Day 2 (We’re Going To Need A Bigger Cage)
Duunnn dunnn… duuuunnnn duun… duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn dunnnn!
Well, as you know by now today was the day. The day my sister and I voluntarily plunged into the freezing water for the chance to get up close and personal with a great white shark.
The day began with a very early 6AM wake up call. The shuttle to the diving area was originally going to pick us up at 5AM but our very gracious B&B owner got the pickup time changed to 7…which was much appreciated. The night before we asked our concierge, Benson, about breakfast…because we are fatties and need to know where our next supply of food is coming from 24/7 or else we panic. We wanted to know if we should eat from our very limited and depleting supply of pop-tarts or if the staff would be able to provide us with some nourishment before our day on the boat. Benson, assured us that breakfast would be ready for us at 6:30, only to find the next day that the breakfast house was locked and Benson was asleep on one of the couches.
As soon as we attempted to turn the handle to the breakfast room Benson sprang up from the couch and sprinted towards the door with a panicked look on his face. He informed us that apparently the kitchen staff was running late for work, but that he would try to find something for us to eat. Sarah and I, trying our best not to start laughing at this overly apologetic and sweet man, assured him that we had our own supply of snacks back in our room that we would be more than happy to eat. But Benson was on a mission. He is legitimately one of the kindest people I have ever met. He ran into the kitchen and brought us juice and fruit even though this was clearly not his job. And he even brought us granola bars which I’m pretty sure were from his own personal stash.
He joined us for breakfast, asking us all about where we were from, what we do, and what our plans were for the duration of our vacation. After conversing with him for about five minutes we found out that he is actually a social worker full time, attending a Masters program at night, and also running the B&B on the weekends. Benson and Sarah, sharing the same occupation, swapped stories about children they’ve helped, the problems our individual countries are facing, and what they plan on doing in the future. It was amazing to listen to.
Our shuttle to the cage diving arrived at promptly 7AM. It was still dark when we arrived last night so to my absolute amazement when we walked outside the B&B, in the light for the first time, I discovered that our Inn is actually nestled right at the base of Table Rock. For those of you who don’t know what Table Rock is here is what is looks like:
It is one of the new seven wonders of the world, and is absolutely breath taking. I couldn’t get any good pictures before shuffling into the van because it was still pretty dark. Once in the van we twisted and winded our way up the coast only to see the most incredible sunrise of my life.
The trip to the diving excursion took about two hours which would have been fine if it wasn’t for two factors:
- Satan himself was with us in the form of a 9 year old boy
- Our driver had incredible road rage
Lets start with Satan shall we?
We were joined on the trip by a family made up of a mom, dad, aunt, older brother, sister, and SATAN (aka the little brother). Now trust me, I have been working with rambunctious children since I was 14. I have nannied boys who have sprayed me with pepper spray, who have attempted to run away while on my watch, and who think farting next to my face is the most hilarious thing ever. And I would have gladly spent the day with any of those children if it meant escaping the screeches of tiny Lucifer. This child literally had no concept of what an indoor voice sounds like, and continually shouted any time he wasn’t getting enough attention. He LOVED putting his ratchet, dirty, grimy feet on the top of his seat, which placed them directly in my face to gag at from the short distance of about 5 inches. He kept standing up on his seat in an attempt to jump over his mother into the next seat, and lastly kept punching his fist into the glass upon which my head was attempting to rest.
Now I’m not saying the boys I nanny right now are anywhere near perfect. They are what their mother and I like to call “enthusiastic, energetic, and spirited.” But my god they know that if they ever acted like that their lives would end in a slow and painful torment.
After dealing with this for two hours we FINALLY arrived at our boat. It was really cute how they had it set up. There was a little house looking structure where they had breakfast all ready for us. I tried to eat as little as possible because, as I mentioned before, I get super nauseous really easily. My sister has the same problem, so we both popped about 4 dramamine, and one prescription anti-nausea pill. This probably wasn’t the smartest idea, but it seemed like a solid plan at the time.
After eating, filling out forms, and meeting the boat staff we were boarding on the 25ft boat that would take us diving. It’s really funny, they actually pull the boat up on land via John Deer tractors so you can load on with stairs, and then they back it down into the water. It was super cold out on the ocean, as we previously expected, so we huddled for warmth while listening to all of their instructions.
Basically how it worked was, there was a metal cage attached to the side of the boat which opened from the top. We had to lower ourselves in while making sure none of our limbs touch the outside bars (they said the sharks nibble), and we had to wait head above water until a shark came by. Then we had to let go of the top bars and sink to the bottom, grab onto these handles, pull our faces towards the edge of the cage and watch the Great Whites swim by. They gave us all wetsuits to wear which was a workout trying to get up and over my obscenely large ass. At one point I literally sat/laid down, grabbed onto some metal bars and allowed two crew members attempt to pull the wetsuit up for me. I would say that it was super embarrassing, but lets be real, I have no shame and it meant I didn’t have to do the work myself, so I could just lay there like a lump and allow other people to struggle.
Once we got to the site they anchored and started chumming the water. They had this weird ritual of banging on the side of the boat to alert the sharks of our presence. I volunteered my sister and I to be one of the first ones in the cage. They didn’t make us enter the water until we saw a shark. After about 20 minutes of waiting the Great Whites started flocking. It was basically like Noah’s Ark.
After the first sighting we jumped in. I felt like that man from Titanic that couldn’t hold onto the top of the boat with Rose and Jack and plummeted into the Arctic water. I literally couldn’t move for the first few seconds.
We saw about 5 sharks come pretty damn close to the cage, all which I captured on my GoPro. I will post a video of our dive tomorrow when I have more energy, so stand by for that.
It was really hard to see under water because it was just not that clear, but there were a few times we could see the face and body. It was actually more interesting to watch from above the water. But the boat guy literally screams, “DOWN DOWN DOWN” when the shark is near, and disobeying his orders made me feel guilty so I submerged when told to do so. The best part of the whole trip was watching the second wave of people go.
Basically how they get the sharks to come near to the cage is they throw a massive Tuna head out into the water and pull it in once the shark takes a bite, so that hopefully it will swim towards the moving bait which was being pulled towards the enclosure. Well one of the sharks was not too pleased with the fact that he had to chase his meal, or maby he just had horrible depth perception but he LITERALLY rammed himself full speed into the cage and twisted his body around and repeatedly slammed himself against it for a solid 40 seconds. After he swam away, two of the divers asked to get out because they were so shaken up. I got this whole event on camera and am so happy to edit it into a cheesy video for your viewing pleasure:
As I was busy watching this, Sarah had excused herself to the below deck restroom. Apparently the cage rests right against the wall of the bathroom and she was able to experience every single slam while confined in the tiniest of water closets. She came back up onto the deck to find out what the hell happened, but only made it about four steps before running to the edge to vomit for the next five minutes. I felt sick myself for the duration of the anchoring but refused to barf up the precious pop-tart floating around in my stomach.
After everyone got a chance to dive we headed back towards shore. Karma finally caught up with tiny satan, and he ended up puking over the edge the whole trip back. HAHAHAHAHA! I mean….aww poor little lucifer.
Once we were back we got hot soup and were able to watch the video they took during the trip. After everyone was fed we headed back to our B&B. After arriving back home we showered and met back up with our parents who had spent the day exploring the townships, and headed to dinner which was a quick trip down the road.
We ate at a place called Black Sheep that served items like pickled cow tongue, and ostrich soaked in beet puree. So naturally I got onion rings. Mind you for the past 2 days my entire diet has consisted of pop-tarts, dried mangos, and water. Being entirely too desperate for actual food I ventured out of my comfort zone and ordered pork fillet. It was actually really good!
After dinner we headed back to the Inn to discuss tomorrow’s plans. Apparently we were supposed to take a boat ride around the southern tip to see the seals…but after today’s events Sarah and I were no longer interested in stepping off solid land. So we decided that we were basically going to repeat my parent’s excursions and head to the townships, as well as cable car up Table Rock, and go by jeep to see the penguins. Okay, so if I don’t blog tomorrow it is for one reason and one reason only. I have gotten bludgeoned by a penguin. I’m convinced that because they waddle and they can’t fly that I will be able to chase one down and take a selfie with it. My parents think I will get my eyes pecked out and my sister is pretty sure I’ll get arrested but YOLO! So if I don’t return, don’t be sad…I died doing what I love most…taking selfies.
So apparently when my parents visited the townships today (which are a nice way of saying Shanty Towns-the ones we saw on our way from the airport) they felt awkward being those horrible white tourists that take pictures with the starving and impoverished African children so they told the guide, LeLe (from yesterday) that they felt a little uncomfortable. He informed my parents that the township people actually love having tourists come through because it means they get money and entertainment. He insisted they stop by to at least check it out for a few minutes. Apparently LeLe grew up in a township and knew a bunch of the people there. He told my parents that when tourist come there they often give the children money or food or gifts, and the locals love it. He told them that what most tourists hand to each person is enough to feed them for a week.
He also told us something rather sad, which was that there is no welfare system here but you can get some form of government aid if you have children. So as soon as the girls are old enough to get pregnant they conceive, basically to sustain their own lives. The money they get for being pregnant helps feed them, buy them supplies, and clothes. Another thing he told us is that because children are almost always exclusively means for money, frequently when the kids are old enough to walk on their own (so 3 and 4) their mothers send them away to wander through the township so that they don’t have to take care of them. So there are hundreds of children ages 3-17 running around with little food or clothing. My dad was telling us over dinner that the children flocked to them as soon as the stepped out of the car. They wanted their pictures taken so they could see it, they wanted to dance with my parents and sing with them. My dad said the cutest thing was that the children knew they needed to maintain personal space because some tourists don’t like being too close to them (…?) but once the children learned my parents were friendly they started hovering on them…literally grasping for some form of physical affection.
Honestly I can not wait to visit tomorrow. Surprisingly this is the thing I am looking forward to most. I can’t wait to hug and dance and sing with all of the children. I will snuggle the shit out of them, and give them as much money as I can spare.
This has been an incredibly exhausting but exciting day. I will post again tomorrow! And will definitely be posting that video of the cage diving as well.
So long and goodnight everyone.