Hello! I am returned from South Africa, where I saw lions, but was not eaten by one.
For 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.
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.
One 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.
After 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)
- me standing at the Cape Point lighthouse, with the Southernmost point on the cape in the background.
- A shot looking down towards the Cape of Good Hope -- someplace that I learned about in School, but never had an expectation that I would actually have the opportunity to visit.
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!)
Having 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,