Ah, the Winelands...

Trip Start Oct 15, 2013
Trip End Jan 09, 2014

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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Sunday, November 24, 2013

Today, we experienced an all-day trip into the winelands! We went to three wineries, but I couldn't tell you what they were called… One was the Hidden Valley Winery! They hosted informative and educational wine tastings, which went over very well with our physically and emotionally exhausted class. The land was beautiful, and I found a particular taste for Chardonnay. I also was able to grab a few souvenirs at an African trading store, including Abbey’s (which I was severely struggling with…). I really do enjoy buying souvenirs for people, but I’ve gotta start watching my wallet at some point.

We also went to this lovely restaurant in the historic Stellenbosch (the second oldest area in South Africa). I got the wrong order, but the grilled calamari I got ended up being much better than anything I could have dared to order! That continued to spark my mind on the class disparity. Cape Town’s tourism industry is truly booming, and their #1 source of income. However, literally minutes away there is unimaginable pottery and children who will never know better than their township. Today, I heard a statistic that about 60% of the kids at Mannenburg Center, one of our placements, will never leave Cape Town. I was floored. After some consideration, I realized that they had no other motivation to leave; why would they? One of my classmates, Luke, is designing a mural that will be a map of the world filled with the kids handprints. He hopes to use this as a way to help the kids see there is a much bigger picture than what they know. I thought that was pretty cool.

One of my classmates, Angel, and I also wandered into this museum of Stellenbosch’s history. We stuck around the free stuff in the opening area and got to see artifacts from the past, hundreds of years old. Everything here has a story, so being somewhere like that can be very overwhelming but equally gratifying. I also got a map of Stellenbosch to add to my growing map collection!

At the winelands, the natural beauty was breathtaking. At the first vineyard, a few of us opted out of the tasting and explored the outdoor area, including a pond with the tiniest frogs I’ve ever seen. Nothing like a wilderness walk in Africa to make you feel alive, right? Everything was overwhelmingly safe, so don’t worry, Nana. The baboons know how to stay at bay now.

The second and third winelands were pretty similar, but the last one also had a cheese tasting! I was so taken with one of the cheeses that I bought it… for the American equivalent of $2. 10 Rands = 1 US dollar, so things over here tend to be pretty cheap, especially if you know how to barter. Obviously, I happily took my cheese, recovered from several wine tastings and headed home.And here I sit, putting off a paper on the Music of South Africa to update the blog (finally). For any faithful readers (the few, the proud!), I’m sorry that this is super inconsistent. I don’t get computer WiFi very often, so I really can only use my phone to check e-mail and whatnot. Now that I’m all caught up, things should get a bit easier though J

More later! We have a busy week ahead of us: beach day tomorrow, finishing up the paper, work, and Thanksgiving break! This week also holds museum tours and hopefully a safari. Here’s to hoping the giraffes are friendly!

Cheers! J
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