One thing you get used to in Cape Town are beggars, sadly all of them coloured. They have their regions, usually in the form of a traffic crossing, where they sell magazines to standing cars or amuse people for change. Every day I was going to work I passed a few of them, sometimes giving them cigarettes or some change. These were the nice guys – I also met a few more arrogant, one of them threatened to take my wallet if I don't give him more money. That situation managed to strengthen the bitterness of the first days of my stay, but luckily resolved in my favor. People are adoptable beings, and seeing people sleeping on the streets where I lived also became something perfectly ordinary.
Beggars spending their day on the streets
A beggar I met on my way to work every day
Most parking lots, houses and neighborhoods are constantly being watched by armed security, and some of the estates are surrounded with walls and other types of protection. They resemble a personal prison, but the crime rate is high, so these precautions, as weird as they may seem, make sense.
Houses are protected with walls and barb wires
There are a lot of "informal settlements" or townships in the vicinity of Cape Town, and I really wanted to visit one of them out of curiosity. At the end I was taken to a more "commercial" one for lunch, which was still a very interesting experience for the European taste. The meat we had there tasted great, and our car was well cleaned. Almost a perfect lunch, but in the end, the car cleaners sadly got into a fight about who will get more money out of the job.
The township of Imizamo Yethu
The car cleaners inside the township
When you travel around the world, visiting different cultures, you are usually prepared to confront a different world. But South Africa seems western enough to make you feel like you are in Europe, but the actual culture is so different it can be a bit shocking at first. I hope I won't insult any of my friends down there with this post, but I really wanted to present this point of view to my friends back home. Besides, I believe times are changing for the better for South Africa, which is also shown by the people themselves – most of them are not resigned to the situation, but actually want to make something better out of their lives. And where there's a will, there's a way!
Check out the complete Working in Cape Town series.