Home > Highlanders > Finding buddies in unexpected places

Finding buddies in unexpected places

I had been dreading my trip to South Africa for a few reasons:

  • I had just traveled internationally about a month prior and I really don’t like flights that last more than 3 hours. To get to Cape Town I had a 9-hour flight to London, followed by a 7+ hour layover, followed by a 12-hour flight from London to Cape Town. And although the flight crew on British Airways was great, the plane that took us from London to South Africa was very tired.
  • It’s a very busy time of year for me work-wise. It’s year-end budget and strategy prep time and I have tons to do.
  • Most of all, my family was unable to come with me due to school commitments on their end.

So as a result, I really hadn’t wanted to make the trip but felt that it is my obligation to personally do the due diligence on the company based here that we are looking to do business with. But as happens sometimes in life, I received a very pleasant surprise…I came to love Cape Town in less than a day.

Cape Town is beautiful, and the people are very friendly. I arrived in Cape Town shortly after 7:15 this morning local time (which is 8 hours ahead of Colorado, by the way) and made my way through immigration and customs. My friends and coworkers had arrived late the night before and were gracious enough to pick me up at the airport. After dropping my bags at the hotel we went out for the day to try and walk off the jet lag and high altitude edema in my legs.
We wandered around a local artisans’ market right outside our hotel and then grabbed one of those double-decker tour buses for a city tour. We hit nearly 20 sites along the way and got a good overview of Cape Town and its history. We hopped off the bus for an hour or so and took a gondola lift up to the top of Table Mountain, the highest point in Cape Town (maybe in all of South Africa, I don’t remember).
The ride up Table Mountain reminded me of the gondola we took in Santorini, but it was one big car and the floor rotated as the gondola rose and descended. (There was also little to no graffiti anywhere to be found. NOT the case in Greece!) The views from atop Table Mountain were spectacular! I only had my iPhone at the time so the photos are pretty crappy. But you get the idea.
After the Table Mountain gondola and back on the bus I started dozing off a bit as we traversed the coastline.  I missed a lot of the substantive information about the beaches but at one point I specifically remembered hearing something about my favorite animal – penguins! Come to find out, there is a colony of African Penguins on the tip of the cape on a beach called The Boulders in Simon’s Town. My friends are generally animal lovers so they were game to try and find the penguin colony.
Although road construction and heavy traffic made what should have been a 20 minute drive an hour or longer (more napping in the back seat for me!), it was well worth it. By the time we got to The Boulders the wind was up and the surf was very choppy. The water is also quite cold due to the Cape’s relative proximity to Antarctica. We followed signs to “Penguin Viewing” and stumbled across all these little guys just hanging out near the surf!
We took lots of photos and hung out with the penguins a bit, and then retired to dinner. After a great dinner of angel fish and rice (and beer) it was back to the car (more napping). Then back to the hotel for a much-needed shower and some rest.
Tomorrow we will be getting ready for meetings but will be moving from this hotel to a hotel outside of the city for 2 days as we do our final meeting prep. There will be some “play” involved in that, too, but I have a lot of work to do over the next few days of meetings.
All told, I was dreading the trip to South Africa because I don’t have my wife and girls here, because it’s a very busy time of year both with work and with family things, and because it’s just so darn far to get here. But I discovered a new wonderful place and will have to bring my family back here someday.
Love to all,
  1. Mom
    November 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Wonderful story and pictures! I printed photos and your blog text and mailed it to Barbara this morning. Have a safe trip.

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