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Published: November 13th 2009
While I was in South Africa I only made it to Cape Town a hand full of times. Mostly because I did not have a mode of transportation to get there (I did not have a car and reliable, safe public transportation is nearly nonexistent in South Africa). While I enjoyed my time in South Africa immensely, it was also incredibly difficult to adjust to living in such a crime filled country. I could no longer go for a walk outside after dark by myself. Having grown up in a rural town in Pennsylvania and gone to university in a small college town this was a shock in and of itself. When I went shopping or went uptown, I made sure not to carry anything more than what I needed. I always used a lock on my locker in the gym and had to lock my bicycle up every time I went somewhere, being sure to lock it using the back tire, not the front tire (the front tire comes off). It was easy to spot where people had made this mistake as you would see a lonely chained up front tire connected to a bike rake with the rest of
the bike M.I.A. While I was fortunate enough to never personally experience any kind of crime while I was in South Africa, I knew far to many people just within the group of international students that I knew, who had experienced some kind of crime. From friends with stolen cell phones, stolen bicycles, friends who were almost robbed on the train at 10 o'clock in the morning, I was more cautious there than I had ever been in my life.
I had orchestra rehearsals on Tuesday and Friday nights from 7 to 9. Since it was winter/spring, at 9pm it was dark outside. I would pack up my stuff and head outside looking all around me two or three times before I would bend over to put in the combination for my bike lock. Then I would hope on my bike and peddle back to Concordia as fast as my legs could take me.
The first day I arrived in my flat I was immediately informed by Erna, the woman at the front desk, that it was really important to make sure that you kept all valuables, laptops, cameras, wallets, etc out of arms reach of the window
in your dorm room and to shut and lock the windows if you were leaving. My oboe professor also warned me again and again that I shouldn't leave my instrument in my room when I leave for my week long spring break trip. She and her husband live in Cape Town and their home had just recently been broken into, she had reasons behind her warnings.
My first full Saturday in Stellenbosch, ISOS (International Student Organization of Stellenbosch) had organized a tour of Cape Town. We went to Camps Bay, another beach, a park near Table Mountain and the waterfront. This tour was the day after we hiked Stellenboschberg for the first time so I remember cringing in agony from sore muscles every time I got on and off of the bus. At the waterfront I ate ostrich for the first time. I ordered an ostrich wrap from one of the stands in the food court. It was such a bizarre combination of flavors. Ostrich and minty.
Later that day the bus managed its way up the side of a hill (using such a road as a bus should not have been on, especially with cars trying to
come down the road in the opposite direction). From the top we could look down on Cape Town and also see Robben Island off in the distance. Later in the semester, ISOS would take us to Cape Town again to tour Robben Island. However, they canceled the tour because of wind (they take you out to the island by ferry) and we ended up just spending another afternoon at the waterfront.
After a month of being confined to the campus or places around campus that were reachable by bicycle, Michael, Dominik and I finally decided to rent a car. We split the cost and Dominik, with his international driver's license and stick shift know how drove us, on the left hand side of the road, to Cape Point. On the way we stopped at Simonstown which is famous for it's penguins.
"The penguins look cold...
Come one, you're a penguin...
and you live in Africa...
and you're cold?
What kind of penguin are you?!"
The scenery at Cape Point was wonderful. It was a dreary day, raining on and off, but it was still well worth the trip.
The other pictures in this blog are
from the ISOS wine tasting tour. The first time I ever saw a map of all of the wineries in Stellenbosch it looked like a 5year old had dumped an entire pack of grape stickers on the map. There are so many wineries in Stellenbosch it is unbelievable. My favorite place out of the ones that we went to was easily Fairview. Not only did they have lots of wines to sample but they also had lots of cheese. I'm not sure if you were supposed to do this, but I definitely went through the cheese part twice. It was so delicious! Mmm!
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