Becca Cohen’s Blog



97 and sunny

I’m sitting next to my window in shorts and a tank top trying not to sweat. Today was a high of 97 degrees with no breeze at all. It’s hard to believe that had I been at home I would have had a snow day this week and would be getting ready for spring break. I’m just beginning to get into my routine here— classes and campus have gotten slightly less crowded, and I’m starting to figure out what classes I actually need to go to and which ones I can easily skip. I’m still sorting out the details for my volunteering, so I don’t want to write more about that until it’s finalized.

Although I’ve been here for over a month, I still find myself getting frustrated with Africa time— a complete lack of timeliness or sense of immediacy in getting anything done. People take days or weeks to respond to emails, if they bother to respond at all. It took thirty minutes to get a take-away sandwich, making me too late to get to class (a clear illustration of my priorities). When they say something will take place “just now” it could be anywhere between an hour or a few hours. “Now now” means shortly or in a bit. I’m still not even sure what “now” means.

I’m finally starting to learn my way around Cape Town, and continue to be frustrated by the lack of safe, reliable public transportation. Luckily we have befriended a trustworthy cab driver named Archie who shuttles us around, while jamming out to the Pussycat Dolls. The UCT Jammie shuttles are also a great way to get around, especially for impromptu afternoons in town instead of going to class. Mini-busses, or shared taxis (similar to sheiruts in Israel) always prove to be an adventure, piling in way too many people and a man screaming for passengers to get in while hanging off the side.

Last weekend I went to the Design Indaba, which was a huge expo of crafts, jewellery, architecture, fashion and all things creative. The Indaba promotes the belief that South Africa can be improved through creativity, and seeks to make the world a better place through crafts. I saw a ballet and a futuristic fashion show. Later that day I was invited to a family’s house for Shabbat dinner on their deck overlooking Table Mountain to the right and the ocean to the left. The view was beautiful, the people were welcoming and entertaining and the food was delicious. This was my first South African Shabbat experience, and I’m looking forward to hosting some of my own dinners at my house.

The past few weeks have also included a friend’s 21st birthday, the gay pride parade and festival, a rugby game, too many nights out on Long Street, a visit from Elan Burman (who works at UMD), an all-afternoon braai (barbecue) and DJ at a Mzolis, a housemate taking a trip to the hospital after running into a tree when a game of Survivor got overly competitive, and many nights of star gazing on our lawn. This weekend my program has planned a homestay in Oceanview, a coloured township outside Cape Town. I’m a little nervous to spend the weekend with a family I do not know, but I am sure the experience will prove to be eye opening and worthwhile.

Some housemates at the soccer game a few weeks ago.

Some housemates at the soccer game a few weeks ago.

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