Cape Town's Date & Time

Monday, January 18, 2010

(1/18) Ubuntu

This morning I woke up once again with the sun blazing through my window. Besides last night’s winds, I am yet to see a cloud in the sky. My roommates and a bunch of other girls in my flat had gone to the beach all day yesterday and wanted to go hiking, so I stretched my sore legs and headed back up.

Above: The group of girls from my flat.
Below: Lina, my roomate, and myself on Table Mountain

We once again started by hiking through campus to Rhodes Memorial. From there we took a different route, which wrapped around the mountain so that we were climbing with downtown Cape Town and the ocean below us. After reaching another monument we decided to head back to Rhodes Memorial for lunch. The restaurant we ate in was literally on the side of the mountain overlooking the mountainside. While we were at the restaurant an older woman (pretty old) fell out of her seat and the paramedics had to be called. It took them well over an hour to arrive, which makes me wonder how long it would take for the paramedics to arrive if something were to happen much higher on the mountain, considering the trails aren’t marked, it would be fairly difficult to give accurate directions and such. Also in the terms of danger, another group of hikers saw a huge snake, which I now kick myself because while hiking yesterday we literally waded through knee-deep grass without thinking anything about it. Yikes.

After lunch we made our way back down to Rondebosch and bought a few more groceries (toilet paper) and finally headed back home to get out of the sun (a shame I know, but the sun rays are pretty intense here and quite a few people have gotten awful burns, I have managed to get away with just some red on my shoulders). The girls proved to struggle a bit more than my group yesterday of mixed gender, but it was nice not having to charge up the mountain two days in a row. I was way too excited to shower and rub off all the dirt and sunscreen. Lina, Lindsay (my roommates), and I pretty much just relaxed the rest of the afternoon before making dinner, corn on the cob and lemon chicken. We hadn’t officially tried out our new kitchen, so it was fun to try to convert Celsius to adjust the oven to a proper cook time.

After dinner a group of boys from our program were having a barbeque so I was able to get to meet a lot more people from the program. There are A LOT of kids from the East Coast here. I have gotten way too many questions about cheese and Brett Farve.

We headed to Observatory, a local bar scene, for drinks after the barbeque. We met some locals and talked to them quite awhile about social change and the political climate in South Africa (of course this would happen at midnight at a bar). They were Indian and explained the history of Indians in Southern Africa. Indians were used as the initial service to the early Europeans through indentured servitude, so there is a pretty significant population in Cape Town.

I have been making a mental note of all the little differences in the English language here in comparison to home. For example school is spelled skool and college is referred to University or Varsity. If you say college, you are usually talking about high school. Also, university here is a three year process and you take the forth year if you plan to attend any form of graduate school as the prerequisite. Ketchup is called tomato sauce, and if you want the salty kind we have in the U.S. you need to buy Heinz, or else it will be sweet. One of the girls at lunch made the mistake of ordering lemonade and received sprite, so I still need to figure out how to ask for lemonade, because it would be so delicious after a day out in the sun. Diet Coke doesn’t exist here, only regular and Coke Light. Also, Kit Kat is a Nestle product here, not Hershey. The packaging is significantly different as well.

Ubuntu is officially one of my new favorite words/philosophies. It has origins in the Bantu languages, which are used throughout southern Africa. It literally translates to I am because you are, you are because I am. In a philosophical sense it refers to a community being tied to every member. If a traveler comes into a town, that person wouldn’t have to ask for food or water, the community would just offer it. In a sense by helping one another you are helping yourself because a community is equivalent to the weakest person. It is a founding principal of the new South African republic and is a classical principal of traditional African ideals. I sort of feel that Ubuntu is the polar opposite to the American mentality “pull yourself up from your bootstraps,” but I really like the sense of being tied to a person so much so that you feel interconnected within your very being (like the way I feel about Lee and my family).

Well I am done with the language/philosophy lesson for the day, in all another great day in the Mother City.

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