Week 4: Sometimes it’s the Little Things

As I round out my first month here in Cape Town I reflect and appreciate on the things I have done and seen here in such a short time but I also yearn for the little things back home that are a part of my everyday life. I have been feeling a bit under the weather this last week. Just a common cold that I will get through just fine but has made me a bit irritable this week. For example, today I was going grocery shopping, to a store (Pick n Pay) that is a little farther away than the closest grocery store (Spar) but has a bit larger selection. As I am walking through the store an announcement comes on that the debit and credit card machines are not operating and if there is anything that I have learned so far in South Africa, it is that when you are waiting on something there is never going to be an accurate estimate of how long it will be. Frustrating but not a big deal. There is another grocery store a little farther away that I had not yet been to so I gave it a go. It is the same company as the one that is close to me, but maybe they have a little larger selection. Well this was not the case. Same selection as the closest store to me. Once again not a big deal, I will get what I need and go home. As I am checking out I ask for cash back, this way I do not have to have the extra fee associated with the ATM.  At my usual Spar and the Pick n Pay,getting cash back has not been an issue, but they have to use a different card machine for cash back transactions. So I ask for enough back so that I can purchase electricity (electricity is bought at shops and then loaded to a meter in the house, actually kinda nice as it counts down the kilowatts instead of counting up and you only buy as much as you need, can be inconvenient though if you run out when the shops are closed) and the cashier says okay but does not get the other card reader. I ask her if she added my cash back to the transaction and she says yes, asks me if I am using a debit card, I say yes, and she has me use the normal card machine. I thought, okay this Spar is a bit more upgraded and I would get my cash. But as I suspected the transaction ran as a credit transaction, she tells me I have a credit card, as if I would not know what card I was using, and I don’t get cash back. I relent and get cash out of an ATM to get electricity. I walk to the place I have gotten electricity from before and it is closed. So with all that hassle I have to go to the Spar that I usually go to and could have gone there the whole time to get groceries and electricity. And since I am sick and irritable, this was about the most frustrating time I have had since I arrived. The only time I have really thought about being home-sick. Of course I miss my family and am excited to see them when I get back, however, missing the people (and pets) that I love is much different than being home-sick. It has been all the little frustrating things this week, while being sick, that made me home-sick for all of 15 minutes this morning while just trying to run a normal errand. I am actually feeling quite a bit better today as far as my cold goes and will hopefully be fully recovered by Thursday as I am going on a 4-day trip along to Garden Route.

As far as work goes this week, it was a pretty quite week. I went home early Monday because we were having power issues and I was sick. Tuesday I stayed home and slept most of the day while intermittently watching the Crown on Netflix. Wednesday I worked from home as my supervisor was out of the office and I could accomplish the days work from my own computer. Thursday was a fun day. My supervisor took me on a drive to the Helderberg Nature Reserve, which is 44 km away and after that we drove to a animal feed store that stocks pellets for antelope and then drove back to our reserve. In total it took almost 4 hours and I got to see a lot of the surrounding area around the city that I would otherwise not have had the opportunity to see. I am still working on the photo tagging and imagine that is what this next week will mostly consist of.

This weeks vactivity was a trip to Cape Point. This is the southwestern most tip of Africa (not the southern most tip which is Cape Agulhas about 3 hours drive southeast along the coast). It was super windy but very pretty views. There are baboons that are native to this park which were really fun to see but also a reminder of how stupid people can be. Baboons are very wild and quite frankly dangerous animals and it is so frustrating to see people try to get as close as they can to them to take pictures or whatever else they are trying to do. There was one woman in our group that crouched down right next to one for a selfie and later her and another intern put down their bags to dance and had baboons attempt to steal them. It is this ignorance that leads to so much of the human-baboon conflict. I saw in the news this week that a man was arrested for taunting a bison at Yellowstone. It is the same ignorance and stupidity that I witnessed with these baboons. The baboons seemed to keep to themselves mostly and there was a good chance one would run right by you or you would have to walk right next to one, but it is the purposeful acts of trying to get so close to wild animals that cause so many problems and most of the time it is the animal that suffers greatest. Other than that it was a wonderful trip. I also saw a Rock hyrax that was about a foot away from me, Cape fur seals, wild eland, and ostriches. It was fun to get out and see some different wildlife and not just from camera traps. On next weekend’s Garden Route trip I should have the opportunity to see most if not all of the Big 5. On Saturday we went to a local food market at the waterfront. There was so much food! I have a bowl of pho, which really made me feel better and cleared out my sinuses. Later Saturday night a group of us went to the opening match of Cape Town City F.C. which plays at Cape Town Stadium. This was one of the stadiums built for the 2010 World Cup and it was a magnificent place to watch soccer. Unfortunately, there were only about 5,000 people in the stands, which if you look at my pictures on Instagram can see that it is a small fraction of the capacity. But fun none the less. Sunday was a day to rest, mostly. As you read I had a frustrating trip to the grocery store, but other than that it was peaceful.

Another week in South Africa, another week closer to the end of my trip. This week should bring some fun and exciting endeavors and be sure to keep posted by following my South African adventure on Twitter and Instagram.