After an eventful arrival in Joburg that Archit will blog about, we spent two days getting settled in the office and working on interviews.That, however, is not the subject of this blog, rather it is the fortuitous position that we fell into. Because Wednesday, May 18th was a national holiday for the country to vote, and the entire loveLife leadership team was going on a retreat the following Thursday and Friday to revise the vision for the organization, we were told that the team should take the time off.We decided to head to Cape Town, and had an amazing time!

Day 1: Arrived in Cape Town and went hiking on the Table Mountain which is a plateau, where lots of tourists go to the top for great views. There’s a cable car that goes to the top, but we hiked up, which was good fun, but a bit winding after none of us had gotten off our asses for the previous months. That surprisingly ended up being basically the only exercise we would get the entire trip. After that we took a city bus tour for the rest of the day and stopped all along the coast and in the city. One great stop was Camps Bay, which is the poshest area of Cape Town along the coast.We got some drinks, enjoyed the sunset and climbed around on some big rocks on the beach.

Day 2: Woke up at 4:30 am and left for shark diving (this was our normal wakeup time due to jetlag). It was a really amazing experience. Some 20 of us were on a big boat and went out to the sea where there is the highest density of great white sharks on the planet.This is because seals must swim the channel every day.

We were really lucky, because 6 sharks between 2 and 3.5 meters long came and stayed for quite a while. There was a cage in which 4 – 5 ppl could get in and basically just go a bit underwater to see sharks. Even in wetsuits, it was freeeezing cold!Since the sharks were floating very close to the surface, we could see them from the boat too.We had a close encounter with a shark when the 4 of us were in the cage; it caught the bait and was struggling to release it from the line and in the process thrashed right at the cage. Since the bars are really quite wide and open, it got its nose got inside the cage and freaked everyone out.It was a surreal feeling being less than a foot away from such a huge freakin’ shark. That was definitely the highlight of the entire experience.

The dinner was also a highlight as we got to eat Kudu, Crocodile, and Springbok, which were all surprisingly delicious.The culinary culture is really geared toward red meat, which is part of every meal.

Day 3: We also did some work on the trip.We went to loveLife’s (the NGO we’re working with) Youth center, 2 schools were they educate children on AIDS and other issues, and one of their clinics. We interacted with a lot of the people who make loveLife work on the ground, and it was a pretty great experience seeing the real Africa. It was remarkable to see the disparity between slums and poverty in the townships and the completely westernized and modern downtown.

Another highlight of the visit was that we got to go to Mzoli’s, which is a super well known butchery in the township outside of Cape Town.We got to pick our own meat and watch them grill it.Then we acted like real carnivores and tore at the meat with our hands and teeth.Archit can attest to how disgusting this was to a vegetarian, but to Pablo, Stuart and me, it was glorious.

That evening we met a girl who is joining Haas this coming year. She works at an NGO in Cape Town and took us around to a nice club where we got to dance to Dynamite and then to the shady bar district of Long Street at 4am.It was a lot of fun, and we’re looking forward to seeing her again around Haas!

Day 4: We rented a car and drove to Cape of Good Hope, which is almost the southernmost tip of Africa. We all thought it was the southernmost tip, but it turns out it’s not, which was devastating to Pablo, who had gotten very excited about being so far south.There were no people and it was a really beautiful, calm and peaceful place.

We also stopped at one place before getting there to see the crazy penguins that only live in South Africa. Look at these crazy little bastards sitting on top of their chicks:

From there we went to the wine country in Cape Town which was really beautiful. It’s just like Napa Valley in California, but much cheaper.

Cape town is HIGHLY recommended!

—Phil Dawsey

Previous Hello from Johannesburg! Next Packaging The Wild: Kruger National Park