India was very eye opening! We had an early morning start flying from the southern state of Cochin to northern New Delhi. While in New Delhi we stayed two nights in a really nice hotel called the Royal Plaza. The first night a few friends and I hopped in a little electric buggy, tro-tro, whose driver took us to his friends shops. That was an experience! I don’t think they have any traffic laws in India. That next day we went to several forts and palaces in Agra. I even got attacked by monkeys.. video below. Then we went to the Taj Mahal. It was unreal. It was so enormous and very finely detailed. It was so hard to wrap my mind around it. We got to go inside and see the beautiful tile work. The next day we flew to Varanasi. Varanasi is the oldest civilized city in the world. It is also considered one of the holiest cities. We went on an early morning boat ride on the Ganges River where people come to bathe and also burn their dead relatives.. Yeah it was pretty nasty. Luckily we didn’t see anyone burning, but we did see a body that was being wrapped in order to be burned later that day. 5am was too early for that! haha. We got to see the sun rise while on our boat ride and that was awesome! We had so many meals on our trip. One day we were literally fed three breakfasts. We had really late nights and way too many early mornings so I am still trying to catch up on my sleep. I had so much fun in India!
Cape Town, South Africa has been my favorite port thus far. It was so cool because I was in Africa, but I felt like I was in San Francisco! I took a total 904 photos. I was only in the city of Cape Town for 2 days. The other 4 days I went on an “Elephant Back Safari” through Semester at Sea with 20 other students. We flew to Port Elizabeth and drove to a hostel where we stayed the first night. It defiantly wasn’t the most up-to-date place I’ve stayed.. we had to light a tube full of propane to take a hot shower. But we had so much fun there! We did a jeep safari that first afternoon. I got to see a ton of elephants. The next day we drove for a few hours up into the mountains where we got to ride African elephants. We got to feed them too. It was awesome! That night stayed at another hostel. They had me in a tent.. outside.. in Africa.. where there are lions and huge snakes. Needless to say, I ended up sleeping on the couch in the lobby! The next morning we went on a zip-line in the canopy of the rainforest. So much for fear of heights. It was a lot of fun! Then we drove to the lodge where we spent the 3rd night. It was a bit of an upgrade from the sleeping amenities we had the previous nights. It was a super nice lodge in the middle of a game reserve with little tiki huts and an infinity pool. It was defiantly a honeymoon resort! The lodge took us on another Safari where we saw pretty much every animal that lives in Africa. We got really close to them too! One of our jeeps even got chased by a male lion. Then they served us a much needed buffet dinner which was amazing! Early the next morning we went on yet another safari. It was neat to see all the animals in their herds just waking up. Next we got a tour of the lodges “Reptile Center” where I held two snakes. That was a first. Then we drove back to Cape Town and I got to shop a little bit.. and when I say a little bit I mean like a whole suitcase full of stuff. (Sorry mom and dad.) My last day in Cape Town was so much fun. A group of friends and I woke up at 4am to go shark diving! It was awesome! While I was in the cage one of the 8 foot great white sharks hit the cage.. so cool! And then we saw a baby seal get eaten by a great white.. it was kind of sad, but he had floated out too far from the island. It was like I was watching the Discovery Channel! It was defiantly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to go back to Cape Town!
Ghana, West Africa! I had a lot of fun in Ghana. Poverty is rampant, but the people there are always so happy. Just driving around we saw kids playing in piles of trash and gutters full of trash of fire. The people there are very religious and most of the shop names included something Christian related. Such as “God Is With Us Food Shop”. Taxis even had religious names like “He is Faithful”. Literally every shop and taxi had a Christian theme to it.
For the first night a few friends and I reserved a beach house to stay in. The beach house was owned by a Dutch woman named Ricky, she pronounced it as Rhiky. That was an interesting experience as there was no air conditioning.. haha. The beach house also came with our own taxi driver named Francis. He was a local to Ghana. He was our driver for the first two days we were there.
On the first day Francis took us to the Makola and Osu Markets. It was extremely crowded and boiling hot. The people there were selling everything from fruit, living crabs and snails, rusted pots and pans, and even roasted guinea pig. The shop owners would grab you to try and sell you whatever they had. Unfortunately for them I wasn’t in the market for any of those things. After the market we went to the more developed and westernized Accra Mall. The traffic is always really bad and slow in Ghana. By the time we had done all of those things it was getting dark so we headed back to the beach house and went to sleep.
The next day took a 2 hour drive to visit the slave castles. We learned a lot about the history of the slave trade. We saw where they were kept before they were sent through “The Door Of No Return” and shipped across the ocean to various countries; one of course was the United States. After the slave castles we had lunch as a restaurant that was in the middle of an alligator swamp. We got to see them feed the alligators and we got very close to them. One of the alligators was even pregnant and a little moody.
The next day I had a trip for my “Entry Strategies Into Emerging Markets” class where we went to visit a community radio station. The station was way out in the heart of Ghana where the literacy rate is only 40%. One of the main goals of the radio station is to teach and influence reading and writing to the community. After our radio visit they took us out to these salt farms. It was one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. Who knew they grew salt in Africa? There were 26 miles of farms. We could see thousands of piles of salt everywhere we looked. I enjoyed tasting the salt, of course. They sell the salt in the big bags that come up to your waist for only 7 cedi, which is about US$5. I contemplated buying one, but the reality of getting it home was impossible. It was still one of the coolest things I have ever seen!
The last day I had another trip for my “World Music” class. We visited the University of Ghana and participated in a Drumming and Dance worship. It was really neat. We learned some Kpanlogo drumming techniques as well as some African dance moves. They had a little concert for us. They were so full of energy, dancing around and singing. One guy even started playing the flute through his nose.. It was awesome.
I took a lot of pictures and videos that I wish I could share, but the internet on the ship is too slow. We are now just one day away from Cape Town. We have been told that the port looks a lot like San Francisco which will be a big change from Ghana. I’ll keep you updated!