The Abroad Diaries: Curiousity for Cape Town

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Molly Willeford, Staff Writer

 

My name is Molly Willeford, and I am checking in from Cape Town, South Africa!

Since arriving in South Africa at the end of January, I’ve stayed with four different homestay families in four very different parts of the country. The first homestay was in a township of Cape Town called Langa. The family fed me some of the best chicken I have ever eaten.

The township was when I think I had my first realization, “I’m in South Africa.”

If Langa made me start to realize I was in South Africa, the next homestay village, Tshabo, erased all doubt. It was the very definition of rural: every morning we had to chase cows out of the front yard.

We also had to use and outhouse which was something I never thought I would have to do. On top of this, there was no running water, so you can imagine the smell after a few days.

After Tshabo, I moved in with a white family in an area called Stellenbosch. Yes, there are white people in South Africa! I think I went through something almost like reverse culture-shock because everything was so similar.

Except for the wine – the area of Stellenbosch is known for its excellence in wines. So of course we had to stop and do some tasting. I’d have to agree, excellent wine (I’m legal in both South Africa and America).

Our final homestay is within the city of Cape Town, an area called Bo-Kaap. This homestay has been my absolute favorite. The sights and smells are perfect: the houses are all brightly colored in pastels, and you can always smell lamb or beef cooking from the houses. The area is predominantly Muslim, so it’s incredible to explore and see mosques and hear salat called out five times each day. It’s been a truly beautiful experience living there.

I wanted to go to a place that was not in Europe but was still a big city, and I found exactly that in Cape Town. The “Mother City,” as the city is called, is a giant mesh of cultures and ideas from all over the world. Walking down the street you can easily hear all eleven of South Africa’s national languages being spoken. I’ve had the pleasure of learning one of them, Xhosa, during my time here.

Geographically speaking as well, Cape Town is one of the most interesting places I have ever seen – Atlantic Ocean on one side of the city, and surrounded by four major mountains. These mountains are Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill.

I braved a fear of heights to climb to the very top of Lion’s Head, which is 669 meters above sea level (or 2,195 feet, since we are the only country that doesn’t use the metric system).

South Africa is a beautiful country, and Cape Town is an even more beautiful city. I love being in an area where so many different cultures and idea mesh together. I also love that I have been able to see and experience so much that this country has to offer. Being in South Africa, a country that just 20 years ago, was so conflicted and segregated has opened up my eyes to the rest of the world and has truly changed my perspectives and beliefs. I am truly thankful for the opportunities given to me through this rich and vibrant city. Enkosi kakhulu, Kapa (Thank you very much, Cape Town in Xhosa).