South Africa Part I: Wineries & Apartheid

View of Table Mountain

I don’t even know how to fully put my experience in Cape Town, South Africa into words, but here is my best shot:

I hate big cities. Well, hate is a strong word, but I swore that I would never, ever want to live in a city. Cape Town changed that for me. The city is gorgeous, it is clean, the people are friendly, it isn’t too crowded, there is structure and organization, and it is surrounded by mountains, beaches, vineyards, and other incredible things. It has the best of both worlds: the busy city and crazy night life and then the incredible hiking and outdoor experiences…my kind of place! I would love to live in Cape Town for a while at some point in my life, maybe after college? Who knows 🙂

Day 1: I had a field trip for my Global Management class…to a winery! Not that bad, right? We went to Warwick Estates in Stellenbosch. We had a tour of the vineyard in a safari jeep, we did a tour of the facilities and cellars, and we did a wine tasting. We had a spectacular view and the vineyards are gorgeous. It is harvesting season, so we got to pick and eat our own grapes, yum! Michelle Obama came to this winery when she was in South Africa and she drank 1st Lady Chardonnay…oh Michelle.

Fun fact that I didn’t know about wine: the color of red wine comes from the skin of the grape, not the juice, you can make white wine from red grapes!  We then got a picnic lunch and it was so delicious. It came with a loaf of bread and then some ingredients to make little sandwiches… smoked salmon, mozzarella and tomato, chutney, barracuda, tomato and pesto, salami, pastrami, and cheese; Perfecto! We also got to hear all about the business end of the winery…that is where the Global Management part came in.

Grapes picked for harvesting

After that day long trip we walked around the waterfront area, which reminds me a lot of back home. Everything was build up and beautiful and the mall was just like the malls at home, etc. It was a beautiful area. Then we went out to dinner for a friends 21st birthday! Her parents came to Cape Town, so they took us all out to this wonderful restaurant called Gold. We got a 14 course meal…oh. my. gosh. Talk about being full! It was incredible food, they sang and danced, they brought Sara a cake, and we had a blast!

Day 2: Wake up call at 7:30am! We had another field trip this day to the Old Biscuit Mill. It is an incredible market that they have every Saturday with amazing food. You walk around and can sample any type of food in the WORLD. They had everything from gelato, to nachos, to pizza, to eggs, to dried meat, to fresh fruit, to nuts, to yogurt, to gyros, to crepes, to pitas…. drooooooooooling yet? I had the most delicious peanut butter ice cream (surprised?)… along with 100 other things. They call this market the “white people’s market”… and it is.

The whole point of taking us to the Old Biscuit Mill was so that we could compare it to the next place that we went to; Mizoli’s aka the “black people’s market.” Mizoli’s is located in Guguletu; a township and we were the only white people in the whole place; it was the opposite of the Old Biscuit Mill. You pick out a bunch of raw meat, then bring it to these huge fires in the back and they cook it for you. Then you go and get some drinks and wait about 15 minutes for it to be cooked, and then… a plate of cooked meat that you have to eat with your hands! That is right, a plate of huge slabs of meat covered in ‘special sauce’ with no utensils.

Mzoli's meat market

The atmosphere was awesome here, you sit at huge tables outside, they have live music, people are dancing, and everyone is enjoying time with family and friends… it is their Braai, aka a BBQ! This field trip was very interesting, we got to see two polar opposites and looking back on it, it is crazy that these two different spots were a 5 minute drive from each other. The richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor… right down the road from each other… wow.

The end of Apartheid is very recent (ended in 1994!) and the people are still suffering from segregation, although it is not legal anymore, it is still there if you look for it. They said a lot of people come into Cape Town and see the beautiful, touristy, amazing parts and never see the townships and the poverty and then they go back home and they think that Cape Town is just like the U.S. and everything is perfect and they are so developed and this and that, but in reality there is SO much that needs to be done there and they still have a long way to come before their lives can even compare to the freedom we have in America, it is very sad.

I was talking to some of the locals and they were explaining to me how recent apartheid was and how it has impacted their lives. They said it will still be 50+ years until Cape Town can really progress. They said that kids are just starting to say “can I bring my friend over to play” as opposed to “can I bring my black friend over to play”… imagine that in the States. This was all so amazing to me.

Lunch at the winery

That afternoon some friends and I met up with my friend who is studying abroad in Cape Town, Demi. We had dinner at Bungalow, on outdoor couches right on the waterfront, it was beautiful! I felt so classy. Then we went and watched the sunset up on some rocks overlooking the beach, unbelievable. That night we went to Adam’s house. He is from Cape Town and is cousins with an ex-roommate of a girl on SAS…small world, but connections are everything!

They were great hosts, everyone I have met always wants to show you around their home country and take you to all of the cool places and take you out at night… you can literally have a free tour guide if you meet the right people. I feel like in America, for the most part, people wouldn’t just strike up a conversation with random foreigners and invite them back to their house so that they could throw you a party with all of their friends, but I guess it all depends on who you meet!

More to come on Theresa’s time in South Africa in South Africa Part II: Skydiving, Safari & Surfing.


Submitted by Theresa, Abroad101 Global Ambassador on Semester at Sea