London and my first week in Cape Town

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Table Mountain from a distance.

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Camps Bay.

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Scenic drive through Cape Town.

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Spirit at the London Bridge

Spirit at the London Bridge

Buckingham Palace

Welcome to “Spirit in South Africa!”


As a proud student of the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas I am completing my International Public Service Project in Cape Town, South Africa! This summer I am working with an amazing organization called the South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP) from mid May until mid August. SAEP is an award-winning non-profit dedicated to helping children and youth in the impoverished informal settlements (townships) of Cape Town through support at every level of academic and personal development. SAEP helps beneficiaries build academic and life skills, realize their academic potential, prepare for productive employment, and contribute as leaders to South Africa’s economic and social development. I will post more about SAEP in the coming days, but I wanted to kick off my blog by painting a picture of my journey to this magnificent land.


On my way to Cape Town I had a 9 hour layover in London, so I decided to spend the day in the city. Fortunately, I sat next to a London native on the plane who was able to give me very detailed instructions on how to get on the Tube (pronounced “Chube” by people in London) and into the city. I only had nine hours, but I managed to visit the London Bridge, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park. I took Flat Stanley around London, but unfortunately he hasn’t been dolled up in South African attire. He’s kind of bland in London, but don’t worry he is going to be vibrant with the colors of South Africa soon enough!


After walking around all day I sat down to a delicious meal of fish and chips in a pub right downtown. I wish I had more time to spend in London, but it was a great day and break in between flights! After eating I hopped back on the Tube and headed back to the airport. I was so excited, yet delirious after time changes (night suddenly becoming day), etc. But, I was so excited when I got to my gate titled “Cape Town”! I was so excited that I even took a picture of it. We boarded the plane in the early evening and set off to South Africa. I tried to sleep, but I kept peaking at the map and stared in awe as I saw the digital airplane coasting over the continent of Africa. It was such a wonderful feeling to think that West Africa was right below me, although I couldn’t see anything because it was dark. But, even to be soaring in African clouds made me beam with excitement!


I watched “The Reader” and “Revolutionary Road” throughout the night. Kate Winslet is amazing! Breakfast was served two hours before landing and the anticipation was incredible as we approached Cape Town. Don’t ask me how (because I chose my window seat online), but I was in the middle of the plane with no outside view. I was ill over that because the sun was just setting and I wanted to feel the warmth of the South African sun kiss my face. However, I managed to weasel my way to a view and it was blazing and beautiful!


When we landed I was so energized to be in Cape Town that I was bursting at the seams. A lovely young woman named Danielle picked me up from the airport and she gave me a warm welcome into the city. On the way from the airport Danielle pointed out key areas, such as some of the townships that surround the city. For those of you who are not familiar, the townships were where many black South Africans were expelled to during Apartheid. Amazing, vibrant, loving people live in the townships, yet they face intense challenges such as extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, violence, and a host of other social circumstances. More on this later.
I arrived at my hostel and checked in early in the morning. I wanted to soak in everything that I could, but I was practically limp after travelling for 2 days and bopping in and out of time zones. I passed out cold and then couldn’t sleep through the Cape Town night because I slept all day and my body thought it was day! After a couple of days I adjusted and life has been better than sliced bread ever since! Speaking of sliced bread, my hostel was right by a grocery store called the Spar. They have delectable food at low, low prices. The currency in South Africa is the Rand. The most beautiful looking dollar bills I have ever seen. The exchange rate is sweet, so it’s awesome! For example, you can pretty much buy an entire meal including a meal and a couple of drinks for under $10. I bought groceries the other day for about $7 US and it lasted me five days. Good stuff too like pesto, gouda cheese, the tastiest rye bread, sparkling water and a tantalizing avocado!


So, I stayed at my first hostel for 6 days and relocated to another one with a much lively vibe. I went from night to day…from a hostel where you basically just sleep in to one with a pool table, small swimming pool outside, inter-nerd access, comfortable beds and super cool people from all around the world. So far I’ve met people from all over South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Brazil, Namibia, Amsterdam and London all in one week!
Cape Town has an amazing view of Table Mountain and palm trees and lush green vegetation line the streets. People of all shades of the rainbow reside in Cape Town, hence the nickname “Rainbow Nation.” There are 11 official languages in South Africa and I have heard lively conversations in many of them, most notably Xhosa, which is a treat to listen to! However, despite the beauty of the place, the long lasting effects of Apartheid have gauged at the livelihood of many people in South Africa. The townships are a keen emblem of the effects.


This winter (yes, I’m in South Africa’s winter, which is beautiful I must say!) I will be interviewing principals and students who work with SAEP to gather their testimonies and stories. I have visited the Philippi Township twice already and had the privilege of meeting the most beautiful and loving children at a crèche (pre-school). At each crèche we visited the children (over 50 little kids) came running and screaming and hugged my legs and welcomed me to their crèche. I’ve never felt so good in my life. The children are strikingly beautiful and have such radiant smiles and faces. At that time the only word I could say in Xhosa was hello, so our communication was mere smiles, hugs, laughter and singing. The little girls broke out in hand games and began singing and dancing to show me! I cannot wait to spend more time in the townships. Go to this website for more information about the Philippi Township: http://www.saep.org/TownshipConnection/topics/history.htm


I also attended a meeting in Philippi with the women principals of about 10 crèches. They warmly welcomed me and I love how they call me Sister! The women also said that I had an “African form!” I beamed with delight and felt a kinship with my Sisters, with whom I share my ancestry!


I hope to keep my blog updated with lots of stories and photos about my experience. Please send me feedback and let me know if you want to know more about something or are interested in certain aspects of the stunning city and people of Cape Town!

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~ by spirittrickey on May 21, 2009.

2 Responses to “London and my first week in Cape Town”

  1. Wow you got off to a running start…I can’t wait to see pictures

    Like

  2. Off topic – Help with PM?
    lost password
    Boss Resurfacing
    Boss Resurfacing

    Like

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