Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cape Town

The town I am staying in- Stellenbosch- is a quaint but quite large village. It is home to Stellenbosch University, so there are plenty of students and people our age. The majority of the people in the town are white, but there aren't many tourists (like us). The streets are lined with cute little shops and places to eat and the whole city is so GREEN... there are trees and grasses and bushes and flowers everywhere. It is incredibly beautiful. The neighborhoods are also clothed with trees and most of the houses have large gates, which is very different from home. It is about a 15 or 20 minute walk into town, but there is much to see and do. My host family consists of David (father), Margaret (mother), Ross, and Helen (two students about our age). They are very welcoming and I really enjoy being in their home and getting to know them!

Yesterday was long and busy, but I loved every minute of it. We woke up early to a somewhat cloudy, cool day and walked to the train station where we rode to Cape Town (the city that is pictured above). Cape Town is the largest city in South Africa, is the future home of the World Cup 2010, and is honestly the most beautiful city I have ever seen. The train spit us out right in the heart of it, and I really felt as though I was in South Africa as the large majority of people were black or coloured (as they call them here). There is lots of construction and maintenance going on right now, as the city is preparing to host the FIFA World Cup in June. As a sign read: "We've come a long way, but now is not the time to stop. Apologies. If construction causes delays, we're getting ready to welcome the world." I thought that was a perfect description of what is to come in South Africa. The African continent as a whole has never hosted the World Cup-- it certainly will bring about a great economic boost for the city as well as an awareness of the history and the amazing developments the country/city has made. The World Cup will also be held in eight other cities this year.

We continued walking through the city until we reached the harbour. Turning around to look behind us, we could see the cloudy landscape of Table Mountain (the large flat mountain above) with the buzzing city in front of it. This is an image that will never leave me. We boarded the ferry for Robben Island, which is where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were held during the apartheid era. This island is about 11 km away from Cape Town, and the view of Cape Town from the island is breathtaking. These black prisoners, who were banished there only because they had attempted to somehow rebel against apartheid, were mistreated and forced to do heavy labor and build their own prison cells. We were able to walk through the prisons, including Mr. Mandela's cell, which were cramped and empty. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in confinement like that for over 25 years! Robert Sobukwe, who was a black leader arrested after the Sharpeville Massacre (where many innocent South Africans were murdered or injured by white police officers), was also confined to Robben Island, however, he had his own housing area and was completely restricted from having any type of communication or interaction with the other prisoners. One of our tour guides was actually a prisoner there for 5.5 years, though he was sentenced to 30 years, so we were able to get an insider's perspective, which made it that much more meaningful. He was very interesting to talk to and opened up about everything that went on on the island.

We rode back into Cape Town and I grabbed a bean and cheese wrap at one of the fancy malls (this one happened to be waaay fancier than anything in West Mi!). We were able to look around and shop for a short while before heading back to the train station and back to Stellenbosch. After a long train ride and a long walk back home, we had a delicious meal of pasta with most of our host family and hung out as a group.

There is so much more I could say about this trip and each day, but I must get some sleep! Tomorrow we head to Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope, and Boulder National Park. Looking forward to it as always and feeling so incredibly blessed to be here.

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulous summary of a day filled with so much! These are so enjoyable to read every couple of days and thanks for finding time to share your new world with us back home. Love ya' pops