Stellenbosch

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This is Stellenbosch. It’s beautiful, right?

After leaving Phinda, the four of us (me, my sister, my dad, and our friend Schalk, who lives in Stellenbosch and therefore showed us around) drove back to the Durban Airport. Our flight to Johannesburg actually got delayed for five hours because there was a crack in the plane’s windshield. It was okay, though, because we found another flight (shout-out to OneTime Air) and British Airways gave us a refund (shout-out to British Airways too, because that was really nice.) So that only left us an hour behind schedule.
And what did we do on our first night there? Oh yeah. We ate, and then we got drunk at a bar called The Mystic Boer. Well, they got drunk. I kind of took one shot of something that tasted atrocious (oh yeah, it was Patron!), looked around the room and saw lots of guys, and it made me miss mine. I am obstinately loyal, and all I really wanted to do was go back the hotel because it had heated bathroom floors and the bed… oh my god.
I slept beautifully, especially because I didn’t have to wake up at 5:00 the next day. And then I got to have coffee and French toast and fruit and yogurt (Bulgarian yogurt is the best yogurt ever, by the way) and I was so happy.

Then we went out to this place that um, has a bunch of cheetahs… I forget what it was called. All I know is that I got to pet a cheetah and his name was Joseph and I foolishly took a Doxycycline pill without a Tum so I felt really sick. Also I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures in the cage.

We thought the cheetahs there were drugged because they were so… calm. They weren’t, though. Cheetahs keep their activity to a minimum when they don’t have to do anything that involved running because running at high speeds takes up so much energy for them. Except I don’t really know how they’d get much running done in a fenced-in area.
Cheetahs also have a wonderful sense of humor, I’ve discovered.

And yes, I have to represent my country.

Stellenbosch (and greater Stellenbosch) is famous for wine and Stellenbosch University. I’ll start with the wine.
From my observations, Stellenbosch is South African wine country. And the wine is pretty good, which is saying a lot, because I can’t really drink alcohol without making a funny face and feeling shivers run down my back.
Personally, I think the cheese was better. South Africa is renowned for cheese as well. Heaven!

A giant wine bottle obviously means that my sister needs a new profile picture.

After all that, we just went back to the town and walked around a little. I think Schalk drove us around the university too. Lots of white buildings.
We made a few friends, too – part of it might have been fate, but most of it was my dad’s lack of restraint when it comes to talking about himself around people he just met. But it turned out well. We ended up going to Cape Town that night with them to see our new friend’s son’s band 3rd World Spectator play a show at a restaurant. It was pretty fun. I got to try pizza with bananas on it, which is actually really good. I knew it would be, too. And the band was great. They can do a mean cover of “Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies, and I really like their song “Ambulance.” And then I sat by a fire and fell asleep sitting upright, which was a great new accomplishment for me. Ha!
The next day we actually went to Cape Town again (because we had actually planned it far in advance instead of mere hours before), so that means I’m out of Stellenbosch pictures and tales. Actually I have one more. We ate Indian food with all the people we met, and it was a really good time. I do have a picture of that.

 Well, that’s all I’ve got from Stellenbosch. I need to go to bed – I’m kind of in trouble because of something my puppies chewed up. And I have tons of Austria things to do tomorrow, so I need to fall asleep within the next hour. The internet just loves to distract me.
Anyway, I’m out. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back tomorrow!

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The Book

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Here’s the book I made my dad for his birthday if any of you are interested in looking through it.
And yes, that does mean I managed to work through the Blurb software. Hope you like it!

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/2726282/a8e468f069b53e36cb19c6902eb2762d0ca745ea

Safari: Day 5

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My immune system has weakened over the past week. That means I have the flu, and that means I have spent the majority of my day in bed finishing up this photo book and watching Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix (but mostly watching Avatar). I have finished arranging the book, though, so that means I can return to posting, and that means I can finally sum up my days on safari – and that means you get to see lion domestic violence.

Here is the lowdown: The pride we saw the night before has two adult males in it, and they’re brothers. The older brother is in charge of the pride. Under lion hierarchy, any additional adult male is ranked under not just the leader, but also the lionesses and the cubs. You know how Scar is an outsider in The Lion King? It’s kind of like that.
On this morning, however, the younger brother decided that he wanted to be in charge. He challenged his brother and won, making him the new leader of the pride. All the lionesses and cubs were supposed so follow him now. Except that didn’t necessarily happen. One of the lionesses went back to the old leader, and they had it out.


Anyway, the photos:

The older brother

The cubs kept sneaking up and trying to watch the fight. Then the old leader would roar at them and scare them away. I thought they were adorable. They’re just like humans!

Then we drove away because we were afraid to keep following the lions. A girl in our Jeep was so afraid she was in tears. I don’t blame her, though. If that happened while I was on my very first day on safari ever, I would freak out too. The game driver got a transmission saying that two male cheetahs we saw earlier that morning had made a kill, so we headed in that direction.
On the way, I finally got to take a decent picture of a giraffe.

And we saw our new friend Hal.

I just think cheetahs are really great animals to photograph. It’s like the cheetahs at Phinda knew exactly what I wanted. The next time I saw a cheetah, it would be in captivity.


Well, that concludes all of my safari posts, and that means I am about halfway through my trip. I’m dead certain that I’ll be stuck in bed all day tomorrow too. I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of my photos and experiences from the trip.
Goodnight! I’m going to watch some more cartoons now.

Safari: Day 4

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Photos from day four:

You know, just some baby cheetahs being adorable.

And here is their mommy

The cubs kept trying to act like their mother, which was precious. Unfortunately, it meant that anything the mother tried to hunt heard or saw the cubs and ran away.

I’m sorry about the fuzz on my lens. Or whatever it was. I couldn’t get it off no matter how many times I cleaned it.

But the mom looked straight at me, which was awesome.

I can’t remember what kind of bird this was.

And then we ran into a rhino…

.. and her baby!

And after it got dark, we ran into the pride of lions. Lions hunt at night, so it was easier to find them.

The baby!

I know I’m getting kind of repetitive with my safari posts, but the good news is that I only have one left, and it’s a really exciting one that includes lion domestic violence. And I’ve got some videos of it, so you’ll get to hear what I heard and understand why I believed I was about to die.
Tomorrow will be much better. I promise!

Safari: Day 2

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Firstly I’d like to apologize to those of you who actually read this for taking so long to get around to these posts. I’ve been exhausted, at Bonnaroo, and exhausted again. (I will save Bonnaroo for another day, and it’ll be easy because my camera died so I only have two pictures from the whole trip.) Now that my jet lag is finally over and I’m not passing out at 9:30 every night, I’m confident I’ll be able to churn the rest of my South Africa posts out, which is good, because I have a lot of ideas.
Anyway.

I like to think that shit got real during my second day on safari.
Need some proof? This is the first picture I took on the drive that day. This looks like it came straight out of The Lion King.

I felt the most incredible sense of wonder on the first morning I woke up to go on safari (I only went during the afternoon on my first day because we had to drive from Durban to Phinda). I was bundled up and looked like a ninja, and had amazingly woken up right before 5:00 A.M without feeling very tired. I don’t think this could ever be possible in or west of the time zone I reside in. Having jet lag was very good for me in the sense of waking up early.
Doesn’t this lens just make the most incredible difference?

After we set out and I got “Circle of Life” stuck in my head, our game driver took the group out to find some lions. Lions don’t really do much during after morning except sleep. That is, until it gets dark and the pride goes out to hunt. During the day prides chill out together and get into arguments sometimes (I have argument pictures, and I was convinced I was going to die).

After that, the lions started going to sleep, so we drove off and ran into a zeal of zebras (cool group name). Apparently zebras fart constantly… probably from all the grass. But I was told that when a zebra gets scared or is being chased by something, it farts and runs at the same time. Also they make zebra jerky. Those are my fun facts about zebras for you.

Our stop by the zebras was pretty short because the word on the street was that a cheetah and her cubs were eating an impala that she just caught.
Cheetahs are actually pretty low on the food chain because they’re small. Sure, they can run really quickly, but that takes a huge amount of energy and cheetahs can only run at high speeds for short distances. Cheetahs are different from other big cats (well, lions and leopards for certain) in that they refuse to scavenge. They kill everything they eat themselves.
Glory and cuteness spam coming up, guys.

LOOK HOW ADORABLE THEY ARE. I MEAN REALLY.

After sitting in the jeep and ogling over the cheetahs for about 45 minutes, there was a radio transmission saying one black rhino and one white rhino were nearby. This is the white rhino. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I did triple-check.

After that, we went back to where we were staying. The better things happen during the morning and around sunset, so that’s when the drives are. Plus it gets hot.
Anyway, here are some big lion cubs being adorable. I have to work on this photo book for my dad now, so I’ll be back once I get that finished.

Safari: Day 1

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My first day on safari was all about learning. Since I had never done anything like this before (I don’t know whether I should let the “safari” ride at Disney World count), I was obviously thrust into a realm of new experiences. I learned a little bit (not nearly as much as I did in the following days, trust me) about taking photos of animals, a lot about wind chill and how cold it gets outside after the sun starts going down (I guess this was more of a reiteration, but I really learned to appreciate the sun during my time in South Africa), how rapidly and drastically light can change, and about the practice of sundown, which is basically stopping the car for drinks (and a snack, which is much more important for me) and enjoying the sunset. Sundown is also an awesome opportunity to pee outside, and peeing outside is really fun. And I obviously learned about the animals I saw and what they liked, which led to what the game driver called “happy days.”

The most important things I learned on day one were that I should always bring my entire camera with me and it was really great that I didn’t sell my telephoto lens, because I finally had the perfect opportunity to use it. (Or at least what I felt was the perfect opportunity. In the past I’d only used it to spy on people, which probably wasn’t the best use for it even though I enjoyed it.) My photos from my next four days on safari are much better because I actually brought the telephoto lens with me. Hopefully these will still suffice for a post or impress somebody.

Scenery/making sure my camera settings were right

The gang

A nyala. I like to say “hey y’all” to them.

A cheetah and her big babies

Sundown

I took way more pictures over the next four days, so those posts will be much better. Especially since I used my telephoto lens. I promise.

By the way, does anybody know an easier way to upload photos on here? The mass uploader won’t work for me for some reason. The browser uploader is okay, but yeah, I’m uploading a lot of photos and I really don’t want to spend hours doing it. Would updating my safari browser make any differences? I feel like the way I’m going about uploading photos on here is a little archaic. Any advice would help me greatly – I’m a bit of a luddite, and computers really stump me, which is fantastic since I’m a journalism major.
Stay tuned for my later posts, because those pictures are so much better.