How many times can you say you woke up to a giraffe eating right outside?
This morning on our way to breakfast, we passed by a giraffe enjoying his own breakfast. This apparently is a normal sight to see at the Lion Park in Johannesburg.
Up until yesterday, it seemed so surreal that we were finally in Africa, but interacting with these native animals made it feel so real.
While staying at the Lion Park, we slept in “luxury tents”. To be honest, when I heard that we were sleeping in tents in the winter, I was a little hesitant. However, the tent was actually very comfortable and accommodating. It consisted of a front room with beds, and a bathroom in the back. The bathroom part was made out of large pieces of a wavy type of metal, just like the metal people use to build their homes in the townships.
We thought it was going to be tough to live in a tent for one night, even though we had nice beds and comforters, heat, and running water. I found it difficult when we needed to use the bathroom and shower, because it had no heat and the walls were very thin so it was uncomfortable. I thought this was hard, until Mel brought up the fact that people living in the townships had to live in something like that every day. I stood in the bathroom this morning and tried to imagine the way that they live. They would live in a space, probably the size of that bathroom, with their families, without heat or running water.
When we were leaving the airport today in Cape Town, we saw a lot of these townships on the side of the road. It was unbelievable to think about the fact that people still live in those conditions. Between these two experiences today, I am finally starting to feel like I understand the country more. This also makes me more anxious to start the service projects tomorrow because I want to help the communities in every way possible.
When we arrived in Cape Town today, I noticed a few differences between Cape Town and Johannesburg. I feel like Cape Town is more geared towards the tourist, adventurous attractions whereas Johannesburg seemed like they were very history oriented when it came to the popular attractions. We had the opportunity to experience a mall in both cities, and I found them extremely different. The mall in Pretoria did not have a very wide variety of stores, and when we were walking through the mall, we were the only white people there and got a lot of stares like we were out of place. It wasn’t safe to be outside of this mall because of all the crime. On the other hand, when we arrived at the Ruslamere Guest House Hotel today, the woman in charge said we could leave our luggage outside because ,“You’re in Cape Town now, you can trust people”.
We then went to dinner in a mall that was one of the nicest I’ve seen. There were a ton of stores, some American, with a food court that was a few levels high and had a huge TV screen in the center. It made me realize the ‘gap’ that the South Africans keep talking about between poverty and privileged. This mall was incredible, and obviously costed a lot, so why couldn’t that money have gone to the people living in a township right down the road?
I think that although today wasn’t too eventful, we still got a sense of culture by experiencing another city. It was hard to look past the excitement of Cape Town and really look into the culture, but I think that from what we saw today we are starting to know what to expect in the next few days.