After spending 34 days at sea, making our way across the Atlantic (again), we finally arrived in Cape Town on the morning of February 16th.
Even though many of us were still a little bit sleepy from getting up early to raise anchor and clear customs, everyone was very excited to finally set foot on some solid ground again. To celebrate yet another successful ocean-crossing, a lot of thought and preparation was put into our grand arrival. The outcome was epic. Imagine a tall ship all cleaned and fancily prepared sparkling in the morning sun, accompanied by a small motorboat carrying both the Dutch and the Canadian flags, making its way into the port while the theme music of “Pirates of the Caribbean” is played on full volume on the stereo and a mass of students in their fabulous looking red shirts ready dock and make their way into the arms of the wildly excited horde of parents standing on shore, frantically waving at their terribly embarrassed kids. I guess it is needless to say that our picture made the front page of the local newspaper.
Sailing into the V&A Waterfront
As soon as shore leave was granted the mass of reds immediately headed out to the local restaurants; fast food places and probably the most popular of all: smoothie shops. Concerning the smoothie shop, I can tell you out of personal experience: if you are ever in Cape Town, get a peanut-butter banana blitz smoothie. After having been fed thoroughly and feeding the news-hungry parents with stories of our latest voyage, the next very popular stop were the showers of the parents’ hotel rooms. After over a month of one-minute showers everyone really enjoyed a nice long shower without counting to sixty while trying to get as much shampoo out of their hair as possible.
The following days were spent with all kinds of fun activities. Many people went hiking while others took naps in real beds, some went on safaris, and some just spent their time straightening their boyfriend’s hair. Everyone however, in one way or another enjoyed the luxuries of life in port. Having our boat docked at the V&A Waterfront, the centre of tourism in the city, there really was nothing to complain about and no needs and wishes that remained unsatisfied. Surrounded by malls, coffee-shops, fancy restaurants and hotels providing us with all the wi-fi we could possibly imagine, everyone felt at least a little bit like they were on a five-star vacation.
This time of relaxation and peace however was not meant to last. Only a few days after our arrival the moment that many dreaded and fearfully awaited finally arrived. Every parent port also contains a parent-teacher interview. It is the day where teachers dress up and parents bring flowers or cookies, hoping to redeem some of their child’s bad deeds. It is the day where all things that students want to be left unspoken so badly are said out loud and discussed at length. Bad marks, skipped classes, the latest embarrassing stories and who might be a bad influence on your child, are the hottest topics. However, this time we were blessed with mildness and most parents and kids were able to keep their dignity and leave again as proud parents of their so wonderfully-raised kids.
Some students took in the sights of a safari while in Cape Town
The rest of the week was spent getting the most out of our stay in this beautiful city they call Cape Town. Activities included things like: surfing at the prettiest beaches of the region; hiking up whatever mountains and hills that could be found, including table mountain and single hill; refuelling in the beautiful botanical gardens; visiting a township on a guided tour; venturing out into the wild and seeing savage animals on safaris, driving to the Cape of Good Hope to visit the penguins, or just spending some quality time with parents. There sure never was a lack of action and this fact even made everyone forget about the port programming that had to be cancelled due to poor weather conditions.
Getting the chance to hike was one of the highlights of the port.
Another one of the highlights of this port was on February 20th. This day does not only mark the birthdays of Kurt Cobain, my sister Katalin and Brody the dog, but also featured our immense provisioning, followed by the big open house afternoon. Thanks to the huge effort everyone put into the provisioning, we got all the nice food for the next sails on board in no time. In the afternoon many people, both South Africans and tourists, found their way onto the Gulden Leeuw. On our vessel they got exclusive tours through the boat, all the information about Class Afloat one could wish for, some delicious snacks and all the fascinating and exciting stories that the volunteering students had accumulated over the last five months. Everyone was super fascinated by this once in a lifetime experience that we are living. And who knows, maybe some of the visitors will one day find their way back aboard the Gulden Leeuw as Class Afloat students.
After another full day of shore leave that blessed us with the much-appreciated day off after the provisioning, everyone is starting to get excited about leaving again. And in a few hours we will once again be on our way, sailing, in the middle of the ocean and all the dreams about the luxuries of land-life will start over again.
- Written by Grade 12 student Béla, Photos by Jeremy