Makola.

Eventually we had enough shopping and stopped off at a little patio bar to drink some beers and regroup a bit. We chatted with some locals a bit and hung around and relaxed for a while. We left to go catch the shuttle back to Tema, but it turned out I had misread the schedule. As we stood around trying to figure out what to do next, we realized that one of our shopping bags had been left at the bar, so we had to go back and get it. At the point we decided we should just get a couple cabs back to Tema instead of waiting for the next shuttle bus. We went outside the bar to try to get a cab and got one, but the second one we found tried to charge us 50 cedi which is ridiculously overpriced for the ride. The locals who we had perceived as friendly earlier got involved and there was a lot of commotion as they were trying to “help us out”. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but they kept trying to get us to go into an unmarked car and when my friend John looked in the guy in the car had an AK-47. Needless to say, we got out of there as quickly as we could. The locals kept following us down the street. We tried to stop and all talk to figure out what to do since everything had happened go quickly, but the guys kept bugging us. So we went into the safest place we could find… a KFC. We decided to just wait for the next SAS shuttle as all of us had experienced enough excitement for the day trying to get cab. When we got to the shuttle all the seats were taken so we were sitting at the drop off. The locals from earlier were there and kept asking us if we were scared and wouldn’t leave us alone. Cibi ended up chasing down the shuttle bus and we all just ended up sitting on the floor in the aisle since it seemed like a better option than having to wait for another hour for the next bus to come. I don’t think any of us had ever been so happy to be back at the boat.

Almost immediately after docking we headed off to the Amazon. We took a shuttle to a small boat where we went to the meeting of the rivers. The Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes come together at a point and due to the consistency and temperature differences in the water they don’t mix together. When I ran my hand through the waters I could physically feel the difference in temperatures.

On the Amazon!!! Yesterday we passed through a storm. As we looked out over the shore we could see these streaks of rain falling into the forest. Unfortunately it couldn’t really be captured in a picture but it was truly something else.  The visibility got so low as we got surrounded by mist.  During the night there was lightening over the forest that lit up the whole sky.Tomorrow we actually get to Manaus, a place that is only accessible by ship and plane. I’m going into the Amazon to learn some survival skills and sleep in a hammock and after that I’m going to explore the city of Manaus and visit a factory/business for a class.

On the Amazon!!! Yesterday we passed through a storm. As we looked out over the shore we could see these streaks of rain falling into the forest. Unfortunately it couldn’t really be captured in a picture but it was truly something else. The visibility got so low as we got surrounded by mist. During the night there was lightening over the forest that lit up the whole sky.Tomorrow we actually get to Manaus, a place that is only accessible by ship and plane. I’m going into the Amazon to learn some survival skills and sleep in a hammock and after that I’m going to explore the city of Manaus and visit a factory/business for a class.

Look ma, I made friends!

Dominica was amazing. It is an absolutely beautiful place. Everything is lush and green and the people are friendly

Dominica!