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Short Trip Summary
photogeek
crschmidt
This is the email I just sent to my family: If you haven't been paying any attention to my life for the past 3 weeks, this should somewhat catch you up.

Hello! I am returned from South Africa, where I saw lions, but was not eaten by one.

On Table MountainFor those of you not in the know, I recently attended a conference in Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town is a lovely city -- which reminded me a lot of San Francisco, in fact. The city is in large part dominated by a mountain in the middle of the city: Table Mountain, part of Table Mountain National Park (which extends to include much of the cape, down to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope).

I arrived in South Africa on Sept 27th, and climbed Table Mountain with a small group of friends on Sept 28th. You can see pictures from that trip by clicking on the mountain.

We took the cable car from Table Mountain down, so you can see some lovely shots of Cape Town on the way down. An interesting point about the cable car is that the whole thing actually rotates as you go down, so you get an almost 360 degree selection of views on the way down the mountain.

Closing Session Panel
That week was the conference: FOSS4G is a week long mapping conference, and it was a really great conference. You can read a post-conference summary of my thoughts in my blog, and see pictures of the conference on Flickr.

A short summary is that the conference was very educational in a lot of ways, and I think we got an Open Source message out to a lot of new participants in the Open Source geo scene. We discussed our successes and failures, and the conference really succeeded as a 'meeting of the tribes' that FOSS4G is somewhat well known for.

African Dancing at MoyoOne night during the conference was the "Gala Dinner", held at Moyo, in Stellenbosch. (pics).

Moyo is an outdoor African restaurant, which includes traditional african foods in a buffet-like style, with African drums and dancing. This was where I had my first taste of Ostrich meat (tasty, but a bit
chewy) and got to eat dinner inside giant tents that held up to 400 people.

Moyo is also in one of South Africa's main wine producing regions (Stellenbosch), and the wine here was supposedly very good.

Cape of Good HopeAfter the conference, I took a trip with 9 other people down the cape, stopping in Fish Hoek, then going to Cape Point itself, and heading back up for a night in Haut Bay. (pics)

Some highlights:


After our trip down to the cape, I flew across the country to Kruger National Park -- a 200 mile by 50 mile national park. At Kruger, I spent 2.5 days driving myself around in a Hyundai Atos (my first time driving a right hand drive car), taking pictures of wildlife of all shapes and sizes. I saw everything you can imagine, from Jackals to Elephants, Lions to Rhinos, baboons, monkeys, and a cheetah eating an impala for dinner. (Note to self: Never buy an impala if you want to outrun a cheetah!)

LionHaving been no more than 6 feet from a lion, I can definitely say that they are beautiful animals, and that having a cheetah look you in the eye is a scary scary thing.

Overall, I can't explain how enjoyable the trip was: I saw so many things the cape has to offer, and I'm looking forward even more now to the oppourtunity to go to the FOSS4G 2009 conference in Sydney, Australia next year!

Hope this message finds you well,
Chris

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(Deleted comment)
They pay for conference stuff -- so my flight over to South Africa, and my hotel stay during the conference, and some of my other conference costs (food, etc.) are covered. The rest of the trip was out of my own pocket.

(Deleted comment)
Enh. I spent a lot more on this trip on my own than MetaCarta will cover. But given that it's a once in a lifetime oppourtunity, there really isn't much to be done about it, I don't think: I took the money from savings, and I don't regret it in the slightest.

They paid for the first week of feeding and sheltering him, but his flights in-country as well as the second week of food + shelter + costs weren't covered. Still, I supported him (emotionally) on this and would again.

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