March 6, 2012
As you all can imagine, the site of land, let alone other living things besides the bubble of the close to 900 people on the ship is a pretty exciting experience.Usually a number of students gather early in the morning to see the sunrise and to catch a glimpse of land upon arrival of our next port, but Cape Town was different.The rumor on the “ship mill” as us SASers like to call it, was that Cape Town was going to have the prettiest sunrise yet, one that we didn’t want to miss. For once, the ship mill was spot on.
My roommates and I rolled ourselves out of bed and ran up to the deck (pajamas and all), rushing to see the beautiful city.There we stood, hundreds of groggy-eyed college students in awe of what was before us.Cape Town was absolutely stunning.Through the clouds we saw whispers of Table Mountain and city lights flashing through.We were all quiet
(for once) as we sailed in, took in the sunrise, and stared in excitement as we imagined the next six days in this city.Little did I know that the next few days would be some of the best days of my life, snapshots and memories I will never forget.
I said “good morning” to God, and tried to wrap my mind around the fact that this was just four of the eleven countries I will visit in the upcoming months.I may or may have not also selfishly wished that there would be a Starbucks (a girl has her standards).
Moments later, I boarded a helicopter and was whisking around the Cape coast, seeing whales, Robben Island (the island unfortunately famous for jailing Nelson Mandela), Boulder beach (famous for the number of penguins), Camps Bay, Table mountain (considered one of the wonders of the world), and my beautiful “home,” the MV Explorer. Just as I was gazing wide-eyed at the beauty surrounding me, I looked over to my left and became static.It was the worst poverty I’ve ever seen.Worse than the cities I visited in Honduras with my dad in high school, worse than the remote huts in the Amazon and worse than the village I stayed in Ghana.The “townships” as they have been named, were originally government-mandated communities established during apartheid, moving whites into the best areas and reserving the worst locations for black South Africans.Nearly 20 years has passed since the ending of the apartheid and there sat thousands of shacks, crowded together, placed in the middle of the city with wealth and tourism flourishing on every which side.
I’ll admit it, getting off the ship in Cape Town my friends and I were quickly excited at the thought of traveling in a more westernized culture. I was excited to be able to drink the water, have soap in the bathroom (and a bathroom at that) and not have to take any more malaria medication. But, reality quickly set in, the way it always does.I was quickly reminded of Cape Town’s deep history and was staring reality in the face. I began wrestling with myself, thinking of what I could do, and feeling pretty guilty roaming around in a helicopter, witnessing all this from a distance, knowing very well that their reality has never been myreality.My heart was troubled.
Hours later I traveled to the top of table mountain for sunset, a site that all the locals said was a “must see.”Similarly, I gathered with tons of other SASers, and waited in anticipation.Once again, there we all were, standing in awe of what was before us.The sunset on top of the mountain was the most stunning thing I’ve ever seen, the closest thing I can ever imagine heaven being like.In the midst of a troubled heart God showed up, just like he always does.In the midst of his beauty my heart became quiet as I was reminded that God is in control, and that he is a righteous and just God. A God who loves his children more than I can ever imagine.
As I stood, watching the clouds roll in over the mountain, eagerly holding onto the fading sun, I said “good night” to God and once again unsuccessfully tried to wrap my mind around the fact that this was just four of the eleven countries I will visit in the upcoming months.
**Blog retrieved with permission from http://chelcieatsea.tumblr.com