First things first…finally a picture with ALL six students, as well as our Good Hope Studies (GHS) hostess, Brenda (then from left to right, Kelsey, Crystal, Kjersten, Jen, Courtney, & Kym). Also, our lovely lunch spot, “Crave,” in Cavendish, about a 10-15 minute walk from GHS. The students seem well overall, and are happy to be done with airplanes for awhile!
We had a full afternoon and evening touring Cape Town with our guide, Rashied, a native of the city. This report will be fairly brief in comparison to everything we did, saw, and learned today, as it is getting late on Monday night as I type this (I had to start by spending some time preparing for our first class tomorrow!).
We began at the Castle of Good Hope, which protected the city after the Dutch arrived in 1652. Don’t think of a Disney fairytale type of castle with tall spires, but rather a pentagon shaped low rise structure…but, in true castle fashion, it comes with a moat! Next we saw nearby City Hall – the second oldest building in South Africa – and also where Nelson Mandela gave his first address after being released from prison in 1990, as well as after he was elected president in 1994.
We learned that the “city bowl” of Cape Town has 1.5 million residents, but when the suburbs are factored in, it rises to 4.9 million or 10% of all of South Africa. Did you know that Cape Town is the legislative capitol of the country, whereas Pretoria (near Johannesburg) is the administrative capitol? We saw other notable buildings, statues, and cathedrals in the city as well. We heard about how the slave trade worked and how the “slave tree” was removed from the town square due to the horrible events that occurred under it.
Next we crossed “outside the gate” (there’s an Afrikaans word for the name but I didn’t write it down). Basically, it was a gated/fenced off portion of the city for housing Muslims. It is still largely a Muslim neighborhood today, and the fence remains, but the gates are gone so one can freely enter and exit. Some of the streets are still bumpy old cobblestones, and there are ten mosques in the area. Our favorite part was the brightly painted houses…Rashied said it was (is) done to make a statement in contrast the Dutch rule and their white houses. It was very beautiful (notice us girls by the pretty pink house!).
We drove up to the lower platform of Table Mountain and the view was incredible! We lucked out with a beautiful clear day, so we could see for miles (I mean kilometers). We did not take the cable car to the top, but had some time to get a few small souvenirs. After this view, we drove past Lion’s Head, up Signal Hill for another stunning vista of the entire Table Bay. We enjoyed the guinea fowl pecking around this area, and we made Rashied promise that no snakes would get us. 🙂
Still more…we drove through the valley between Table Mountain and Lion’s Head to the other side (water all around gets kind of disorienting!). On the way, we saw the Twelve Apostles, which are the jagged rock formations on the back side of Table Mountain (i.e., just like the twelve apostles at the last supper table with Jesus). Then we entered the very ritzy Camps Bay area where the millionaires live and play. This is on the Atlantic side now, and we got about 45 minutes to walk on the beach. We next headed to Sea Point, where we watched the sunset…yes, the sun sets at the Atlantic Ocean, weird, huh?
We circled back into the city, past the huge football (you know, soccer) stadium that was built for the World Cup, past the waterfront, and on to our dinner destination, Gold of Africa. We began the evening with a drumming session, and I think we were very good compared to the other group that was with us. 😉 Next came a 14-item dinner, complete with explanations of the dishes and their African origins. Some singing and dancing occurred throughout the meal (don’t worry, not by us), and I think we were all quite satisfied with the festivities (especially the warm custard dessert). Rashied delivered us home by about 9:00, and we were ready for some rest!
I was so proud of these “girls” today, trekking around learning so much about this part of the world, despite being tired from traveling some 10,000 miles to get here (and their bodies not knowing what timezone they’re in yet). They have big hearts for this world and the people in it, and I’m privileged to get to be sharing this experience with them. Tomorrow we will have class and then travel by ferry to Robben Island, which I’m certain will be a humbling experience (here’s hoping the weather holds).
We’ve already learned a bit about some of the injustices here as Rashied shared tonight how during Apartheid, his driver’s license only allowed him to transport people of color, since he is a person of color. He would’ve been arrested if he drove Whites, and his license and car taken from him. He sees a lot of changes for the better since then, of course, be he also spoke of a nearly 30% unemployment rate, most of which is within people of color. We will continue to learn about such social justice issues, and we will try to wrap our minds around how such things happen, impact people, can be changed, and our part in it all. To be continued…