I was born and grew up in Alaska. For many people, this is the ultimate destination, the farthest reach of civilization, the end of the world; I was bored with it before I entered high school. Ultimately, that is what drove me to another end of the world: Cape Town, South Africa. I had the opportunity to go to the most southwestern point in Africa, Cape of Good Hope, with CIEE.
This particular adventure was a mini-adventure in an all-day adventure with my classmates. We started at the Bo-Kaap, a historic neighborhood above the Central Business District in Cape Town. The homes here are painted in bright colors, a holdover from when the largely Malay population painted their homes as one of the few freedoms of expression they could exercise during apartheid. It remains a hub of the Islamic community in Cape Town and was recently declared a national heritage site.
Next, we drove through Camps Bay around to Hout Bay, a wonderfully photogenic area where surfers gather. From there it was a forty-minute drive around the peninsula and into the Table Mountain National Park. This took us through several suburbs, horse ranches, ostrich ranches, around harrowing turns carved into the side of the mountains, and down the progressively choppier and choppier coast. After forty minutes, we reached the Cape of Good Hope. This was the highlight of the whole trip for me, and very worth it. Wild ostrich roamed in the fields of plants I had never seen before; sugarbush and proteas. The ocean hit the rocks along the coast so forcefully the spray shot straight up in the air. Two things struck me as I walked in a daze towards the cliffs that overlook this last point of the Atlantic ocean. The first being that I was truly at the farthest point of Africa, that this Cape had such maritime significance. The second was that with my classmates all behind me, I was the youngest person on the beach by at least thirty years.
This resonated with me. At nineteen years old, I had already been in two extreme points of two different continents: far north and far south. I have never in my life felt so fortunate for every instance in my life that had led me to this point.
The group continued onto Cape Point, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet each other, and then Boulders Beach, where African penguins roam, but I had Good Hope on my mind for the rest of the day. Being able to see out infinitely across the ocean from the same ground that I normally stand upon had been powerful.
All life came from water and all persons came from Africa. Dwelling on this glorious intersection I was witnessing, I felt dwarfed by both nature and humanity.