Tag Archives: South Africa

Vicky’s BB, Khayetlisha.

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In writing about South Africa, I wanted to finish on a high note. I really did. But I’m at the end now, and this last post about our trip deals with stuff that is, in no uncertain terms, heartbreaking and tragic.

I’m sorry. In the wake of the last few weeks, I really wanted to talk about something lighthearted. And I promise, I will. I’ll tell you about the crazy London hotel in which we got hopelessly lost, about the wonderful bagels we had there and the markets we went to with friends. I will tell you about Australia and the damn birds that kept stealing our breakfast, and the day I swam with sea turtles, and how my husband kept telling me, in spite of how self conscious I was in a bathing suit, that I was beautiful.

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Taking a discerning sip from a flight of beer in Cape Town.

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My husband is a beer snob.

It’s something I find quite endearing. The guy rarely touches wine, and ignores most liquors (with the exception of scotch because it’s scotch. It’s basically like drinking a campfire, i.e., amazing), but he’s somewhat of a fanatic for beer.

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Debris on the side of the road in one of the townships in Cape Flats.

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Rand and I have been talking a lot about entitlement lately. It’s something that comes up a lot for both us. I think we’re both incredibly scared of forgetting just how damn lucky we are.

Every now and then, I take a minute think about how charmed my existence is: how every single day is full of beautiful things and people and good health and the occasional cookie or four.

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Doorway at Robben Island, where numerous political prisoners were held during apartheid.

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After we returned to Cape Town, Rand and I took a township tour. I think, without hyperbole, it may have been one of the most significant experiences of my life. I very much want to tell you about it, but it’s impossible to talk about the townships without first talking about apartheid in South Africa first, and its miserable legacy.

And that is going to take this entire post, at the very least. The recap of the township tour will have to wait until next week.

As with my coverage of Irish history, I’d like to note a couple of things: I know relatively nothing about South Africa’s past. I’ve done a bit of research, and I’ve put it down here as best as I could. I have no doubts that I’ve gotten plenty of stuff wrong, accidentally omitted a great deal, and may have missed the point entirely a few times. This was obviously not my intention. If you find a glaring error in the post, I will kindly ask that you make your corrections in the comments section below, along with a source pointing to the correct information.

With all of those caveats in place, I’d like to tell you about apartheid. At least, as best as I understand it.

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A powder is mixed at a township apothecary shop.

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I need to relay to you the events of the last few hours. In doing so, I hope that these events will somehow seem more real, that I will have less cause to deny that they ever happened. Because right now, they seem to be the fabrications of a madman.

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Note: all of the links below are safe for work, but they deal with some pretty serious issues. I read through a lot of the articles and can tell you, it fucked with my head mightily. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read them. If anything, you probably should. I just wanted to properly prepare you for what lies ahead: it is not funny. It is not lighthearted. It will not make you feel warm or fuzzy inside. But it’s a discussion we should nevertheless be having.

A road in one of the townships outside Cape Town, where rape is an epidemic.

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I loved South Africa. I really did. I had a lovely time there, and I sincerely want to go back to both Cape Town and Bushman’s Kloof. I’d like to see more of the country, and, if possible, more of the continent of Africa as a whole.

But I feel like I’d be doing everyone a disservice if I didn’t discuss the issue of rape in South Africa.

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As hard as it was to leave the resort, Rand made it bearable by planning a few more days in Cape Town before we had to go home (you guys, he’s SO smart. There are days when I think I should marry him twice. Is that a thing? Because it should be).

We stayed near the water in Mouille Point, and waking up every morning to this view helped take the edge off of not being in Bushman’s Kloof:

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I’m sure you’ll agree that while is it painfully free of Cape Mountain zebra and springbok, it’s still a pretty nice panorama. And there was lots more to love about Cape Town. Here are ten of my favorite photos from the third largest city in South Africa. (more…)

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Leaving the Kloof was hard. I’m not even going to pretend otherwise. It was blissful and beautiful and it pulled at my heartstrings a little to leave. Driving away, it felt like it was the last day of camp, or the morning after a really great slumber party (you know, the ones where no one breaks down crying and the first person to fall asleep doesn’t have peanut butter smeared on her toes by the other guests).

We’d had a lovely time, and we were happy about that, but damn it, it was hard to see it end. It was tough to say goodbye.

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