For my brother and I to travel to South Africa without our parents required a lot of effort from them. Since I still counted as a minor when I sat out a flight across the globe, my parents had to sign permissions for my brother to watch over me (in reality it was the other way around) and for my aunt to act as my guardian once I was in South Africa.
This trip wasn’t just to shave away a chunk of my summer vacation. It was for me to spend time in my hometown and with my family, both of whom I haven’t seen in five years. The five years in which a pre-teen becomes someone about to leave for university produces lots of change. One being I could actually hold a conversation with the people I love.
Once I was in South Africa, it was easier to travel. The busiest part of my stay in S.A. was my visit to Johannesburg. My uncle was kind enough to get tickets for my brother and I to fly to Cape Town for a weekend. After the flight from Washington D.C. to Johannesburg totaling about 18 hours on the plane, a two hour flight wasn’t even enough time to settle in.
We made sure to get some seafood at the Cape Town Fish Market and I got to enjoy a stroll along Llandudno Beach. It was winter so no swimming just eyeing the blue bottle jellyfish washed up by the ebb tide. We drove down to Montebello Design Center, near to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (which we got to explore as well), where artists can have studios and storefronts. While we didn’t buy much, the lunch was delicious and strolling was a lovely way to find peace amidst an adventure. Seated under massive trees, I was in a perfect place to get to know my uncle and cousin.
The last time I met them, I was too young to remember. Visiting Cape Town was exciting for me to strengthen an important connection. Living in the US, 13000 kilometers away from my extended family, takes a toll. I have little idea of my family’s history and what my living relatives are like. This rootlessness does free me from family obligations, but it comes with an unpleasant feeling of detachment.
We went on to East Fort which has a beautiful view and is another a place to wander peacefully. I learned more about the history of South Africa and in turn the role my ancestors may have played. This helped me continue to consider the ramifications of South Africa’s history and how I, like my ancestors, play a role in that.
The day felt mysterious with the top of Table Mountain held in the hands of the clouds and winding drives through the woods. Exploring both the commercial aspects of Cape Town that make it a top tourism location and my personal relationship to the people in it allowed me to relish the experience in a reflective manner. Moving to the US for my dad’s work gave me privileges and higher quality of education than what is available in South Africa. However, for many people in South Africa, the US and Europe aren’t choice. I was left with this in mind; How can I support my home?
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