I have officially been home from Cape Town for just over two weeks and as the World Cup streams through the television, office computer screens, and radio waves, I find myself home sick for a place that isn't my home. Nonetheless, Cape Town stirred something inside me that will most likely never leave my bones. Until the day I left, I was always overwhelmed by the beauty of Table Mountain, the plentiful beaches, and incredible serenity that South Africa offered me during my time abroad. South Africa, you will not be soon forgotten.
From January until June, I lived life unapologetically, more often saying 'why not' than 'why.' I surfed, jumped off a bridge, cage shark dived, climbed a mountain (more than once), watched the sun set (and rise), and traveled to places with exotic names. Each day I woke up, completely aware of the awesomeness of the day that stood before me. I have never been more happy in my entire life and just looking back at my time brings a surge of excitement and joy.
TOP 5 MEMORIES
5. The immenseness of Victoria Falls
During semester break, I was able to travel to Zambia and see the epic Victoria Falls. While most students enjoy their spring breaks in Mexico or Florida, I got to spend mine staring at some of the largest falls in the world. The 'Smoke that Thunders' can be heard much before it can be seen and it no doubtingly deserves its title as one of the seven wonders of the world.
4. Spending the day in Langa with Professor Dizu
African Instruments was by far my favorite class of the semester. Not only because learning to play the djembe is incredibly fun, but also because of Professor Dizu. This man is incredibly talented and has one of the kindest souls. Therefore, when he offered to take us to his home, Langa, for a Sunday afternoon I jumped at the opportunity. Langa is the largest township in Cape Town and on Sundays it comes to life with braais and neighborhood entertainment filling the streets.
3. Experiencing the Garden Route
The Garden Route takes place on the N2 between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Surfers from all over the world come to cruise the different beaches along the eastern coast of South Africa. We journeyed from elephant sanctuaries to the world's largest bungee jump.
2. Lee and Mom visit Cape Town
Probably one of the best weeks of my life.
We wined, dined, shark caged dived, hiked, and ventured to the tip of Africa!
1. Making some incredible new friends out of strangers
I came to South Africa alone and left with the best of friends.
After searching my photos for my "TOP 5" I quickly realized that I couldn't possibly marginalize the rest of my experience abroad by have a "Top;" therefore, here are other experiences that are unforgettable moments.
Traveling to Mozambique during Finals. Low tide.
Garden Route. Sun rise on the duns.
African Sunsets. Botswana. SAFARI.
SAFARI. SAFARI. SAFARI.
Makuro Rides. Botswana. Mosquito BITES.
Road trips. Mozambique. Road blocks. MOOOOve.
Swaziland. Touched a python! NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC!
Life wasn't always about the exotic adventure while in South Africa. Some of my fondest memories come from just sitting around the table in Mowbray after a day of classes at UCT. We filled our time tasting wines from local wineries, cooking food (I often was just an eater), and listening to music. I will not lie, UCT often left me frustrated in its lack of technology and zest by professors seeking to 'push' their students. Nonetheless, UCT was nostalgic. My daily hikes up to lecture were exhausting and sweaty, but comical and enchanting. African Instruments warmed my soul every Tuesday and Wednesday as I jammed out on my djembe. As I left UCT, I secretly craved my own school and am excited to enter my final year at University with high-speed wireless internet and efficiency!
Probably the most beautiful campus in the world.
I laughed and I played. Two things that are vital to living. I promise myself to never forget the power of those two actions.
But let's be serious, South Africa isn't infamously known for its beauty. Its remembered for its harsh past of racial oppression and segregation. Unfortunately, this past has managed in many ways to find home in the present. In many ways, economic prosperity is linked to one's race. And millions of blacks still find themselves in the most desperate of poverty.
Children are living with HIV, as South Africa has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world. For young adults my age (20-24), there is 28.1% prevalence of HIV/AIDS as of 2007.
For every beautiful mountain or graceful vineyard, there is equally scenes of disparity.
Nevertheless, South Africans are proud people. It has been a mere 16 years since gaining independence and time will be the ultimate test for South Africa.
South Africa never once failed to amaze me. I truly didn't know what to expect before coming and after returning home I still couldn't possibly describe South Africa in under 1000 words. I learned so many things about myself, South Africa, and the world over these past few months. I even learned how to change a tire (after 4 popped tires, it almost became second nature). I left a different person than I came.
Dear South Africa, you will never be forgotten. I hope to one day return and breathe your air once more. Until then, you will be in my thoughts.