South Africa

It all started the night before we were supposed to dock in cape town. The seas were very rocky, and continued throughout the entire night. We weren’t even told that we would be coming into port late, so we all went to bed and got ready for our various trips. We woke up at 6:30AM to watch the sunrise, but to our dismay, the boat was still in the middle of the ocean and we had no clue where Cape Town was. It turns out, the seas were too rocky for the boat to come in 8:30, so we ended up boating in circles off the coast of cape town until the south African “pilot” decided he wanted to come out to get us to bring us in.  captain jeremey kept saying “screw him, I want to take this ship in” because he knew that he would be able to maneuver the seas, but the pilot decided he didn’t want to come get us and we weren’t able to get off for what turns out to be a full 32 hours.  The entire ship took it pretty well at first, so we pushed mine and ashton’s beds together and popped in two movies. Four of our friends came into the room and we all watched the movies, played cards, and sat around and ate all day. They told us that we would be getting in around midnight to two AM, and that we would be able to get off of our boat at this point, so I stayed up with a guy named brad, and we sat up in tymitz square so we could be the first people off the boat. 5:30AM rolled around and we still hadn’t docked. I was supposed to meet mom and dad at this point so we could leave for our safari, but I called to let them know that I still had a long time and I wouldn’t be making it off the boat in time. Once mom confirmed that they had changed my flight to the next day and I was to meet them at the Savanna lodge, I went back to bed and slept until 10:30 where we were woken up and told that we had landed in port, but we still had two more hours to go before we had cleared customs. It was the most stressfull thing ever, but we got to eat lunch on the boat and watch the seals splash around below the boat. There were TONS of seals.. no wonder there are so many great white sharks in south Africa! 
Andrew adam ben and I walked around the cape town once we had gotten off of the boat and we went to the bar with missy, ashton and casey L. we all got south African beer and just relaxed for a little bit before we met up with the boys friend named Peter that goes to penn state and is studying abroad with them. We went to a beach named  camps bay for an hour or so and then took a taxi to another beach named muizenberg where they were going to teach me how to surf. Unfortunately it was waay too cold and it was getting dark, so we got the very last taxi out of muizenberg and traveled back to where the boat was. We ate fried calamari and chips for dinner, and ben and I went back to get ready for the night. We both showered and met up at the main floor and went off to go find tickets for the U2 concert that was going on that night in the FIFA stadium. We were able to find one ticket, but we weren’t able to find the second one, however, we ran into our friend carter who was getting a catamaran and we jumped in on his group. We rented the catamaran and sailed to the back of the stadium which ended up being the middle of the bay. We all pulled out wine, and we were laying around and dancing on the catamaran listening to U2 coming out of the stadium. You know how there are those moments in life where you just sit there and think, “this is perfect.” And you wouldn’t rather be anywhere else at that moment with anyone else? It was one of those moments. We were all just sitting there listening to music and it was amazing. The boys were nuts and decided that they wanted to JUMP INTO THE WATER. They all started doing flips into the middle of the water where there were sharks everywhere. They asked if it was shark season, and the guide said “EVERY SEASON IS SHARK SEASON IN SOUTH AFRICA MATE”. And then the boys jumped into the water. NUTS! I wouldn’t have done that, though. I was waaay too scared. After the concert, we came back to the boat and went to bed because we all had to get up early for different safaris. At around 3, I woke up to a knock at our door- it was Andrew. He pushed ashtons and my bed together and the three of us put on finding nemo and watched finding nemo- around 4, adam came to the door, so we all sardined and fell asleep watching finding nemo. I woke up at 7AM the next morning to assure that I would have enough time for breakfast, and so I wouldn’t miss my trip to meet up with mom and dad.
I ate breakfast and relaxed for a bit on the top deck and then started on my trek into south Africa. I walked down to the pier and the first thing I saw was a woman holding a sign that said “Casey McGrath” so I went with her and she drove me to the airport. After I got to the airport, she transferred me to a man who helped me with my tickets and walked me to my gate. I sat and got on the plane, and when I got off of the plane, there was a man who had a sign that said “McGrath”, so I went with him to the Savanna Lodge. This lodge was the most beautiful lodge I have ever seen. No joke, I felt like I should have been on my honeymoon. I was told by the woman Kelly that mom and dad were sleeping after their massages, so I went to my villa and got settled in. I had my own villa, with my own swimming pool and an elephant watering hole about 20ft from my pool. I was speechless as I walked around this place, all I could say was “oh my god. This is the most beautiful place I have ever been. Oh my god.”  I went in the pool and then showered up, and I was met by mom about 45 minutes later. We walked to my parents villa and I got to see dad. I hugged them both and started crying because I was so happy to see them and I have seen so much that I just wish I could be sharing with all of you. We went and ate lunch, and then went on our night drive safari. Right away, I saw so many animals. It was ridiculous. The one and only thing that I wanted to see out of the entire trip were lion cubs, and not only did we see one set of cubs, but we saw two sets, one of which was FOUR CUBS THAT WERE THREE WEEKS OLD! They were TINY!  We didn’t see the cubs until the next two days, but we saw so many cool animals. The pictures that we have are BEAUTIFUL. My parents truly pampered me. I have never felt so taken care of and so relaxed.  The people at the lodge were the coolest people ever, and they were all so welcoming. I thought it was so cool because they didn’t treat me like I was a child among a bunch of adults, but as one of them.  The first night that I was there, they took us to the “bush” where they threw a big “braii” for us, or a barbecue. The food was amazing, and out of the woods we heard singing. There was a village down the road, and a group of teens came to sing and dance for us. It was so emotional. It was so amazing to be there and hear them sing. It was so wonderful. There was a man named Paddy who took the most ridiculously amazing pictures. The very last day of our trip, we found ourselves in a lions den. For some reason, we hadn’t seen the big lions, but the trackers heard that there were lion cubs. We decided to drive out of the den because we couldn’t find them, but we got a call saying that the baby lions were out. We went back, and it turns out, there were FOUR baby THREE WEEK OLD lion cubs that were nursing on the lioness. We all sat there watching the babies, and we heard rustling in the bushes and then mom said “oh my god. Oh my god.” And from behind us came walking the big lion who was in charge of the property we were on. This truly made the entire safari. I felt like it made the entire trip complete. I am so glad that mom and dad came to visit me.  We took flights back to the main city and I showed them around the ship- hopefully they liked it! we then went out for dinner and went back to the hotel so I could upload some of the pictures onto facebook. ((The pictures are now up if you guys are able to see them!)) we woke up at 9:30 the next morning, and I was a bit bummed because I had wanted to go sky diving in south africa, but we woke up too late, and the wind was too strong. We waited a few hours and then we went to a place where we could get a helicopter tour of this side of south Africa. Dad and mom treated me to flying  around cape town and seeing all of the sights, and flying us to Stellanbosch, the winelands. We went to a vineyard called lanzerac, where we met up with my friend Emily Rego from Roanoke. She is studying abroad, so we went and had a delicious lunch, and we went to a wine and chocolate tasting. If I ever am fortunate enough to come back to South Africa, I would love to come back to these vineyards to relax. It was a sight to see. It was all so amazing.

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