Cheetahs and Catching Up

I realize that I have skipped a few recent events in my posts lately so here is a quick re-cap of things I have yet to mention:

I am no longer taking “Urban Politics and Administration.” The course was incredibly boring and my professor wasn’t very fond of Americans (he claimed the US had 51 states…), so deciding to drop the class wasn’t a difficult decision. Instead, I am taking “The Politics of International Economic Relations.” I enjoy this class much more and my professor has a fabulous dry sense of humor.

Last Saturday, I went wine tasting in Stellenbosch. We went to a beautiful winery called Neethlingshof Estate and were given a tour of their facilities and a history of their wines. The estate was absolutely gorgeous. After touring where the wine is made as well as the wine cellar, we had a wine tasting session. We were given five wines to sample: Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Pinotage, Malbec and The Caracal, all of which were (obviously) made on the estate. I bought a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc for R45 (not even $7) and am enjoying a glass while writing this post!

Afterwards, we travelled to another winery called Spier, which is also home to a Cheetah Conservation and Outreach center. There are less than 7,500 cheetahs left in the wild, so the Cheetah Outreach program works to hand-rear cheetahs to use as ambassadors around the world for education purposes. A woman named Kate told us she hand-reared a cheetah that was sent to Busch Gardens in the United States last year.

While at the Cheetah Outreach center we were given the opportunity to pet a cheetah!!! Cheetahs have very low immune systems, so we all had to liberally apply hand sanitizer on our hands and dip our feet into a bacteria-killing substance so we would not track germs into the cheetahs’ pens. We also had to remove any dangling objects (such as necklaces or the tie on my jacket) because the cheetahs are cats and would want to swipe at them.

My cheetah’s name was Phoenix and he is 3 years old. I was the first of my friends to pet him and he simply lay down and purred as I pet his soft fur. Then he fell asleep! It was incredible to see such a beautiful creature up close. Adult cheetahs have over 2,000 spots, and they really are perfect circles. We were instructed to pet Phoenix with a firm open palm starting near his neck and moving towards the tail. I could feel every one of his lean muscles! Even though I didn’t get to spend much time with Phoenix, it was amazing to interact with an animal that is one of every child’s favorite.

My new roommate just moved in tonight. She seems really nice! She said she immediately knew I was American because of the way I talk, but also because I’m pretty. She said people from Britain are not pretty, so I must be from America! There’s one generalization about America that I don’t mind :)

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