Saturday, September 25, 2010

Good news and bad news

So good news is the night club across the street was closed last night so I got a proper night's sleep. It is a beautiful day today. I also watched a travel show on Cape Town and they showed this Greenmarket Square. I knew I wanted to go to that when I got here so I asked where it is, turns out, right outside the hotel. I can literally open up my window and look at it. I also had such a good night last night. I found Victoria's Wharf which is this beautiful shopping mall right on the water with tons of outdoor restaurants and bands playing.

So for the bad news....I am totally shaking right now and pissed. I feel like my trip has a sour taste now. I got up to explore Cape Town on foot. The weather is outstanding and so I walked by the parliament buildings and into these gardens with roses all over. Table Top Mountain is very bright today. Then for the first time ever of my life with all 30-35 countries I have visited, I had an attempted mugging. I was out in the middle of the gardens with plenty of people around at 9:00am, in daylight. One man walked next to me and said do you have any change, I said no. I always keep my money hidden, but I had a camera in a pocket with my jacket zipped up so no one could pickpocket, but he could see the outline of it. So he made a grab for it and I said "NO!" I turned to run and his friend, the accomplice, boxed me in and started to make a grab for me too. I hit him and started running. I ran right to a couple and said "those guys just tried to mug me!" I was shaking. They then gave me a lecture about walking by myself and I shouldn't be doing it. I said yes, I am leaving right now. I went back to my hotel room and almost started crying. That has never happened to me and I travel alone a lot. It was so scary. I am now scared to go anywhere and with every step I take, I keep looking around at everyone. I don't think I am going to run tomorrow with an iPod, just in case I get mugged during the race. I am so ticked off too. I wanted to say to that couple, well, I am single and don't have anyone to be here with, so it is either walk alone or sit in my hotel room and by doing that, this vacation and the money I spent is pointless. Sometimes being single sucks. I want to go explore the city, but scared to now. Part of me just wants to get out of town and forget the race. I plan on going on a tour this afternoon to some towns of people who were displaced with Apartheid. Maybe a tour will be safer if I keep with others. I have never experienced this before. Pray for my safe return. I am taking cabs everywhere now.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Greetings from the bottom of Africa

I am in South Africa at a lovely wharf along the waterfront having a beautiful evening with a beautiful sunset in a lively part of town. I came to Cape Town by way of Dallas, by way of Amsterdam and then flew from there. It took 30.5 hours in transit from my home to the hotel. But I am not exhausted. In fact, I didn't sleep more than 1.5 hours last night. I am waiting for the crash to come.

On my flight to Amsterdam we all got our own TVs (yeah for non-American airlines!) but, only two entertainment systems on the plane didn't work and guess who was one of those people? Me and the girl next to me. Lucky though, after two hours, it was fixed and I was back watching Modern Family and the Office, plus my choice of dozens of movies. I'd start a movie and decide I didn't like it, so move on. I think I only watched one movie all the way through.

Then I got to Amsterdam and the plane went right over one of the lovely Amsterdam canals. I love Amsterdam and I really wanted to just walk outside and be in Europe. The airport tempted me with all the wooden shoes and European chocolates for sale and photos of the canals and tulip fields. Dang it! I've never flown to another continent and it was just a layover to another continent. It was insane.

Then after that 9 hour flight and 2 hour layover (plus the 2.5 hour flight to Dallas, plus its 2 hour layover), I got on a plane to Cape Town. Somewhere over Tel Aviv, I know this because they had monitors all over the plane showing us where we are in the world just to tease us how far we were from South Africa, I got really sick. So the rest of the flight was tough, but I stayed awake the entire time. Since I had already gone through all the movies (I was flying the same carrier), I devoted this time to reading and listening to all the CDs they had in the entertainment library. I have a new love: Susan Boyles. Her CD is actually really good. Then by way of some weird karma, the entertainment system went out for all but 2 rows and guess whose row still had the entertainment system working? Mine. I always tell people life is the great equalizer.

I got into Cape Town and it is actually really hilly. I thought it would be flat, but no. Plus, it's kind of scary the area of town where I am staying. I will not go out at night. Then I got to my room and it is totally ghetto. It is probably the worst room I have stayed in, even worse than my jail cell in Copenhagen. The TV doesn't work, the alarm clock doesn't work, so I asked for a wake up call which never came, and the security deposit box is broken. In addition, there is no heater and it is really cold here. Plus, it turns out that my room overlooks a disco club just 20 feet away, which played music until 3am and I could hear every song as if the radio was being played right in my room. It was good music and really cool American club music, but I was tired and had to listen to that. Four pillows covering my ears didn't do the trick to keeping the noise away.

This morning I went down to the lobby to wait for my tour to pick me up and told the receptionist/concierge/security/not-makes wake-up calls guy (the hotel is ghetto, so one person does everything) that it was so loud last night and why didn't he give me my wake up call? He slept through it. Then he said that it is a national holiday today and so everyone was out late celebrating the long weekend. Everyone has today off.

Oh and get this, my birthday is a national holiday in South Africa! How lovely is that?? Being the vain person that I am, I always thought my birthday should be a national holiday and in South Africa, it is! It is Freedom Day and a national holiday where everyone shuts everything down and celebrates. If I lived here, I would never have to work on my birthday again.

So I went on an African Safari today and saw the big 5. It was magnificent, but cold. It was wonderful. I saw lions and elephants and birds and cheetahs and rhinos and then sat by a pool and relaxed. Some people on the safari knew I was doing a race here so they asked the question, as usual, are you going to win? First of all, there is such a thing as stupid questions. Second of all, I'm in freaking AFRICA! What do you think? This is the land of runners. I'm having really bad problems with my calves. They keep spasming and making it hard to walk. I am very nervous and think it will be a really hard time.

Then I went to the expo which was right on the water and just gorgeous and I met a gorgeous guy named Paul (what is up with cute guys with that name?) who is here from Tampa. (I wished I could have said the same-- cryptic message).