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Monday, May 12, 2014

African Adventure 2014 - Cape Town Day 2

The phone ringing jolted Ben awake. It was 3:35am and the phone call signaled the beginning of a much anticipated day. Shark Cage Diving Day!! We quickly arose, got dressed and made sure we were ready to go. A few minutes before 4am, we headed down to the hotel's reception area to await pick-up from Shark Diving Unlimited. Another couple was already in the van, as we climbed in, also still mostly asleep. This couple was from Sao Paulo, Brazil. They came to South Africa for their honeymoon and were back now with their family. We tried to communicate as best we could. They said their English was not very good and Ben's Portuguese is admittedly non-existent. Eventually, we made another couple stops to pick up two more couples, one from the UK and another from New Zealand currently located in London, en route on our 2+ hour journey to Gansbaai.

It was dark for the majority of the drive, since sunrise not until around 6:30am. Most tried to sleep, wishing they were still snuggled in bed.

We arrived at Shark Diving Unlimited's headquarters around 7am to a happy, welcoming staff greeting us to a breakfast buffet. Ben had a mysterious muffin, some scrambled eggs, chopped bacon, a plum, toast and juice. Kari had some scrambled eggs, chopped bacon, and a couple plums. The plums were small, red and delicious.

After breakfast and signing waivers acknowledging the risk, we walked down to the boat launch to pile into the Barracuda and set off for our adventure.

As the boat was pushed into the water with a tractor, the skipper noticed a problem and had us all get back off.

Heinrich, our guide, led us back to the office for more breakfast and to chat while we waited for a "redo". Eventually, word came from the boat that there was an electrical problem and it was going to take longer than anticipated. Quick-thinking Heinrich took the group in the van to Danger Point to kill time. Danger Point is where the phrase "Save the women and the children first" was coined in reference to sailing as a major vessel, the HMS Birkenhead, hit a rock and sank in about 20 minutes just off Danger Point in 1852. Today, there is a lighthouse to assist sea travel navigate the rocks as well as a memorial and grave for those that lost their lives on that ship. To prove that anything is possible in Africa, despite being closed, Heinrich managed to talk our way onto the grounds to be able to look around and take pictures.


After explaining what occurred at Danger Point and answering our questions, Heinrich led us down a path to the shore to watch the spray as the waves crashed on the rocks. He also began searching the shoreline for various critters, including Abalone. Finally, believing enough time had passed, we began our walk back up the lighthouse, passing a gigantic mound of sea foam. Super smelly stuff that seemed to have a life of its own.




Despite not having the best of phone calls with the boat, we headed back to the shop to see what was in store for us.

When we arrived, we learned that the boat was beyond their skill and would take hours to repair, so they cancelled the dives for the day. While we were at the lighthouse, they had been calling other shark diving outfits to try to get us on a boat without any luck. They apologized profusely, gave us another snack, told us more about sharks and offered to those willing to come back the next day a free copy of the DVD.

With no real plans for the next day, we decided to confirm to return; the New Zealand couple did as well. Though bummed, we met some really great people, learned a lot about sharks, and got to see Danger Point. On the long journey back to Cape Town, we chatted with the New Zealand couple and the Brazilian couple, learning loads about their travels and experiences over the years.

Unfortunately, when we returned to our hotel, the dive shop called again, informing us that the dive the next day was also cancelled with the boat requiring more repairs than possible to guarantee complete by morning.

Bummer!

Ben asked Liberty to try again with a different dive shop. This one being on Cape Peninsula, much closer to us, also allowed for the opportunity to tour Cape Point on the journey from the dive shop. Once we believed that everything was confirmed with the dive shop and the driver, we set off for the V & A Waterfront to salvage the day, searching for souvenirs and enjoy time at the Waterfront.


Since we were running low on Rand, we needed to convert some currency, then we went to look around. We started off with the Lego Store and continued on to an Aston Martin dealership. Those cars are so beautiful! Eventually, we found a market of locals trading their wares. Unfortunately, we arrived 10 minutes before closing, so we were only able to procure a decorative ostrich egg. After a few more quick stops in a few other stores, we set off to try to get a table at a restaurant that served game. No luck there, with both restaurants that served game having over 2 hour long waits. With it being Saturday, finding a restaurant, period, became a challenge.

Out of nowhere, a bird pooped on Ben's head and neck. Disgusting!

A quick trip to the bathroom to get cleaned up seemed to do the job. Ben, then, witnessed an unruly mall guest getting dragged out, hearing sounds of slaps to skin.

We finally found a burger joint, similar to Burger King, to grab a burger and chips for our meal. We figured if we could not get game meat, we might as well eat super cheaply.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel to discover that they had been looking for us. The dive shop cancelled our boat and wanted to move us to the earlier boat. The hotel wanted to confirm with us before doing anything. Unfortunately, Ben did not express clearly enough to do whatever it takes and just tell us what time we need to wake up and be where. The hotel called the dive shop back with our confirmation but had to wait on the skipper to finalize the confirmation. With it being 10:30pm, the skipper had already filled our spots, so it was back to the drawing board. We did still have our guide/driver, so we planned on sleeping in a bit, have a nice breakfast and begin our Cape Peninsula tour a little early. Getting onto a shark dive is a bit frustrating to say the least!

Feeling excited for the rest, our day exploring the Cape and dinner at either Hussar or the Codfather yet disappointed on missing another opportunity to shark cage dive, we went to bed.

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