17 PICTURE ALBUM
Thursday, June 17
Paula: Today was a gorgeous day with plenty of sunshine and mild temperatures
in the 70's (some winter!). We decided to explore the area of Stellenbosch,
with its winelands just northeast of Cape Town.
The town of Stellenbosch is in the center of vineyards here and is also known
as the center of historical Afrikaans culture. The area was home of the Dutch
East India Company established in the late 1600's. As we walked along the
streets and across the town green, we all had the same thought - this looks
like New England. Colonial Dutch architecture has similar features to our
towns back home with the major difference being that the buildings are all
white. There is even an old country store and shops filled with embroidered
apples and pineapples. The oak trees lining the streets were losing their
leaves and if it weren't for the neighboring palm trees, we could have been
in New Hampshire on a crisp fall day. We didn't stay long because it just
made as all too homesick!
With mountains as a backdrop, this area is filled with vineyards. The wine
production became well established in the colonial days when the British were
at war with the French and need a new supplier for their wine! We stopped
at one of the largest vineyards
in the area, the Spier estate. A lovely garden and pond on the grounds was
perfect for our picnic lunch. Afterwards we tasted several of the vineyard's
wines and found we were all particular fond of the Pinotage which is a new
hybrid of grapes developed in South Africa.
On the way home we noticed again the shanty towns along the highway. We had
seen many of these communities on our drive to Cape Point yesterday as well.
The homes built of scrap wood and tin are strung together and appear to go
on for miles. The government
apparently has tried to move the people in these neighborhoods into low income
housing but the neighborhoods just resurface. In addition to low income families,
many of the area's immigrants have settled in these towns. These neighborhoods
stand in stark contrast to the modern, upscale homes and facilities in the
rest of Cape Town and certainly epitomize the disparities that still exist
between the wealthy and poor. We know unemployment is very high here, and
can't even imagine all the implications this must have for the city.
We have also noticed that security is a paramount concern. All homes and
businesses have armed security systems. It is difficult to enter any business
without being buzzed in and even street parking is protected by individual
security guards. We have been told this is just part of the landscape and
has been for many years. We still need to learn more about the social conditions
here in South Africa and hope to have an opportunity to speak again to some
of the friends we have met here.
is our last day in Cape Town. We need to finish getting ready for our road
trip starting on Saturday morning, but tomorrow hope to have a little time
to take in the harbor or one of the nearby bays.