South Africa Educational Study Program

Cape Town
June 12, 2007

Our first full day in Cape Town began with a continental breakfast in the Sunflower Stop hostile.  Where we enjoyed a much needed relaxing morning- we slept until breakfast at 9AM and sat in the sun.  We arrived at our first destination of Table Mountain around 11AM and after yet another brief shopping interlude we made our way via cable car to the top of this legendary sight-seeing rock.  Although cable cars were not a novel concept to some of us, the floor of this cable car rotated as we moved upwards towards the peak, giving all of us a new sense of momentum.  Many of us were delighted by the views both inside and outside the cable car.  Regardless of a month-long stay in South Africa though, most of us forgot that it was indeed winter and had proceeded to wear shorts, skirts and sandals, but we braved the cold winds of Table Mountain with grace.  The views were incredible and we obtained a good 20 minutes of sight-seeing before the “table cloth” -a thick coating of clouds- was set.  Once we were back at the base we began to regain the feeling in our toes and headed towards the waterfront.
An array of options awaited us at the food court where we feasted upon selections such as falafel, smoothies, wraps, pizza, and subway sandwiches.  Karen met us during our lunching baring fistfuls of Robben Island tour tickets.  We boarded a ferry at 3PM after examining historical artifacts and information about the prison.  Once a bumpy half-hour passed we arrived at the historical apartheid landmark.  There, our tour guide, Craig, proceeded to enlighten us about the island.  We saw a leprosy graveyard memorializing the 1500 souls buried there before the 1930s, the local town and its primary school, a spectacular view of Table Mountain, the isolation quarters of Robert Sobukwe the founder of the PAC- a leading anti-apartheid party, the limestone quarry where  political prisoners including Nelson Mandela were nearly or actually worked to death for 13 ½ years, and a light house.  In addition to the rabbits that outnumber the amount of tourists who visit each year, we were excited to see the local penguin inhabitants.  Craig ended his tour with a message about Robben Island’s personal value for himself and how he hopes this idea of freedom can create a ripple affect that touches the lives of many.  After an emotional and wonderful tour, Craig handed us over to a former political prisoner who led us into the prison and gave us an idea of the racial and political levels of prison life during Apartheid.  Among the topics discussed, we learned of education’s importance in the prison-system (how someone could go in illiterate and come out with a university degree),  the communal life and support system developed by the inmates, the poor conditions and how they improved throughout the years, and also his own personal experiences and struggles within the prison.  Unfortunately due to much needed renovation we were unable to see several parts of the prison including Nelson Mandela’s cell.  However, everyone enjoyed the powerful experience of Robben Island.

After finally arriving back on land we enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Quay Four restaurant.  One thing led to another, and the students ended up dancing as the band played classic favorites like New York New York, Sweet Caroline, Build me up Buttercup, In the Jungle, and the Cha Cha Slide.  Exhausted we all had a full nights rest safe in our beds after a long wonderful day.

June 13, 2007

We rose bright and early this morning in preparation for a day of intense shopping (what we do best).  Boarding the bus once more, we headed over to Green Market Square. There was an heir of conflicted emotions as we ventured out to the flea market since we knew it was to be our last shopping adventure in South Africa.  While it had certainly been the “trip of a lifetime,” we were eagerly anticipating the moment when we would once again lay eyes on all of your adoring faces.
Getting back to the main topic of this entry, we immediately spread out upon arrival at the market, off to once again empty our pockets on the terribly functional African motifs (most of which will be on your mantel all too soon).  As we were given a substantial amount of time to complete this task, we soon found ourselves wandering aimlessly around Long Street and Green Market Square, simply happy to be experiencing the stimulating culture of Cape Town.
Eventually it was time to rally the troops and head back to the Sunflower Stop where we began hastily stuffing our suitcases, trying to fit all the presents we bought.
Soon enough we found ourselves back at the Wharf to do more….You Guessed it! Shopping.  We finished our Cape Town experience with a simply magnificent dinner at a splendid Italian restaurant located right on the waterfront.  This was our chance to show our appreciation to the adults who had acted like our surrogate parents for the last twenty-five days.  We gave each a small token that could in no way embody the amount of thanks that we wish to bestow on our professional staff.

Tomorrow we look forward to our eighteen-hour flight back to the states, which goes by surprisingly fast since we are given several movie options while in the air.  We are anticipating a sentimental drive to the airport, since we realize it will be our final journey in our magical mystery tour bus.

Finally we would like to dedicate this entry to Rina, a women who has made a great impact on our lives.
June 14, 2007

Today we arose to our last day in South Africa. As we packed our things we reminisced about the wonderful times we have had on this journey.  We then packed the bus for the last time and headed to breakfast at Patat (meaning sweet potato in Afrikaans). After a scrumptious meal of eggs, French toast, sausage, bacon and fruit, we got on the bus for the last time and drove to Cape Town International Airport.  We said goodbye to our faithful bus driver, Donny, as well as our trip leaders Rina and Susan before heading in to the terminal. A few of us made last minute purchases at the gate before boarding our two and a half hour flight to Johannesburg.  The flight went smoothly and we had an hour and a half lay over in Johannesburg where we took in our last views of South Africa.  We are now on our journey home as we right this entry----We are three and a half hours from Dakar where we will be making a brief stop to refuel before heading to the states.  See you in a few hours!