Intern Blogpost 1
It has been almost a month since arriving in South Africa, and the experience has been something special. Prior to my departure I felt mostly excited, with some uncertainty and anticipation about what to expect. Amsterdam, the Netherlands was a long way from the spirited shores of Cape Town, and I would be entering a place that was a far cry from what I was used to.
After a departing flight to Kenya, and the ten-hour layover that followed, I landed at Cape Town international airport, immediately feeling the summer heat on my skin as I walked off the plane. After going through border control, I was greeted by a driver named Thomas who drove me to a tucked away part of town known as Hout Bay. It wasn’t long before I found out how connected this community would be, as Thomas told me that his business operated out of the same office where I would be working.
My first impressions of the country were strangely tied to summers in the United States. The summer air paired with the drive through the winding roads gave me a strong sensation of being in New Jersey, the only difference being the drive on the left side of the road. The landscape was breathtaking. Mountains and peaks were scattered across the horizon and palm trees danced in the breeze. The vibrant colors of the flowers rose above the walls and barbed wire that surrounded buildings, and lined the streets to create a brilliant spectacle.
The town here is quite nice. There are a handful of grocery stores in the area, nice restaurants, a few shops spread across town, and even an international school right by the football pitch. A lot of the time I can honestly say that I don’t feel like I’m in an African country. It feels more like California or the south of France.
Though it’s hard to give an accurate description of the people’s feelings here, having only been for such a short period of time, it’s clear to me that not only Cape Town but Hout Bay is a very unique place. Never in my life have I experienced wealth and poverty so close to each other. One minute I can be sitting in the team bus, driving through an impoverished township, and just a few minutes down the road are neighborhoods with guarded entrances and pools.
I’ve learned that there are different kinds of people here as well. When South Africa was colonized by the Dutch and the English, it left behind many white Europeans to find their place in the country. This was in addition to the native blacks that had lived in South Africa for a long time prior to their arrival. A third racial group emerged not long after. These people had many different ethnicities in their heritage and were labeled as coloured during the apartheid era. Over the course of history there has been lots of tension between the blacks, whites, and coloured groups of people, and racism continues to be a pressing issue in the country.
In Hout Bay there are different neighborhoods where you can find each group of people. It was described to me as Hout Bay being a petri dish of South Africa, where the town symbolizes the different walks of life in the country. Everyone lives separately in their own culture and lifestyle, but at the same time, everyone walks amongst each other in town, and the connection between the people here is very close. Every person I come across seems to know someone else that I’ve met, or the place where I work. I can sense that even though sometimes people might have trouble accepting each other, tourists included, they are all part of Hout Bay, and the shared sense of pride in the community somehow still brings them together.
I still have a lot of time, and I’m excited to educate myself more regarding what goes on here. I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences. In the next uploads I’ll be talking about football, the club of course, Hout Bay United Football Community (HBUFC), Cape Town, and more.
Various interns that spend time working for the Hout Bay United Football Community