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Garden Route

From the moment I met my first study abroad friend on the plane to the second I piled into the car to start the drive, everyone was talking about the Garden Route. All I knew was that this “route” consisted of driving along a beautiful stretch of coastline stopping in different towns famous for, basically, their one attraction.

I was hesitant to go on the trip for a number of reasons. One, I just got to Cape Town and wanted to explore it first. Two, I didn’t have friends I wanted to spend every waking hour with for a week yet (actually, other than the people who went on this trip with me, I still don’t…). Three, this is the trip where you bungee jump, and even after two months of wrestling with the fact that I would have to do it, I still was not ready.

But when you study abroad and have just made friends a week ago you ‘go with the flow’. So I went. After our study abroad orientation ended, 10 of us piled into a van while the other 5 got into the small car and we drove off in a mini-caravan.

We were traveling for over a week, floating on rivers listening to live local South African bands and falling asleep on beaches. Forming drum circles with our bongos and playing armadillo marimbas. Surfing in one of the most famous surf spots in the world, Jeffrey’s Bay, with professional surfers (or so they claimed). Dancing like fools on a bridge before jumping off and falling 216m. Climbing through the smallest crevices in the pits of caves and stumbling over stalagmites. Wiping out while sand boarding down the longest dunes in South Africa. Riding ostriches, seeing lions 5 feet away, walking elephants, touching giraffes, and running from rhinos.

It was one week of visiting a new town every morning, going on a crazy adventure every day, and finding a strange place to sleep every night along the south-east coast of South Africa. It was an exhausting week (both physically and emotionally) with all the extreme and terrifying activities and constant traveling, but my group of 15 made it the most exciting, fulfilling, fun, and exhilarating week of my life. If these 14 other people jumped off a bridge, I would too.

Wait, I did.

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