In the beginning of February, I traveled to a beach suburb of Capetown, South Africa to photograph the wedding of Amber and Jim. I went to photography school with Amber over 10 years ago and stayed in touch with her since we graduated. Because wintertime at the beach is pretty bleak, I encouraged Marben Ruffio from Mother’s Cantina to be my travel buddy and soon after we concocted plans to travel the world.

Ruffio and I left Ocean City at noon with plans to drop off my Labradoodle, Maggie, to my parents house in Salisbury and proceeded to BWI.  We planned to start our adventure by heading to London but we got stuck in accident traffic on 95 for two hours and were forced to cancel our flight. We changed our flight plans and hopped on a plane to JFK. After a short, hour-long flight we were in the Big Apple. Unfortunately, we had only an hour layover so our time in NYC was constricted to the airport.

We spent the next 14 hours of our lives with South African Airlines. Thankfully, it wasn’t a full flight, so I was able to have two seats which was necessary because the plane was a little bit older and I was feeling a bit anxious. After six hours of what felt like an eternity, and three movies down, Ruffio turns to me and says, “We still have eight hours left.”

We landed in Johannesburg that Tuesday afternoon. After going through customs, security, and gathering our luggage, we took a bus to take us to the last flight in our commute, finally taking us to Capetown. While we were disappointed about missing out on London, the rest of the trip definitely made up for it.

Once in Capetown, we rented a little, roller skate of a car for $10 a day. We drove to the Air B&B, where we stayed with a couple of Aussies in a gated four-unit house about a block from the beach. We got two bedrooms, a shower, and breakfast for 500 ran (50 bucks in American dollars.) Our hosts were really nice and hospitable and spoke about how much they like us, “American blokes.”

Ruffio and I being completely jet-lagged, were up all night. After squeezing in a couple hours of sleep, we got up early the next morning to go exploring. After about a three hour drive, we found ourselves at Boulder Beach, where we played with/harassed wild penguins. One of them tried attacking our bare feet so after that Ruffio just kept messing with the little guy. Halfway into the drive there, we stopped at an ocean-front amusement park where we saw these multi-colored beach shacks that were just really vibrant and cool.

The following day, we went to an ostrich ranch were we fed, pet, and learned about them. I ate an ostrich sandwich and Ruffio tried the ostrich filet, which is the most tender filet mignon you’ll eat in your life.

The day before the wedding we visited a place called Table Mountain and took a cable car to the top and hung out there for most of the day, climbing the rocks and watching the sunset. We spent the rest of the evening just laying low since I had to be up to meet the bride for the main event at 7 a.m. the next morning (I will go into detail about Amber and Jim’s wedding in my next blog entry).

At 4 a.m. after the nuptials, we drove three hours on a rainy, gloomy day to go cage diving with great white sharks. We were out for half a day in a high-volume region where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet near the Southern tip of Africa waiting for sharks, but none were found. After talking to the captain and some of the locals on the boat, we learned sharks were harder to find now due to poachers and warmer water from El Nino, (or the bad luck brought on from one gentleman who brought a banana on the boat). Since we didn’t get to go cage diving, we were given a two-year voucher to come back and try again.

With full intentions to try again in that time span, we headed home that afternoon. Ruffio and Isaw a bunch of street signs saying “High Smash and Grab Area” and “Do Not Stop,” that we harder to see in the darkness of early morning. The area was very dangerous and impoverished on both sides of the highway. It was surreal and humbling how some people in other countries really live.