Earlier this week I went on a little tourist excursion with another trailing spouse expat. Since neither of us have a car we relied on one of those busses that drives tourists around. I’m sure you’ve seen the busses packed with folks taking pictures at everyday sights and thought ” oh gawd, more tourists”… So, yeah I was on that bus. ( I did manage to abstain from incessant picture taking). All in all the bus was very pleasant and informative. I’ll highly recommend it to anyone that is visiting cape town. The cool thing about the bus is that it is one of those ” hop on, hop off” arrangements. Which is awesome if you like the freedom of skipping some places and lingering in others.
We planned to hit 3 or 4 places, but only hit two. The first place we hit was the “Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden”. It is the tail end of summer here so things quite as pretty as they will be in the spring, but it was still a great visit. I’d definitely say that is a must do for anyone visiting cape town. Check out the InstaGram feed for some pictures. Take your time and enjoy it, just make sure you bring plenty of water.
Being perfectly honest I was apprehensive about our next stop and debated skipping it, but my companion really wanted to see it… So off we went to one of the townships, Imizamo Yethu.
Imizamo Yethu means “through collective struggle” or “our efforts” depending on who you believe. When we arrived we were escorted from the bus to a tour guide. Our Guide provided me with some much needed knowledge around the history of townships and this one in particular. I will say I never felt unsafe and no one came up to us demanding money. Everyone we encountered seemed very friendly. There were little shops, restaurants, barber shops, and hair salons. It was very much a community, with everyone looking out for each other. But, they certainly don’t have an easy life. For example; there is a preschool (Siyazama Creche)with over 100 children from 4 – 6 years old being taught by 3 volunteer teachers in a building that is smaller than most 2 bedroom apartments.
Our guide said something to me that I still find shocking and I’ve tried to wrap my head around it, but i just can’t… “Everything was better for us under apartheid”.. Let that one sink in. I was (and still am) shocked by this. I asked our guide to expand on that. She said that under apartheid there were jobs, now there are none. She has a valid point, SA’s unemployment rate recently dropped to 26.7 recently. That’s roughly 5.9 million people without work, over a quarter of the population… WOW!!!! There is a lot of hope that the new President will help clean up the corruption and get things moving in the right direction.
So you can say my perspective definitely got shifted.