Monday, April 1, 2013

Pitchin' and Eatin'

March 26, 2013

Today was the big Unreasonable at Sea pitch event hosted by SAP in Cape Town.  They chose The One and Only Hotel which 1) is actually named that and 2) is fancy pantsy.  It all started with a coffee time with tasty muffins and pastries and the best coffee I’ve had since the Bellagio.  The event went really well.  The entrepreneurs stepped up and gave some fabulous pitches.  They got the crowd really excited.

Among the judges was our new mentor, HRH Prince Fahad Al Saud.  He’s a prince from Saudi Arabia and also an entrepreneur.  He worked for Facebook for a while, translating it into Arabic which brought it into Saudi Arabia.  The other judges were our Nike Foundation mentors and a couple guys from SAP who own parts of South Africa.  It was a nice mix of big names.  No pressure.

There was a lunch break of Singapore buffet proportions.  I never thought anyone could top the lunch we had in Sinapore, and The One and Only Hotel didn’t, but it came pretty darn close.  They had this buttermilk chicken that was to die for and mango-lemon cheesecake that melted in your mouth.  We ate way more than we should have, then did our lethargic camera-people trick for the rest of the event.

The event ended and we all piled back on the bus to head back to the ship.  We had a couple hours to reset and change before the SAP dinner that was to be hosted at the fanciest restaurant in Cape Town: La Colombe.  It sits in the middle of a winery at the base of the mountains, and we arrived right at sunset to enjoy the beauty of the space.

The vineyard surrounding the restaurant and the moon.
Dinner began and I can’t tell you how good the food was.  My adventurous eating habits have expanded even more than I thought they could on this trip, and I found myself excited to try the spoonful of beef tar tar that came out to wet our pallets.  I sat next to the man who worked at SAP in Cape Town who was apparently the man we were to thank for the whole event.  He’s apparently a big deal, but even though he came off as a business charmer, we had some great conversation at our table, and he could have been Joe Blow as far as our interactions went.  Nice guy.

We talked about everything Americans hate to talk about: business, politics and religion.  He turned to me partway through the conversation and wondered how I felt as an American, and I told him that as new acquaintances like we were, we would never be having these conversations in the States this early on in our relationship.  We all wondered why that was, and they decided that Americans were incapable of having civil discussion.  “Don’t they know it’s okay to disagree?”  I found it to be an interesting observation, one that I wasn’t necessarily able to argue against.  I guess we’re so afraid of offending one another in the States that we error on the side of shallow conversations with strangers.  I secretly thought to myself, “not at Lifetree Café…” but I didn’t bring it up because we were now onto sports.

Our fancy dinner setting outside.
Every course that we ate was better than the last, and the flavors were so delicate and well seasoned.  I had hake on a bed of quinoa with a cheese and chutney platter for dessert.  They also brought out little cutting boards with chilled rose-water gelatin, light fudge and coconut cubes and little cashew clusters that I couldn’t stop eating even though I was about to pop.

One of the mentors, Kamran, ran a group-wide meditation that everyone was welcome to out in the middle of the vineyard field.  It had gotten so cold out that I don’t think I could have focused on anything but my chilly toes.  I opted out of the meditation and Matt and I walked around a bit looking at the stars of the Southern hemisphere.  I’ve never seen them before now.

We all piled back on the bus and our SAP friend invited us to a club that his brother owned.  Matt and I were so exhausted and still jet-lagged that we opted out, and when we saw those who went the night before getting back on the ship at 6:30am, we felt that we had probably made the right decision.