I was going to try to only write every few days, but the last 24 hours have been so incredible, I had to write again. Cape Town is the most incredible place, and I can barely leave this is real life.
First, Wednesday night we went to this awesome bar near UCT. We finally met South Africans our own age! Everyone was ridiculously friendly and interesting. UCT students come from all over—CT, Jo’burg, Berlin, Thailand…it seems pretty neat.
Yesterday, they gave us a destination and several ways to get to and from there, and has us navigate our way through Cape Town! My group and I had to go to Green Point Stadium. We took a minibus first. It was such a cool experience! Everyone here is so nice. We clearly look American (whoops) and confused, so a minibus worker called out to us to ask fi we wanted one. Then, they were nice enough to tell us that we were on the wrong side of the street to go to Cape Town…another minibus saw us trying to cross the street and stopped traffic so we could get in! Obviously, they wanted our money, but it was still nice of them. The minibus had an awesome vibe too. It was hot and crowded, but they had music blasting. It just seemed really cool.
We got out on a pretty major street and grabbed some lunch. It was near a market, but we didn’t have time to check it out. We did go to this great food bazaar, with all sorts of food like Indian, Chinese, and Mediterranean. It was delicious.
After that, we took a citibus (big bus) to Green Point. We could smell the ocean, so we headed in that direction. The view was absolutely breathtaking. It wasn’t a beach, but more of a rocky cove. The weather was great, the sky was blue, and you could see Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. Everyone there was so friendly too. We were tasked with finding out about the night life (love it) and everyone was very helpful. They gave us a wide variety of options, too, from salsa clubs to fancy bars. We also needed directions to the train station, and everyone was so helpful. People are just so nice.
The highlight of the day, however, was after dinner. The program arranged for a special event. We had a former prisoner and his producer come and perform music and tell their stories. The performer, Larry Joe, was absolutely incredible. He grew up in one of the lower-income areas of the Northern Cape. He started stealing to help his sister, but then he moved on to gangs and drugs. He did, however, have his music. He loved playing guitar, and he made money that way. He was on the run from law enforcement, moving every few days. One night, he had a dream that he was playing guitar at Madison Square Gardens. He woke up happier than every before, and decided to turn himself into the police. While in prison, he wrote and performed music. They occasionally even let him out to perform a concerts! He and his producer told the story through song, video, and story. It would have made for a really cheesy movie, but since it was entirely true, it was so uplifting.
I think Larry Joe would be a great teacher in the states. He currently travels to schools, prisons, etc. (he’s out of jail) telling his story, and he still wants to perform in NYC. He demonstrates two fundamental ideas I think Americans don’t understand: not all prisoners are bad, and somewhat lenient prisons can be great. If Larry Joe had been sequestered, he would not have been able to tell his story. He would not have been able to perform. He would not have filmed a documentary or recorded a CD before being released. He would be far behind his “post-prison rehabilitation.”
I’m going to post the links to his website, because his story is incredible. It would be great if he became famous in the US and performed in Madison Square Gardens! His website is here.
I’ve also been learning a lot of Xhosa. For instance, Ndithetha isiXhosa kancici. I only speak a little Xhosa.
A new phase of my semester is about to begin. On Saturday, I move into my first homestay. My internet access will be more limited from now on…I suggest emailing me if you need me.
Langa, here I come!