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03/15/2011

View of the Ocean? A Home Away from Home...

An experience like this weekend reminded me once more why I came to South Africa. The Ocean View township is a community of mostly colored people who originally lived in Simon’s Town, just about a 15-minute drive from the current township.

Ironically, Ocean View hardly has a view of the ocean..but the life and energy of the community creates an environment far more desirable than any view of any ocean.The people in the community are vibrant, beautiful, creative and welcoming. The weekend began with a talent show led by tranny/community leader Alvin and group dinner at the high-school where an identical Michael Jackson copy performed a montage of dances and lip-synching (My brother Luke happened to have a huge Michael Jackson collage in his room as well).

Saturday morning began with a delicious breakfast of avocado, scrambled eggs, fresh tomato and toast followed by a trip to the mall with mom, luke, parker and my roommate for the weekend, Mosha. After a delicious lunch, we then took a drive along the coast with the entire family to pick up Jordan at a beach birthday bash (which he described as “BOORRING”) where there was a tidal pool complete with a mysterious 5-foot long black sand shark (how did it get in there) and fishing boats returning from a successful day by the looks of their nets and traps full of “snoek”.

We even got a free fish because Mosha and I excitedly told the fisherman that we had never seen a snook before! This fish was then taken to Grandma’s house in “Ghost Town” (neighborhood of Ocean View) where Paul expertly filleted the freshly killed snook. But before this, we took a drive to one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen thus far in Cape Town, Scarborough, just a ten minute drive from the George’s home— imagine having such beauty at your fingertips! Dinner was delicious— “braaied” snoek with a lime, apricot and butter glaze and fresh salad. Sunday morning began with church bright and early at 8am— a very similar to my own experiences at Catholic church (this was an Anglican congregation, which Paul informed me is very similar to Catholic). After Sunday Lunch (finally, something relatable to Sunday at Grandma Colangelo’s) we headed to watch the cycling race pass by. About 50% of Ocean View had the very same idea— there were braais, tents and endless amounts of people watching the race (sort of) but mostly just having fun and socializing. All in all, such a unique and special way to spend a weekend.

The George’s welcomed me into their home as their own (as they have done with exchange students for the past 6 years) and even hinted at coming to visit me next weekend for my birthday. I don’t think it’s naive to say that I will be seeing them very soon…. 

Ocean View brings to mind these words..community, togetherness, litter, vandalism, crime, love, friendship, support, churches, dogs, gates, barbed wire, beer, bodegas (except they use a different term I can’t remember right now), crowds, babies, vibrant, street games, running kids, wise elders… LIFE. 

Ocean View simultaneously reminded me of neighborhoods in my city (NYC) as well as the family community I grew up with myself. At the same time, the experience the residents of Ocean View, particularly the elder ones who can still remember times of forced removal and apartheid, is one entirely foreign to me. But as my experience proceeds here in Cape Town, I am only learning more and more and the incredible history, culture and background that comprises this amazing city.

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172849_1430732564728_1125270900_31718250_3083803_o Juliana Colangelo is a student from Barnard College.

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