Becca Cohen’s Blog

Fall in May.

Each day I cannot comprehend how fast the time has gone. It’s also hard for me to believe how happy I still am here in Cape Town. While there certainly are better and worse days (like last week when I had an assignment in every class, I hate doing work here!), every day I am here I am so grateful and am still in disbelief that I am actually here in Cape Town, South Africa. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was moving into my house and sweating like crazy everywhere I went. Even though I still have at least a month here (still working on travel plans and when exactly I’m coming home, but as soon as I do I’ll let you all know so you can plan your trips to Boston to visit!) I am already freaking out a bit about leaving this life behind.

I’ve been super busy and haven’t had a chance to write recently, but here are some highlights from the past few weeks:

• Day out in Bo-Kapp. Bo-Kapp is a Muslim neighborhood in Cape Town where all the houses are painted bright colors (residents have to get the paint color registered and approved so no two houses are the same color). We met a resident who stopped to tell us the history of the neighborhood, and what it was like getting kicked out of the neighborhood and living during apartheid. People here are generally very willing and eager to tell stories of what it was like. The most interesting thing this man said is that he does not like to teach his (fourteen) children about apartheid because he does not want them to grow up to hate whites.

• South Africa Cheese Festival! We drove out to a farm in wine country, where there were tables and tables filled with different cheese and wine vendors offering unlimited tastings. It was a beautiful day and delicious food— not much more to ask for.

• Art at Heatherdale Children’s Home. It’s still pretty disorganized every time I go— figuring out which kids are free and what room to work in, but once we get going the kids have a great time. I had been hoping to develop a routine with them, but I can tell they have fun just doing art, which is fine with me. It’s fun for me too, seeing what the kids draw and drawing with them.

• Weird weather recently. Some days are cold, raw and rainy and others beautiful and sunny. Campus has been beautiful with leaves changing color— red ivy climbing the walls and golden trees along the roads. Over the weekend a significant number of leaves fell, leaving trees mostly barren and the signs of winter everywhere. Regardless, we’ve had a number of beautiful days, and I even had a beach day this weekend.

• Salsa dancing. We had a girls’ night out to a lounge called Cubana, followed with a hole-in-the-wall place called Fiesta where they have salsa on Friday nights. Two of my friends danced so hard they fell and broke the potted plant….oops.

• Mowbray Maternity Hospital. Unfortunately, by the time I can get there the babies have mostly been fed. I mainly help cuddle and put the babies to sleep. Today I hung out with a baby girl who was born yesterday, and I could see the wheels turning in her head as she was taking in the world and figuring out what this new place was. It was incredible and adorable to watch, even when she spit up all over me. It’s sad, though, seeing the babies crying in their incubators, or the four-month-old baby who is waiting for someone to take him home.

• Robben Island. Probably the most popular tourist attraction in Cape Town, the island is where political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela were kept during apartheid. The island is more than just a prison— there is a small town where prison staff used to stay and now is home to many of the guides (who are all ex-political prisoners at Robben Island). The island is also home to many kinds of birds (including penguins), and has an incredible view of the city. The most interesting part of the tour was seeing the lime quarry where prisoners were forced to work. During breaks, they took the “each one teach one” motto, and the educated prisoners taught the illiterate ones to read. This is where they discussed politics and the future South African constitution. The visit sparked interesting conversation among my friends about the degree to which South Africa has actually reconciled and the problems this country still faces.

Classes end one week from today, and then I have two weeks off until my final exams. For now I’m trying to organize my travel plans and making the most of every day.

Pictures of fall in Cape Town.


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