This morning we left Johannesburg to go to Cape Town. It is still hard to tell the difference between the two cities because we have only been in Cape Town for a few hours, but this far there has been one major difference that I have noticed. Referring back to my blog post I wrote a few days ago, where I said everything was behind fences, it is clearly different in Cape Town. All the stores that I have seen this far are open to the public, by that I mean they are not all behind fences for the public. It makes me think that Cape Town are at least a little safer than Johannesburg, but I might be wrong.
There has been two activities this far on the trip that has stood out to me. I think when we went to Little Eden, the orphanage for disabled children close to Johannesburg was a great experience. I have never experienced anything like that before and I am not really used to dealing with children at all, Therefore it was somewhat of a challenge in the beginning to communicate and interact, but after a while it was a lot easier and I had such a great time.
The other experience that stood out was the Lion Park. Not only did we interact with lions, giraffes, and cheetahs but we got to sleep in tents in the Lion Park, with the animals around behind fences. I thought the night in the tent was the best night thus far. Not only was it really cold, so we had to put a lot of clothes on, which I thought was a really cool experience, but also, how often do you fall asleep to a lion roaring? I actually woke up in the middle of the night from it too; it was absolutely amazing.
What I also liked about the tents was that they were partly made out of the same materials people build their shacks out of. If it was not because of the freezing cold water in our tent, which made it nearly impossible to shower, I would have loved to have stayed in the tents for a few more days.
But I also questioned myself, what it would have been like if I woke up in the tent every morning? We were fine obviously, because we had clothes, sheets, and blankets, and even a heater in our tent. But then I thought of the children and the families in the shacks that do not have anything at all. If I am freezing with all that, what do the children and their families in the shacks normally do? And if they barely have any clothes, they must be really cold.
Going from the airport in Cape Town to where our hotel is in Durbanville, we saw a lot of informal settlements. On our trip thus far, except from the first day in Soweto, we have not really seen any of their housing or living situation. All I could think of when I saw their shacks, even if it was from far away, was what it must be like living like that all year around, especially now when it is colder.
Even if I have only seen parts of South Africa thus far, I feel like this country is a mix of everything. Sometimes when you see a new place you think of what is typical for that place. But South Africa is a combination of most places that I have ever seen. There are rich and poor, there are whites and blacks, there are Africans and Europeans (or a mix of both, or neither of them), it is cold and warm, it is dangerous but sometimes safe, there are a lot of dangerous animals in the wild, but there are also large cities. When I am in South Africa I cannot place the country like I normally would have been able to. It is amazing how not only South Africa’s landscape varies but how the country’s culture is so different dependent on where you go, or how you can see luxurious homes in one spot and nearby people barely have roofs over their heads.