Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Coast To Coast

A long overdue post. I seem to be doing more of that these days - - I apologize. I have been so busy! So let's backtrack... to January! 

My lovely friend, Kate, came to visit me for a whole month. I first met Kate at the University of Hawai'i where we both spent our freshman year of college. Despite us both transferring for our sophomore year, this gem of a woman has remained one of my very best friends. I'm convinced we would have a great time together just sitting in a cardboard box... HOWEVER, this is a blog about our ultimate adventure, from coast to coast. 
a map our our destinations 
I met Kate in Johannesburg to start our coast to coast adventures. We also met up with another friend and Peace Corps Volunteer, Ashley, to join us on our first leg of the trip. But first, we explored Johannesburg during the day before our bus left in the evening. We went to the Apartheid Museum and Kate received a crash course education on the history of Apartheid in South Africa. The museum was very well done and I wish I could have had more time to walk around... there was a lot to see and learn! Poor Kate was feeling really tired part way through the exhibits, but we carried on! From there, we went to the Lion Park outside of Johannesburg. We got to drive around and see several types of lions, fed some really friendly giraffes, and drum roll please..... we played with baby lion cubs! They were exceptionally adorable. 
Visiting the Apartheid Museum and the Lion Park in Johannesburg
After our day trips in Johannesburg, we boarded the bus for our first stop: Maputo, Mozambique. Welcome to public transport, Kate. Our first bus ride was about 10 hours and she got to experience the joys of sketchy border crossings at 3 AM. We arrived safe and sound around 7 AM and spent the day sorting out some boring administrative details which I won't go into. Let's just say that we were certainly longing for some helpful banks and customer service! We moved on up the coast to Tofo, after another five or so hours on a bus, and wound up in a delightfully beautiful location. It was my first time to see the Indian ocean and I certainly wasn't disappointed. The water was turquoise blue and the temperature was about the same as a lukewarm bathtub. Simply amazing. Ashley, Kate, and I spent our time lounging in the sun (much to Kate's liking), eating fresh fruit, and sipping on cocktails as the sun went down. Sounds really rough, huh? 

delightful Mozambique memories
From Tofo, we traveled further north to Vilankulos. We played in the ocean, enjoyed the beach, and explored the local marketplaces. The main highlight? A day trip to snorkel out by Two Mile Reef. While it wasn't exactly what we Americans would call a guided tour (AKA we were dropped off on an island with a cooler of food), the girls and I made the most of it and really enjoyed ourselves. We also hiked up to the top of the dunes on the islands to look out upon the reef and the Mozambique coast line. Really remarkable stuff! Oh, and while snorkeling, my scalp was severely burnt. You'll hear more about that later. 
Play time in Mozambique with Ashley & Kate
Sadly, we all boarded a bus again after about a week in Mozambique to head back to Botswana. It was time to show Kate my sweet village of Kang! 

Kate in Kang

Kate got the full tour of Kang and all the kiddos immediately fell in love with her (it's easy to do). I showed her a little bit of my life as a volunteer, although it's difficult to actually get anything done with a visitor around. And that is quite a beautiful thing because we got to enjoy other adorable moments. She helped me organize all the reusable sanitary pads my family sent with her to make kits for the girls at the school. She experienced movie night with my family and we appropriately watched Lion King outside under the stars together. Oh and remember that sunburn on my scalp? Kate was a trooper and she also spent that week picking thumbnail sized skin flakes off my head and slathering baby oil on top. It was a really entertaining week. Just ask Kate :O)

Then, we took off for our next country: Nambia. We stopped to see my friend TJ along the way, another PCV who lives close to the Namibian border. Windhoek welcomed us with a delicious meal - Kate tried all kinds of game meet: zebra, ostrich, kudu, etc. - and then we celebrated properly by going to a Karaoke bar. Kate rocked it! After Windhoek, we went to Walvis Bay to kayak with some sweet seals and check out the harbor. The rest of our time in Namibia was spent in Swakopmund. 

Nambia, round 1
In Swakopmund, we met a fun local guy who actually met some of my other Botswana PCV friends. He was our own little personal guide, showing us all the best places to go. Check him out in the photo above - - this guy was nuts. He could dance like a crazy man with a beer on his head without spilling a drop! Oh the people you meet... 

We soaked up the sun on the beach for a few more days, although it was MUCH colder than in Mozambique. The highlight? Skydiving! Kate and I first went skydiving for our 19th birthdays in Hawaii, so we decided it was time to go again. It was breathtaking to see the Namibian desert sand dunes lined up right along the coast. We had an amazing time - and celebrated after our dive with chocolate and beer. Just like everyone should. 

Namibia, round 2
From Namibia, we endured some crazy travel stories that are too long to type out - - so we'll just say that we made it back to TJ's house. After an evening in Karakubis, we were back on the road, hitching to Maun, Botswana. I wanted Kate to see the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve. Kate met a few PCV friends staying in Maun and went on her first game drive! We had good luck and saw all kinds of wildlife - - giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, hippos, warthogs, monkeys, elephants, tons of birds, and even A BABY LEOPARD! It was a lovely end to our trip together. 

End of time with Kate in Bots! 
We traveled back down to Gaborone, ate some yummy food, and flooded the airport with tears. I always hate to say goodbye to Kater -- especially after we had such an amazing month traveling together! 

And my final statement - Kate is a trooper. She endured a lot of crazy things on this adventure and she really just went with it. If you ask her, I'm sure she'll tell you I gave the PG rated account of our travels... but I'll just leave you to hear how crazy things were from her. 

That's it folks! A month of fun with one of my best friends. I sure am a lucky woman! 

Love & Light, 

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