Monday December 31st
Today was the most amazing experience thus far. Today we woke up and immediately headed to Haut Bay. While driving there (approx. 40 minutes away from Mowbray) we drove though one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Cape Town, Bishopscourt. I'm not kidding when I say that this is wealth I have never seen in the states. These multi-million dollar mansions reached a level of grandeur that I like to forget even exists. Of course, they were highly secure, most were surrounded with barbed wire and electrical fences. Every car in these driveways were either BMW's, Mercedes, or Audi. Literally every single mansion was coupled with a pool. These houses were built into the mountain and were very symbolically at the top of a pyramid. Just a short fifteen minutes later we arrived at the township we were to visit. As we walked up the glass covered street that was the edge of Mandela Park, the first thing that I noticed was the smell. It was horrific, a mixture of garbage, rotten food, and the chicken coop in the township. These people were literally living in metal make-shift shacks smaller than my freshman dorm. The township had their own bars, stores, even competing barber shops. I mostly felt guilt while walking through Mandela Park. Here I was three weeks ago actually complaining about finals, and that was my biggest problem. Meanwhile these kids in this township are struggling to find things to eat. The teenagers and adults deal with violence, rape, and keeping their family afloat on a daily basis. I realized that what most people consider problems in the U.S. are really what people would consider privileges here. Anger was a huge over-riding emotion while walking through the township. These wonderful welcoming people were here barely staying alive, while their family and friends die of HIV/AIDS. The symbolism was impossible to ignore as this township was at the bottle of this magnificent mountain. The people of this township are forced to look at these luxurious mansions atop the mountain while they struggle to live at the bottom. Despite these people's everyday life experiences, they welcomed 25 relatively wealthy Americans into their community to see their way of life, it was amazing. The juxtaposition of the disparity in this country and city was truly life changing.