Moloweni dear friends, colleagues, and fam!
Moloweni literally means “Hello Everyone!” in Xhosa, a South African language that does not cease to mystify me with its delightful clicks. It is a sheer wonder to learn and listen to. I’m sure I will not be fluent within four weeks (ha! in my dreams) but…the ever curious, quite murderously perfectionist side of me absolutely whimpers and moans because of this. It would be incredible to actually carry out a full conversation!
What was I saying earlier? Pride? Oh yes. That thing.
I think I better start squashing it down, before it becomes a cumbersome personality fit that I am continuously suffering through.
At any rate, below you will first find pictures of the Riverview Lodge! Followed by moments of the my first week. It’s been so full…so jam packed, I’m not sure how I’m going to adequately share it all. But hey! Here we go!
Yes, that’s me, and yes, you’ve seen this one before!
To my left is the actual entrance, the second door after the official security gate you must pass. Both places possess entrance codes, ensuring our safety during our stay in this phenomenal place.
Would you like a look inside?
Bathroom on the left has approximately 3 toilets and 6 shower stalls. Straight in front of you are the steep and very creaky steps that lead up to our rather large bedrooms (3 bunk beds to a room!) that I climb every night and descend every morning.
And…this is where I slept. My bunk bed is nestled against the curtains. And, every morning thus far…I have woken up to the twist and shrieks of the post winter wind, the palm fronds dancing in its folds, and the racket of the tram as it clicks and hustles across the tracks not 30 ft away from our lodging.
I’m really enjoying these sounds.
And the view from my window?
I have a very tall palm tree that stands curiously next to my window. It greets me every morning and patiently remains still as these extraordinary midnight hued birds with orange tail feathers and wings come to forage among its berry stash.
There were kids out in the courtyard this morning. Must have been at least 10 of them walking around, kicking up the gravel, trying to climb the palm trees. And laughing. How these 10 – 11 year olds could be so boisterous and cheerful at 6 in the morning, I haven’t a clue. But I had a kick watching them.
Which, when thinking about it, may be a bit creepy.
Yet, to listen to their Afrikaans accent? To watch as they sang a a hit American single (can’t remember it for the life of me) was fascinating.
I did scout around to the living quarters downstairs and this lodging house has a total of: 3 living rooms, 2 with their own personal TV set, 3 kitchens, 4 bathroom areas (complete with toilets and showers) and bedrooms galore. As I said before, this place continues to get bigger the further you go.
It certainly amazed me every time I turned around a new corner.
Here’s a view of the Breakfast area (there are 2, one on each side of the hall way) that I took while pleasantly chowing down on some toast, cereal, and orange juice.
Tang, to be more exact.
Warning: What I’m about to show you is a HUGE amount of pictures. Individual moments of the places we visited in the first week which include:
- Districts around Cape Town
- The Castle of Good Hope
- The Tram Station
- Simon’s Town and Boulders Beach
- Attending an important African Ceremony!
- And more….
Here we go!
Here I am! In the streets of Woodstock (a district in Cape Town), getting closer to Foreshore, where my professor had to load minutes into his phone.
If there is another aspect of life that I need to get used to in South Africa, it is minute usage.
I can’t repeat this enough, but the US is spoiled with unlimited minute, texting, and data plans. Such a luxury is nowhere in existence here in The Mother Land. Watching as my prof bought a new sim card and paid 60 rand (enough to last him a month) was odd. I knew I would have to do that soon for my iPhone.
The clerk that was helping my prof was really kind and so excited to have us as customers that he begged for a picture.
We couldn’t say no!
For a lot of these pictures, I am thankful to have the photos of my friends. There were many points that my phone was completely full and I had to depend on their efforts.
They didn’t disappoint at all.
This and the picture below are just hints to the graffiti we saw, and wow…
This stuff is amazing.
On this 5 hour excursion through various districts, we entered this famed shopping strip called The Old Biscuit Mill. It is more accurately pronounced as B’scit Mull; this alone tripped my prof up a bit when a local was trying to recommend it to him. Inside there was a fun array of stores, food shops, and a courtyard where we eventually congregated to take a breather.
We’d been walking a lot.
This is the quirky water fountain that I spoke about in one of my email updates! It’s pretty nifty and was fun to watch. Kudos to reusing and recycling!
These next stretch of photos show my first venture into Cape Town! Here, we used the tram for the first time, navigated the streets of downtown CT, and visited not only the The Castle of Good Hope, but the Company Garden.
All shall be explained in good time.
Please, resume scrolling!
Here is my very first tram ticket (which is now taped into my journal for safe keeping).
And here is me and a few of my crew mates waiting for the train at the station!
Finally boarding and racing away! (These trains are swift and barely allow even a few minutes for people to jump on and jump off at each stop. You had to move. Fast.)
Soon, we arrived within Cape Town’s Train Station and the collection of people took your breath away.
The weather was perfect. The streets were packed with cars, the sidewalks with people, and everywhere you looked, there was something different to see. Vendors and their stalls. Stores that had interesting names (Pic N Pay, Qwik Spart, etc.) and people. The sheer amount of people.
I was kept on my toes.
That KFC down below is probably the only American restaurant that I could spot. There was a restaurant chain that reminded me a bit of Wendy’s and guess what it was called?
I kinda wish I had gotten a picture of it!
And, here we are.
The Castle of Good Hope.
Before I can go on, there is one thing I need to clarify. I did not get a large amount of pictures from my time here because of a few things. It wasn’t easy to take photos partly due to the fact that the staff were strict about where we could point our cameras. Another thing that stopped me was the tour guide himself. I hung on to his every word. The further the tour continued, the more I realized that I didn’t feel right taking pictures.
I couldn’t ignore this deep sense of obligation, like I owed it to the men, women, and children who suffered here, to really hear the words of their history; not become distracted with the goal of taking good, quality pictures that I could show off back home.
Our tour guide plunged into his narrative. This Castle was the product of the Dutch East India Company. Regardless of how impressive it is (with its look outs, courtyards big enough to fit horses and men, personal well, dining halls), the Castle of Good Hope was primary holding grounds for slaves.
It was really sobering to listen to him as we walked around.
Raised in the 17th century, the Castle of Good Hope is one of South Africa’s oldest monument of colonization. It acted as a respite for ships traveling onto the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and abroad. A large garden (that we toured) was also constructed near the castle, housing much of the food these men and women needed to replenish themselves and continue on their trading voyages. Journeys that included transportation of slaves.
The captain and other military leaders were given their own separate quarters, while the shipmates and servants shared connected rooms that ran along the castle walls. But the slaves? They were kept imprisoned in the basements; rooms settled deep into the ground.
A particular basement was one of the pillars you see in the picture above. These 4 pillars connected all of the castle walls, anchoring them, and this specific pillar faced the onslaught of the sea.
Its primary function was storage of trade goods. However, once the men in charge realized that water began to leak inside, effectively damaging irreplaceable cargo, the purpose of this area changed. Instead of hosting valuables, slaves were kept here.
In this cold, cramped, pitch black, and damp room, chilled with the rising tide.
A room too small to fit the ever growing amount of captured slaves, people that were most likely close to dying in their sickened state.
Just stepping down into these places made my heart break.
To treat people so inhumanely, without a care of their health, their dignity, their rights as a living being…
It makes you cower inside.
I can’t imagine what this must have been like. I just can’t.
Once our tour was over, I felt the need to move, to think. Eventually, everyone climbed up to the second story of the castle, the roof top. There were walkways to explore here, areas that soldiers once patrolled. Because we were so high up from the ground, we were able to see far into downtown Cape Town and the crags of Table Mountain.
Despite being given a really tragic, inhumane history lesson (one that we undoubtedly needed to hear) the SASA Crew regained their silly spirit. Me included.
Maybe it was the cool air.
Or the blue sky.
Either way, we all had fun up at the top.
I definitely need to split this first week post into 2 blog posts. I’m sure your eyes must be tired from all the picture viewing.
Yeah…that feels right. I’ve made a plan.
Hang on tight folks! Part 2 is coming up soon!
Xolo (Peace, Goodbye) for now!