This past weekend, nine of us traveled to Cape Town for a little getaway from Johannesburg. The flight takes an hour and a half, which is very comparable to a flight from Pennsylvania to Florida.
We all had interviews Friday morning, so we didn’t get to Cape Town until later that evening. We all stayed at a hostel on Long Street, which is the main street in Cape Town for bars and clubs.
We enjoyed our time on Friday night socializing, but the night didn’t end well when one of the men from the hostel used racial remarks that really offended Shanell, who is black, and which naturally really offended the rest of us. To say the least, we experienced, yet again, the post-apartheid mindset of some white South Africans.
On Saturday, we woke to a beautiful warm day without a cloud in the sky. It was refreshing considering the brutal cold front we had been experiencing in Johannesburg the week before.
Siena, Lucas, Shanell and I went to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other ANC members were isolated and imprisoned for their fight against apartheid.
Robben Island was also a training and defense station in World War II and a dumping ground for people with leprosy.
We took a half-hour ferry ride out to the island, which was breathtaking. Looking out and seeing the beautiful scenery of Cape Town was an incredible experience. The rumors are true – it is a place you have to see to believe. Yet I couldn’t help to think of what Nelson Mandela felt when he was being taken to Robben Island, only to be locked into a small cell for more than 30 years of his life.
We first toured the prison. Our tour guide had actually been imprisoned for a few years because of his contribution to student protests during the apartheid era.
The prison was a shocking experience. I thought I saw it all in the Apartheid Museum, but I was wrong. It was a whole different feeling to see the actual cell Mandela was in and hear about the frightening stories that the prisoners went through.
We proceeded to take a bus ride around the island, where we saw World War II monuments and graves of former lepers on the island. People who died from leprosy were buried on the island, but many of their gravestones were torn down for the building of the prison. Virtually the whole establishment was built over numerous dead corpses.
We then made our way to Table Mountain, the landmark of Cape Town. It is the first thing I saw when I arrived in Cape Town on Friday and the last thing I saw from the plane when we left on Monday morning.
We made it about half way up the mountain and the view was amazing. We made our way down as the sun set, which was such a pleasant, beautiful and relaxing experience.