#OPENSTELLENBOSCH… but is it actually closed?

On one of our museum trips, we watched a short documentary about the Soweto Uprising. We had the opportunity to watch real footage of students protesting a mandate from the apartheid government that instruction in Soweto schools be given in Afrikaans — in a community where Afrikaans was not predominantly spoken. Language in this case became a tool for oppression and a barrier to education.

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An Open Stellenbosch protest on campus near the stairs to the library — called the bib by many students. (Image by Open Stellenbosch Instagram.)

Fast forward nearly forty years, and you will find a jarringly similar dialogue on the very campus at which we are studying. At Stellenbosch, teaching faculty essentially have the option to teach either in English or Afrikaans or a mixture of both. And most times, students will find that some required courses for many majors are given all in or in a significant portion of Afrikaans. This becomes problematic when you consider that a small percentage of students – of whom are predominately black – have little to no background in Afrikaans at a school where the translation services are still clunky at best. For a university that is publicly funded, this policy seems to contradict the country’s promise for equal access to education.

Of course, the problem then falls onto lines of culture and race as Afrikaans is historically linked to the white Afrikaaner-dominated apartheid government. The students and faculty supporting the Open Stellenbosch movement are using the dialogue of the apartheid struggle in order to claim their own voice in their education. The biggest concern with the Open Stellenbosch movement is the fact that Afrikaans is so ingrained in the historical and institutional fabric of the city of Stellenbosch and the university. (Another concern: some of the strategies the students of Open Stellenbosch employ are kind of questionable.) An overwhelming majority of students and faculty are defending Afrikaans as something that makes Stellenbosch unique, with many Afrikaans-speaking individuals evoking questions of institutional memory. The question is then, what is it that Afrikaans represents in people’s memory? Some see it as the language of the oppressor; others, the language that arguably saved the university. This is an oversimplified account of the whole Open Stellenbosch movement and the dialogue around it, but it is just one example of the complexity and messiness that South Africa faces as it adapts to its newfound democracy.

Trail Blazing Professors (& Not Just in the Academic Way!)

When we talk about study abroad experiences, it seems that classes don’t always take up the spotlight. And that’s understandable. We have to take advantage of our time in a beautiful and unique country — lots of our adventures were outside of the classroom, but in South Africa many of these adventures also included our professors.

In fact, I think it’s fair to say that one of the biggest reasons that our program in South Africa is so amazing is in large part due to the professors and the relationships we have been able to build with them. I remember a conversation the thirteen of us Northwestern students were having about our professors at Stellenbosch and how much we appreciated their willingness to connect with us outside of the classroom, recognizing that our identities are not just made up of our hours in lecture. “They treat us like real people,” to quote another student. It was refreshing and something about this trip that I will never forget.

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Jacob during our hike at Jonkershoek in Stellenbosch. The group of us had some deep meaningful conversations (DMCs as Stellenbosch students called it) with him about learning and US-South Africa relationships — as we cooled off near a running river.

One of my favorite memories is getting the chance to hike with Jacob, one of our professors at Stellenbosch and our academic program director. Beyond skillfully scheduling all our classes and overseeing the academic portion of our time abroad, Jacob really emphasized the importance of having a chance to explore all that South Africa has to offer. And that definitely includes the mountains and nature reserves.

As we hit the trails at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve just minutes from campus, we discussed the recent fires in Stellenbosch — responsible for burning much of the lush greenery Jonkershoek is usually covered in — and the implications that has on the preservation of the reserve as well as on the economics of South Africa. In between jokes and breaks for snacks, the small group of students and I actually got a chance to learn about Stellenbosch and South Africa in a way that I would venture to guess isn’t common for most college students. (Jacob also taught us a thing or two about hiking — and for me, how to figure out where the actual trail is. Never ask me to lead on hikes. Because I will get you lost.)

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Proudly waving our Northwestern flag at Jonkershoek at a little waterfall while Jacob took a breather behind us on the trail.

After taking a dip in a trickling waterfall, we stopped to relax near a small river and talked with Jacob more about the relationship between Stellenbosch and Northwestern and learned a lot about his motivation for fostering meaningful educational experiences, especially internationally. I think the three of us who were able to hike with him that day developed so much respect for his perspective on learning — large because we’re proof that some of these casual and personal moments can help you learn more effectively.

And thankfully, on this trip, Jacob is not the only teacher we got a chance to know outside of the classroom. Amanda Gouws joined us for wine tastings — adding her invaluable perspective as a wine-maker herself — and Cape Town explorations. Our course TAs became some of our good friends and accompanied us on the Garden Route excursion. David Bunn, mentioned before, was the best leader we could have asked for in Kruger National Park.

The people that we got a chance to learn from are unparalleled and something so worth leaving Evanston for.

Lions, Spirit Birds, and Olifants — OH MY!

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One of our prized experiences: driving up right next to lions resting on the cool pavement of the road in the early morning. My camera didn’t have zoom, but this is image I was able to get. That should tell you how close we got.

The folks at IPD warned us explicitly not to overlap blogs about Kruger National Park. And between Iheoma, Emily, and I — it appears that we succeeded a little bit too well. But thankfully, one perk about posting incredibly inexcusably late is that I can choose to fill in the gaps my fellow bloggers didn’t get a chance to talk about. Can’t blame them though. There’s WAY too much to cover over our whole program. Kruger, though, demands to be mentioned.

We spent a glorious week disconnecting from the distractions of technology and had a chance to explore one of the greatest wildernesses on this world. Being lead by the knowledgeable and all-around great human Dr. David Bunn was a blessing in itself, but the whole experience of Kruger is hard to sum up — the serenity of disconnecting, but also reconnecting with the environment and wildlife around us; the realization of the smallness of our existence, but also the massive impact we have as humans on all lives. Because of this, I’ll try to give you a glimpse into an average day of our adventures in Kruger.

4:30 AM (or some other ridiculously early time): Wake up and get ready for a morning bush walk! While a lot of us were under the impression we would have to be roughing it for a week, the accommodation run by the South African National Parks (SANParks) were very nice. (If you ever visit — which you definitely should if you’re able — Olifants camp in Kruger is a must-visit.) Getting out of our comfortable beds this early was more than a little rough, but so worth it.

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We were instructed to always walk in a single file through the bush — don’t want to sneak up on animals or they might attack. But always well-protected with our armed rangers. Letters, the ranger picture here, was also enormous which was reassuring.

5:00 AM – 8:00AM: Exploring the bush on foot led by SANParks rangers equipped with guns the size of people. A crazy awesome time to feel like to peek into the habitat of the animals we see on our day-long game drives — also super educational: Katie Lants (we call her Track Queen) became a master at identifying animals by their tracks! And seeing the sunrise while walking through the bush is like nothing else. The things I would do to experience that again…

8:30AM: By this point, we haven’t eaten anything except some crackers and biltong (read Iheoma’s blog for more information) during our bush walk. Regrouping over breakfast (rusks and tea!) with the rest of the Northwestern crew and David and Xolani (who helped out with our program in Kruger and also happens to speak all eleven official languages of South Africa!), we make our lunches and prepare for the day’s travels.

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Selfies from the GDV with our animal friends was a must. None of us are sorry about this.

9:00AM – 5:00 PM: Game Drive through Kruger! This year, we made our way through most of the park (one of the largest in the world), starting at the southernmost rest camp and working our way north. During the game drives, this was when we would spot most of the animals featured in our millions of pictures we took. Lots of tears and squealing when we saw baby elephants, competitions between game drive vehicles (affectionately called GDVs) to spot animals, and assigning each other totem birds, which is basically the concept of a spirit animal, but adapted to the birds of Kruger.

5:00 PM – 6:30PM: Settle into our camp for the night, clean ourselves, and listen to a lecture from David before dinner.

6:30PM – 8:00PM: Amazing dinner (and always dessert) from Aggy’s Shadow, our caterers for the trip. Our favorite meals included bobotie, chakalaka, malva pudding, and milk tart — with greek salad making an appearance every night.

8:00PM – 10:00PM: Clean up after dinner and wash dishes. Stargaze (!!). Break out our headlamps to explore the camp at night. Panic when you see a honey badger. Journal and reflect our adventures. Sleep after a long, but fulfilling day and prepare for the next one.

 

Like a Fine Wine, Stellenbosch Gets Better With Time

Notorious for their lush vineyards covering the rolling hills of the Western Cape and dedication to making spectacular world renowned wines, I was especially excited to experience wine culture first hand. It wasn’t until arriving to Stellenbosch did I learn that they happen to be well known for their wine around world.

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Fun Fact: The production of wine in the Western Cape (primarily in areas such as Stellenbosch, Franshoek, and Paarl) consistently keep South Africa in the Top 8 wine producing countries in the world. Through talking with local friends and our professors we were able to gain insight on the way in which South Africans view wine; their perspectives transcend that of wine being a libation meant for celebratory to having a culture surrounding it. To South Africans, wine doesn’t discriminate in the occasion, socioeconomic class, or age (I always thought wine was a “Mom drink”); it’s appropriate to be enjoyed after a nice hike, at dinner with your friends, or to pass the time in the middle of load-shedding.

Being a novice wine drinker, I saw my time in Stellenbosch to be useful to learn about wines and develop and appreciation for the beverage. Luckily for us, we had the opportunity to visit wineries in the region without breaking the bank (an average wine tasting range from $2-$5.50). This resulted in a total of 12 wine tours over 10 weeks.

Wine and Cheese Pairings

Wine and Cheese Pairings

Le Bouquet #neverforget

Le Bouquet #neverforget

Not only can I tell you the differences between a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Shiraz, and a Pinotage; what white wine can pairs best with a spicy chicken dish; and how rosé got it’s groove back– but I now have an understanding a the culture that surrounds wine. It is not a beverage meant to be chugged from a plastic bag or drank from a red solo cup. Wine is meant to be enjoyed and consumed with friends. It has a way of slowing time and helping us take in the minute intricate beauties of the world that surround us.  With this knowledge, I plan to share and educate my friends and family making those around me more ~cultured~ and ~sophisticated~ one glass at a time.

Wine connoisseurs in the making.

Wine connoisseurs in the making.

Feeling Otherness & Other Things

Long time, no blog! I want to apologize for not keeping up with this blog during my actual time on the program. If anything, I suppose we can interpret my failure to post a blog as a testament to South Africa’s ability to keep me busy. So much has happened, and I will try to do my best to catch you all up on our journeys.

Over the past ten weeks, we have been incredibly lucky to have our program sponsor many trips all over South Africa and providing us with a wider – albeit still not complete – understanding of this country. If we had left South Africa thinking that Stellenbosch was a representative picture of South Africa, we would have sorely overlooked the diversity of the so-called “Rainbow Nation.”

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Lobby outside of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Designed to commemorate the past and the struggle for democracy.

During our third week, we made a four-day stop in Johannesburg before jetting off to adventure in Kruger National Park. Compared to Stellenbosch’s sleepy charm, Joburg is like a hardened, renegade cousin. Its steel buildings and no-nonsense bustle made me feel like we were in an urban jungle. And with the recent events happening nearby, we were finally faced with a little chaos.

One morning, we woke up to the chanting of students across the street to our hotel. In the wake of xenophobic attacks in Pretoria and Joburg, these young activists were voicing their demands for peace. When we talk about xenophobia (which means “fear of the other”) here in South Africa, it primarily refers to a prejudice against African foreign nationals. These individuals, while currently residing in South Africa, come from other African countries for similar reasons most immigrants have for leaving their home country: the hope for a better life. From what I can gather, South Africans responsible for the xenophobic attacks interpret the presence of these African foreign nationals as competition for jobs and resources, as a threat for the hope and future democracy promised only twenty-one years ago. But like much of what we learned here, it is also not as simple as that when we consider tensions of culture, history, and language (i.e. the Zulu king calling for African foreign nationals to leave South Africa).

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Schoolchildren who protested the recent xenophobic attacks also put up these posters on a wall near our hotel in Johannesburg. (Image by Treyvon Thomas.)

For days, all we heard and saw revolved around xenophobia, a stark reminder of just one of the many issues South Africa faces as a budding democratic nation. Radio shows, posters, newspapers, and nearly all forms of media was abuzz with talk about the lives lost and murders attempted due to this “fear of the other.” As American students, our difference was did not put us in any position of danger. (READ: Parents and loved ones, we were kept extremely safe during this time.) But in the middle of this social turbulence, I couldn’t help but think about the struggles of citizenship, immigration, and identity the United States also faces today.

Missing the Adventure

Writing my last blog post means that my quarter in South Africa is officially over (even though I technically returned to the US almost two months ago), so naturally, I’ve been putting off this post as long as possible. It already feels like I’ve been back forever, though, so I figure it’s finally time to recap my quarter abroad and write about my re-adjustment to life in America.

Enjoying one of many adventures

 

I actually settled back into life at home pretty easily: I moved back into my apartment, resumed working in a psychology lab, and drank a lot of Starbucks to make up for the lack of it in South Africa. Basically, life has returned to normal. The hardest thing about being home, though, has been settling back into a strict routine. In South Africa, we hardly had any sense of a routine at all. Some weeks we had class, and other weeks we spent in different parts of the country. Some days we went to class in a classroom, and other days, we had class at a hospital, clinic, or health organization. During our free time, we went on countless adventures – hiking, going to the beach, exploring Stellenbosch, shopping, and so on. At first, the lack of routine was stressful. There was a lot of “when is that assignment due?” and “where do we have class?” and “is this a free weekend, or is something planned?” Even though we got a calendar of our schedule for the quarter, it felt like things were often up in the air. However, returning home and resuming my 9-5 daily work schedule has really led me to appreciate the spontaneity our schedule in South Africa often had. Having such a varied schedule caused me to be a lot more lighthearted and carefree. Because I never really knew what to expect, every day became an adventure. I could be sitting in class one day, hiking to the top of a mountain the next, and exploring the city of Cape Town the day after that. It’s been hard to recapture that sense of adventure in my everyday life back home, and it’s a feeling I really miss.

Believe it or not, studying for the GRE is not as fun as being in South Africa.

Believe it or not, studying for the GRE is not as fun as being in South Africa.

 

Despite the struggles of adjustment to life back home, I wouldn’t trade my 77 days in South Africa for the world. I met some amazing people, saw some amazing things, and had so many amazing adventures. I learned more about public health and community development than I ever could have learned in a quarter at home. And I fell in love with the most beautiful country. I don’t know when I’ll be back to South Africa, but I know I will be someday.

Give Me My Pen

Kaley dancing with one of the kids from the village

Kaley dancing with one of the kids from the village

On the second night of our homestay in HaMakuya, a rural village in northern Limpopo Province, Kaley, Duncan and I donned the traditional clothing lent to us by our host family. As the sun sunk low in the sky, we waited outside as other women and children from the village gathered. After a bit of playing with the village kids, the female head of our household grabbed two empty water jugs, and she and another woman began to drum. The other women and some of the children joined in with their voices, and the children took turns dancing. Eventually, they dragged us into the circle, so we tried our hand at the traditional dances of the Venda culture. We ended up getting laughed at quite a bit, but everyone had fun.

After 45 minutes or so, the music died down and the kids broke off to play more games, dragging us with them. We learned a lot of games from the kids in the few days we were there. It was really fun trying to figure out the rules of the games without being able to effectively communicate with the kids, who only spoke the very basic English that they’d learned in school. That night, we played a few of my favorite games. The kids had so much energy, even after a full day of playing in the hot sun.

After the sun had set, the kids started to break off and go home for dinner. Suddenly, two of the teenaged girls were on either side of me, hugging me tightly. “Give me my pen,” one of them said in halting English. At first I was confused. But she repeated the phrase, multiple times, more urgently each time. “Give me my pen.” Gradually, I realized what she meant. Earlier that day, I had brought out my pen and notebook for the kids to doodle in. She must have been referring to that pen, asking if she could have it. Slightly uncomfortable, I tried to back away, but then the other girl stepped in. “Two pens,” she said as she grabbed onto me. At this point, I felt like I couldn’t refuse their pleas – they seemed so incredibly desperate, despite their previous joy while dancing and playing games. So I said that I’d be back, and I went inside our hut and got two pens, the only two I had brought with me to HaMakuya. I gave them to the girls, and they left.

Kaley, Duncan, and I with members of our homestay household

Kaley, Duncan, and I with members of our homestay household

This experience on our second night in HaMakuya will stay with me for a long time. The quick transition from day to night, from playful joy to desperation, was incredibly revealing of these people’s lives. Although the people of HaMakuya appeared to be happy with their simple lives and were incredibly welcoming to us as outsiders, they were clearly in need – two teens desperately begging me for a basic school supply made this clear. I wish I could have helped more, but I’m so grateful to the people of HaMakuya for letting us into their lives and teaching me lessons about optimism, resilience, and true need.

Saving Individuals, Not the World: 900 Children of Hangberg

In the community of Hangberg, a part of the greater Cape Town area, the population struggles with drug addiction, mental health problems, crowded living conditions, the influence of gangs, and a lack of job opportunities. Children are raised in a toxic environment where many parents and other adult role models illegally poach abalone and shopkeepers freely sell alcohol and drugs to anyone who will buy (young children included). In a community like this, how does one seek to fix any one public health issue?

In our public health visit to Hangberg, I struggled to grasp the complexity of the community’s situation. On one hand, it seemed impossible to address any of the community’s problems without causing a new one – there were just too many intertwined factors negatively impacting the health of the population. On the other hand, we visited Hout Bay CARES – a drug rehabilitation center  – and the local elementary school, both of which actually seemed to be making an impact.

I was inspired by the school principal and the representatives we spoke to at CARES, but I didn’t understand the true miracle of their success until we took a brief walking tour of Hangberg. Most people appeared to live in tin shacks, put up mere inches from the shack next door. Two homes had recently burned down completely, killing a family of four (http://allafrica.com/stories/201504211491.html), yet locals were already building new shacks on the property, eager to take advantage of the new empty space. It’s hard to put into words the full complexity of the health situation in this community, but it was clearly a poor environment in which to live and attempt to raise children. Even then, families refused to leave.

Hangberg -- the plots of land in the foreground were affected by the fire. News story: http://allafrica.com/stories/201504211491.html

Hangberg — the plots of land in the foreground were affected by the fire.

Though I’m still grappling with what I learned during our visit to Hangberg, it was my favorite excursion for our public health class this quarter. I’ve always wanted to be someone who makes a difference in the world, and I think I’ve gained some degree of clarity about how one can successfully pursue this dream. If Hout Bay CARES and the Hangberg elementary school are the models of success, the key is to work with individuals on a community level. Saving the world in one fell swoop is unfortunately not possible when each community and each individual in the world faces a completely different situation influenced by a complicated assortment of factors. Even the elementary school principal in Hout Bay recognized her limitations: of her 1000 students, she estimated that 100 would likely not escape their circumstances, with or without her help. But because the principal was committed to working within the community and acknowledging the unique situation of Hangberg residents, the other 900 could be saved. So although I don’t yet know how I will accomplish this, I now dream not to change the world but to instead help as many individuals as I can. Thanks to our visit to Hangberg, I have a much better idea of how to pursue this goal.

Girl Meats World

Upon coming to South Africa, the biggest thing that I was most excited and nervous for was the introduction to a new cuisine. Being a self-proclaimed “picky eater” I knew it was going to be difficult for me to dive into trying new foods I was completely unfamiliar with. However, meat is a strong component in food and overall in South African culture and lucky for me: I love meat. Doesn’t matter if you grill it, bake it, fry it, or put sauce on it–I don’t discriminate against my protein. For that reason, I tried to explore as many meat varieties as possible to see what I would like, love, and loathe.

BILTONG:

Biltong, a word of Dutch origin (“bil”-rump “tong”-strip or tongue), is used to describe dried, cured meats typically made from raw fillets of meat. Although biltong is primarily made from beef, one can find varieties from different types of livestock, game and sometimes even fish. Traditional beef biltong can be found anywhere-whether in a commercial store, at a local market, sold on the side of the road or in your salad at an upscale restaurant–and I couldn’t have been happier because it’s absolutely delicious. Each individual piece is full of flavor and the freshness is ever so present; as one market woman once told me, “if the biltong was any fresher, than the cow is still walking around”. My favorite part about it was its texture which is much better than the beef jerky I am accustomed to. Rather than fighting against you, good biltong could be described as delicate, while still holding its own–the independent woman of meats.

Although beef biltong was my #1, there were others that also attempted to win my heart over.

saw an Impala on safari, ate the biltong

saw an Impala on safari, ate the biltong

– Imapala Biltong: Compared to beef biltong, impala was a much more tender and lean meat that was spiced with coriander. Definitely made an impression, but I couldn’t see myself finishing a whole bag.

– Kudu Biltong: This was much chewier and tough in texture. What didn’t make it better was the fishy after taste.

-Springbok Biltong: Springbok tasted exactly like a Slim Jim and I honestly still don’t know how I feel about it. It was lean and less fatty than Kudu and had a grainy texture that screamed FRESH.

-Ostrich Biltong: YUCK! I didn’t think I could feel as offended as I did after consuming this. It was salty and tangy in all the worst ways. I would not recommend it to a friend.

-Tuna Biltong: This was definitely a dark horse which was surprisingly tasty. I didn’t know what to expect but Nemo definitely held his own alongside the big boys.

BOERWORS:

Never been happier than with a boerwors roll at 9am

Never been happier than with a boerwors roll at 9am

Boerwors translates from Afrikaans to mean “farmers sausage”. Commonly made from beef, boerwors is eaten at all times in the day and is primarily consumed at braais.  Braais is the South African equivalent of a good ole American BBQ; the thing that distinguishes it however is its versatility and the huge social and cultural importance of the event.

(Fun Fact: South Africa has 11 national languages and braai means the same thing in every single one of them). Boerwors is soo tasty and it’s one of those meats that is impossible to mess up as long as you cook it properly. I think we could all use a little more boerwors in our lives.

BOBOTIE:

Bobotie was one of my favorite traditional South African cuisines that we had. The dish is made of spiced mince (translation: seasoned ground beef) and coated with an egg based topping. Bobotie is often made with raisins and chutney which balances out the strength of the spices and gives it a sweet after taste. With a nice piece of bobotie over rice, I will always be reminded of my time in South Africa.

Honorable Mention: VENISON

Venison was a finger licking tasty meat that we consumed in one meal but it made enough of an impression that I had to mention it.

Crown Jewel: OSTRICH

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Me vs. Ostrich

OH MY GOD. Never in my life have I ever tasted a more divine piece of meat in my whole life. Cooked to be tender and juicy and flavorful ostrich took the crown for my favorite game in the land. Moreover, it’s also a lean red meat so it’s more healthy to eat than other meats. Even though I had bad experiences with ostriches in person, I am not afraid to say they taste absolutely DELICIOUS.

Using this as a platform, I plan to continue to try the meats of the world because so far the journey has been a deliciously memorable one.

Oh the Places You’ll Go: Backpackers Edition

Sedgefield Beach, mountains, Indian Ocean, paradise

Sedgefield Beach, Mountains, Indian Ocean, Paradise

Before coming to South Africa, all of my associations with the word hostel triggered one of three thoughts:

1. A dark, scary place where you get to stay for cheap while traveling abroad; while there you are constantly worrying about all your belongings being stolen.

2. An ideal setting for a horror film.

3. A place that houses sex workers.*

Either way you put it, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy the first time I found out we we would be staying in hostels during our trip. However, after having the opportunity to stay in numerous different hostels, I now have a new found appreciation for them.

The hostels which we stayed in while in South Africa were all known as “backpackers” yet no two backpackers were alike. Each one has its own theme, its own vibe, and most importantly its own story which made the experience even more special. Listed below are a couple of backpackers we got to explore while traveling around the Western Cape:

Carnival Court was a popular backpacker recommended by students who were on the program in prior years. Located in the middle of Long Street and in the center of Cape Town. Carnival court was a central location to access all parts of night life, as well as street markets and restaurants; this made Carnival Court the ideal place to stay in order to truly experience what Cape Town had to offer. The highlights of Carnival Court included the trance bar/club located below our rooms and the ability to wake up at 6 in the morning on a Sunday to noises of people still out in the town from the night before. #gohardorgohome

Plattenberg Bay at Sunset

Plattenberg Bay at Sunset

Afrovibe was nestled right along the beach in a town called Sedgefield.The staff consisting of a young diverse batch of individuals whose attitudes and energy were infectious from the start. We learned that most of the staff were young people “finding themselves” and “seeing what the world had to offer”. Although their spontaneity gave me anxiety, hearing their stories of where they were from and where they plan to go was truly admirable. #goodvibes all around

African Array was the most unexpected backpacker of all of the ones we encountered. Located in Plattenberg Bay and with a home style set up, we were greeted by a husband and wife who welcomed us with open arms into their “home”. Unlike the other locations this duo ran the whole show including managing business operations and preparing all meals for guests–every meal being absolutely delicious and better than the one before. One highlight included meeting Jimmy, the traveling Rastafarian singer who was embarking on a three year journey walking, 25km a day at a time, from Cape Town all the way up to Cairo while selling his records and collaborating with musicians along the way. #hustling

The final shout out goes to Backpackers Paradise which was truly a paradise in every way. Not only was this place filled with beautiful flowers and palm trees, but they were also known for their nightly ostrich braais. Gathering around the fire we got to watch the ostrich be prepared to produce the most divine piece of meat I have ever consumed (refer to “Girl Meats World”). It was at this place that we were not only blessed with ostrich boerwors and kebabs but also Pierre. The oldest man with the most expensive taste for the finest things…a man who can pull off a scarf, pipe, and probably a monocle if he wanted. He talked to us about life and gave us advice on life, liberty, and the importance of well-fitted quality clothing.

Long story short, hostels have shown me the extremely unique and diverse sides of the cape and what the people here have to offer.

Backpacker Love

Backpacker Love

 

**It has been clarified that this is in fact called a brothel….glad that’s been cleared up for me.