Sunday, October 25, 2009

Desmond Tutu and Other Events

I am in Capetown, South Africa at the moment sitting in a café in Long Street, a hip artsy street in this beautiful city. If any of you (or your parents) are thinking of retiring, you should forget Florida and move here. The dollar is strong here and the oceanfront views are stunning. The Western Cape gets more rain than most of South Africa and there are lush landscapes and mountains that sit right against the beach. It is the first city I have visited where I might be able to settle down. Other cities make me want to return to the bush after a few days.
    On Tuesday we spent the morning shopping for Christmas presents and the afternoon at Camps Bay on a beach below Table Mountain. We had a picnic in the afternoon and I walked up and down the beach watching sufers swimmers. Wedensday I went to Kirstenbosch gardens. The botancial gardens are situated below Table Mountain and offer extensive displays of proteas, restios, and ericas, all plant groups that are highly diverse in the fynbos and succulent karoo regions of South Africa. I walked around for seven hours and returned to the city center at night for some jazz.
    Tomorrow we head off to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for over 25 years, and will spend the evening touring the District 6 museum. After than we head out to De Hoop nature reserve, which is in the fynbos, a floral region specific to South Africa. I’ll be in De Hoop for a week and then back to Kruger.
    Before arriving in Capetown, I spent two days in Pretoria and Johannesburg. We visited the Apartheid museum and the Hector Peiterson Museum. The Apartheid Museum was difficult to handle, but incredibly well done and effective. Each time I reflect on Apartheid I am amazed that it has been so short a time since it was broken apart in this country. The resilience of South Africa is incredible overall. To see multi-racial ads in every magazine and billboard and couples holding hands is a far cry from segregated bathrooms and buses 15 years ago.
    On Friday I attended a mass that was led by Desmond Tutu (Archbishop and former Nobel Peace Prize Winner). We heard about it from a man on the metro and showed up an hour early to make sure we had seats. The chapel was empty. Confused and discouraged we left, but asked a priest on the way out about the mass. He said to return at 7:15am. We came back and found a small congregation in a side chapel. Sure enough, Desmond Tutu was presiding (and gave a lovely mass), but it turns out that we crashed a christening of two babies. We were welcomed by the mothers, shook hands with Desmond Tutu, and overall had a wonderful morning.
    For any of you that are interested, I highly recommend the books “Cry the Beloved Country” by Alan Paton and “The Bang-Bang Club”by Greg Marinovich and Jao Silva. The first is a novel about Apartheid and the second is a book about the press photographers who shot violence during Apartheid. It is a must-read for every photographer.
    I am having some problems with Photoshop at the moment and am unable to edit my new pictures, so here is a shot from my time in Kruger right before I left for Capetown.

More soon!
- Gabby


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