Much like the day of my graduation, it seems that things here are coming to a close. With only a few days left in South Africa we are down to the wire with many fun activities still left to do. For instance, today we traveled along the Western coast of Cape Town in order to reach Cape Point, which was one of the most beautiful views we’ve seen yet. The Cape of Good Hope is said to be the location where you are able to see the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet under proper currents; however, some locals argue that it is in Cape Agulhas where the oceans meet.
On our journey we stopped at Hout Bay where we took a boat ride to see the seals lounging and swimming around. We all took in a better view of Table Mountain and many other mountain ranges from the boat, as well as the view of the fishermen township. Now, based upon the apartheid term “township,” we all tend to think of this word as a poor person or a black person’s home. However, this is incorrect since townships are generally known as areas where people live. Unfortunately, many whites don’t take kindly to having their communities referred to as “townships.” As beautiful as a place such as Hout Bay can be, there are also ugly truths that can be found out.
Carrying on, we passed Chapman’s Peak where Long Beach resides. This beach has very fine, white sand with crystal blue waters, however, contains one of the most dangerous species of sea creatures – the great white shark. Since there is no netting to keep sharks out of the open water where people swim, there are shark watchers that are said to keep a look out for the massive animals and to change the flag if any danger comes to the peoples’ way. This was good to hear that people are conscious of their surroundings, but also made me nervous because I am to be swimming with sharks tomorrow! It is a fear that I am eager to conquer and an opportunity that can’t be missed. Not to travel far off track, Long Beach was a gorgeous area and housed many residents and tourists nearby. It’s definitely a place to check out.
Finally, we made it to Cape Point where we hiked 1.5 kilometers to the lighthouse. The view was phenomenal and the wildlife made it that more real to me of where we were. The fact that ostrichs roam free, as well as baboons, made it feel that we were truly in South Africa in the wild. The whole time that we were on top of the world (it felt like), I thought about how I wished I could have every person I knew on this planet to be there with me. I felt so lucky to be able to see the world as I did today, with such beautiful scenery. Blessed is an understatement and I can’t wait to share my experience at home.
Wrapping up this trip is not an easy task to achieve but I realize now more than ever the true meaning of taking the good with the bad. We have been in a bubble here in South Africa and may have lost touch with the reality of things if we didn’t stop to think about it. Today, when Ron, our tour guide, was informing us about each checkpoint, I began to realize how much suffering these communities (and in much of South Africa if not the world) go through.
Before we drove into Hout Bay, we saw men standing near robots (traffic lights) where we were told they stand all day in search of day work. The unemployment rate is 48% in the Eastern Cape alone, with many issues regarding the illegal immigrants situation that come from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and even Senegal.
As you may or may not know, the Portuguese were said to first arrive in Cape Town, but it was the Dutch that shaped it. When Europeans first arrived in this area, there were no black people inhabiting. However, with time people migrated and the Bushmen (indigenous people) came to Cape Town and mixed with the other races. Blacks nowmake up 79% of the population in South Africa and only about less than two decades later, are finally free from the legal side of apartheid.
I say it this way because I do not believe, and have now actually seen with my own eyes that segregation still exists. Blacks and whites may get along better, but you can see the distance between many of the groups, religions and races in South Africa alone. For instance, blacks are offended if they are called coloured and the same with coloured people if they are called black. Also, during our visit to the University of Pretoria I noticed that blacks stuck together, Muslims did not stray far from each other, and whites paired up. I believe one of the reasons for the separation stems from fear. May it be fear of being different or fear of stereotypes from what an individual has heard about races, I think there is a lot of fear from people to unite and harmonize culturally.
Also, older generations have had a difficult time dealing with such a change since they had grown up all of their life knowing only one thing, and that one thing was to stay away from a certain race. I even see it today in terms of how people view Americans. Some of the people we have met here have told us that they think we have no idea what is going on in the world and that we are pretty ignorant to global issues, but that we pretend to care. And many of us agreed to this statement; we are naïve to many things and it has been so important for each of us to be able to learn what the effects of apartheid, slavery, etc., has had on the world and more precisely Africa. I believe I understand the world a bit better now and have appreciated people more in my life.
This trip has impacted the way I want to seize the day and every opportunity when I have them because no one is promised a safety net. District Six proves this point. It is impossible to remain stable, but it is possible to spread happiness and lend a hand. From service projects to township tours, I can honestly say that the world is a crazy place, but even with the help of us 12 girls, we can all impact someone’s lives if we are willing to try.