A Travellerspoint blog

South Africa

On Travel Sickness

storm 10 °C

Lloyd could probably fly in an aerobatic plane for six hours, and then sail for three days in the wildest ocean and still feel totally fine. As for me, well I obviously have some more, um, refined genes which means I have to be a bit careful about too much of the wrong kind of motion. The flight over the Okavango is a case in point. I loved the first ten minutes, but after that half of me was wishing the plane would crash just so I could stop feeling so bad.

On our last dive trip, we met some divers who claimed to have solved their seasickness with a wonder drug called scopolomine. The drug is administered via a patch that sticks behind the ear for three days at a time. With my track record, you can bet I was rushing to the Doc to get some for our RTW and particularly the 10 days on a dive boat scheduled for November.

Our shark-diving trip yesterday seemed like a good opportunity to test it out. So, I put the patch on on Thursday evening (you're supposed to put it on well before you actually expect symptoms), and went to bed confident that this would be my first symptom free boat experience. Hurrah!

I quickly discovered that there is something worse that seasickness. Seasickness medication! For all of Friday and Saturday, I was like a zombie that couldn't function normally. I was unbelievably drowsy and, when I couldn't lie down, nauseous. I lost my appetite. Lloyd wasn't quite sure what to make of it all, until he too put a patch on and experienced the same 'out-of-body' type sensations. Overall, I felt lousy (about a 6 our of 10), but told myself it would be worth it if I managed my day out at sea.

I didn't. Whether it was my normal sea-sickness, or the side effects of the medication, I felt terrible after about the first hour on the boat: nauseous and drowsy, and with a new symptom of dizziness thrown in for good measure. I couldn't wait to be back on solid ground, where we both ripped off the patches with glee and waited for normality to return. Almost 24 hours post-patch, I'm STILL waiting.......

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this is just to warn people of the possible side effects. I'm sure many people use it without any problems whatsoever. But for me, it wasn't worth the steep price paid in terms of the miserable side effects. Beware Transderm Patches!!!! I'll be burning mine, and relying on dramamine for the dive trip.

Posted by jacquiedro 18:47 Archived in South Africa Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

“The Big-6”. Done.

White Shark diving off South Africa

sunny 19 °C
View The World 2007 on lloydthyen's travel map.

We’ve been on the African continent now for just under three weeks and seen just about every predator and type of prey you can imagine. In every case we were lucky and honored to witness the strength of nature and the amazing animals in its kingdom. Until yesterday, every encounter had been on land, and during none of the encounters was there ever a feeling real danger (ok, the lions almost jumping into the safari jeep after their little love-match got my adrenaline pumping and my hands shaking). However, slip into the cool waters off the southern coast of South Africa to entice Great White Sharks with tuna steaks and fish-chum soup (in which you are covered upon entering the water) and the sense of danger changes. Sitting in a small metal cage somehow doesn’t seem nearly as safe as an open sided safari jeep!

But to look at these prehistoric creatures as they swim up from the deep to take a “nibble” out of some fish, or glide past the cage and under your boat (some of the sharks seemed as long as the 30’ boat – though none were – they were nice and small, like 18 feet long . . . !) is to stare at an apex predator that knows no fear. Its only enemy is us, the human race, and even then, those empty black eyes just peer right through you with little or no interest.

While I was only able to catch a fleeting glimpse of one white shark as it passed our cage (we sat in 60 degree water in ill-fitting, already damp and stinky 5 millimeter full suits – Jacquie just missed its swim-by to chomp on tuna) I consider myself lucky to have even had that encounter. Adding her to the Big-5 of African predators (hence the Big-6!) only seems to make sense – yet somehow I would enhance the status for the great white. You could be gored, stomped, or bitten by any of the big 5 on land, but the sheer shredding ability of these huge magnificent creatures is astounding. Beyond any concern was our genuine astonishment at their size, grace, and agility. Definitely one of the wild animal encounters I will count at the top of my list.

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The great white will most likely be killed off by us humans unfortunately. This may have been our one and only opportunity, and like many we have had on this trip, we are continually thankful to have been lucky to see these many wonders in their natural environments. As we said to ourselves a couple weeks ago, and was re-iterated by a nice retired couple from South Carolina whom we met just this morning, “We’ll never be able to go to a zoo again.”

Posted by lloydthyen 15:03 Archived in South Africa Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Cape Town - 2 August to 6 August

T.I.N.A.

all seasons in one day 15 °C

We’ve been in Africa for about three weeks now and during that time, we have used the acronym “T.I.A” to account for things not working quite as they should…… the Victoria Falls Park opening an hour later than they should…. Plans not going quite as smoothly as we had hoped entirely because 'This Is Africa'.

Cape Town is a whole new experience. At first glance, it could be any European or North American city. Fabulous restaurants and bars and shopping malls. We had to create a new acronym: T.I.N.A (this is NOT Africa).

After camping in Botswana, it was great to find a little haven called “An African Villa” from which we based ourselves for four nights (if you are planning a visit to Cape Town look no further! I’ll post a tripadvisor review in due course). We treated ourselves to a fabulous dinner at Belthazar at the V&A waterfront, where we could choose from 600 wines by the bottle and an impressive 190 by the glass!! (We stole a wine list for you D’ell as we think you’d find it interesting). Anyway, we are firm fans of the local Pinotage now.

The next day (Friday), we rented a car and drove out to Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point which was an incredibly scenic drive. On the way, we stopped at Boulders to admire the colony of about 3000 penguins which has grown from only two pairs in the early 80s! This was fabulous as we were able to walk freely among the penguins and check out the younger ones which still had fluffy hair around their necks!

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At the Cape of Good Hope, we did not discover the most southerly point of the African continent (as we had thought), nor had we found the point at which the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. Both these honours belong to Cape Agulhas which was visible from our vantage atop Cape Point. But nonetheless, we were blessed with glorious weather and spectacular scenery on the most 'south-western point' on the continent!

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On Saturday, we enjoyed a private township tour. We had planned to take the boat out to Robben Island which – prior to the last prisoner release in 1991 - had a 400 year history of use by colonial and apartheid leaders as a prison including, of course, Nelson Mandela who was on the island for 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment. However, several of the accommodation blocks (including Mandela’s) are closed for refurbishment, so we opted for the township tour instead. We’re glad we did.

With our guide, we visited the largest township which was about five miles or so from the city center. Kayelitsha covers more than 100km2 and houses more than a million people. The quality of housing varies dramatically, from tin shacks to one room homes built out of concrete blocks. In addition, we saw some government funded accommodation and some privately funded accommodation for those fortunate enough to afford a mortgage payment. Legal settlements might benefit from running water and electricity, but the illegal settlements could be operating without these basic amenities. What was interesting, however, is that the infrastructure is actually quite good – the roads we drove on were of surprisingly good quality, and if the electricity supply was not ‘formal’, most of the houses had found a way to tap into the local supply. The townships have their own schools and hospitals and playgrounds. Of interest, of course, is the continued lack of integration between peoples of different ethnic groups. Apartheid may be behind CapeTonians, but the township kids school with other township kids. And it was noticeable in Cape Town that there were few people of color enjoying the night life. At Belthazar, the service staff were African, but the customers were white across the board. I read a statistic somewhere that reported more than 80% of the African population in Cape Town had never shared a meal with non-Africans.

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It’s not clear if it will ever be possible to transition the township populations to permanent accommodation. It’s not even clear to me that that is what the township population wants. Certainly as soon as one area is ‘cleared’, another will spring up as more immigrants (many illegal) arrive in Cape Town. One area of keen interest is District Six which, prior to the 1900s, had accommodated a diverse mix of 60,000 people: immigrants, freed slaves, merchants and so on, from ten or so different races. District Six enjoyed enviable proximity to the center of Cape Town, so it’s easy to see how it became such a hive of activity for new arrivals seeking work. On the other hand, residents tended to move out of District Six if – through work – they were able to afford better accommodation in the suburbs, which meant that the area did not benefit from residents’ improving economic status. District Six is best known, however, for the 1966 declaration that the area was white-only, and the process of shipping out the ‘coloureds’ began, prompting townships to spring up around the city. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the area was bulldozed, and the debate continues today as to what the land should be used for. More than 1800 former District Six families have their names on a waiting list to return home.

Posted by jacquiedro 12:53 Archived in South Africa Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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