I landed in Johannesburg last Friday night and was welcomed with 40-degree temperatures as their winter season is ending here. The weekend following was packed with copious amount of history tours and learning about the history of South Africa.
My first museum visit was to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, which is located next to an amusement park and across the street from a casino. When tickets are distributed at the Apartheid museum they are marked white or black and must enter through the entrance according to your ticket. I received a white ticket and other members of my group received a black ticket. That one initial feel of separation on the basis of skin color was quite moving and powerful and nonetheless set the tone for the rest of the museum visit. The museum was very informative and powerful in its presentation on all of the different players of apartheid and activists of apartheid. The video footage was enough to make my eyes tear at the thought of young people risking their lives so that their own people could have better ones. There was also a section dedicated to the women of the movement, which made my feminist persona very happy.
As the orientation continued, we visited more museums in Soweto and Proteria. In Soweto, we visited the houses of Desmound Tutu and Nelson Mandela, which were on the same street, which is also the only street in South Africa (and possibly the world?) where two Nobel Peace Prize winners have resided.
After having a crash course weekend with museums, monuments, and cool secret headquarter anti-apartheid farms. We headed to Cape Town on Tuesday to which I was not prepared for all of the beauty and enchantment of this city. The landscape of the city is something I have never seen before with all of the greenery and the mountains. My group and I occupied a hostel for a few days on Kloof St. Our hostel name was called “Once in Cape Town” and conveniently had a great restaurant and bar attached to it. Kloof Street was also not the far away from the famous Long Street in Cape Town and I spend a lot of time getting adjusted to the Cape Town nightlife.
During the day, my Xhosa lessons have started and in some ways I find it a hard language because of the all the clicking and the tongue and throat movement but I hope soon that I can get the hang of it.
To conclude our orientation, our group hiked Lion’s Head Mountain to which I was the butt to the top and the butt to the bottom. However, it was worth it to get to the top although the clouds that also made our trek very slippery had blocked the views. I am grateful that I had a very patient instructor and friend who made sure I wasn’t alone during the hike when the group was by far way ahead of me. The pains and horrors of the hike also preoccupied my mind of going to my homestay in Langa on the same day. I arrived to a home of a pensioner and school children driver where they have two granddaughters who live with them on the weekend when they are not at school. They have given me the name of “Buhle“ which means in Beauty and Xhosa, although it is not working out as it takes me a while to recognize it when they call our to me. I learned that my host mother has been hosting students for almost 12 years and is very understanding of American students for the most part, which I am very grateful for.
Despite how fun my first week in Africa was for orientation, I am relieved to spend some time away from my group and start a normal schedule.
P.S I apologize for my lack of photos. My WiFi is subpar and I've been trying to upload this post for the last two days,