Hi Mrs. Heikel and the Second Grade Class,
Thank you so much for your letter and the picture you sent me! You all look so adorable in your pretty uniforms! I hope you all did well in your tests and are enjoying your classes. I’m very excited about your first communions; I remember having mine in third grade. We have a small Catholic community here on the ship and we got a chance to go to mass in South Africa. It felt really good going to mass after a whole month of not going to church. We also talked a little bit with the priest after the mass about our Semester at Sea trip and the upcoming World Youth Day in Rio De Janeiro in 2013; you should all go when you get older, I’ve heard it’s such an amazing experience! I hope I can go in 2013.
There were so many things to do in South Africa and six days were hardly enough for us to do them all. The safaris in South Africa are very well known, but they are further to the north of Cape Town (where our ship is docked) so I didn’t go there. I did, however, go on a shark dive!
Shark diving, or cage diving, is where you go out with a small boat to shark invested areas of the sea and purposely get sharks to swim around your boat by chumming the waters with a stinky mixture of chopped fish and fish fluids. You then go into the water inside a cage to dive with the sharks and get a closer look at them. We saw three great white sharks at Gansbaai, South Africa that morning and the smallest one we saw was a remarkable 8ft long shark! Although cage diving seem dangerous, it was pretty safe because the steel cages we were in creates a magnetic effect around it, making the sharks register divers as a part of the cage, a nonliving object. It was very thrilling to see a shark up close in nature. I wish I could show you a picture of it but I didn’t have an underwater camera with me and my friend has all the pictures; I hope I can show you the pictures when I visit.
I also thought the duck I saw in the Castle of Good Hope in downtown Cape Town was very cute and different. Attached is a picture of the duck. I thought their eyes were very interesting because they almost look like jewelry beads to me! What do you think?
Another fun thing I tried in South Africa was eating ostrich meat. Ostrich meat is a delicacy in South Africa and it’s used to make anything from burgers, steaks, stews, and even beef jerkies. My favorite was the ostrich stew; it had a spicy and salty yet slightly sweet taste and was made out of ostrich meat, bell peppers, carrots, and yams. It was served with rice and was the best meal I had in South Africa. Much to my surprise, ostrich meat looks and tastes very much like beef. After further research on ostrich meat, it turns out that ostrich meat is the healthier alternative to beef because they taste very similar to each other but ostrich meat has lower fat content and has higher calcium, protein, and iron.
My favorite South African dessert was doekpudding served with ice cream. Doekpudding is similar to a traditional fruitcake but it has a much lighter feel to it. I found a recipe of the cake in the District 6 apartheid museum in Cape Town and took a picture of it to show it to you all! J Doekpudding is especially common in South Africa during Christmas time because they traditionally make some at home and give it to families and friends. Because South Africa is located on the southern hemisphere subtropical zone, their seasons are completely opposite to ours; they celebrate Christmas during their summers and July is the peak of their winter!
We also helped build a house as a service project through Habitat for Humanity in one of the townships on the outskirts of Cape Town while we were there. We worked on the house from 8a.m. to 4p.m. and managed to build three walls! Attached is a picture of us mixing cement at the beginning of the day. Building a house was much harder than we thought because the tools were very heavy and we needed to make sure everything was perfectly aligned. It was a very rewarding experience though because we physically built a house for somebody else. J
Hope you enjoy my post and please let me know if you want me to include anything else in it. Have a wonderful week! J
P.S. No I didn’t see any camels in Morocco but I did see a lot of donkeys on the streets of Marrakech and in the markets too! One thing we also noticed in Morocco was that there were so many stray cats roaming around the streets; the cats were very cute but we couldn’t touch them because they might have rabies.
Oh, and we also spotted quite a few whales breaching in South Africa. They were very cute! J