Alumni Day

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This blog entry about the events of Wednesday, March 10, 2004 was originally posted on March 11, 2004.

DAY 144:  It may be interesting to point out that I attended Teaneck High School, five miles from New York City, from 1988-1992, and Rutgers University, the state university of New Jersey, from 1993-1997.  While this information isn’t exactly exciting enough to tattoo on your ass, I mention it because I ran into people from both schools before the day was over.

It wasn’t my intent to do so that morning.  I was supposed to leave Cape Town with the German girls from my dorm in their rental car, but opted to stay in town since Matt and Vicky, a couple I had met in Antarctica two years prior, had contacted me to catch up since they had moved from Oxford, U.K. to Hout Bay, outside of Cape Town.  Meanwhile, Blogreader Steph, my brother’s girlfriend’s younger sister, was also arriving in Cape Town on a school trip with my alma mater, Rutgers.

Trying to contact Matt and Vicky was an ordeal because Matt’s voice mail kept on cutting me off when I called from a pay phone:

“Hey Matt, it’s Erik, the penguin guy.  I got your email and I’m here in—” CLICK!

“Hey Matt, it’s Erik the penguin guy.  I’m in Cape Town staying at The Back—” CLICK!

“Hey, it’s Erik again.  I think you’re voicemail keeps cutting me—” CLICK!

I emailed him some complete sentences and then called back for a quick message:

“Hey, it’s Erik.  I just sent you an email since I keep on getting—” CLICK!

Eventually, we got in contact and planned to meet for lunch the following day.  Contacting Steph was easier; I just left a message at her hotel desk that I’d meet up with her later that evening.


SO AS NOT TO WASTE THE DAY waiting around for people to get back to me, I decided to trek up the other massive rock formation that overlooked the city:  Lion’s Head, “the mountain that looks like a giant boob” (as Blogreader Liz described it).  Jason at the hostel had done it the day before and told me the trail head was within walking distance, so I headed over through the streets of Cape Town.  At one corner, I saw a vaguely familiar face from twelve years prior.

“Excuse me, is your name Juanita?”

“Yeah.”

“From Teaneck?”

“Yeah.”

I took my sunglasses off dramatically, like a state trooper that had just pulled over a car.  “Erik Trinidad.”

Juanita was in the grade above me at Teaneck High School, so we weren’t super close.  We had once worked on a project together in our school’s “Simulated Office Environment,” a sort of in-school internship in the workings of business with one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Olzewski.  Just like a real office, you could goof off, photocopy your face on the copier and sometimes take double lunches — like I used to do with Blogreader Duaine.  Anyway, I always remembered Juanita because she was my one example I always cited of an Irish-American with a Spanish name.

Juanita (last name, Foley) was with her friend Natasha from Mozambique and were waiting for their transport to the trail head of Table Mountain.  The taxi came in about two minutes and so they rushed off.

“Leave me a message at the hostel,” Juanita said.

“Alright.”


I CONTINUED MY WAY towards Lion’s Head, up the somewhat steep hills to the trail head.  A couple that had just descended the mountain recommended that I take the other trail up as they did — there were two near the parking lot.

Some parts of the trail weren’t really marked clearly — I just had to follow the clearing where it looked like someone else had been.  The trail I soon realized, wasn’t the official trail at all, but perhaps someone’s short cut to the top, despite the warnings that “shortcuts cause erosion.”  I came to this conclusion when I got to a point where the path led me to the edge of a cliff of a Road Runner cartoon.  I might have slipped on loose rocks and pulled a Wile E. Coyote if I hadn’t grabbed onto branches to keep my balance.

Hanging out on a limb, I managed to find the obvious real path below, which I took all the way up to the summit.  The rocky parts near the peak had chains and grips to climb up the bigger boulders, and suddenly my trips to indoor rock gyms back home with Blogreaders Cheryl and da Rzz paid off.

The view at the top of Lion’s Head was pretty amazing.  I sat for a while to rest and soak it all in (picture above):  Camp’s Bay, the Atlantic, Cape Town and Table Mountain, which was covered in clouds or, as some call it, the “table cloth.”  I wondered if Juanita and Natasha could even see anything from the top.


AFTER MY HIKE, I went to Juanita’s hostel to find out.  They hadn’t arrived yet, but I waited around with their friends and dormmates, two guys they met in Mozambique in a diving instructor class.  The guys were all excited when I told them Juanita and I were both alumni of the same high school, hoping to get some dirt from me, but were disappointed that I really didn’t have any since she was in the grade above mine.

Juanita and Natasha eventually came back and we chatted for a bit — they could barely see anything through the “table cloth” — before I dashed off to meet Steph.  I was to call Juanita on her cell phone to meet up with them later that night.


THERE WAS A GROUP OF TWENTY-SOMETHINGS all wearing embarrassing “Rutgers” badges around their necks when I got to the Park Inn Hotel lobby, and I knew I had found the right place.  They had just gotten back from a tour of the Cape Peninsula, which they went on straight from the airport since their flight was delayed.  I found Steph and she introduced me to the Rutgers crew, including her professors.  They all welcomed me into their group; I was alumni anyway.

Being with the Rutgers crew was like being on the first episode of any season of MTV’s The Real World.  Most of the students were from different classes and didn’t know each other prior to the trip — and most of them were traveling outside the U.S. for the first time.  They were all fresh and naive about this new world — this “real” world — where just like on MTV, they got to stay in a really fancy place.

I joined them all for dinner, drinks and dancing on the waterfront and it continued to be just like that first episode of The Real World, when they all go out on the town their first night and look like a big group that obviously isn’t from around those parts.  I called Juanita and she told me that her group was going to postpone their night out until the next day, and so I remained in “The Real World: Cape Town.” 

The Rutgers cast, fresh off the plane, was already rambunctious — boozing, calling their parents at home, mingling with locals, posing for photos, waking up the seals sleeping on the docks — not necessarily in that order.  Instead of a confessional room, they just came to me, the alumni, with their comments:

“I can’t believe I’m in Africa.”

“I can see that there’s still some division in the races here.”

“When I dance with my hands in the air, that means I want to fuck ‘em!”

And so, my past lives of schools in New Jersey, U.S.A. had resurfaced in South Africa.  As they say in Sopranoland, “Badda Bing!” but as they say in Disneyland, “It’s a small world after all.”






Next entry: Zombie

Previous entry: Reading is FUNdamental




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Comments for “Alumni Day”

  • Could I be FIRST?!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  09:44 AM


  • nice solo pic E.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  10:08 AM


  • hot pics…murtinho nobre

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  10:17 AM


  • haha..great post! erik = confessional (^_^)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  10:20 AM


  • good to see you’re still practicing your climbing… even though its with a chain????

    those mountains remind me of the gunks.  did you see any climbers out there?  if you do, i want to see pics!!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  10:20 AM


  • wow, the atlantic ocean really is blue!  cuz in jersey, it’s dirty! nice pics….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  10:56 AM


  • Hey, Erik - I went to Rutgers too!  Love to read about your travels… I did end up buying the music CD that “Would you” came from… great CD!!  I love the story about how you tried to contact your ... CLICK!  Funny stuff!! 
    Have a great weekend!
    Ann-Marie (Nicole’s big sister!!)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  10:57 AM


  • no fair, my school trips were never cool trips like that. the only thing we got to do outside the country was to go for a day trip to some post-production/animation houses in toranto. i am jealous. =P

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  11:11 AM


  • Erik: Did you use the line?? If so, did it work?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  12:43 PM


  • it IS a small world after all… perhaps there’s someone from Basking Ridge you’ll meet on your journeys! Cape Town does look amazing smile glad you stayed an extra day! Have a great weekend, n smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/11  at  12:57 PM


  • “When I dance with my hands in the air, that means I want to fuck ‘em!”

    Priceless.

    Posted by matto  on  03/11  at  01:12 PM


  • WOW, the count of unique hits to this blog has surpassed the 10,000 mark!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/12  at  05:31 AM


  • yes, it is a small world afterall, & I think it is God’s intent to make it possible for you young generations to see the world, to meet different types of people, to see all the wonders of this world that He gave us & to be openminded about different cultures & be more accepting.. He made us all in His own image & He loves us all.  May He continue to bless us & may peace prevails..
    God bless you, my son. May HE always guide you on your journey..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/12  at  09:49 AM


  • Hi Jenn
    Save up for the trip like Erik did.  I will save the money for your wedding.. (LOL).

    Tita Nata

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/12  at  10:02 AM


  • ISA:  Thanks for the kudos in your email!  The interactive itinerary is on the CONTENTS at upper left.  See if mine coincides with yours at any point.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/12  at  11:41 AM


  • LONELY PLANET THORN TREE:  Greetings and welcome to The Fellowship of The Blog!  I’ve just been informed that the new influx of readership numbers is probably due to the fact that there is a post there about this.  Welcome aboard!

    Be warned:  Don’t believe everything you read in a Shoestring guide!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/12  at  11:45 AM


  • LIZ:  Thanks so much for your donation!  It’s the first time I’ve actually received YEN!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/12  at  12:00 PM


  • widwmhita,tmiwtf’em….who wants a t-shirt?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/12  at  12:08 PM


  • Erik - I figured I get so much entertainment from your blog, that I should fork over something!  Modify your itinerary for a stop in Japan so you can use those yen!  LOL (Actually, I assumed - incorrectly! - that it would convert to USD for you)

    Posted by Liz  on  03/12  at  10:30 PM


  • LIZ:  Actually, as of late, I was thinking about making a stop over there, perhaps after China…  I’d love to sleep in one of those capsules that the businessmen use, at least once in my life!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/13  at  10:05 AM


  • sorry i was late to post, i just dropped off some weird american girl from SF….  kept snorting something minty to make her feel good.  and kept askin me where the nearest chinese herbalist was… anyway, great pics and its pretty cool to see real world jersey in s. africa.  ok, im out.  the cab is running and they just started sunday meter parking here in luxor.  they got the idea from that damn mayor bloomberg

    suck me beautiful!
    hamek haman aka wheat

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/13  at  04:02 PM


  • Erik - if you come to Japan, you can crash on my floor (I’ll give you a futon wink - true Japanese sleeping style) - cheapest place to stay in Tokyo LOL.  It’s not much, but it’s free (my whole apartment is only 40 sq yards).  I’m in central Tokyo, so you are close to everything.  You’ll just have to put up with all my questions about China and/or the Trans-Sib (your route looks like you are taking that across Russia). smile

    Posted by Liz  on  03/13  at  09:05 PM


  • LIZ:  Sounds like a plan and a half!  Keep up with The Blog and we’ll see how things pan out when I’m “in the neighborhood” of northern Asia…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/14  at  01:56 AM


  • You’ll never know what a small world it is!!  My daughter Sarah has a classmate at Montclair who apparently is a friend of yours.  They were given an assignment to check out a blog - he pulled up yours, and there are your memoirs of SOE and Teaneck High School!! I love it,  I love what you are doing, you, Duaine and Peter live on in my memories too.  Those were some of my favorite days at THS….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/14  at  04:06 PM


  • OMG…Mrs. O!!!!

    You can’t forget the days of the younger Trinidad boy!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/14  at  04:09 PM


  • Love the pic of you sitting, looking out at the ocean. BTW, explain “confessional” cause I’m missing something…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/14  at  06:26 PM


  • MRS.O:  Pardon my French, but HOLY SHIT!  How’ve you been?  I’d tell you how I’ve been doing, but as you can see, it’s all here in lengthy daily segments!

    DUAINE:  Holy shit!  Mrs. O!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/19  at  10:31 AM


  • CHRISTY:  Confessional = the segment of The Real World, when it’s just one person talking in front of the camera, telling the audience stuff that the others don’t necessarily know.  If I recall correctly, each member is required to do a confessional at least twice a day, by just entering the confessional room and venting in front of the camera—to be edited at MTV’s will of course.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/19  at  10:33 AM


  • Actually confessionals, are not really confessionals, because an MTV producer is in the room behind the camera to “script” the cast members to get angry, cry, and express every single emotion for all the 1981ers and above to follow religiously.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/19  at  10:51 AM


  • Thanks. I knew I was too old to understand (1970er that I am!)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/19  at  12:03 PM


  • Hi Erik,

    I am pretty sure the classmate of “Jo-Anne Olszewski” daughter is a friend of mine.  I told him about your blog and he used it for an assignment in one of his classes at Montclair.  You may even remember him, “Marc Oliver”, he worked with us in Upper Saddle River.

    Warren

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/21  at  04:55 PM


  • Hey Erik,

    Warren’s right. I am the Montclair St. student in class with Sarah O. She had told me about her mom, and when I read your memories of Teaneck HS, the name just clicked. Sounds like you’re having much more fun than those of us still toiling away in the publishing world!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/21  at  05:12 PM


  • MARC:  Hey, your name sounds familiar…  how’s it going?  I hope you are going to Montclair in hopes of getting out of Prentice Hell one day… the grass IS greener on the other side…

    Say hi to the O’s for me…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/22  at  09:58 AM


  • Yes, I am going to Montclair for a masters in education, which will finally allow me to break free from this place.
    Glad I could reconnect you with Mrs. O.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/22  at  10:57 AM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Zombie

Previous entry:
Reading is FUNdamental




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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