This past week was definitely one for the books. We had a weekend of perfect weather, and when there is perfect weather in Cape Town you take advantage of it! So the first thing I did after being nominated for the ALS ice bucket challenge was pour a bucket of ice water on my head in the middle of the most populated place on campus… Jammie Plaza. Actually, I didn’t pour it on my head, I asked a nice stranger.. Good way to make friends right?
We all headed to Stones on Wednesday and then to Claremont Thursday, so come Friday morning we were all hanging pretty hard. But after a relaxing morning listening to music and recovering we headed up to one the coolest and closest spots directly adjacent to UCT campus called the Reservoir. On the way there we stopped in an old lion’s den which used to be a zoo waaaaay back in the day. You could walk into their cages and walk out into the exhibit area. The walls were decorated with graffiti, murals, and messages. The place teemed with abandonment and although it was slightly eerie I found the place to be quite mystifying and beautiful.
After that we took a delightful walk to the reservoir. It was spectacular day and I couldn’t picture being anywhere else in that moment. We had to climb through little hole in the fence and cross a little bit of water, but sitting on that grassy slope with a reservoir in front, trees lining the water, and the mountain in the background was absolute bliss. I’m looking forward to days when the sun gets a bit hotter and we can take a dip!
The following day our group was off to the District 6 Museum and Robben Island. These would be my second visits at these places because I had already gone earlier when traveling with my mom. This time, we were lucky enough to have a former resident of District 6 tell us a bit about what it was like living there and they pain him and his family went through when they were forcibly removed from their homes. These homes, this community was destroyed in an effort by the Apartheid regime to create a white community in its place. New homes were never built. Now all that remains is open land and the museum itself. Currently, the government is rebuilding homes and trying to give these properties back to their original owners, but in most cases the building process is taking much longer than promised, and more often than not these former residents will not be alive to see their homes once again.
After that we had lunch in the waterfront, shopped a bit, then boarded our boat to head to Robben Island. It was yet another gorgeous day and being out on the water was incredible. I stood at the bow, closed my eyes, and felt like I was flying. There are few better feelings than the sway of water below you, the wind playing with your hair, and the sun kissing your face. We arrived at the island and started with a walking tour through the prison that Nelson Mandella was incarcerated in for 18 years of his life before being moved to another prison. We were given a tour by a former inmate and shown the different sections in which they kept the political prisoners. We were shown the garden where Nelson Mandella hid his manuscript “A Long Walk to Freedom” before he had a fellow inmate smuggle it out of Robben Island. We were given a chance to see his cell as well. The last part consisted of a bus tour around the rest of the island. Currently the island is inhabited strictly by those who used to work or were imprisoned on Robben Island, their families, and those who work for the touring company today. The fact that former prisoners and former prison guards are able to live in harmony and peace speaks highly of their capacity to forgive and their fight and dedication for a better future.
The following day we were headed for yet another excursion via boat, but this time it was for something a bit more “lively.” In honor of Shark week we decided that Sunday was a perfect day to go Shark Cage Diving! First we had to take a 2 hour drive out to the location which was just past Hermanus. Luckily it was quite a beautiful drive and we stopped off in Hermanus to look for whales. Once we arrived we were briefed on the trip and got on the boat. Once again, it was a beautiful day, and even though we had to wait quite some time before seeing our first shark it wasn’t so bad spending a day out on the boat. When I finally got my turn in the cage it was quite a site to see a Great White Shark swimming towards you. Despite the cage being there, I couldn’t help thinking how crazy it was that I was in the same water as the shark. But what I noticed was that these sharks commonly misconceived to be aggressive and lethal didn’t seem to be so. It was a good experience but not one I would do again. It was like holding a treat out in front of a dog and pulling it away before he could catch it.
After an exhausting weekend, it was a bit painful to push myself out the door on Monday, especially to go to SHAWCO. But thank goodness I did. It was by far the best SHAWCO session I’ve had thus far. I even earned my t-shirt! For those of you who haven’t read my previous posts, SHAWCO is an organization that heads into the townships and puts on educational programs for the children. My particular group goes to the township called Nyanga. I am currently teaching the grade 4’s. They are starting to remember me which is making class a little easier to control. It can be painful getting through the math portion as they fight over the limited pencils and longing to run around outside, but I promised them if they finished their work we would go play soccer (football) outside. The kids were fascinated by my GoPro as well which has made for some very fun photos and videos! Looking forward to returning next week.
This coming weekend I will be heading on a West Coast Excursion and possibly sand boarding the following day. Thanks for reading!