End of the Overlander and onto the farm.

A week has gone by since we arrived in Cape Town.  What a world of difference from East Africa; clean, modern, modern, etc. But we have been neglectent of the blog so I am going to start a little further back.

After jumping out of the plane I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find an activity that provided such a rush.  The afternoon after the jump, adreniline still pumping, we went quad biking aka atv on the sand dunes of the Namib Dessert.  Pretty neat to be able to ride up and down the dunes with nothing but sand all around.  Todd and I had much different experiences b/c of the bikes we chose; Todd 250cc clutch, me 125cc automatic (too small for the more powerful bikes).  So overall review…quad biking was fun for the last hour but not an activity to do after skydiving.

The next morning we decided to go sand boarding, snowboarding on sand.  Sand everywhere! Shirts, pants, ears, hair, everywhere.  At first I tried to keep the sand at bay but it was a losing bet given we were in the middle of the desert. We strapped in and headed down the huge sand dune.  The experience was bizarre because it is similar to boarding yet reversed and on sand.  I am still not good at either but managed to have a good time.  The rough part was the walk up the dune.  No fun.  At the end of the day we got a go at lie down boarding.  For those from snowy climates, sledding on sand down another monster dune called Lizzie (right next to Dizzie).  I can jump out of a plane but the first time down on the board was awesome and nerve racking all at once.  Face first plummeting down a sand dune.

I will save the best activity for last…Cage diving with great white sharks!!!  I felt like I was in a National Geographic documentary.  Sharks right there circling the boat.  We had a pretty big night with all the folks from the overlander the night before the dive, so the idea of spending four hours on a bobbing boat didn’t exactly seem like the most fun way to recover from a hangover.  Yet, we managed and with only two bouts of sea sickness.  I am proud to say all cookies stayed inside my stomach.  I may owe that to the overdose of sea sickness pills I took as a precautionary measure that morning.  So twenty of us on a medium size boat with a cage attached to the right side of boat.  Cage, 2.5ft wide by 6ft long and roughly 6 ft deep, so way smaller then I had imagined.  With no scuba equipment we were outfitted in beautifully still damp wet suits with booties and a face mask (6 shared amongst us all).  You would enter the cage and go all the way to the left, the end of the line.  Inside the cage we had a bar to hold on to about 4in from the main steal frame.  Not a lot of wiggle room.  They would yell “Down, Down, Down,” and we were to go under for about 5seconds look around and come up.  The water visibility was horrible so unless the shark was super close, within 3 to 4 feet, no sighting.  The first time around one shark just strolled right past the cage with a creepy sneer that revealed huge teeth and a watchful eye.  The thing was massive!  Then we got the cage rattled by another shark that apparently misjudged his distance from us and completely knocked into the left side of the cage.  Lucky me was the one on the end.  So round one, awesome but not super awesome yet.  I was debating a second go on the bow of the boat, still shivering in my damp wetsuit when a 4m shark cruised past the cage and aggressively charged the tuna head (visual bate) following it all the way to the side of the boat.  Tail thrashing, teeth snarling, water everywhere, people shouting, proper shark diving chaos.  That was the kicker…of course I had to get in the cage again.  I grabbed my place in the now long queue. Roundtwo…holy s**t!  Waiting, waiting, waiting nothing.  Then as I was about to give up on seeing something totally frightening it happend. The guy in charge of the bait drew the shark closer to the cage so close in fact his gigantic nose and teeth were poking through to the inside of the cage.  The cage seemed tiny to begin with but now it felt horribly tight and clausterphobic.  No room for shark noses.  I couldn’t figure out where to put my hands or how to push myself to the back of the cage. These things are hard under water.  And screaming doesn’t work either. We all popped out of the water ripping off our masks, screeching with excitement.  What a terrifyingly awesome creature.  So close I could have given him a butterfly kiss. I figured that was the perfect finish to my shark diving day, so I dried off and watched the last go in the cage, luckily nothing too great happend.

Shark diving was the last hoorah with the overlander group.  It was a great group of people but I am definitely enjoying being off the truck.  Saturday night after the shark diving we got picked up by Nathalie, our boss at Rozendahl Farm where Todd and I are farming.  That night we had a simple green salad with stuff from the garden, local cheese, olives and beautiful artisan bread.  After three weeks of a meat and potatoes diet, I could have kissed her I was so excited.  Fresh greens, heaven.  We probably sounded like exhausted babbling idiots as we gushed over the meal.

We have now been on the farm for a week.  My body is still getting used to the idea of manuel labor.  Three weeks on a truck driving too far everyday with nothing to do but eat crisps and other junk left me with weak lazy muscles.  But the work does feel good.  The vineyard is out of production, so now they use the old wine for vinegar.  The vinegar is fabulous.  We get to learn more about that next week.  I will keep you posted.  They also produce their own vanilla yogurt.  As a strictly Yoplait yoghurt girl I had my doubts, only vanilla no raspberry flavoring.  But, I was wrong.  This yoghurt is delicous as is the cream cheese.  Todd is loving the fresh unpasturized milk.  Basically straight from the cow.  I will take his word on it as I think my stomach would implode on straight milk.

In the mornings we spend the first hour and a half pulling alien tree species.  At first we just picked the little ones we could pluck by hand but we have now been upgraded to the big trees.  We either ring bark them or use the tree popper to pop them out of the soil.  I do feel bad killing so many trees, but they decided to grow in the wrong spot, so now they must die.  There are thousands of these trees so I think we will be busy for a while.  After that we have a short breakfast and then off to the garden.  It has been awesome to see Todd get dirty on the farm.  We are working on preparing the beds so we can get some plants in the ground.  So far we have radishes, carrots, and green beans growing.  For the sake of dietary balance I am excited for fresh veggies, lots and lots of fresh veggies.

The farm is stunning as is Stellenbosch as a whole.  Nice mountains on all sides with rolling vineyards everywhere.  There is a lot of wind.  Every night it sounds like our humble cottage is going to be blown away.  But so far so good.  I think I am going to really like it up here.