Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The name Kanga-runar is...grammatically incorrect.

Ahhh so much to tell you, which makes sense since I haven’t posted in a while. While I blame the sickness that is currently plaguing me and keeping me up at 1:11am writing a blog post (along with the miniature lizard on my wall that I haven’t decided whether or not to touch in case it decides to attack), it’s probably due to my laziness and the fact I’d rather sleep/read/watch Arrested Development than blog.

But here I am, long overdue.

So what’s been new with me? Quite a lot, thanks for asking.

I am currently on “autumn break”. If you call it “spring break” the South African students in your Shakespeare seminar will make fun of you and start asking if you’ve ever been to Cancun and been on “Girls Gone Wild”. Of course I have, I mean, since Michigan is right next to Mexico. (Some actually believe this, but it’s not like I can make fun of them since if you ask me a Geography question, I am almost certain to get it wrong). It’s funny here how if you use the wrong phrase people get completely confused. For example, I had a test in my African Literature class the other day, and I was wondering if a specific book would be on the test. So I obviously asked my fabulous gay South African friend, Myles, (love love LOVE him) whether this book would be on the “exam on Tuesday”. He said “Of course”, which then led me to panic because I hadn’t even read the book yet thinking it wasn’t on this test and to send neurotic text messages to all of my American friends in the class checking and double checking Myles’ story. When a bunch of my American friends told me the book wasn’t going to be on the exam, I triumphantly went to brag to Myles about how he was wrong, because let’s face it, when it comes to Myles vs. Liz in a battle of who’s right about South African things, I have never won. So when I went to confront him about him finally being wrong, he simply looked at me like I was an idiot and said in his super chillaxed South African way, “Oh, you meant on the test on Tuesday. Of course it’s not on the test, but it is on the exam, you know, at the end of the year.”

South Africa =1 Liz = 0

Like seriously? Because I used the word “exam” instead of “test” I was forced into a panic for two days? Of course, I still hadn’t read the book and wasn’t planning on it, but still those were hours I could have spent watching “Kings” or “Friday Night Lights” or “Arrested Development”. Or spent with my friends…

So my “autumn break” has been going swimmingly. Well except for the fact that I’m sick, as in quite a bad cold sick. But I’ve mostly been trying to ignore my sickness (except for excessive sleeping) and have been going out and having fun with friends in spite of it.

At first I was really bummed I was just staying in Cape Town and wouldn’t be jetting off like a bunch of my friends to places like Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia to do cool things like white water raft and see Victoria Falls. But, considering 1). The sickness currently plaguing me, and 2). How much fun I’ve been having, I’m no longer sad. Also, as my parents and Lily constantly point out to me, I’m in Africa. I’m in Cape Town. This is a vacation.

There’s a great group of friends who are also staying in Cape Town for autumn break and we’ve been having a blast together. First of all, it’s nice just to be able to hang out on our own schedule without having school dominating our lives. On Friday night, we went to my friend Steph’s house for an autumn-(spring)-break-is-finally-here celebration dinner, in which it was her first time ever making lasagna. Definitely the most delicious lasagna I’ve ever tasted. Of course, my contribution to the dinner was pita and roasted-red pepper hummus (I think I might have mentioned how much I love that combination a few too many times in the blog post before this), and just to be spontaneous, I also bought an apple pie. I’ve made Steph and Cari promise to attempt to teach me how to cook yummy food, since they’re complete pros at it. The next dinner we have, I’ll start with reading the recipe to them, baby steps.

UPDATE: The lizard has now turned from facing downwards to being in a ball on my wall. I’m keeping a sharp eye on it. It will NOT attack unnoticed.

That night we went out to Zula bar and had a great time just dancing and acting like total idiots. It’s a little surprising how many times I’ve been told by people “Oh, you’re definitely American. Only Americans dance like that”. And yes, they might ben referring to my Tae-Bo-esque moves (which I think are doubly useful as 1). Great dance moves and, 2). It’s easy to “accidentally” punch creepy men with them).

Saturday I continued to nurse my sickness. You know all those great medicines we have in America, like Sudafed, Mucinex, Tylenol, Tylenol Cold, and Tylenol Cold Extra Strength? Yeah, none of those brands exists here. Apparently we really like our pharmaceuticals in America. My cab driver advised me last night that in order to get rid of my cold, I just need to take these tablets that are either drugs or medicine (I couldn’t gather which) and then put a ton of blankets on me and sleep. He said I would sweat, and sweat, and sweat and then in the morning, poof, I’d feel all better. You all know how big of a fan I am of sweating (not), so instead I decided to search high and low Saturday for some kind of recognizable medicine to make my cold disappear. After admitting defeat to the 3rd store I had tried, I decided to ask the pharmacist near my house if they have any over the counter medicine to battle colds. Of course the pharmacist looked at me like I was an idiot and said “Of course we do.”, in which she pulled out 9 different types of medication and told me I should take all of them. Yeah right. The two I chose 1). Seemed the most relevant to my sickness, and 2). Had the best names. Medicine number one Cold-b-gun (I think “gun” is pronounced “gone”). Medicine number two, Mucinux, but don’t get that confused with Mucinex because it definitely is not an off-brand. Even though they both do the same thing…

NOTE: The lizard has now turned from facing downwards to upwards on my wall. I’m keeping a sharp eye on it. It will NOT attack unnoticed.

Anyway, that night, after highly medicating myself, Cari, Steph, and I attempted to have a movie night where our movie of choice was (obviously) Aladdin. We ended up getting sleepy/talking too much though so we just skipped through to all of the songs, which are the best part anyways.

UPDATE: Lizard has now straightened out from a ball and is completely facing upwards on my wall now. Hoping it will soon scuttle back into large vent near ceiling.

Sunday we spent a lovely day at the beach, because believe it or not, it’s actually starting to get cold in Cape Town. They aren’t kidding when they call it “Autumn Break”, I noticed last week on campus that the leaves are starting to change color. Who knew the leaves changed colors in Africa too???? (I learn so much every day). It’s actually been pretty chilly here, at least in the low 60s, with rain. And none of the buildings have central heating (surprise!!) therefore prompting horror stories of people wearing coats (or in my case, multiple sweaters and my fleece) to class.

Except it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL Sunday.

UPDATE: Lizard is now turning sideways. I think it’s eyeing up my curtains. I don’t like the look of this…

Anyway, the beach was absolutely lovely. It was hot, but not too hot and I actually got some reading done for a paper that’s due next week. Of course, after reading about 10 pages, I felt way too productive, so we instead decided to play a card game Steph taught us, which I will refer to as Poop Head…although the first word is actually not poop. (You get the hint). GREAT great game. And very addicting, I’ll have to teach it to you all when I get home. Steph, I will spread the game throughout America!

UPDATE: The Lizard is now spread-eagle on my wall as if it’s about to lose its suction-skills. I sincerely hope not since I would then have to sleep on my (extremely comfortable) couch as it’s too difficult to keep tract of a (possibly evil) lizard when under my bed.

After the beach, Cari, Runar (friend from Norway), Rita (also a Michigander) and I went to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. I had heard about these gardens from friends, but I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful they were. We brought a picnic and cards and listened to the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra play while the sun set and we admired the view of the mountains in the distance. After the concert finished, we went back to Runar and Rita’s place for a fun filled night of Poop Head (it really doesn’t sound as cool when censored) and a dorky but great camp game Cari learned, which is what the title of this blog is from.

Slight backstory: We decided Runar’s new nickname is Kanga-runar. You’ve got to admit, it’s a great nickname.

So so so pretty!!!

Also, Runar introduced Cari, Rita and I to WestLife, a boy band who was apparently more famous than the Backstreet Boys (not possible) worldwide. While, contrary to popular Norwegian belief, it didn’t make Cari and I lay in our beds screaming with joy, it was super catchy and would be very fun road trip music. Westlife will be added to my Liz-takes-Canada-this-fall/winter road trip playlist)

UPDATE: Now completely facing my curtains. VERY WORRIED.


Yesterday, Rita, Steph, and I went to the Two Oceans Cape Town Aquarium. This aquarium is supposed to be one of the best in the world, so I was a little surprised by its lack of dolphins and whales (although I guess it’s very unlikely for an aquarium to ever have a whale). But I absolutely loved it!!!! We got to see ALL the characters of Finding Nemo (well all the major characters, except maybe the people and pelican). I fit right in with the 3 and 4 year olds, as I ran from exhibit to exhibit squealing with excitement as I saw jellyfish, and sting rays, and penguins, and sharks, and a giant sea turtle!!!!!


UPDATE: Has stopped climbing and seems subdued. Can’t trust it though.

After the aquarium, we had a lovely dinner on the Waterfront, which is a super touristy part of Cape Town but so pretty!!! The weather got pretty cruddy though, so we didn’t get to walk around as much as we wanted, so I definitely want to go back soon! Oooo, and guess what??? (EXCITING) When we got out of the aquarium we saw seals sunbathing on the docks. They are HUGE!!!! And so adorable. And while I really wanted to hug/scare them so I could see them waddle of the docks and swim away, the signs screaming “DO NOT PET SEALS. THEY BITE” deterred me. So instead I just starred and made the embarrassing cooing noises people make at babies at them.

Today was a pretty chill day, I went with Cari, and her friend to dinner on Long Street and then we saw her friend’s comedy show. Okay, I won’t lie, part of the reason I decided to go was because the club the comedy show was at is called “The Purple Turtle”, and what exactly is cooler than my favorite color mixed with an animal that’s on my top 100 list of cute animals? Sadly though, the club only disappointed. First of all, the performance area inside was covered with red curtains. Really? You name a club “The Purple Turtle” and you don’t decorate the inside in purple? Bad life choice. Secondly, while it was cold outside, the club had about 50 different fans on, making it almost impossible to sit anywhere without freezing. And lastly, the host of the comedy show decided it would be a good idea to wear a microphone and shout, which did not help the headache I was already nursing.

But you haven’t even heard the most exciting part yet.
Guess what I’m doing Thursday night at 8:00pm????

Seeing Cirque du Soleil!!!!!!

It’s their first time EVER in South Africa and some friends and I got decent tickets for just over $30. To say I’m SOOOOOO excited would be a vast understatement. So Thursday night I’ll get to see for myself, what my friends and I could only describe as “stretchy, blue, bendy people”.

Okay, so the lizard hasn’t moved in about 20 minutes, so my new plan of action is to go to bed and pretend like it wasn’t there and hope it has found a new home outside of my room by morning.

As always, I love and miss you all. And if ANY of you would like to visit me (hint hint) I would be more than happy to show you around the lovely Cape Town and South Africa!!!!!

UPDATE: Experienced a moment of temporary braveness and tried to touch lizard on wall, thinking I could just pick it up and take it outside. Lizard let go of wall and jumped to floor, causing me to scream. Lizard now on the floor by bed and Liz is a stupid idiot as at least before I could see where the lizard was at.

Lizard = 1
Liz =0

After watching the lizard for another sleepless 20 minutes, I discovered how the lizard got into my room. Apparently there is a lizard-sized crack between the floor and the molding. Will be using my duct tape for the second time in Africa tomorrow morning.

UPDATE ON UPDATE: Green duct tape now covers the crack between my floor and the molding. I hope the landlord likes the added color!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wait, did I mention the pita and roasted red pepper hummus?

Title explanation: Guess how many times I mention food in this post? Hint: Too many to be proud of.

Hey all!

So since my last blog post my life has dramatically changed FOREVER.

Just kidding, but I thought it would be a nice lead in…

Anyway, to be truthful, last week was a really hard time for me. I hit what we call “the second apple” and I hit it hard. For those of you who don’t read Study Abroad manuals for fun let me explain this “second apple”.

Second Apple = the second stage in your abroad experience when you get really homesick and get annoyed with all the things that are different about Cape Town (or wherever you are) and want to start punching people for walking too slow (although the last part might just be me).

Many of you might know this already however, from the tearful phone calls made to you. I made more than I’m proud to admit. But I must say that I’m pulling out of this week quite spectacularly! And you all should feel delighted that there is no one in Cape Town like any of you, which is why I miss all of you so much. But after a few days of “What am I doing here? Why does everyone walk so slowly? Why aren’t my friends here? Why the hell doesn’t Cape Town sell Macaroni and Cheese? Seriously Africa, no Starbucks??” I was able to pull myself together and start enjoying my life here again.

Well except for the homework portion. I don’t think they should allow beautiful vacation spots like Cape Town to have schools. Because last weekend more time was spent at the beach than anywhere near the 100s of pages I was supposed to be reading and the presentation I was supposed to prepare for and the papers I was supposed to write. Which then led to almost no sleep Sunday through Wednesday as I prepared for a presentation and wrote two papers. I’d like to pretend that I learned from my mistake last week and started my homework before today, but then I would be lying to you. However, this week I don’t have a big paper due until Friday, so I have more time to waste.

Sidenote: Except for the fact that Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day, as in my roommate Denise’s favorite holiday. Therefore we will be spending that night at the only Irish pub we’ve found so far in Cape Town, Dubliners. YAY for green beer!!

Anyway, this week has been much better, especially after all my assignments were turned in on Wednesday. Wednesday night some friends and I climbed Lion’s Head, which is one of the mountains here, with bottles of wine and (amazing) pita and roasted red pepper humus to watch the sunset. The view from the top of Lion’s Head, and even the climb up was absolutely stunning. On one side you could see the sun setting over the ocean, while on the other side Cape Town was lit up like a Christmas tree. Of course, me being the smart person I am decided on Wednesday that I didn’t need to take my asthma medicine because I’ve been feeling completely fine for the last couple of weeks. Which inevitably led to me almost passing out halfway up the mountain. My roommates would laugh reading this as they hiked up Devil’s Peak, a super intense hike which terrifies me to even think about. But considering all the mountains we have in Alpena (read: none) this is probably my first mountain hike since I visited Colorado 10 years ago, and even then I’m pretty sure the only mountain climbing I did was on horseback. Anyway, I made it to the top and man was it worth it. If I wasn't so tired and half dead I would have burst into song, and there were so many options "Climb Every Mountain", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain", but instead I just sat down took out the food and wine and finished off half a bottle of a friend's water. I took some pictures, but I couldn’t keep them from turning out blurry, so I’ll find some from friends and post them later.

After maybe 20 minutes at the top, we decided to head down. No biggie, right? I mean going down is always easier than going up. Except in the dark. With two flashlights (one of which only works every now and then) and “torch lights” in the form of a little light on the top of our cell phones.

Now I don’t need to remind you of my clumsiness, and therefore my terror of tripping and tumbling off the side of a cliff to my untimely death (I can’t die yet, I still haven’t pet a polar bear!). So while my friends were casually chatting and barely using the flashlights as they basically ran down the mountain, I was going down the mountain at a brisk 2 feet per hour mostly on my butt, because we all know how graceful I am on my feet. Yes, looking back this is a hilarious picture. At the time however, complete TERROR was coursing through my mind. But I will allow you to laugh since I (luckily) survived the treacherous climb down.

After making it to level ground again (HALLELUIAH!) we decided to stop at Camps Bay because it looked so beautiful from the top of Lion’s Head. The beach completely deserted and absolutely gorgeous. However, not only was the water freezing, but it was pretty chilly (read 60 degrees-ish) so we didn’t stay long. After I got home 8 of the 10 (most housemates in the same room until today) people in my house were watching the Tottenham verses Milano soccer match so I decided to join. One of our former OLs was over and he and my roommates answered all my stupid questions, like “Why is he being so dramatic?” (It’s called diving and apparently it’s an art), “Which team is which color?”, “Who should win?”, “Why did they miss that goal?”, “Where are they playing?”, “What are the songs the fans are singing?” and the most obvious and important question “Who’s the cutest player on each team?” Overall, I think my knowledge of soccer grew exponentially. For example, even though the two teams tied, Tottenham technically won because they beat Milano when they played them in Spain. Yup, I bet most of you readers out there didn’t know that. Now all I have to do is learn to actually play soccer and I’ll basically be an expert.

This weekend was also a success. Thursday night a big group of friends and I went to Stardust, which is a restaurant/bar where the servers perform for you. While the food was a little pricy for the quality, the drinks were amazing, the company wonderful, and the performances were so great! Lily, you would have loved it as Michael Bublé’s songs were popular choices. And of course, we ended the night by making the DJ play all the Disney songs he had while we sang along.

Sidenote: He only had 1 Lion King song. Seriously? We’re in Africa!

Friday after class my friend Kelsey and I headed to the beach, because who knows how many beach days we have left here. It’s actually starting to get a little bit chilly, like in the 60s some days, although no worries, Wednesday it’s supposed to get up to a nice toasty 104 degrees. Hello sweat. While we were at the beach, a big group of students showed up who were obviously tourists. It was funny because since I’ve been here for just over a month, I no longer feel like a tourist, but I also don’t feel like I fit in. It was such déjà vu seeing how excited the students were and thinking that was me less than a month ago. Does this mean I’m actually starting to fit in?? I think until I stop wearing my Old Navy flip flops in public, the answer will always be a resounding “No!” And you’re crazy if you think I’m going to stop wearing those flip flops. Most. Comfortable. Shoes. EVER.

Friday night we had a braai for Cari (fellow Wolverine) because it was her 22nd birthday! While Cari’s whole house made great food, like mushrooms with melted cheese, Greek salad, Tri-fold, apple crisp and much more, I discovered that as long as I show up anywhere with Woolworth’s pita and roasted red pepper humus, the world loves me. The pita and humus almost makes up for the fact that South Africa doesn’t believe in Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese or Dino Chicken Nuggets (Sidenote: Kender, are there dino chicken nuggets in Spain? Please tell me they’re not only an American wonder) Therefore, none of my cooking skills learned this summer are coming into use. But you all should be proud to know that I have graduated from just buying frozen vegetables to buying a bag of fresh vegetables on Saturday, which I plan to make a stir fry with. Believe it mom! Before you know it I’ll be buying fresh meat too, and maybe even using recipes. Well…we’ll see about the recipe bit, I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

So that’s been my past few weeks. Sorry they haven’t been too exciting, I’m also a bit disappointed by the lack of safari animals hanging out in my backyard on a daily basis. But I am in Africa, which I surprisingly forget quite often. I’ll be walking home from class and see a mini-bus speed by with the door wide open and a guy hanging out by one hand yelling “Cape Town! Cape Town!” (as in that’s where the bus is headed) and then turn my head and see Table Mountain in the distance and remember, “Oh yeah, I’m in AFRICA!” I also admit that I’ve been a huge fail when it comes to taking pictures, so I’ll try to do better, scouts honor!

Anyway, I should probably get back to the homework I have left to do and stop procrastinating (Fun fact: The word “procrastinate” doesn’t exist in Swedish). I miss and love you all!!

Liz – Your tan for Michigan, but ghostly white for South African, friend.

Oh yeah, exciting sidenote: My friend Kelsey found a karaoke bar downtown. SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!