Wednesday, November 5, 2008

heck yes

Welcome to Cape Town.
I am in LOVE with Cape Town. This may be my official favorite place on earth. I remember the first time someone told me about the fabulousness of Cape Town. I was in Zambia on safari and had made friends with an Australian couple at the lodge I was staying at. They said of anywhere on the planet where they had traveled (which was practically everywhere), Cape Town was their favorite place by a landslide and that I mustmustmust go there.
And here I am. And I can confirm - this place is AMAZING.
What's so great about it?
For starters, its stunningly beautiful. Amazing craggy mountains set against beautiful bays and coastal waters. I feel so silly I drive around town as I keep exclaiming, "That is so beautiful!" over and over. But it is. I can't help it.

Second, it is incredibly diverse. At any given point, I could close my eyes and open them and think I am in San Francisco, Florida, or even Zanzibar based on what it looks like to me. The people are also diverse - every culture is here, which is so nice to see. I just love it.
Third, I happen to be staying in an amazing place. My hotel is on the waterfront, which I happened to realize tonight is in a really spiffy location full of shops, restaurants, and of course, great views. And everything is CHEAP. Well, food at least. Albeit tonight I got "take away" Thai food, last night I ordered room service and the whole meal (I even got dessert) with tip cost less than $10. Find me a fancy hotel anywhere else in the world where you can get an entire yummy meal plus dessert plus tip delivered to your room for that price. Plus the bed sleeps like a dream and it has a fantastically awesome A/C. Me = happy.
In sum, get on a plane and come see me here!!!
The only downside is that I am here for work which means my days are filled to the brim with meetings, meetings, meetings. Its good though as I'm meeting lots of folks I've known over the phone/email for the past year. I love putting faces with names. Its a bit exhausting though. I spent the entire all-day meeting talking and/or answering questions. Very tiring. Lucky for me there's a fabulous spa with weekly specials that I decided to take advantage of this evening so I could relax!
I am staying through the weekend as I have meetings well into Monday so Will is joining me on Friday evening and will stay through the weekend with me which I am SUPER excited about. I almost don't want to explore any more than I already have because I want to experience this amazing place together.
Our plans for the weekend are quite loose as we'll be here again at the end of the year for a week and can plan that trip out as much as we want (wineries, Gordon's Bay, Robben Island, penguins, etc.). We really just want to get a feel for the town. On Friday night, we may go check out the Whiskey Festival being held at the Cape Town Convention Center. Why not? Its bound to be interesting... On Saturday we are going on a whale watching tour and I really hope we see some great white sharks. I have always been fascinated with great white sharks and the chance to see one from a boat, let alone a breaching great white, would be insanely awesome to me. I could seriously check off a life goal if we see one. On Sunday, weather permitting, we may head up to see Table Mountain. Its one of those things you gotta do on a clear day and if its cloudy, you might as well pass.
I would be remiss if I let the day pass by without mentioning the election. Its been interesting to live out an election overseas. I think the newspapers have interesting headlines here anyway, but they've been particularly amusing lately. Yesterday's said something to the effect of "Voter ambush feared" which is a funny thing to say, right? Today the town is plastered with Obama's face. Two of my taxi drivers yesterday sported Obama stickers and everyone wanted to know how I felt about the election. Its been interesting to hear their views and how they interpret what is going overseas back home.
This election and the upcoming South Africa election have the potential to make incredible impact upon my work so naturally all of my grantees are curious about what electing Obama as President means. If only I had a crystal ball, right? I think you could reasonably assume that he will support the HIV/AIDS initiative in Africa more than President Bush did while he's been in office (note to diminish in any way what President Bush did with PEPFAR and PEPFAR II, but I've always been of the belief that there could be so much more that we're doing here...). I'm not sure how much more, but I think my grantees can be assured that Obama won't take away PEPFAR II (which goes until 2013) - if anything, he'll either add more money to the initiative or expand it.
p.s. Just to add to the list of amusing acronyms Africans use not realizing what they are saying when they say them, someone asked me what I thought about GAS* today. Hmmmm.
*General Accounting Standards


rld said...

great whites?

what about some blue sharks?

get it? blue sharks?


Hillary Shawkat said...

Love that picture!!!