As all people probably know, first impressions are rarely the most accurate. My first couple days in South Africa proved this to be true, at least to me.
When I first arrived in South Africa, the temperature was in the 50’s (Fahrenheit), and there was a dense fog covering everything. This made the visibility around 50 feet in any direction, unfortunately. Far from the beautiful pictures I had seen and imagined of Africa: warm weather, beautiful mountains, endless ocean, and the sun shining bright. The only time I got to see the ocean on my first day was when I was literally driving right beside the shore on our way back to Oceans Campus. People were constantly commenting that this was the wettest they had seen Mossel Bay in years and that it would surely not last for long.
Luckily for me, today I awoke to a beautiful sunrise and the fog being completely cleared. Because of the weather when I first arrived, I had not realized that my campus was so close to the ocean or that the mountain ranges were so beautiful as the ocean’s backdrop in the bay.
Some things that surprised me were the fact that they drive on the opposite side of the road, as in England and France. I know I (and probably the other new interns in the car) had a mini heart attack when the driver pulled out of the airport parking lot and onto the left side of the road! Another thing that surprised me, although I’m not entirely sure why, is that we passed pastures of cows. For some reason I had not expected to see such a common animal back home all the way in South Africa; however, I have been able to see some new animals such as Dassies.
Fun Fact: Dassies’ closest living relative is the elephant!
In addition to Dassies, we have also seen springboks and today I was lucky enough to go out on the boat for a couple hours even though it was a bit choppy. We took a trip around Seal Island (you smell it before you see it), watched a dive boat use a bait line to get a white shark to break the surface in pursuit of it (we’ll be doing this as well when the weather is better), and finally anchored to go fishing. Unfortunately, the only fish we caught was a sea catfish, which has poisonous spines, so they are obviously not a popular catch. Other than the sea catfish, the only action we got were small nibbles that would result in your bait being reduced to only a fish head, rather than the whole fish. Unfortunately, the seagulls loved hanging around the boat due to this because we would throw what was left of the bait into the water in order to hook on fresh bait. A group of seagulls floating mere feet behind the boat squawking at you gets old pretty fast.
Overall, I’m learning that my first impressions are by no means the usual in South Africa, which is only making me more excited. I can’t wait to see what is ahead for me!