Cape Town Day 1 – Masiphumelele

Instead of blogging myself this evening I helped Laura prepare a pictorial post of our trip to Masiphumelele today.  Check it out.

No time tonight for me to add much except the following quick notes:

1. Although it’s a shantytown, Masiphumelele is 1st world in a number of ways.  Most/all of the homes and businesses have electricity and running water.  I saw shops selling cell phones and cell service.  One of the homes we visited had a land-line telephone, two computers, and a TV.  Some of them also had cars and makeshift garages.

2. Masiphumelele is only a 10 minute drive from the seaside town of Fish Hoek where we’re staying.  Today in Fish Hoek we saw a real estate office where I took note that the price of a home up on the mountainside overlooking False Bay is upwards of $1 million.  The Cape Town area is a very strange place: 1st world and 2nd world (if there is such a thing) within 10 minutes of each other.

3. Masiphumelele has 20,000+ people living in a very small "neighborhood".  That density makes the place charmingly vibrant.  It’s teeming with activity of every sort.  The people we met were happy and hopeful.

4. HIV/AIDS is an unbelievably-horrible problem in Masiphumelele.  More on that later.

Tomorrow we take the commuter train to downtown Cape Town and on to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.  Our host described it as a holy shrine to the end of apartheid and the people who brought it about.  I expect this will be one of the most profound experiences of the trip.

It’s 12:30 am here.  I’m going to bed!

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