First Week in the Western Cape, South Africa

I arrived in Cape Town, South Africa 4 days ago. The pouring rain flooded parts of the roads and completely blocked any views I may have seen if the weather was nicer. I arrived at my flat, where my new housemate/coworker welcomed me.

My first impressions were that it’s a lot colder in S.A. than I thought it would be, and a lot wetter too. It felt and smelled like Canadian October, and once inside my flat, it was not any warmer. I realized I’d need to buy some very warm sweaters.

I didn’t have any time to rest right away because I was to go out for dinner and drinks with my new coworkers in the wine farms area. The restaurant was cozy and welcoming, and very much like home, except that people were allowed to smoke cigarettes indoors. That felt quite foreign. I probably should have had a glass of wine, but I decided on a Guiness instead. I felt very welcomed, and really enjoyed my dinner with 2 people from South Africa, and 1 from Britain.

I was excited to find the sun shining the following morning, with plans to go to a nearby beach called Muizenberg Beach in False Bay. With 3 minutes in the car, I realized the rain had completely blocked out the surrounding mountains. Absolutely stunning views. Muizenberg was filled with shops and all types of people, soft sands, colourful huts on the beach, and fish markets. We spotted a whale in the ocean, and seals by the fish market. It was interested to see the bay where most great white shark attacks happen. We had lunch in a cafe that looked like a library/art museum. I am finding that the prices for food in restaurants here is a bit cheaper, and the quality is very nice. I have enjoyed everything I have eaten so far. The shopping mall looks the same as in Canada, and a lot of the products sold in canada are sold here as well.

My housemate drove me around for the first little while. It took me a few days to feel comfortable walking 10 minutes to the grocery store. The way of life here is very much different than it is back in Canada. It is considered very safe, but I see locked gates on everything, barbed wire fences and pointed fences EVERYWHERE. There are rich people and there are poor people, and not many inbetween. The adjustment to a different currency has been difficult, along with being away from friends and family, but most of all, seeing poverty each day is very difficult. I have lived my life knowing of poverty existing, but I am now forced to see it each day. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced before. I am here to help with animal conservation, but I find myself wanting to help the people more so. In the first couple days, I have gained new perspective.

Tonight some new friends are coming over for dinner. I bought a bottle of South African wine (which is about 4 to 5 dollars for a nice bottle here).

Next post I will talk about the work I am doing here for Wildlife and Ecological Investments.

Written by: Stefanie

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