After a nasty stomach virus overcame our whole group and we lost the wifi in the village for a few days, I’m finally able to give an update on my first few adventures in South Africa. Only twenty minutes after my arrival at the guesthouse in Lynedoch Sunday afternoon, we left to get our first tour of the city of Stellenbosch. We were given virtually no time to recover from jet lag as we have been up shortly after 7 each morning and have been busy all day long.
We began our week with a short hike up a hill just outside of Stellenbosch to get a better idea of how the city evolved. The center of the city where the university is located can be seen in the photo below; however, the city expands far beyond the beautiful Cape Dutch architecture to the informal settlements that are a result of the outward push of the apartheid. Due to the city being built into the mountain side and an unexpected migration of people into the more urban areas, Stellenbosch is encountering a shortage of property and housing options for those who wish to live here. Skyrocketing property taxes and unreliable government housing make it incredibly difficult for anyone of a lower class to find a home. As a result, many settlements have begun to expand illegally by their own means onto surrounding property including the nature reserve we hiked through.
Learning about the culture of the city from our program director provided a whole new perspective on the history of the country and its people, since he is South African and lives just outside of the town. Tomorrow afternoon, our group will be visiting a local informal settlement to delve even deeper into the country’s history and provide yet another perspective on living in South Africa.