Well I have officially been living in Cape Town for about 3 days now, and I honestly still cannot believe that I am here. I am in absolute awe of the beauty and am so curious about the culture and the people. I feel so lucky that I have already been able to explore so much and meet such awesome people, but I know that there is still so much more to experience.
I arrived in Obs on Monday and moved into my new house. It is pretty big but not full yet as there are only 8 of us living there in total. All of my housemates are nice so far, but I still haven’t met everyone as we seem to be on all different schedules. The weather is a bit colder than anticipated so that’s an adjustment, especially considering my house does not have any central heating, so I am getting used to sleeping in MANY layers. I managed to stay awake all day Monday after arriving, which seemed to be really helpful for my jet lag, and explored Obs a bit with other VAC interns. So far, we have found a great café right down the street that serves delicious food and coffee, a couple of bars, and many other yummy restaurants. Obs is a busy area most of the day but its small and easy to figure out quite quickly.
On Tuesday, all of the new interns had orientation with VAC. We all have different internship sites, so most of the orientation revolved around safety, transportation, and things to do. The VAC staff are really friendly and supportive, and many of them were interns at one point, so they totally understand the situation that we are all in which is helpful. There are about 18 new interns for the summer which is apparently one of the larger groups of the year. Most other interns are from the U.S., but there are also a few from Canada, the U.K., and Holland. Everyone is really cool, and we are all really close already considering we have spent almost every waking hour together in the last few days. After orientation on Tuesday, a group of us went to Camps Bay, which is a really nice beach area to the west of Obs, and it was GORGEOUS! If you are standing on the beach, you can look one way out to the ocean but if you turn around, you have a perfect view of Table Mountain. I don’t think I will ever get used to seeing the mountains every where I look because it is just such an incredible view.
On Wednesday, VAC provided all of the new interns with tickets for a hop-on hop-off double decker bus tour around Cape Town, which was an amazing way to see the a large part of the city and bond with the interns. We left downtown Cape Town and first got off at a winery in Constantia, which is southeast from Table Mountain and downtown. Cape Town is apparently very well known for its wine, and although I do not know much about wine, I can definitely say that what I tried was delicious. Next, we went to World of Birds which was essentially a zoo with birds and monkeys. The monkey exhibit was pretty cool though because the monkeys climb all over and even sit on top of your head. Then we stopped at Hout Bay for food before taking the bus to the Waterfront and heading back to Obs. The last part of the drive was all along the coast, and it was absolutely beautiful.
Throughout my experience so far, one aspect of life in Cape Town has particularly stood out to me. There is a very stark difference here between privilege and poverty, and the economic gap is extremely wide. Although I knew about this before getting here, it became way more real even as I was flying in over Cape Town. There are townships (essentially shanty towns) positioned directly next to nice neighborhoods, and this just looks and feels very strange. Although apartheid is no longer present in South Africa, the effects in terms of the economic gap are still obvious, and unfortunately, they will not likely disappear anytime soon.
My new room!
Sunset at Camps Bay with Table Mountain
Views of downtown