We just left South Africa! A day late because of windy weather but that meant my roommate and I had a perfect view of Table Mountain when working out in the gym last night! We didn’t have the best weather while we were here but we learned a lot about being flexible and enjoying spontaneous adventures. South Africa is definitely a country that is hard to fit into a week. You could spend months here and not visit it all. From Table Mountain, the animal reserves, the wine land, the beautiful beaches and the welcoming townships: South Africa is full of beauty and life. It also has a rich history that we were able to learn about on our passage over. We spent a lot of time talking about the apartheid because it is in such recent history for them. It is a sad but very present issue that continues to challenge the community today. We heard multiple speakers teach us about their involvement with the apartheid including stories about a family who lost their daughter while working for peace and Bob and Alice Evans who worked directly with Desmond Tutu (who had to skip our voyage and go on the Spring one) on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We also had the chance to talk to the interport student and learn about what it is like being a student in South Africa and the issues she sees facing her country. It’s always interesting to be able to relate what we learn in class to the community we are visiting.
The first morning we were woken up bright and early at 6:30 by our dean on the PA system to go through face-to-face immigration for the first time. The parent trip was in South Africa also, so at breakfast there were parents and students hugging and crying all around us. I signed up to go on a service trip called Operation Hunger with Semester at Sea. I ended up knowing about half of the people on the trip so it was a lot of fun. In class we learned about South Africa having one of the largest gaps between the rich and poor, which was easily noticed just by our drive to Freedom Park. We volunteered in a squatter camp that was technically on the airports property. 90% are unemployed and malnutrition is a large issue facing the community. We helped them produce baseline data on children and their level of malnutrition that can later on help them see the progress they have made. We started off by weighing them, measuring their arm circumference, then taking down their height. When they were done they could play with the other students outside. We had a lot of time to hang out with them and play on the swing set. I don’t know who was having more fun, them or us. After lunch we came back and fed all of the children. A lot of students stood outside so I decided to jump in the action and help in the kitchen. There were four moms serving the food and three of us students made an assembly line making sure that the food got to the right person. The ladies laughed at us because we would call out the color of the kid’s shirt to remember whose bowl was whose. It was nice being able to be in the kitchen and we talked a lot with one of the ladies Cindy. We got to know her and she kept asking if we could come back for the rest of the week. It was sad having to tell her that we couldn’t but she asked us to take a picture with all of us. She said that looking at pictures is the only time she has really seen her face, which was interesting. That night we went out to a Turkish restaurant where you sit on the floor and there was even a belly dancer. The belly dancer came up and gave us all skirts and made us try in front of everyone. Some big group was celebrating their birthday so we all ended up dancing in the middle of the restaurant. We are all about new experiences!
The second day my shark diving was cancelled because of the weather so a bunch of us went to the mall. For dinner we went to a restaurant Mama Africa and my friend and I shared a Big Game Grill, which included crocodile, springbok, ostrich, and a few other kinds of meat. It was good that I tried it that night because the next night I went on a safari and saw all of the animals I ate unfortunately. We went to Aquila Private Game Reserve and went on a 3-hour safari. We saw elephants, rhinos, hippos, zebras, springbok, wildebeest, lions, and a few more. We had an awesome tour guide Tyler that made it a lot of fun. For dinner I went to a restaurant named Moyo with my friends Paige, Braxton, and Nick. We ended up driving about 20-30 minutes away to go to it but it was definitely worth it. We picked up a cab outside the dock and asked him to take us there. When we got there we asked how to get a taxi when we were finished because we were in an area that seemed more of a beach town and less of a tourist spot. He said they don’t really have taxis there and asked if we would like him to wait for us. We decided it probably would be a good idea to make sure we had a ride home so we asked if he would mind doing that. We were getting out to leave and I asked him if he wanted to come in and sit with us. I thought it didn’t make sense for him to sit in the car and wait when we didn’t know how long we would be. His eyes lit up with happiness. When we sat down and he started telling us that in his 45 years working as a taxi driver no one had ever invited him to sit with them for a meal. He said that he often waits for people and usually they don’t even thank him for the wait. He went on and on about how kind I was and you could tell that the simple invitation made his day. He started teaching us a little about the apartheid and how 20 years ago he wouldn’t have been able to drive us around. It was a really rewarding experience to talk to him and learn from his experiences on the changes and growth his country has made in the past few decades. At the restaurant they had live performers who came and sang to our table and they painted our faces. It overall was a great night!
The next day we had rescheduled shark diving but once again was cancelled for the wind. We spent the day at the waterfront with friends, which is a really cool area. The last day I had a field lab for my politics class. We were led by a man Reverend Story who was the Pastor for Nelson Mandela when he was in prison and also for the community of district six during the apartheid. We visited District Six, the Old Slave Market, the Race Classification offices, St. George’s Cathedral and the exhibit on the Peace March, and Castle of Good Hope. In the exhibit there were pictures of Reverend Story next to Desmond Tutu leading a group. It was very cool to learn directly from someone who was so involved in the anti apartheid movement. We had two hours to sit down with him and ask him any questions we had about the apartheid or South Africa in general which helped us learn a lot. Today it was back to classes! In Global Studies today we talked about people we have met on our journey that has impacted our life. We wrote a paper on the person on this trip that stands out the most to us when we reflect on our two months so far. It was really neat to share stories with each other on who our “toothbrush” person was. Our professor calls them our toothbrush person because he wants us to think of that person and the difference they have made in our life every time we brush our teeth. I got out of work early today because my boss wanted my friend Carlos and I to watch the ship leave. The view of Table Mountain was amazing! Tonight we had our fifth family dinner. We celebrated my friend Edna’s birthday. Our “Dad” bought a huge ice cream cake for us and we all ate until we felt sick. After that dinner I had to hop over to my friend Haley’s birthday dinner. Now we are just getting ready to watch the last Presidential Debate. We have 10 days at sea now until we get to Argentina. We are officially on our journey home! I can’t believe how fast this time is going! Only 5 more ports left! See ya on the other side of the Atlantic!
A little windy leaving Cape Town