Sophomores Hallie Dewey and Catherine Dennig shared some thoughts and experiences from the first few days of the women's squash team trip to South Africa over Fall Break.
Day 1: By Hallie Dewey '15
After an eventful day of traveling filled with 19 hours of flying, two fainting men, mini Poffertjes (Dutch pancakes), a 2-hour delay due to technical difficulties, and an almost lost wallet and computer (won’t mention any names), we finally made it to Cape Town on Sunday, October 28 circa 11:30pm.
The next morning we woke up and had a very delicious breakfast at the hotel before heading out to our morning exploration of Cape Town. We were supposed to take a cable car up to Table Mountain; however, due to excessive winds, although not as bad as Hurricane Sandy, we were unable to go. Instead, we drove around and saw a beautiful white sand beach, went to Lion’s Head mountain, and got to see the layout of the city. After, we went to a local cricket club to play squash and prepare for our match against a South African women’s team on Tuesday.
That night we went to an amazing dinner, which safe to say has been the highlight of our trip thus far. We went to a cute outdoor restaurant called Moyo. Walking in, you are surrounded by huge canopy trees filled with lanterns. At dinner, we got our faces painted and bongo drummers entertained as we ate an incredibly yummy dinner of chicken, steak, springbuck pumpkin salad, and an array of desserts. It was an amazing night and we absolutely loved the people there and especially the drummers and singers. We couldn’t have asked for anything more on our first night and we are even more excited for what else lays in store on our South African adventure.
Cape Town, South Africa
Day #3: By Catherine Dennig'15
We started the day off early with some omelets, oatmeal and cereal at the hotel. Hopping on the bus at 9:30 am, we traveled to Fisantekraal, an informal settlement in the Western Cape. We arrived at several daycare centers to which our trip made donations, where young children sang to us in both English and Xhosa about learning and life as Superkidz; we sang nursery rhymes to them in response. We played with them and gave them chocolates and candy and took lots of photos together.
Our tour guide, Chris, led us to one region with reasonably adequate sanitation, running water and solar heating. We also got to see a much more desperate side of the urban poor in Cape Town, where many more refugees live. These were the squatter camps, which had central water pumps and no basic sanitation, and consisted of completely government-provided temporary housing structures.
We then visited an elementary school, where children from informal settlements come to receive an education free-of-charge, entirely funded by the government. They had a room filled with computers that had access to the Internet to supplement their education. There were fences surrounding the school and barred windows to provide safety from the poverty-driven, drug-related crime that occurs in these parts. They sang the national anthem to us (in Xhosa, Afrikaans and English) and we once again sang in return. We ventured next to a high school that was very recently built and much safer, and talked to the students in ninth and tenth grades who have exams coming up in a week and a half about business studies, material science and other classes they’re taking. It was fun to hear about their studies and aspirations and get to know them a little. Chris, our tour guide, and Eaton “Elton John” had taught us how to say thank you very much (baie dankie) in Afrikaans, so we made sure to say this a lot, especially to the principal of the high school! We moved on to the Fisantekraal multipurpose center for lunch with the senior citizens, who put on a play depicting abuse in daily life.
This experience was very humbling and eye-opening in that we were exposed to the lives and daily challenges of the urban poor in Cape Town. We will certainly remember this experience as we continue our journey in South Africa and beyond.
We quickly got geared up for our match against the women’s team of the western province (one of eight provinces in Cape Town) at the Western Province Cricket Club. All seventeen of us played, and we had a hard-fought 9-8 win, and enjoyed a lasagna dinner with the opposing team. The women we played were very experienced players, and were extremely inviting and we had a great night with them.