I tend to believe that human beings are social, and that most people find at least some joy in sociality and connecting with others. It is also one of the joys and privileges of traveling: meeting people who appear to have nothing in common with you other than the desire to start a conversation and make new friends.
Sometimes, this can also turn into friendships, if the timing and circumstances are auspicious. But, of course, when traveling, this inevitably leads to tough goodbyes and hopes to (re)visit sometime soon.
Two of the people I connected with the most while in Cape Town have left South Africa this week. Ivette is from Barcelona, Spain, and conducted research on infectious diseases, such as dengue fever and HIV, for a biotechnology laboratory. Selina, from a village outside Frankfurt, Germany, worked at PASSOP as a paralegal assistant and studies psychology and global studies in the United States. They are incredible women with bright futures ahead, and I am extremely lucky to have met and become friends with them. They made my time here in Cape Town that much more adventurous and memorable. I miss them already, anticipate our next meeting and reunion, and am forever thankful to Professor Warren and William & Mary Law School for these gifts of friendship.
Timing matched up yet again, and a fellow summer intern in the Post Conflict Justice and Peace Building Program visited Cape Town during the first weekend in July, right before this ninth week full of departures. Her visit helped to remind me of home, and brought another great friendship and connection into this travel experience.
Bailey flew in on Friday from Johannesburg, where she works as an intern with an organization committed to providing justice and reconciliation to families and victims who suffered political violence under the apartheid regime. We met outside PASSOP’s office building that afternoon, and hurried to Signal Hill to catch up, watch the sunset, and see a view of the city. The horizon was cloudy at the top of the hill, so we walked to a lower point to watch the sunset as a wall of clouds rolled in from the sea. Their breaking up over Table Mountain and Lion’s Head proved breathtaking, and was a unique view that even I hadn’t seen before.
The next morning we woke up at 5:15AM to get to Lion’s Head for a sunrise hike (a trek which I had done before, so I felt comfortable being the “guide”). We made it to the top in time for the entire sunrise, but clouds obscured much of the horizon again. As we made our descent there was another break in the cloudiness, and we could see the sun in between two cloud layers.
We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon enjoying Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill market, where vendors of all types come every Saturday to display their wares and offer unique foods and cuisine. We (of course) spent time perusing the chocolate shop, where one can try samples from a jar of each type of chocolate, ranging from 100 percent dark chocolate to white chocolate with passion berries and peppercorn. We chatted with some of the clothing and jewelry vendors about gifts for friends and family back home. And we walked back to Observatory along Lower Main Road before taking the afternoon off; we met with Ivette, Selina, and Ivette’s brother Ivan later that evening for Ivette’s farewell dinner (and some authentic Spanish ham Ivan had brought from home).
Sunday proved just as marvelous: breakfast at Ahem! café and art gallery in Observatory, and an afternoon of exploring Stellenbosch and two beautiful wine estates tucked into the hills of the “wine country” valley. Even without libations, Stellenbosch and its restaurants and wine-making culture are a must-see for visits to Cape Town.
Just be sure to coordinate with a driver or taxi who knows when and how to find you to pick you up! Otherwise, you might find yourself walking down a dirt road for a while before cell phone service reaches you again, and you can direct a driver to your location thereafter (though you might find a super friendly dog who will keep you company in the meantime!).