“Please don’t make me do crime…”
On our first night in Cape Town, we were followed down an empty street between our hotel and the waterfront area by a homeless man. He said he didn’t want money, he wanted food. “People get stabbed around here all the time,” he told us. “Please don’t make me do crime.”
In the next few hours, we encountered many more like him.
In the idyllic images of Cape Town, we saw sparkling beaches and the infamous Table Mountain sheathed in fog. We saw posters of Nelson Mandela and read about things like the eleven national languages of South Africa. The travel books omitted the wrought iron fences and security guards that circle homes throughout the day and night. Even our modest hostel had a wrought iron gate, 24 hour security guard, and two separate locking entrance doors. At night, we listened to the security guard chase away beggars. From our window, we could see the orange tree in the front yard. It was an unsettling sight to see that orange tree behind bars.
South Africa is a land of extremes. Incredible wealth and infinity pools sit only miles away from sprawling townships. Within minutes of leaving the airport, we passed one of South Africa’s many townships, shanty homes built of trash and scrap materials without running water or electricity, reminders of the not-so-distant Apartheid era when non-whites were evicted from “white areas” and forced to live in segregated townships.
And yet, South Africa is a beautiful country. It boasts the second largest economy in all of Africa, is home to 1,739 miles of coastline, and has a climate and landscape as diverse as its people.
Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing pictures and insights from our trip, including all the highlights and stories from our time in Cape Town and Kruger National Park. It was an incredible journey full of discoveries and moments likely to stay with me for years to come.