Thursday, November 4, 2010

A new day for pilgrams (and South Africa) - Part 1

On Thursday morning the rain came early and gusty winds died down. This allowed for our planned trip to Robben Island to proceed. The ferry from the Waterfront at Cape Town provided for a look (and smell) of the marine industry here, as well as a taste for brisk breezes (for those of us who braved the top level of the ferry). On arrival on Robben Island, we were met by our guide, a former political prisoner who was incarcerated on the island for four years. We would meet up with our guide after a bus tour of the island itself. On stops around the island, we learned of its history as a prison in the 17th century, a leper colony years later (the photos of the graveyard are that of the resting places of leprosy's victims), an army base during WWII, and back to its role in securing those who threatened the policies of the Apartheid regime from 1964 to the emancipation of the last prisoners in the mid-1990's.

The prison tour brought us in contact with the structures and stories of those whose lives were lived under constant threat. Nelson Mandela is one well known figure to have born the weight of oppression within the walls and shores of Robben Island. His cell was the most anticipated of the tour (one of the pictures is that of the line/queue that formed to simply see where Mandela lived for 18 years). His cell, however, was indistinguishable from many we visited. Countless acts of courage and faith were narrated in cells that included notes and artifacts from the former prisoners who inhabited these spaces.

The ferry ride home provided a view of Cape Town from the bay. Rising like an island from the Atlantic Ocean, the vista of Cape Town was a welcomed site for the sea-weary pilgrims who experienced one to many "rocks" of the boat ( to and fro, to and fro).

The afternoon was spent in downtown Cape Town (inc. St. George's Cathedral, the Greenmarket square, and sundry other sites). Tonight our journey takes us into the township of Gugulethu where we will be hosted for dinner by Liziwe, a township resident.


  1. The pillar of cloud by day is kinda cool, but if you can get a picture of that pillar of fire by night, we'd be REALLY impressed! BTW - you've channeled your rainy, windy weather here today. Thanks so much for sharing . . .
    But seriously - we DO thank you for sharing, and letting us join, even if vicariously, in your pilgrimage. Keeping you in our prayers and looking forward to the next post.

  2. Thanks for posting each day ... love following you all on this adventure. Looks as if it cleared up where you are. No such luck here ... cold, rainy and generally uncomfortable.

    Keep safe all of you. Looking forward to the next post.