Touching Down in Cape Town
When I got on my first plane to meet the rest of the girls that would be coming on my destination toCape Town, South Africa, I was nervous. This was my first destination and I had no idea what it would be like. Arriving at our hotel that we would be staying before catching an early flight to Cape Town, I met the seven other American girls on the trip. Being 15, I was the youngest girl on the trip but as soon as I met my roommate, Ava, I knew I could call every single girl on that trip my friend. It didn’t matter that none of us had known each other before this day or that we all lived across the country from each other, I knew I would be able to cherish the memories I made with these girls forever.
The flight was long; 14 hours. Then we had to get a two-hour connecting flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town. We were tired, hungry and as for me, it seemed that somewhere during all of our flights, my luggage had been lost. I was stuck with my backpack, a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. Our guide, Kirsten, met us at the airport and our driver, James, drove us to where we were staying. We drove in this huge safari vehicle on bumpy and thin streets, something we would get used to over the next few days.
The first couple days we spent in Cape Town were amazing. Even though I was stuck with the same clothing and bare essentials found in my backpack, I found it easy to forget the worst and immerse myself in the amazing culture of the city. We took a walk around the city on the first afternoon we had there and our guide was amazing: he could recognize any wildlife (even from what looked like 200 meters away), played the harmonica on all of our car trips and told the most hilarious stories and jokes that made being around him very fun. James was also very familiar with our surroundings and had a great personality as well.
Cape Town's Rich History
Our second day, we visited Robben Island. This part of the trip probably impacted me the most because we were able to look into some of the most important parts of South African history. We visited Nelson Mandela’s cell (on a tour by one of the prison’s previous political prisoners from the 1980s) and learned about many other amazing people who played a part in the South Africa we know today.
All of our meals were accompanied with something special. One night we got to take part in a traditional drum playing session, another was filled with the music of a local marimba band. Every meal was amazing, with delicious and new food to try such as antelope, Malva pudding and ostrich bobotie. When we left for a three-night camping trip further inland, we got to experience making our own food. When we were camping, we also got to go on many fun hikes (getting to see wildlife around us) and even go on a safari through a game reserve.
One of the parts of our trip I enjoyed the most was getting to be in the local communities and visit projects that were taking place in them. We were able to visit the Amy Beihl foundation, the Zama Dance School and meet some amazing children. What I took away the most from these visits was that you don’t need so many tangible items to be happy. Everyone we met was smiling and enjoying themselves with what numerous people would see as scarcely anything but many people who own looks of “things" aren’t happy. The people we met and saw that are living in disadvantaged communities in Cape Town were smiling and happy the whole time. It was amazing to see such joy around me as I visited these projects and local communities and to got to hear about their stories and experiences.