Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gallivanting Around Cape Town

Again, I’ve neglected my blogging duties for too long and this update is well overdue. So, let’s catch up.

Last weekend I went to Durban and my South African friends showed me around their hometown. Durban is on South Africa’s east coast, on the Indian Ocean, so the weather was much nicer than in Cape Town and we were able to spend a day at the beach for a family picnic. I didn’t get to see much else of Durban that weekend but a definite highlight was watching Durban’s rugby team, the Sharks, secure a place in the Super 14 playoffs. We also went to uShaka, South Africa’s take on SeaWorld. The aquarium was great because there were a lot of local marine life that I had never seen before. Even though it boasts the tallest waterslide in Africa, the waterpark section was disappointing, though our South African friends loved it—I guess I’m spoiled from growing up a few hours away from Wisconsin Dells—and I promised to take my friends to Hurricane Harbor if they ever make it to America.

I know many of you have seen the headlines about the xenophobic violence here in South Africa, which has just recently permeated into the Townships of Cape Town. I assure you that I’m safe—there are bad neighborhoods everywhere and I’m avoiding any area where my safety may be compromised. In recent weeks some South Africans have become militant against immigrants, particularly from Somalia and Zimbabwe, who threaten their economy by taking jobs and reaping welfare benefits. Coming from Texas, it seems analogous to the American immigrant crisis, albeit without all of the violence. It’s incredibly sad that these immigrants who risked their lives to escape the horrific conditions in their home country are now met with such animosity and hatred. It often seems antithetical to what most South Africans took to heart after Apartheid, the messages of Mandela and Desmond Tutu, who preached about a “Rainbow Nation” of inclusion. What’s worse is that little has been done to curb the violence and few South African figureheads have publicly condemned the violence. TIA—this is Africa.

On a lighter note, I’ve finished with classes and I now have four finals interspersed with three weeks of nothingness. I’ve made a list of things I’d like to accomplish before leaving Cape Town on the 16th and I have been working diligently to cross things off the list. This weekend I visited an African crafts market before doing a sunset climb up Lion’s Head, a mountain with a panoramic view of the Cape. Yesterday I visited the National Art Gallery and the District Six Museum, a collection of personal effects to tell the story of forced removals during the Apartheid era (I also stopped by the Jewish Museum but didn’t make it past their cafeteria). And there’s much more on the itinerary for the weeks to come—restaurants, tourist attractions, even a tour of Parliament. I’ll keep you posted, and I promise to upload some more pictures soon.

Of course there is a downside to wrapping things up in Cape Town. I had to say goodbye to Nasiphi, the little girl I’ve been tutoring for the past semester, which was difficult since we’ve become close over the past few months. There are so many things I’m going to miss about this country, but I’m simultaneously looking forward to getting back to the familiar. I’ve made a mental list of the things I’ve missed most since being abroad—Mexican food, YouTube, and NBA playoffs top the list.

Also, congratulations to everyone who graduated over the past couple weeks—yay adulthood. Look forward to speaking to you soon!

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