Lily’s school follows the French educational schedule, which means she has 7 weeks of classes, followed by a two week break, and over and over again from September until the end of June. It’s nice in many ways: it gives Lily a bit of a break (learning a second language all day can be tough for a little kid!), it gives us a bit of a break (she comes home from lunch every day, which means multiple pick-ups and drop-offs each day, and the road at the school is INSANE), and it allows us to travel often without her having to miss school days.
This past week, we flew to Cape Town, my favorite city in the world, for a one-week vacation. Why is Cape Town my favorite city in the world? Well, it’s beautiful, it’s relatively cheap, it’s full of lovely people, there are a million things to do, great restaurants, and did I mention beautiful? If you haven’t been, you must go. It’s worth the travel time.
Cape Town is experiencing its worst drought in over 100 years right now. Each inhabitant, tourists included, are limited to 50 L of water per day. That’s about 2 toilet flushes, a short shower, drinking water allotment, washing a few dishes, and maybe washing clothes. It adds up quickly. There are billboards all over town that read “IF IT’S YELLOW, LET IT MELLOW,” which, as many of you know, encourages you to only flush the toilet when necessary (“if it’s brown, flush it down”). Most public toilets have switched off the taps and provide hand sanitizer instead. The day when the taps are shut off across the city has been pushed back recently, it’s in July, but if they don’t get a significant amount of rain soon, and if citizens and visitors alike don’t conserve more water, they will be forced to turn off the taps to all buildings (except hospitals and other places where they need water) and set up collection points around the city to distribute allotments. They are working on desalinization plants, but none are online yet, and likely won’t be up and running anytime soon. It could be climate change-related, it’s a warning sign for many other cities around the world, people are pissed at the government, and it’ll be much more devastating for the poor than the rich.
Anyways, we did our part by barely showering and employing a miserly use of our water at our Airbnb. I think we did a good job!
Water aside, it was a lovely trip. We went to many beaches, we went wine tasting, and we went to a giraffe sanctuary where Lily got to meet and feed some giraffes (her favorite animal!). She also turned four years old while we were there. We went to the Cape Town aquarium for her birthday, and then had lunch at the V&A Waterfront.
We stayed in Simon’s Town, which is a little town on the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula, on the way to Cape Point. Simon’s Town is famous for it’s kid-friendly beaches that happen to be populated by penguins. The African penguins are shorter than their Antarctic relatives, but just as cute and waddle-y. We rented a car, allowing us to meander all over False Bay, and over to the Atlantic side, and inland to the wine country.
South Africa has some of the best wines in the world. They only export a small fraction of what they produce. We went to two vineyards this trip, Warwick and Dornier. Both of them were exceptionally kid-friendly, with plenty of beautiful space to run around, and very nice playgrounds. Bodega at Dornier, their restaurant, was outstanding, and had juice boxes for the kids, as well as home-made ice cream cones for dessert. The kids menu was almost as great as the regular menu; Lily ordered the mac and cheese with beef. Ben had kudu rump steak. I had a giant salad and mussels. We also tried 4 wines with lunch and bought several bottles to bring home. It was glorious!
The aquarium in Cape Town is the Two Oceans Aquarium. It is a fabulous aquarium. Lily is a big fan of the show Octonauts, which explores a species of sea creature each episode, and employs the mission statement “Explore! Rescue! Protect!” The aquarium was really exciting for her. She recognized many of the species, the different parts of the ocean (including the Midnight Zone), and was genuinely interested in the conservation and protection exhibits. They have an enormous shark tank, which was pretty cool.
So, in 7 weeks, Lily has another 2 week break. We decided that she and I would venture even further this time, to Myanmar to visit my sister and her family! I’m so excited. It’ll be the hot season, but it’s hot here too, so I think we’ll be ok. We will fly from here to Addis Ababa, then Bangkok, then Yangon. Just 7 weeks after that trip, school is done for the year, and we’ll embark on another adventure to Europe with friends, then back to the States for the summer.