We stepped off the plane in Johannesburg South Africa and were welcomed by the beautiful sound of…English. We had finally made it to Africa after an 8.5 hour flight from Sao Paulo! We hopped on our connecting flight to Cape Town and were met by our airport pickup who drove us to Ashanti guesthouse. After a long flight, we were happy to be in a deluxe private room complete with heated towel racks which resembled more of a hotel than a guesthouse.We heard the weather in Cape Town was going to be unfavorable for a few days. To make the most of the beautiful day, we dropped off our bags and walked down to the waterfront which was similar to Navy Pier in Chicago or Fisherman’s wharf in San Francisco. It was touristy but beautiful.Our first glimpse of Table Mountain was obscured by clouds and heavy fog. Due to the poor forecast, we had one chance to climb Table Mountain and even then, we were expecting light rain and clouds.We set off in the morning and started ascending what could be the steepest hike we’ve done. The trail, although much shorter, could possibly give the Inca Trail a run for its money. We climbed as we watched tourists wait in line for the gondola to take them up to the top. Instead of taking the more common trail, we started our climb from the far end of the mountain to take in the elevated views of the city before the clouds closed in on us. We walked on natural rock ledges and climbed straight up for nearly two hours.The clouds never came. In fact, the overcast sky started to break apart and within minutes, we were standing at the top with sunshine, blue skies and killer views of the city, oceans and surrounding mountains.The next few days were spent running errands and preparing for our 42 day overland safari with Africa Travel Company. The trip leaves Cape Town and traverses over eight countries until we reach Nairobi, Kenya. Our overland truck is massive and fully equipped to carry up to 30 passengers and all of our luggage, food and necessary camping equipment for the next six weeks. Yes, we will be camping the entire time – yikes!The day before our trip departed, we went back to the waterfront to exchange money for our tour. We spent a few hours drinking local brews and talking about how much we love Cape Town. The modern city is quite small but has everything you need – awesome bars and restaurants, outdoor activities and culture. I could live here. We congratulated ourselves on a safe and successful trip to South America and were excited to leave on our tour of Africa the next day. That evening, we went to Mama Africa, a restaurant that serves local game, to round out our celebration. We had a mixed grill of crocodile (good but chewy and a odd pink color), ostrich, kudu, springbok (so good, tasted just like filet mignon if not better) and venison sausage.We returned to our guesthouse to shower and pack for our trip. Sadly, this is when disaster hit. While I was taking a shower, Chris went into the hallway to use the internet. We left the door unlocked so he could get back in… big mistake. Within these ten minutes, someone came into our room and stole my wallet, iPhone, our computer, external hard drive and underwater camera. We called the front desk to call the police. Long story short, the police came and we filed a police report. There is little to no chance we will ever recover our belongings. I was and still am, devastated. I cannot stop thinking that if we had come back from the restaurant later or if I didn’t shower so soon after returning, this wouldn’t have happened. I want my stuff back but more desperately, I want the files that were on all of the stuff that was taken. Chris has been so good about backing up our trip photos but we don’t have copies of several files from before our trip – photos of the last time we saw our friends and family this 4th of July, photos I took of our wedding weekend, photos of my brother’s family and my nephews in Raleigh. It makes me sick, sad and angry to think someone has those photos and I don’t. My blood boils when I think how careful we’ve been these past few months traveling through bus stations, airports and staying in shared dorm room accommodations only to have our stuff stripped in one of the nicest rooms we’ve stayed. I hate the fact that earlier in the day we celebrated leaving South America unscathed and then we lost our belongings a few hours later. This experience has been a very hard pill to swallow.
Does this make us want to stop traveling? Not at all. In fact, just the opposite. When auditing our stuff to see what was taken, we were incredibly relieved and so grateful to still have both of our passports so we could leave on our trip in the morning. It would have been incredibly disappointing to go on a travel hiatus because of some desperate douchebag. It’s a miracle that nearly $1,500 in cash (which we needed to pay for the tour and all of the food and activities we were planning to do over the next six weeks) was laying on the bed overlooked and untouched. We feel very unlucky and lucky at the same time.
We realize we still have what matters. We are both safe. It scares me to think what could have happened if the robber was confronted by Chris returning to the room or if I had stepped out of the shower into the room while he was still there. We have travel insurance who should reimburse us for our belongs. Most importantly, we have each other and six weeks exploring Africa to look forward to!