Katsjourney Around the World, 19 December, 2002 Cape Town, South Africa

Thu, 19 Dec 2002 03:20:53 -0600
I just spent an hour on this newsletter and lost it.  Agggh, the internet in a foreign land!!!  I will try to reconstruct…

Greetings All,

I hope everyone is having a brilliant holiday season.  It has been interesting here in South Africa.  Christmas is not nearly as commercialized as in the States.  You are hard pressed to find Christmas lights on houses or Father Christmas (Santa) ringing a bell on the streets.  In the northern hemisphere it is winter and there seems to be much more focus on the spirit of Christmas and what it means.

Santas on bldg
Santas climbing a building near my flat.

Here it is summer.  The kids are out of school for summer holidays.  It is about beach parties and bikinis. I don’t feel the tone of the religious meaning here at all.  Everyone has 3-8 weeks off here, just for the holidays.  And they have a job to return to. Imagine that! I wish the States would adopt this policy.  Such a shame one has to quit their job to see the world or spend a long beach holiday with their family.

Post Net is typically a pretty big business during the “festive season” (as they call it here). You know, shipping gifts, etc. Well, I stopped there a couple of days ago.  Closed from 16 December to 7 January.  Closed?!

I went to a lovely Christmas concert last night at the City Hall.  They had a full choir and the South African orchestra.  Some of the songs were similar to ours, but different melodies.  It helped me get into the Christmas spirit a bit.

Christmas by Candelight
Carols by Candelight event in Stellenbosh Winery

I am amazed at the recent history of the New South Africa. I am going to tour District Six.  That was once a thriving part of Cape Town.  A real rainbow of people.   Then the government started forcibly removing blacks and coloureds from their homes and moved them to the Cape Flats (or the townships).  This was happening in the 1960’s and ‘70’s.  60,000 people were displaced and  their homes were bulldozed.  Can you imagine?

I am in touch with a gentleman who does township tours.  These are many of the displaced black’s homes.  They live in shacks made of cardboard or metal.  As many as a dozen people may live in one room. They have no running water, dirt floors and trash everywhere. This breeds disease and crime. So sad.

In contrast there are mansions dotting the beautiful Cape Town coastline. The wealthy (many are Germans and Brits…real estate is easy for foreigners to buy) and the middle class live behind huge walls and gates topped off with barbed wire and electrical fencing.  They have hidden lives behind the burglar bars, almost oblivious to the underprivileged a few kilometers away.

I have three circles of friends here.  My social calendar the last two weeks was looking frighteningly like life Austin.  I am learning that if you are a social person, you have that type of life anywhere in the world.  Besides the fact that Capetonians love visitors and their city.  They love to show it off.  For everything they have been though, they have such a happy attitude.  There is very little depression and stress.  I think that is due to all the time off!

I have been invited to a few friends houses for Christmas. I have chosen to work for the Red Cross.  I have finally found someone who will take volunteers for less than 6 months.  I will be helping deliver gifts to various children’s homes.  I am really looking forward to it.  We will also be discussing other work opportunities for January!

Anyway, this is a shortened version of the original letter, but I have been on the internet a long time and need to run. If I don’t get and update out before Christmas, I hope that everyone has a very blessed holiday.  I miss you all.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.