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Sean's Blog

Surprise Wakeup and other Events

Friday, June 5, 2009

Greetings Americans, how is life not in Africa? Here it is good! This morning I woke up after a much needed sleep to the sound of Mr. Cochrane telling Kelby that it is 8 and we need to get up to be at the meeting (which was at 8). We both set alarms, and we both must have either slept through them or else set them wrong (I think I did that). But we got there, although without breakfast, and learned a little bit about South Africa from one of the people who works for the local tour group, Spirit of Africa, I believe. I missed the introduction, though, so I don’t really know her name.
We then got on the bus and traveled to the township of Langa. Townships were established during the early days of Apartheid as places for displaced blacks and coloureds to live, as certain areas of the city were designated white residential zones. (The term “coloured”, or “colored” refers basically to everyone not white or “African African”, including Indians, Arabs, people of mixed heritage, and Asians.) These non-whites were forced to move away from their homes in these districts, and were moved to townships. Life in townships is very hard, often living in very, very small homes, shacks, hostels, and now, government housing. Langa, where we went, is the oldest township in Cape Town. One interesting thing about the townships, especially Langa, is that they are close to highways. Back in the Apartheid days, the government would build very nice houses in the areas visible to the highway, and tell people, “we don’t know what those black people are complaining about.” In this way, they hid the true life in the townships. On the outskirts of the townships are open areas where people have now built shacks. One thing that the guides told us was that township life is not ideal, the people don’t want to live here their whole lives, as many of the adults were born in other areas, such as the Western Cape, and moved to the city only to find work. Life in the township is simply survival, and many people build shacks on the outskirts. Many shops are ran out of cargo shipping containers. One thing that is tough about living in the townships is that, because they are farthest from the main areas of the city, the people who live there but work in the city have to pay a lot for transportation. But these are the poorest people in the city, so life is very hard.
Many people find it hard to get food. We visited Rosie in another township, which is also the largest, Khayalitsha (spelled right I hope). Rosie makes hundreds of meals everyday for the kids. They consist of porridge or sandwiches. The bread for sandwiches she gets for free from a bakery in Cape Town. She cooks in a very small building, but is still able to feed over 200, maybe even 300 kids.
For lunch we stopped at a church, not sure where though, that had an upside down map of the world, but the words printed on it were right. They did this to place Cape Town at the top of the world. The meal was some sort of rice, sweet potatoes, cabbage, and beef, with ginger beer, and custard with guava for desert. After lunch was the other surprise…
Because of the weather, we might not be able to do the shark cage… so instead of Robben Island today, we went to a pool to learn scuba diving. This is so that incase of not being able to cage dive, we could scuba dive instead at the aquarium right down the street. It was really fun, but it was hard not to breath through my nose, and the water was freezing! Only 13 degrees Celsius they said.

Essential Programs Details

Duration 12 days
When June 2nd - 13th, 2009
Focus Wildlife Research/Conservation
Political History
Culture