Sunday, June 29, 2008

Township Tour: Langa

Today started out by missing my alarm clock and waking up 4 minutes before breakfast ended. I ran to get something to eat and then got ready in 35 seconds. When we met outside to get on the bus to go one of the townships, our driver called and found out we were going to a township. He then refused to being us there. We were stuck without a ride for the next 2 hours where we went on a little walking tour around our hotel (see pictures).

We then caught our bus to go to Langa. Langa is one of the largest townships in Cape Town. There are only two entrances into this township. The only thing I can compare a township to is an Army Base. It is a community inside of Cape Town… a very poor community with high HIV rates. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in there, so a lot of mine are pretty unclear because I took them in the bus or without a flash. The pictures I posted are the “wealthy” side of the townships if you can believe. I didn’t take pictures of the poorest pasts. There were actually some points on the tour I was scared. Our tour guide lived in the township and we even got to view his house. His house was about 3 small rooms that he shared with 13 brothers and sisters.

We went to a little community center/market within the township and got to visit a traditionally pottery maker. I bought a plate from him as well as some other small things from the local artists. We then went to a “traditional healer”. He was located in a little shack in Langa that smelt like millions of dead animals. This might have been because there were millions of dead animals hanging from the ceiling and laying around the room. There are some pictures from inside the hut that I posted (sorry if there are no descriptions under the pics… I don’t get very long internet access).

Next, we took a walking tour of some of the poorest parts of Langa. I wasn’t able to take many pictures of this. We got to go into one “house”. To explain what it was like, this of a suite dorm room. Each family has there own small room with one bed. This is for the whole family. The walls are cement and the floor in cement. There is one sink, broken windows, and a small picnic bench. There is a stove with 2 burners (that im not sure even worked?), is a side room a woman was boiling water over a flame. Since it was Saturday, there were a lot of children outside. One boy even came up and grabbed my hand as well as another girl I am with and started doing flips.. he then insisted on hitting us in the head with his empty water bottle! In the walking tour we went down a little side alley and went to an African Beer House. This is where you pay a small fee and can sit in that house all day, in a circle with the others, and pass around a large metal bucket of beer. We got to join in a circle and try some of their traditional beer. It tasted like yeast and I’m not sure how many germs I got from drinking from that bucket!

After the beer house, we walked past a lady who was roasting lamb heads on a fire. She cuts them in half and then sells them as a snack. As hungry as I was at that time, I couldn’t pull myself to buy one.

Overall, the day was AWESOME. The township is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. It was also, at times, one of the scariest things I have ever done. The people of Langa are the nicest, most welcoming people I have ever met. I tried to relate them to the poor people we see in Boston and it makes those people in the states more rude and disrespectful that you can think of. Not one time in the townships did people try to beg us for money. Not one time did anyone yell out any inappropriate comments to us. Here we were a dozen American’s in their expensive jeans walking past these people who can’t even afford meals.. and they were all welcoming and even smiling at us.

It sounds cliché, but it really makes you take for granted what we all have in the states! Again, the pictures are really great to look at, but forgive me for not giving explanation for any of them. If I find myself with enough internet time, I’ll come around to the explanation. The internet is even so slow, I don’t know if im going to be able to upload them. It’ll be a surprise.

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