This weekend was in one word: hectic. Young South Africans use this word with the voracity that most people use the pronoun "I". Anything and everything is hectic (hectic rugby game, hectic hike, hectic meal, hectic outfit, etc etc).
This Saturday Robyn turned 22 and her brother, Brian, turned 19. Robyn's family and close family friends ventured out to the Drakensburg Mountains (The Berg) to celebrate and Robyn invited us to come along.
Three hours of beautiful views (see below), the P.S. I Love You soundtrack (miserable but our only choice given poor planning on the CD front), 2 lattes, and one pack of fruity mentos later we arrived at Alpine Heath, the beautiful resort where we would be staying for the weekend.
Peeps you need to know about:
Brian (Robyn's adorable brother/avid athlete/has the patience of Mother Theresa: explaining Rubgy, translating South African English to American English, etc.)
Steve (Brian's friend who reminds me of Mogli from the Jungle Book/claims to have wrestled calves when he was growing up)
Struan (pronounced strewn: practically Robyn's brother/the greatest gentle giant/excellent hikingadventures buddy)
Peet (pronounced pee-et not Pete: my homeboy/Robyn's hilarious and fun boyfriend who has got a Pleet sense of humor and the same calm indifference as to whether others will like his jokes)
Julian and Deb (Robyn's amazing parents/the most generous and kind people in all of Durban)
Campbell (Struan's sweet Dad, who proclaimed, "I was the worst influence around here until you came around Ivy. Now you are the worst influence.")
After meeting all these amazing people, we headed to a delicious dinner, talked about Wal-Mart and how much Americans love guns, found out that South Africans call samosas saMOOsas (weirdos), played a game of 30 seconds (South Africa's version of Taboo, which I am epically bad at), sang Happy Birthday at midnight, and fell fast asleep.
The next morning we got up and played some mini golf and then Rob and I went for a short hike, where we somehow missed the waterfall and I managed to dunk my entire shoe into a stream, oops. When we got back the boys were busy playing tennis so I sat by the pool to read. My reading was rudely interrupted by a game of Bingo, which I gladly welcomed given my good luck with Bingo. Sure enough, I won the first round (!) and the prize was a free zip-line through the forest from the tallest spiral staircase in the world. Sweet. Accompanied by Robs, Peet, and Struan we headed off to find the zipline.
"So, how many people have died on this thing?" I asked the guy at the zipline as he was putting my harness on. "About 10," he responded before breaking into a huge laugh, "No no. No one dies on this, it's very safe." Great. It actually is really safe (Mom, I am not trying to give you a heart attack) and it was seriously one of the most exhilarating things I have done. I promise to post the vid of me doing it on FB.
As we headed back, Struan and I planned an epic hike up the mountain in front of our chalet back at Alpine Heath (pics below).
After bundu-bashing (which I call bendi-bashing, which means bashing through bushes) and being lifted and replaced on higher surfaces several times by Struan and hiking up a very very steep incline, we were welcomed by a baboon at the top of the mountain, where we hung our legs off a cliff and Struan proclaimed "The things you own end up owning you." Indeed.
I came back to a warm shower and sweet-chili flavored doritos (ew) and made Brian explain Rugby to me. Explaining sports to me is quite difficult (I told you he was patient!), especially given the language barrier between us (see excerpt below):
Brian: So then the players form a scrum haff...
Me: Is that h-a-f-f or h-o-f-f?
Brian: It's h-a-l-f
Yes, I am contributing to the world's notion of America as nation of stupid people. It's a hard job but someone's gotta do it.
We headed off for a huge braii (bbq) and consumed copious amounts of delicious food and drink. Very very poor life choices given the "hectic" hike we had agreed to go on the next morning.
Robyn's Dad woke us up at 5:20am on Sunday and we would have put up a fight but it was Father's Day and not his fault that we had drank so much Savannah (An alcoholic cider, probably equivalent to Mike's Hard in that it's sweet and doesn't taste very alcoholic) the night before. Robyn's Mom had packed us all gourmet steak and chicken sandwiches, water, fruit, energy bars, and bundled me up appropriately. I am telling you. She is mind-blowingly amazing.
Our grumpiness was soon quelled when we saw the amazing sunrise that awaited us on the drive to Sentinel Peak. As we all scrambled out of the car to take pictures, it occurred to that South Africa may be the most beautiful place in the world.
Sentinel Peak is really breathtaking. As we headed up the trail (Steve charging ahead), every twist and turn held a different and seemingly more beautiful view.
At one point, we even got to go up these amazing chain ladders (down left). Pretty cool until you look down, which I didn't. Once we got all the way up we were greeted by amazing views.
After this 25k (16 mile) hike, we were pretty tired. What followed (the ride back to Alpine Heath, packing up, getting a feta, avocado, bacon pizza, and the ride back to Durban) all seems like a blur. But we got back safe and sound.
For now I'm dreaming (of ziplines, long hikes, and the best damn steak sandwich in the world)...