Cait's Blog

Hello from South Africa!

Ok, so it's been a few years since I posted on my blog, but I have too much that I want to share at this moment to fit into a Tweet!  So let's get to it:

I arrived in Port Elizabeth last Wednesday for the ostensible purpose of competing in IM South Africa at the end of the month.  The true reason?  I was time for another adventure!  (And there was way too much snow piling up at home, even for this NE-lover!)

Welp, the adventure began immediately!  Here are some of the highlights:

15-hr Layover in Paris:  Normally this would be a great opportunity for some sight-seeing, but I was exhausted after only getting a couple hours of restless, plane-seat-cramped sleep the night before, and it was rainy, so, after roaming the Parisian airport like the weary, confused, mildly lost traveler that I was, I got a day room at one of the airport hotels.  I slept the sleep of the dead for 3hrs straight.  It was WONDERFUL!  I awoke feeling nearly ready to go, with enough pep to give my training run a shot.  The hotel actually had one of the nicest "fitness rooms" I've encountered while traveling, with several very nice treadmills.  I was able to get that in, take a shower, answer a bunch of emails, and FaceTime with mom and Mikaela before I had to check out.  Ce était parfait!

Arrival & Abode:  Because I am planning to be here for just under three weeks, I chose to rent a "cottage" versus staying in a hotel, and found a lovely one on AirBnB.  Not only is the location great, but it is also a yoga and meditation house (classes are run right here at this peaceful, little sanctuary)!  Gail and Gita (homeowners) and Nolu (caretaker & sangoma) have been godsends, helping me non-stop: they answer my endless string of questions, Gail "collected" me at the airport while Gita prepared a dinner for us to share, they stocked my kitchen with a few items to carry me through a time when I could get to the "market", Gail brought me to the market the next day, Nolu made me fresh bread, each day they leave something special (biscuits, soup, salad, etc.) on my kitchen table that one of them has prepared from scratch, Gail, refusing to let me take a cab, left work today to give me a ride to pick up my rental car.  I could keep going, but it just doesn't end!  On top of all of that, they are just great, friendly people.  I honestly look forward to seeing them each day.  The house itself is perfect, too: it's peaceful with lots of windows and a beautiful garden, just enough space to feel cozy but not cooped up, and the bed is SO comfortable.  Ok, ok - I'll stop!  (but I am so glad I chose this place!)

The Course:  I have not swam nor run their respective courses, yet, but I have spent some time on the bike course, and quite a bit of time on roads that I thought were the bike course.  I landed on Wednesday, and took my first crack at finding the "route" on Thursday.  It took me just over 5 hours to ride 3.5 was memorable, that's for sure!  I had intended to attempt this trip sans rental car for a number of reasons, namely to save money and the whole driving-on-the-other-side-of-the-road (while sitting on the other side of the car) thing, buuuut, a couple rides through downtown "PE" (Port Elizabeth), and I was cured of that delusion.  I'm sure it's just like riding through the center of any city (not my idea of fun!), but, combine that with not knowing the area extremely well and, again, that left-is-right, right-is-left thing, and you simply have a recipe for fried nerves.  Not cool!  With that said, once you get out of the city, the views on this bike course are SPECTACULAR!

Virgin Active:  This is where I have been doing my swim and strength training (only 1.8k from my SA home).  At first, it was a bit intimidating as the pool is at the center of the gym, with everything else (including dozens of treadmills) overlooking it.  I've settled in there, though, and it's a pretty fun environment!

The Car:  I did it!  I drove a standard on the "wrong" side of the road while sitting on the "wrong" side of the car in a foreign country!  (I guess that makes much more sense than doing so in the US...)  THAT was nerve-wracking but AWESOME!  Ha!  So, not only do you have keep your bearings in terms of where you're steering your car and from where other cars are coming, but the review mirror and the stick shift are on your left instead of your right, too.  I can't believe I did that!  BUT I DID!!  WOOP WOOP!!!

Well, those are SOME of the highlights for now.  I am so very glad that I chose to come out here (and that mom, Mike, Mikaela, Jesse, and Rubes said "Do it!").  Back to living the adventure!  Check ya later!

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