Week 4 brought a moving day of volunteering, another amazing hike, and PENGUINS! Also, did you really see a city if you didn’t also see the hospital? No worries, just a minor injury! I am specifically excited to share my day of Positive Impact.

Cultural Notes:

  1. Townships are the small villages surrounding South African cities and when I tell you they are less developed, that’s an understatement. Townships were established for black and colored people upon being forced out of their homes in the city during apartheid. Remote Year had a group go out to the Phillipi township this week (description below) and it was eye-opening. 25 minutes outside the city and you go from buildings and houses to people living out of metal shacks and shipping containers. Also worth noting, the price of groceries in the store was drastically different. We made a meal for 50 people, plus some, for fewer than $100. Even in Cape Town, it would have been at least $200. Intersectionality is real people, class and race are often one and the same.
  2. The roads have zig zagged lines replacing some of the dashed and solid lines through the middle of the street. I did not write about this until now because I asked multiple Uber drivers what it meant and no one knew. Comforting, eh? Turns out they signal the approaching and leaving of a pedestrian zone.
  3. No liquid restrictions on domestic flights. Supposedly this is true other places but I brought almost 2 liters of water through no problem. Security is also….minimal.
  4. Photoshoots and movie sets everywhere here. When we arrived, we were told a lot of models would be in town because people from the northern hemisphere come here to shoot their summer lines, so it’s ready for the summer season. Also the perfect spot for movies because the weather and scenery are unbeatable.
  5. Went to get Ibuprofen at the pharmacy and had to go to the counter in the back to ask for it. Couldn’t pay for it in the back though, so they handed it to me in a giant cage that I had to walk around with.

Week Summary:

Monday- SAFARI DAY 4

  • Said goodbye to our guides and the staff at Tydon Safari. Literally gave hugs to the cooks, they were amazing.

    View of Valley from Lisbon Falls

  • Set out for Johannesburg airport but via the scenic route (turned a 5 hour drive into an 8 hour expedition)
  • Made a pit stop at Lisbon Falls in the middle of a beautiful scenic vista. Named Lisbon Falls for the Portuguese explorers that found it. I felt right at home J
  • Second pit stop at a place called God’s Window, short hike, to a view of the much flatter terrain below. Worth it? Meh.
  • Last pit stop at a Schoemanskloof where I drank the best fresh, pressed orange juice of my life
  • Flight out of O.R. Tambo airport, long, long travel day and happy to be back in Cape Town!

Tuesday-

  • Positive Impact (Remote Year’s community service engagement) fundraiser: beach volleyball at Camp’s Bay Beach. Quote of the event: “did anyone bring any non-alcoholic drinks?” People on this trip so far have been drinking often; I do not know how they do it. Another beautiful beach day.
  • Did not participate in volleyball because womp womp, my back was still in pain from cliff jumping
  • Had a doctor’s appointment that turned into a hospital trip for an x-ray and small fracture in my vertebra it is! The doctor was very kind, but timing is not their strong suit. There went the entire afternoon. Per doctor’s orders: painkillers and good posture. It is feeling better though for sure! Don’t think the jostling around in the safari jeep helped.

Wednesday-

  • Mid-week peak! Started in the well-known botanical garden Kirstenbosch. Absolutely beautiful, would recommend the canopy walk even if you don’t want to hike to the peak.
  • Followed Skeleton Gorge up to a reservoir at the top of a Table Mountain. Yup, v cool. Strenuous ascent but doable.
  • Crossed the top of the mountain to Kasteelsport where we’d hiked last week and caught the Tranquility Cracks. A small area of huge boulders that make cool cracks for you to squeeze through and lead to a stunning view overlooking Camp’s Bay and Lion’s Head. Sorry, descriptions of hikes with no context probably aren’t interesting.
  • Hiked down the Pipe Track. Think that’s my favorite.
  • Ended up being 5 hours and about 8 miles, may have run out of water.
  • Delicious vegan lunch at Orchard Café on Long Street
  • Work work work (which I do every day but just in case you got worried!)

Thursday- POSITIVE IMPACT DAY

  • Left early morning for the Phillipi Township to the Amandla Development. This is their website https://www.amandladevelopment.org/adolescent-youth-friendly-space/ Among other things, this space has the following:
    • Small shelter for female victims of domestic violence
    • Garden for growing fresh produce, to hopefully serve as a way to live off what they grow
    • A youth hangout for children to come to after school
    • And the reason we were there: home to AYFS (Adolescent Youth Friendly Zone)

      At the Phillipi center

  • The goal of the development is to give the people of Phillipi, specifically the youth, the tools to be a successful working citizen in the future. They focus a lot on sexual education and career development. There’s also a huge emphasis that visitors are not there to save the people of Phillipi or put a band aid on the issues, we are there to plant seeds to they can create a business on their own. Our Cape Town RY leaders also host a weekly DJing session to give some kids a peek into recording music.
  • Our role that day? Purchase and prepare a full lunch for the teens and then run a workshop on how to market the AYFS story. We tried to touch on how to build a website, how to write an article that will educate readers about the program, and how to brand with a logo. The meal also included the same ingredients that they were growing in the garden so it could be remade, in theory.
  • The teens did not arrive until 3 (we were there at 10) so we spent the morning shopping and cooking, making soccer goals, writing the curriculum for the afternoon, and weeding the garden. I peeled and shredded a lot of carrots. Then helped prepare the paloney (not bologna) sandwiches.
  • As the kids started to trickle in afterschool, we played with them in the yard. I successfully hunted for a soccer ball and had a blast playing one-touch, monkey in the middle, and a game with a group of young boys. My heart was happy.
  • It wasn’t until later that we learned this giant group of kids were not who we were there to see. So plans changed a bit and we ended up feeding the young ones instead of teenagers. There were probably 50 kids, ranging from 8-18.
  • Finally the older crowd rolled in and we were able to run the workshops that we’d intended to. I was not part of a specific one but roamed around and listened in.
  • The most impactful thing I heard was in response to being asked what they wanted to change about AYFS. One boy noted “Honestly, it’s really hard to have people like you come through. We lack consistency. You all come once and then leave and next week we have more strangers. It’s not easy when you’re trying to build a community and sustainable growth. And why do you come anyway?” Incredible. I have very mixed feelings about doing the type of work we did. The intentions for introducing them to tools about marketing were on point, I think because we do have knowledge to offer. But how much did we actually do? And he’s right, why were we there? No way we made a huge difference in one afternoon. I think my answer would have been “just to learn” and that is pretty selfish. I wish to someday make an impact for more than a day.
  • One breakout session that I thought was particularly well done was a brief lesson into how to build a website. The leader showed the teens a platform and tutorial videos that they could access on their own. It was cool to see how engaged the Phillipis were.
  • On the topic of food: we had a hard time coming up with what we wanted to feed them. With the mindset of how can we empower them to prepare meals on their own, we were very cautious of ingredients and budget. As I am sure will come up in my writings in the future, I am a strong believer that you cannot do anything until your basic needs are met. Accessibility to food, and especially proper nutrition, is a luxury. I handed out cookies to the kids at the end of the day and I was bombarded with hands begging for one. Quite impactful and clear that this was not something that they were used to. How’s that for white ‘superheroism’?
  • Exhausting but enlightening day.

Friday-

  • Slow morning, checking into reality a little and beginning the new job search.
  • Lunch with a fellow Remote. We have a ‘Parea Connect’ group that pairs you up each week with a random person with the intention that you get coffee or a meal with them and chat. This was my first one and I’m excited for the rest! Definitely more of the one-on-one type.
  • We ate at the Club 9 café that doubles as a luxury car dealership. Quite strange but cool cars.
  • Vegged out for the rest of the day to gear up for the weekend.

Saturday- Cape Town Bucket List day

  • Set out at 9am with a group of 10 remotes for an adventure down the coast. Some rode scooters, I didn’t want to take the chance of learning that and driving on the other side of the road. Totally the way to go, though, if you’re comfortable.
  • First stop: Hout Bay market. Located of course at Hout Bay which was absolutely beautiful. I always say I love mountains and water, and this place had both. Stunning. Cool market, too, good food.

    Oh hey there, friend!

  • Second stop: Chapman’s Peak drive. Scenic route that hugs the cliffside and gives breathtaking views of the ocean and little villages all along. Highly, highly recommend.
  • Third stop: Muizenberg beach. I’d been before but we saw different colored beach huts this time.
  • Fourth stop: Boulder’s Bay Beach. Best known for allowing you to mingle and swim with penguins. Like any other touristy place, you had to walk and climb/swim a bit to get away from the people and to the bulk of the penguins but SOO worth it. I mean they were everywhere. It was fun just to watch their behavior with each other and hear their wet feet slap against the sand. I’d say you could get maybe two feet from them without them trying to bite you.
  • Fifth stop: Cape of Good Hope/Cape Point. We didn’t end up driving all the way out because the clouds were really low. Would’ve been cool to see.
  • Last stop: Kalky’s Fish and Chips in Kalk Bay. Definitely the most local, cash only, fresh fish and chips place around. Felt very authentic. And yes, I only ate the chips part.
  • Hit the town at night. For sure feeling the pressure of it being the last full weekend….:(

Sunday-

  • Early morning hike with a group of locals. I had met one of the guys and he brought along four of his friends. They were all great! We were supposed to hike to a waterfall but never found it. Nice walk near Constantia anyway.
  • Powerful story time: Long Uber ride to afternoon destination that ended up being a gentle reminder of how fortunate I am. As per usual, I asked the driver a bunch of questions and this man seemed willing to answer. After only asking where he was from and why he was in Cape Town, I learned the following: he was from the Democratic Republic of the Congo where there was and is still a lot of political corruption. He and his family lived there in poverty until one day, there was a bang on the door and a gang entered and killed his mother, father, and sister. Our driver was able to escape out the back window and proceeded to run, then walk for 6 months (!!) to Cape Town with nothing, no food, no documentation. He was able to stay on refugee status and get work in South Africa. When I asked if he wants to go back to DCR, he said it will always be home, but it is not safe (and didn’t think there was much hope for the future_. He told me more about his suffering since that incident happened 15ish years ago and informed me multiple times that this was only a part of his long life story. I learned an important lesson that some of the questions I ask can be very privileged questions. An example: I asked him if he’d found a community of people in CT from DCR. He replied that no, he and likely others did not have time for social things, he was always working. How lucky am I that I can afford to meet up with friends for a few hours, take part in social activities? I felt extremely guilty and thought it a wild juxtaposition that he was driving me and other Remotes to an afternoon of lounging and drinking wine. He did fill me in that he’d never tasted wine before or any other alcohol. But another cool thing happened: to hopefully lighten the mood I asked if he had any big dreams for the future. Again, had to be cautious with my words. He smiled and said he wanted to play soccer (ding ding for me!). So here we were, two totally different people connecting about France’s style of play in the World Cup and laughing over the fact that both the US and South Africa did not qualify. A moving interaction.
  • Afternoon with a large group of Remotes at Cape Point Vineyards.

    A few of the lovely humans in my group

  • Sundowners and appetizers on Camp’s Bay Beach with the entire group. Beautiful sunset and great company. Nice way to kick off our last week in Cape Town *breaks down in tears*

I cannot believe how much I have experienced in the past four weeks. What will the rest bring?