Saturday, March 28, 2009


I don’t know when I made the decision to start every one of my blog posts by talking about coffee, and I don’t have much to say about coffee in Thailand, but in keeping with tradition I will say one thing. Thailand is the first country since Spain to have a Starbucks. In fact, Thailand doesn’t have just one, but many. I made a vow to myself before I left on Semester at Sea that I was only going to get coffee at local places, and while I did experience some major cravings, I managed to stay away from the tall white chocolate mocha that was calling my name. So hard though! I’m getting to the point in the voyage where I wouldn’t say that I am homesick, but I am starting to really miss some simple comforts of home like the ability to curl up on a couch and watch a movie, to drive a car, to order a pizza, or to drink a tall white chocolate mocha at a Starbucks with a friend.

All that being said, Thailand felt much more like home than India. It was much cleaner, traffic laws were actually acknowledged (for the most part), and chain stores and shopping malls were common, as opposed to the little street-side stands that make up nearly all of India’s shops. Our ship was docked at the Laem Chabang port, a port city that is just that—a port city. There is nothing there except for a shopping mall, and even that is a 10 minute cab ride away. Nothing is within walking distance. Pattaya, a town that is just a 30 minute cab ride from Laem Chabang, is where I spent the majority of my time. I spent my first day in Thailand there at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo. That was a bittersweet experience. While I was there I got to feed a baby tiger while holding him in my lap and was picked up by an elephant with his trunk! But we also watched a tiger show, a crocodile show, and an elephant show. The tricks these animals performed were amazing—did you know elephants can walk on tight ropes and hula hoop? I didn’t—but I couldn’t enjoy them because it felt wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I saw no evidence that any of the animals were being mistreated, but you could tell the tigers didn’t want to dance across the stage on their hind legs. They were only doing it because of the whips that were in the trainers’ hands (I never saw them used) or the raw meat being dangled in front of them. The elephant show was more enjoyable because the elephants just looked like they were having fun. I spent a lot of time around elephants while in Thailand and am convinced that they actually like doing the tricks and playing the games. After the Tiger Zoo I visited Mini Siam, a park full of miniature replicas of major monuments throughout Thailand and around the world. It sounds lame, but it’s actually pretty cool! It was fun to see the miniatures of monuments I have seen before like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph, Big Ben, and the London Bridge. They had a replica of the Statue of Liberty, so now I’ve seen her in France and Thailand, but still not in the United States! Probably the best part was when I saw Mount Rushmore. People may have no idea where South Dakota even is, but we’re still leaving our mark around the world! That evening I got dinner with a few friends at an authentic Thai restaurant and ordered a soup. The menu said it was spicy and I like spicy, but I’ve never had anything like this before! My eyes watered, my sinuses completely cleared, and my whole mouth and lips were tingling. It was actually really good though, and I had been battling a cold so it was nice to be able to breathe for a while! After dinner we wandered around Pattaya and saw the Hard Rock Hotel and a strip of shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs called Walking Street. Thailand, or more specifically Bangkok, is known for its nightlife so I can’t write a blog post about Thailand without mentioning it. It was actually more sad than fun for me, walking down Walking Street and seeing all of the prostitution, strip clubs, and children trying to sell roses and other trinkets. It’s not pretty, but if you ever go to Thailand, it has become such a part of the culture that I think it is important to see.

The next day I took a day trip to Bangkok to visit the major monuments there. After a two hour bus ride there we were ushered onto a boat for a river cruise. I was expecting Bangkok to look similar to Venice because I had heard that it was a canal city, but it doesn’t at all. It looks like most big cities with a few rivers running through it. The primary mode of transportation is still by vehicle on a road, as opposed to Venice where there are literally no cars. It is all canals and boats. Anyway, we sailed down the Mae Nam Chao Phraya canal (the River of Kings) and saw the Grand Palace and Wat Arun, both monuments we would tour later, from the water. Our first stop was the Wat Arun temple. Wat Arun translates into the “Temple of Dawn” and is a steep tower representing Mt. Meru, the center of the universe in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. It is incredibly ornate and covered in mosaics made from actual broken china fragments from China. After an amazing lunch at a riverside restaurant we visited Wat Pho and the famous reclining Buddha. I couldn’t hear my guide because there were too many people in the group, so when I walked into the shelter that houses the Buddha I was completely unprepared for what I was about to see. This Buddha is 46 meters long and completely gilded in gold leaf! I can tell you it is huge, but I don’t think you will understand how impressive it is unless you go see it. Our final stop was the Grand Palace, the capital of Thailand in 1782 consisting of the royal residence and various throne halls and government offices. I won’t bore you with a bunch of historical information, but you should look up photos of the Grand Palace. I can’t describe it. There is too much gold, it’s too ornate… I won’t do it justice. If you are really interested, you should look up the story of the Emerald Buddha. It’s pretty cool.

The third day I spent back in Pattaya. I visited the Pattaya Orphanage and School for the Deaf. There really isn’t much to say about what we did there—we were given a short orientation and a tour of the facility before being shown the baby room and getting to play with the babies—but this may have been the highlight of my time in Thailand. There are over 170 children at the orphanage ranging from babies to university students. The orphanage is not government run or funded, so it relies on a small staff and many volunteers to keep it running. I think I might return as a volunteer there someday.

I spent the fourth day at the Pattaya Elephant Village. The elephant is the national animal, so it makes sense that I saw so many during my stay in Thailand. At the elephant village we learned about elephant masters, the work that elephants used to do, the differences between Asian and African elephants… probably more than you thought there was to know about elephants. Then we got to ride them! First bare-backed, then on a seat. There was another elephant show but this was less about tricks as it was about showing the intelligence of elephants. After the elephant village I stayed in Pattaya for shopping and dinner before going back to the ship.

My final day in Thailand was spent at the Nong Nooch Cultural Village. We saw a beautiful garden of orchids, a show of traditional dances and costumes of Thailand including a boxing match and a battle scene showing how elephants used to be used in battle, and then yet another elephant show. I know, this is getting a little ridiculous. By this point I wasn’t really paying attention. I had seen all the tricks. Instead, a little girl who was selling bananas to feed to the elephants sat down next to me and, once I told her I had no money to buy bananas, introduced herself as Zin Maroo. She was 12. I wanted to ask why she was working so young and how she felt about it, but she didn’t understand much English and I didn’t know if it would be appropriate to do so. Anyway, she just sat and chatted with me for about ten minutes before going back to work. She is one of the few Thai people I sat down and had a conversation with, and I regret not talking to more people. Visiting monuments, riding elephants, and feeding tigers is fine, but the people I meet will be what I remember years from now about Thailand, India, South Africa… wherever I go.

From this point until I leave Japan I will be almost constantly in port. We have five to six days in each country with only two days at sea between them. It’s going by so fast! I’ve already been to Vietnam. If every country is as physically draining as Thailand (I got so tired there!) or emotionally draining as Vietnam, all I’ll be able to do between Japan and Hawaii is sleep!


Saturday, March 14, 2009


On my first day in India I was walking through an outdoor vegetable market. The streets were narrow and full of people, cars, rickshaws (three-wheeled oversized moped type vehicles used as taxis), motorcycles, and even the occasional cow or human-drawn cart. It was dirty—dust and cow dung everywhere, flies covering the fruits on display, piles of rubble, deteriorating concrete buildings without windows or doors, fraying posters covering any flat surface—but I couldn’t help but think it was beautiful! There were fruits and vegetables of every color—green, yellow, purple—laid out on tarps or cloths or spilling out of carts. The women wore brightly colored saris covered in intricate designs and accented by gold jewelry. Even the rickshaws and trucks were all bright yellow with unique designs and phrases painted on each one, like “save rain water,” “drive slow,” and “avoid AIDs.” The market was loud, full of honking horns, the constant din of conversation, motorcycles roaring by, and the occasional snippet of music fighting its way through the noise of the street. Through all of this chaos I suddenly smelled coffee. I looked around and, sure enough, about a block away, there was a tiny hole-in-the-wall (quite literally) shop with a couple of men holding the famed Madras filter coffee standing outside. I walked over and asked for a coffee and paid just 5 rupees—10 cents—for a cup. Madras filter coffee is just coffee and steamed milk with lots of sugar and some foam on top, just like a latte, but somehow buying it from a tiny shop in an Indian market makes it taste better. The man I bought the coffee from didn’t speak any English and seemed a little shocked to see me there—I don’t think many tourists come by his shop—but his coffee was the best I had in India. And believe me, that is a tough call to make. When I was asking around to find out what coffee I should get in India, everyone told me to just get tea. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to them! Of course I did get tea too, but India has some wonderful coffee. Another great coffee I had was at a coffee shop called Mocha. Their menu listed coffees from all around the world accompanied by a description of each roast. There were two Indian coffees available, and I ordered the Monsoon Malabar. It gets its name because long ago the coffee beans would be exposed to trade winds during transport to Europe, giving the coffee a distinctive flavor. Today the coffee beans are laid out during monsoon season to be exposed to trade winds in a process called “monsooning.” But enough about coffee.

I spent most of my first day in India at the Mylapore Food Market, but not until after my three hour long rickshaw ride. The rickshaws in India do not work exactly like a taxi should. Most of the drivers have deals with all the shopkeepers that allow them to receive a commission if they bring customers to their shops, so instead of taking you right to your destination, rickshaw drivers will stop at a number of these shops first. After a couple of friends and I negotiated for a ride to Spencer’s, a local mall, our rickshaw driver informed us that Spencer’s would not open for another two hours—which we later found out was not true—and that he would be happy to show us around Chennai for a while for no extra charge until the mall opened. Of course, we agreed and were taken from one overpriced shop to another for the next three hours. We never did get to Spencer’s and were charged extra at the end. It was frustrating, but I soon learned how to avoid that situation. So, a word of advice; if you ever find yourself in India catching a ride on a rickshaw, do not let the driver tell you your destination is closed and be sure to specify that you want to be taken straight to your destination with no stops. Once they know you won’t play their game, they usually won’t try to pull any tricks. Anyway, that night a few friends and I went out to dinner and, after noticing the theater across the street, decided to see a movie as well. One tour guide I had told me that 500 movies are made per year in Chennai alone! The film industry is huge. The movie we saw was all in Tamil (the local language along with Hindi and English) and was a very strange combination of action and comedy. It was really cool to see how easy it was to follow the storyline despite the language barrier, though.

The next day I took a Semester at Sea tour to the towns of Kancheepuram and Mamallapuram to visit various Hindu temples. Most of the temples in the state of Tamil Nadu—the state of India that Chennai is located in—are dedicated to the god Shiva, the god of destruction. Every temple I visited was a Shiva temple. The temples are beautiful and consist, roughly, of an outer wall surrounding a courtyard with a smaller enclosed temple in the middle of the courtyard. Every single surface was intricately carved into scenes depicting stories from Shiva’s life. There were also many statues of cows or bulls because each Hindu god has an animal that is called their vehicle of transportation, or their vahana. Shiva’s vahana is Nandi, the bull. In Mamallapuram we were near the coast visiting a temple but I don’t remember what it was called or who it was for because a class of Indian schoolchildren was on a field trip there. As we walked up to the site they swarmed us, shaking our hands, asking our names, asking for pictures, just crawling over one another to get in pictures, crawling on us... I loved it! They were so happy to see us and I think we were equally happy if not more happy to see them. I know I was supposed to be there to learn about Hindu temples, but I think meeting the kids was the most valuable thing I took away from that trip.

The next day was the day I discovered Mocha and got that Monsoon Malabar. I spent the rest of the day around Chennai, shopping and seeing the city.

I left Chennai again on the fourth day for another Semester at Sea organized trip to see rural India. Our trip started at a small town about two hours outside of Chennai. It was a lot less crowded and a lot cleaner than Chennai. Cows, goats, and even monkeys roam freely along the streets! We stopped at a rice paddy and it was kind of surreal for me. Looking across the fields, rural India doesn’t look much different from the South Dakota countryside. We went into an even smaller town where the people get around on bicycles or carts drawn by cows. I saw just one motorcycle while I was there. The village was so clean and bright with houses painted bright green, yellow, and orange. We were given an indoor tour of a typical home there. It consisted of one main room, a bedroom, a room for worship and prayer, and an outdoor kitchen. We watched a woman make a rangoli (designs traced with rice flour each morning in front of houses) before riding a cow-drawn cart around the town to the coconut groves. There we were given coconut milk to sip on while watching a coconut harvester climb a coconut tree—with nothing but his bare hands! We got back on our carts and waved goodbye before heading off to our next destination—the Dakshina Chitra Heritage Village. This place is dedicated to providing a picture of how cultures differ in Southern India. They have houses from each southern state and offer demonstrations of pottery making, silk weaving, henna tattoos, and even parrots reading tarot cards!

My last day was spent at the Sri Sayee Vivekananda Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School, a school housing 694 students of all ages. When we first got there we were greeted by the school band and were given roses. Then the students had their morning assembly. It was amazing! All 700 students sang their national anthem together and recited various prayers. They also had a reading of the day’s current events including a story about Barack Obama. After the assembly we were split into pairs and sent into classrooms. I am not really that good with kids and was not prepared to entertain a whole class of third graders—but it soon became clear that that was exactly what I was supposed to do! I was a little bit terrified but ended up teaching the kids how to play hokey pokey. Then they wanted to learn a dance, so I taught them some line dances! Now a bunch of Indian schoolchildren are doing the electric slide. I was shown some games, yoga, and karate in return before being dragged off to another classroom by a mob of children. They sang their national anthem for me so I had to reciprocate, of course. I asked them to show me one of their games, and they started teaching me how to play their version of Duck Duck Goose! It was cool to see the same games I grew up on being played on the other side of the world. Before we left the students put on a show for us of traditional dances and karate. I was so amazed by their talent! The visit to this school was probably the best experience I had in India.

If you asked me, like so many people have, “how was India?” I would have absolutely no answer for you. I won’t lie to you—I found it very frustrating at times, and I am kind of ashamed of that. It felt like no one wanted to talk to me unless there was a chance they could get some money from me. The rickshaw drivers pulled every trick in the book to earn a buck and salesmen on the street would follow you for blocks, completely ignoring any polite refusals. I am ashamed because I know why these people are that way. The poverty in India is… terrible. The townships in South Africa are in better condition than the whole city of Chennai. It’s hard to write about because I don’t know how to process all I saw, I don’t know how to describe it, and I definitely don’t know what I can do that would improve it. Before we reached India our executive dean Les MaCabe said, “You don’t happen to India—India happens to you.” I believe that to be true in my case, but I guess I still am unsure exactly how India has affected me. All I know is that it has.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009


We only stopped in Mauritius for a few hours, but I still managed to get my coffee. I just got an espresso shot—I was still fighting off the exhaustion from South Africa! I got it at a cafĂ© on the beach along with a marlin sandwich right before spending the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun. Mauritius was described to me by someone in South Africa as Africa’s Hawaii, but Mauritius looks nothing like Africa or Hawaii. The majority of the population in Mauritius is Indian and after being to India, I would say Mauritius looks more like a milder version of India. In the city, the streets are narrow, crowded, and lined with shops selling all kinds of fabric, clothing, spices, and fruits and vegetables I have never seen before. When we got off the ship we had to take a water taxi to get to the shore. My first impressions of Mauritius weren’t so great—the port water was littered with plastic bottles and smelled terrible and I was bombarded by street salesmen and taxi drivers the second I got off the boat. While walking to find a bank we passed shop after shop selling cheap souvenirs of dodo birds with “Mauritius” printed across them (Mauritius is where the dodo bird lived before it became extinct and convinced the world that it is possible for a species to be wiped out). But the further into the island we got, the less touristy the shops became and I could start to see some of the culture of the island. It is a really unique blend of many different cultures. This is especially evident in the music of the island. Sega—a fusion of traditional African music and European dance music—is one popular genre while seggae—a blend of reggae and sega—is also prominent. I personally really like the seggae. It was really cool to see so many cultures living together, too. Just walking down the street you can see African faces next to Indian faces next to Asian faces… Port Louis even has its own Chinatown. After wandering the streets of Port Louis for a while we decided to take a cab to the beach to spend the afternoon. We flagged down a cab and asked to be taken to the Grande Bay. After talking to the driver for a while we learned that he wasn’t actually a cab driver. He was a merchant who travels to India and China for products and sells them at his shop in Mauritius and was just borrowing his brother’s car. When we told him we were only in Mauritius for the day he gave us a bit of a driving tour around the island and even took us to a better beach—for no extra charge. It was really nice to meet someone who wasn’t just trying to get as much money out of me as possible for once. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach. It was perfect—the water was clear and just as warm as the air. We had a really great cab driver on the way back to the port too. He charged us a little more, but offered to give us a free ride the rest of the way to the ship later on if we needed it. I gave in and finally bought myself a pizza before boarding the water taxi back to the MV Explorer and leaving Mauritius.

Our stop in Mauritius was really short, but it was a nice break from schoolwork—midterms!—and a great way to ease us into what was to come. India was enough of a shock even with the tiny glimpse I got in Mauritius.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

South Africa

My best cup of coffee in South Africa was similar to my experience in Namibia. I was in Mfuleni, a township outside of Cape Town, sipping a cup of instant coffee while sitting on the front stoop of a house there, talking to a man named Rasta about South African politics and economics. It was my birthday, and we were taking a break from putting up roof tiles on a house across the road. I also had coffee a couple of times at a place called Melissa’s—first a cappuccino, then a black coffee, both made from Kenyan beans—but that first one was by far the best. South Africa is a place of contrast. There are skyscrapers and 17th century fortresses, shopping malls and shanties, the kindest hospitality and the most critical crime rate of all the countries I have visited so far. It was amazing.

The first day I went on a Semester at Sea City Orientation. We first stopped at the Castle of Good Hope, a fortress built by the Dutch when they first came to South Africa. The Dutch settled in Cape Town in order to provide vegetables to passing ships, and this fortress is where they lived and grew some of their crops. I spent most of my time walking around the fortress on top of the walls surrounding it, looking out over Cape Town. Cape Town is so beautiful. It sits in the cradle of a U-shaped bay with Table Mountain—a huge, completely flat-topped mountain—flanked by Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head Peak as its backdrop. After the Castle of Good Hope we visited the botanical gardens and had rooibos tea, a staple in every South African home, and biscuits with jelly and fresh cream. Our last stop was the Iziko Museum, a natural history and rock painting museum. There was an exhibit of nature photos taken all over the world that I spent the majority of my time looking at. That night some friends and I went out to a restaurant called Rafiki’s to hear some live reggae. They had amazing calamari! We got it fried, but it was so good we ordered another batch, this time grilled. If you ever go to South Africa, go to Rafiki’s and get the calamari. Not. Kidding.

The next day was a big one for me. I went on a Semester at Sea tour called Cape Town, Apartheid, and Robben Island. This tour basically took us around Cape Town to all of the most important places having to do with the apartheid era. We started at a museum dedicated to District Six. Apartheid—basically extreme segregation—split the South African people into three groups: black, colored, and white (it is not considered politically incorrect to refer to people in South Africa as black, colored, or white). District Six was a neighborhood inhabited by mostly black and colored people. It was a poor neighborhood, but the people had a really cohesive, colorful community. They may have been poor, but they were relatively happy. Then the government decided they wanted District Six to be a white neighborhood. They forcibly removed thousands of people from their homes and relocated them to the outskirts of the city. Then the whites decided they didn't want to live in District Six, so they just demolished everything. The museum is dedicated not to rebuilding District Six, but to preserving its memory and its culture. We drove through District Six, and today it is just this massive expanse of nothingness and rubble. All of this happened in the recent past, in the 1970s. The saddest part is that every single city and town in South Africa has a “District Six.”

The next step on our tour was the townships. The townships are... huge. Townships are impoverished, make-shift homes and communities. The "houses" are built out of scrap wood and scrap... whatever they can find. The lucky ones get running water and electricity. Fires are common in the townships during the dry season, often devastating entire towns in a matter of days because the houses are so close to one another they are impossible to stop. And the townships, at least what I saw, cover a land area larger than the city of Cape Town, and Cape Town is not small. It's nicknamed the "Mother City" in South Africa, partly because of its prominence and partly because it takes about 9 months for anything to get done there. We were driving on the interstate for about an hour and the townships stretched out on either side of the street for as far as I could see the entire time. The townships they leave you speechless and hopeless and depressed, until you get in there and meet the people. They have such a strong sense of community, they are educated, and they love to talk about their country. We visited a prospering bed and breakfast in the middle of a destitute township started by a woman, Vicky, who lived there and just had a vision for her life and wanted to spread the knowledge of township life. We visited an organization started by a local business owner that teaches residents of the townships how to make pottery and other crafts so that they can start their own businesses and support themselves. We ate lunch at a restaurant that was a woman's dining room. Her name is Sheila and she just loves to cook for people. And she's good at it! Sheila has lived in her home since 1960, so she lived through and survived the apartheid era. She also helped launch a marimba band's career by letting them play at her restaurant and raise money to make a CD. They performed for us while we ate and played a mixture of traditional South African songs and Bob Marley.

Our last stop was Robben Island. Robben Island is an island off the coast of Cape Town. It used to be where they would put all the people with leprosy in order to quarantine them before they learned that leprosy could be cured. It's a sad story... for years they just sent the lepers there without doing any research on how to cure the disease. Robben Island is better known as the prison where they sent political rebels during the apartheid era, namely Nelson Mandela who ended up spending 27 years in jail but still initiated a peaceful transition from apartheid to freedom. He also became the president in 1994, the year of liberation. Robben Island was a pretty brutal place where they used both physical and mental torture, kept prisoners in solitude, and would bring prisoners as close to death as possible without actually letting them die. If any were to die, because they were such prominent political leaders, the white wardens feared revolts and revolution back on the main land. So they imprisoned them and tortured them but kept them alive. We were given a tour of the island by a former prisoner. Former prisoners and former wardens alike work on the island together. Someone asked my guide how he feels about working with the former wardens, and he gave a surprising answer. He said that although the wardens tortured the prisoners, he could forgive them because it was their job. They were brought up to believe in the apartheid system and thought they were just helping to keep order. They are still decent, moral people.

That night I spent along the VA Waterfront, a strip of five star hotels, shopping malls, and restaurants, not different from some places in the United States. It was strange to be there after seeing all I had seen that day.

The third day was my birthday, and it was the best birthday I think I have ever had. I mean, how many people get to spend their birthday—their golden birthday—in South Africa? This is when I went to the Mfuleni township to build a house with Habitat for Humanity. The walls were already standing, so our goal for the day was to build the roof, patch up the holes in the walls with cement, and paint. Some highlights of the day were when Rasta, my site manager, had some girls from the township sing happy birthday to me in Afrikaans when he found out it was my birthday. The woman across the street, the one who gave us the coffee and some sandwiches also, had a cake for us, so I even got a “birthday” cake! Aside from talking to Rasta about the standard of living in the townships, how best to improve the poverty problem, and illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, I also had a great conversation with a man named Pless. Pless lives in Mfuleni and has a beautiful voice. He sings opera with an orchestra in Cape Town. He told me that, if he had the means, he would love to get out of South Africa so he would actually have the opportunity to make it somewhere. He said he wishes he also had the means to learn to play an instrument. It about broke my heart, because in the United States we take the opportunity to learn to play an instrument so lightly. In fact, most people don’t even like taking music lessons. He didn’t ask me for money or help, but only asked that I remember him. So I will.

I’ve already written a few examples of South African hospitality, and on my fourth day in South Africa I received the best hospitality of my life. South African people are so open, kind, and giving, and Mark and Belinda Lindhorst are no exception. A friend of mine on the ship has a roommate back home whose father, Mark Lindhorst, owns a vineyard in Paarl, South Africa. We went to visit his vineyard and were taken on a tour of the entire facility, from the fields to the tasting room. We saw the wine making process in action, the cellars filled with rows of barrels stacked to the ceiling, and Mark’s own personal wine collection. We even donned sarongs and—get this—stomped grapes with our bare feet! Mark filled two huge blue buckets with freshly picked grapes and we just climbed in and started stomping. All I could think of was I Love Lucy the whole time. The process takes quite a while, because once you stomp the grapes you have to pick out all of the stems. We tasted the grape juice (I know, gross, but you would have done it too), and it was seriously the best grape juice I’ve ever had. Must have been the toe jam. After we were all cleaned off, Belinda, Mark’s wife, made dinner for us all. We had a braai, or barbeque, of lamb and garlic bread covered in this amazing sauce called sweet chilli sauce. I don’t know if we have sweet chilli sauce in the United States, but if we do, you need to go out and buy some now. It is so good. I learned so much that day about wine, but I learned even more about South African hospitality.

I spent the last day in South Africa around the waterfront. I had so much to think about and to process, I just wanted to relax. I grabbed some coffee at Melissa’s and did some souvenir shopping before getting back on the ship. I could write about South Africa forever. This post is only the tip of the iceberg of everything I did, saw, and learned while in Cape Town! If you ever get the chance to come to South Africa, take it. It is beyond worth it. I truly hope I get to return someday. And if you want to know more about South Africa, ask me about it! I’d love to tell you so much more!

I know I am quite a bit behind on my blogs… I have been to Mauritius by now too, and am docking in India in just a few short hours! But I hope to be caught up soon. I hear India is even more life changing than South Africa, so I am bracing myself for quite an experience.
I also wanted to let you know my email address onboard the ship. Initially I thought I wouldn’t have enough time to answer emails from everyone so I only let a few people have it, but I love getting news from home and receiving emails! I still don’t really have time to answer all of them, but I make time.

Tomorrow, India.