Another week gone and many more adventures to talk about! This past week I was able to visit a game reserve on Tuesday, go on a tour of Stellenbosch with the university's Senior Director of Community Interaction, help paint a classroom at the Lynedoch school, and revisit Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope and the penguins at Boulders Beach on Sunday. At the game reserve I had my first "safari," as we went on a tour of the reserve and saw springbock, zebra, giraffes, kudu, and others. Nothing like a real safari, but its a start! This week I want to focus on wineries here at Stellenbosch (this is the wine capital of the country...and Africa), and my second time to Cape Point and Boulders Beach.
From an economic standpoint, Stellenbosch is known for one thing only - wine. Along with two other towns nearby - Franschoek and Paarl, the majority of wine on the continent is produced here. Just in the Stellenbosch area, there are over 200 different wineries. This means Stellenbosch is one of the richest areas in the country, with some of the poorest people working on some of the nicest wine estates in the world. One can drive from the illegal and informal settlement - Enkanini - to a posh wine estate like Delaire Graff in less than 10 minutes. To see such a stark difference in wealth in one area is always shocking, and I always wonder how the owners of many of these wineries can live the way they do when their neighbors live in such poverty. Thanks to my Cities, Sustainability, and Community class I have been able to learn about some of the history behind a few wineries, and what a few of them are doing to combat the vast inequalities that exist in the Stellenbosch area today, and the problems that apartheid created.
Rewinding a bit, in the early 1990s when it became evident that apartheid was ending, the local government here gave decades-long land contracts to wineries and farms in the area to keep blacks from owning property. This left much of the area as they were before - white-owned wineries with underpaid black employees. Some wineries took a stand. Spier, for example, a few years ago decided to give some of the land that it was unjustly given years ago through these land contracts to a black farmer. This man, Eric, still farms the land today, but officially the land is still owned by Spier. More recently, another winery by the name of Salms Delta excavated the entire site to uncover its history - from Africans living there thousands of years ago to the slave labor that the winery used in the 18th and 19th centuries. The owner of the winery then decided to give back to the community by creating a museum displaying the history and honoring those that were oppressed for hundreds of years at the winery. He also made all the employees at the winery part-owners, so that it became one of the first, and possibly the only, winery in the region that is owned by the workers. Many other wineries in the area are becoming sustainable, both environmentally and socially, which is a great step in the right direction. But as I mentioned earlier, I think there is still a long way to go until the wine industry here becomes a more respectable and conscious industry.
Moving on, today I returned to Cape Point and Boulders Beach on a trip organized by the international students office at Stellenbosch. Luckily, today was the warmest and sunniest day yet, with temperatures going up into the low 80s! Seeing the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point in the sun was a rare occasion, as the Cape of Good Hope used to be called the Cape of Storms for a reason. The cape is located at the end of the peninsula and marks the south-western most point in Africa (the southern-most point is further east down the coast), and is home to one of six floral kingdoms in the world - the Cape Floral Kingdom. There are over 9,000 species of fynbos in the floral kingdom, with over 2,000 just on Table Mountain...more species than all of the UK. So, hiking up Cape Point and then to Cape of Good Hope meant hiking through one of the most diverse and unique floral regions of the world. We managed to also hike down to a pristine and empty beach in between Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope and run into the freezing cold water.
Following our time at the tip of the peninsula, we drove up to Simonstown to go to Boulders Beach, where there is a large African penguin colony. The African penguin is the only penguin native to Africa, and only lives in South Africa. The beach has raised wooden walkways so that the penguins are not disturbed and can move freely, and every which way you look you can find penguins hiding underneath the walkways, sleeping in the bushes, or chilling on the beach. This time around, many penguins walked right up to the walkway and stared at us, almost as if we were the ones in the zoo. As an endangered species, one has to worry about the safety of the penguins, and Boulders Beach definitely seems like an encroachment of one of the few spaces the penguins have left. While walking back to our bus from the beach, we found a penguin inside a large sewage pipe hiding in the shade. I don't know how he ended up there or if he was stuck, but I hope efforts are increasing in protecting such a wonderful animal.