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Cape Town, South Africa

Saturday, November 6, 2004

While eating lunch 267-feet underground at the Snowball Dining Room in Mammoth Cave National Park, I have the fortune of meeting a really sweet woman named Ernesta. From Cape Town, South Africa, I quickly learn she's spending 6 weeks in the States on a study/research visit to Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN. Adventure-minded like myself, this weekend she drove up to Kentucky to partake in Mammoth Cave's Grand Avenue Tour offering, the same tour I decided to take myself.

Both alone, after lunch we decide to walk the remaining 3 miles of winding cave passageway together. During our trek, she tells me she works for the University of Cape Town in the field of Biomedical Engineering. At the University she's a Senior Lecturer and Research Officer. Wow! No doubt, she's a pretty smart cookie.

At one time she lived in the US, and of all places, in Corvallis, OR. It was there she studied for 4 years at Oregon State University where she earned a PhD in Physics. At the same time, her husband was working on his MBA. She tells me she has many fond memories of those former days.

She's a mother now, and I can tell she really misses her two children, a sure sign that Ernesta is a wonderful mom. Aside from working and caring for her children, Ernesta enjoys many activities, including squash, mountain biking, hiking, and camping. In her mind, if you're outdoors, you just can't lose! On a completely different note (ha!), having long since mastered the cello, she now hopes to find some time in the near future to get back into her music.

Curious about other places she's visited in her lifetime, I learn she has traveled to Amsterdam, Greece, Germany, Austria, London, Rome, parts of the USA (including Hawaii) and Canada. The most memorable sights she's seen in her travels are the calving of Tracy Arm Glacier in Alaska, Crater Lake covered in snow in July, Grand Canyon in winter, Canadian Rockies, Bryce Canyon, and the Oregon Coast. In the future, she would like to visit more places in Africa like Botswana, and also exotic places like China, Japan, and Thailand.

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