Archive 2008 - 2019

Semester in Cape Town: Part 4

by Bella Tobin

I had the opportunity on a recent weekend to have a 'home stay" in a nearby township.


 I was with my friend Alyssa, but I was still pretty nervous and wasn’t sure what to expect. We were advised to go with no expectations and I did my best. When we got to the home I was totally relieved.

Our host mama was the nicest woman and we spent the afternoon playing with her granddaughter, Gudani, and other children in the neighborhood and talking with her daughter, Gladyss. Gudani and her friend, Alicia, were the sweetest little girls. We went to the park with them and played games and then went back and kicked a soccer ball around with some of the older kids. Everyone was really great and loved talking to us. They enjoyed having us around and many people came  to introduce themselves and say hi.

The homes were small and not well off, but for the most part people seemed happy and everyone was really open with each other, like one big family. The house we stayed in had a TV and cable, but didn’t have hot water, a kitchen table, or even a sink in the bathroom. That made brushing our teeth interesting as we had to ask how and where to do it. We  ended up using a mug. For an appetizer that evening we had chicken feet, which were not that bad, and were seasoned nicely. They tasted just like chicken but the fact that they were feet freaked me out a bit. I was the only one to eat it though.

For dinner we had a traditional dinner of a rice/corn type thing, chicken, carrots, and gravy. It was delicious but nothing out of the ordinary. At night we chatted a bit and went to bed early as we were pretty tired from playing with the kids all day and had to wake up early for church.
The next morning we started our day with porridge, which I thought would be gross so I put about five spoonfuls of sugar in it.  Then it was bearable. I scarfed it down pretty fast so I wouldn’t think about what I was eating. It definitely wasn’t my favorite.

We then walked to meet the other Americans and went to the church in the neighborhood. I’m not sure what I expected at the service, but I know it was nothing like we experenced. There was a band on stage that played songs sung in Xhosa and a few in English and everyone seemed to know  the words. All the kids stood on the side by the stage dancing to the music. It was actually very good, and almost made us move a bit. The pastor was white, but mostly everyone else wasn’t. It was a really good service and he got into examples and stories. It almost didn’t feel like a religious service except when we prayed. Instead of getting on our knees we lifted our arms. After the service there was tea, coffee, and cookies served and everyone chatted in the lobby.

Later  we went to Mzoli’s, which is a restaurant type venue that is known for its incredible meat. It’s actually all they do. All drinks, bread, or any other food must be brought in, except for meat and pap. Our meat was preordered and after a few minutes a huge bucket, bigger than a horsefeed bucket, was placed in front of us, overflowing with sausage, lamb, steak & chicken. We were given metal bowls similar to dogbowls to share between two of us and we dug in with our fingers, finishing all in the bucket. Some people were asking for napkins,

It was some of the best meat I ever had and we ended up with a bowl full of bones. It was a really cool atmosphere though.  There was a DJ and a bunch of us got up to dance.

I really enjoyed it and will definitely go back again.