Birthday Week!

Oh man, have I been busy! The weather has been unreal and I am making the most of it – seriously, nicest birthday weather I have ever experienced! And since you only turn 24 in Cape Town once in your life, I’ve been celebrating all week!

Kites!

Kites!

On Saturday, Hannah and I went to the Cape Town Kite Festival, which is the largest kite festival in Africa. There were kite makers from Holland, the US, the UK, and all over Africa. I have no idea how one makes a legitimate living from being a kite maker (especially one that allows you to travel to kite festivals across the globe) but somehow these people are doing it.

Some of the pro kites

Some of the pro kites

There were kites that looked like parrots, kites that looked like turtles, kites that looked like dragons, kites with random patterns… imagine a kite and it was there. Every time we saw a new kite we were like kids –  “Have you seen that one? OMG it’s a chameleon!” – and it was just delightful.

Flying Wind Spirit with all the international kites!

Flying Wind Spirit with all the international kites!

If you haven’t flown a kite since you were a child, go get a kite and do it now, because it is actually so much fun. Hannah and I spent at least an hour flying our kite (we named her Wind Spirit). It’s just such a chill, relaxing thing to do, and the way the kites move in the air just looks so cool. It was a pretty windy Saturday too, so the kites were doing all kinds of crazy movements.

Chilling with Wind Spirit

Chilling with Wind Spirit

The following day, some of my housemates and I went to Mzoli’s, which is a meat market in one of the townships outside Cape Town. The way it works is you bring your own liquor, bread, salad, whatever, and then buy meat there. They cook the meat for you, and you get to hang out in the sun.

Mzoli's Meat stamp. They brand you

Mzoli’s Meat stamp. They brand you

Dan picking out the meat

Dan picking out the meat – and note the guy in gray wearing Air Jordan earrings

I don’t actually eat a lot of meat in Cape Town – at home I mostly eat seafood and for some reason I never found a place where I could buy seafood here, and our kitchen gets crowded enough that I would rather eat something that requires less cooking – so I went pretty all out eating this meat. I enjoyed it, you could say.

Tiger mode

Tiger mode

Ran into some more friends at Mzoli's!

Ran into some more friends at Mzoli’s!

On Monday, an old friend of mine from tree planting got into Cape Town, so we mostly just relaxed, went down to Muizenberg to see the beach – I let her ease into her first day here. Tuesday was my birthday though, and I wanted to go on a hike, so I decided to drag her up Devil’s Peak.

Come on, Emily, this will be fun!

Come on, Emily, this vertical climb will be fun!

Devil’s Peak has an elevation of 1, 000m, which is 85m lower than Table Mountain, but the hike was longer and more difficult than the one I took up Table Mountain. Of course, I insisted we do the most challenging route (the upper contour route from Mowbray ridge and the Minor Peak), so the ascent probably took us around three hours. It was well worth it though – you can see the entire city, and the view of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head is pretty impressive.

Emily, Thea, and me on top of Devil's Peak with Table Mountain and Lion's Head in the back!

Emily, Thea, and me on top of Devil’s Peak with Table Mountain and Lion’s Head in the back!

And as a birthday gift, Emily and Thea bought me a small bottle of champagne for the top! So I got to have a drink on top of Cape Town for my birthday, along with strawberries and oreos (can you tell I’m a tree planter by what I eat when I’m hiking?).

Popping bottles on top of the city

Popping bottles on top of the city

Feeling good

Feeling good

Best way to spend a birthday

Best way to spend a birthday

After finishing our drinks and snacks, we started our descent. Someone tell me, what is the first rule of hiking? If you don’t hike often, just check the wikipedia page for Devil’s Peak – the general rule that applies is to stick to known and well-marked paths, and not to push on into the unknown. So what did we do?

No path in sight!

No path in sight! Spot Thea and Emily!

And oh man, did we ever push on into the unknown. We somehow ended up on the path leading to Table Mountain, and did not want to do a two peak challenge, so decided to cross country back to where we thought the path we came up on was. This involved a lot of sketchy bush walking, as well as a 15m straight climb down without any climbing gear. I’m pretty sure both Emily and Thea wanted to kill me but held it in as a birthday gift.

If you look in the bottom left quadrant of the photo, you can see a rocky outcrop to the right of a white rock. That was our freestyle climb

If you look in the bottom left quadrant of the photo, you can see a rocky outcrop to the right of a white rock. That was our freestyle climb

We ended up having to leave Thea when she broke her ankles, but I’m sure by now some African predator has picked her off. KIDDING! We all made it down with no injuries, and Thea and I even managed to sample some of the random water coming off the mountain without ingesting any parasites (that we know of yet). And, as a reward, there was cake!

Table Mountain cake from Charly's Bakery

Table Mountain cake from Charly’s Bakery

It was an awesome birthday, and I really appreciate all the love I got from everyone back home and here in Cape Town. I’m so lucky I was able to celebrate my birthday here with old friends (Sacha and Emily!) and all the new ones I have made here. It really was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had, so thank you all for sending love my way!

Love

Love

Yesterday I went paintballing – there will be photos to come – and had a great time. I’m leaving for my backpacking trip on Saturday, so this week is really busy making sure I get to see people who will be gone before I come back to Cape Town! I may or may not get to update again before I leave, and I am not sure how much internet capability I am going to have while away, but I will do my best to keep you all updated! The gist of the trip is that I am backpacking up to Tanzania through Botswana and Namibia – I could not be more excited! I won’t be able to do Kilimanjaro this time around, so I am definitely coming back to Africa within the next five years!

Much love to you all! And I hope you all had wonderful Guy Fawkes Day celebrations (remember, remember, the 5th of November!).

xo

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