Due to immigration restrictions, the easiest way for me to renew my visa was to leave the country. How unlucky am I? I decided the easiest and most worthwhile trip from here would be to spend a week in Cape Town, South Africa. I guess you could say it was my first solo trip, as short as it was, but it definitely won’t be my last. My trip to Cape Town opened this horrendously large Pandora’s Box that showed me how much more I want to travel, meet new people, experience new things, and see the world. There are many things travelers agree on, and I think the number one would be that traveling doesn’t cure wanderlust, it fuels it. You find yourself adding things to your bucket list, not crossing things off, and wondering when in your short life you will ever find time for all of it.
I was pretty terrified to be going off somewhere on my own, even if just for a week. I know that technically I came to Zimbabwe alone, but it felt completely different when I knew there were people waiting for me on the other side. I must have read every “How to Solo Travel” blog out there and obsessed over reviews of what to do on Trip Advisor. I figured if nothing else, I’d get some time to myself, time to explore another city. I was pleasantly surprised when my week turned out to be better than I could have ever imagined. Every day I was in Cape Town, I saw or experienced something amazing. Every day I was given a gift. I saw the prison where Nelson Mandela was kept for 18 years, guided by an ex-political prisoner. I ran after penguins at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town. I saw the sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean from the top of a mountain I climbed (twice) with a few of my hostel-mates. I went out to dinner with people from about 10 different countries, including Brazil, France, England, Namibia, Germany, Malaysia, Paraguay, Denmark, and Ireland and learned to say “cheers” in each language. I tasted the best coffee I’ve had since I arrived in Africa. I had some of the most eye-opening conversations with people I had only just met. I listened to opera with three random people from three other countries who coincidentally love opera just as much as I do (seriously, when does that ever happen?). I saw the city of Cape Town from 3500 feet in the air while paragliding. I chatted with locals and made friends with people from all over the world whom I will never forget (some of whom I already have plans to meet up with again during our future travels).
Of course, being that I am a “wandering Jew”, I did check out one of the local shuls which happened to be right around the corner from my hostel. It was different, to say the least, especially being that it was a Reform temple and not what I’m used to, but very interesting. The rabbi welcomed all the visitors (there were quite a few) and introduced me as the “visitor from Zimbabwe”. That was definitely a new one for me, but reinforced my feeling that I have established a home here in Harare. I felt similarly in this service as I had when I attended Kabbalat Shabbat at the Ashkenazi shul in Harare. There’s a warmth and comfort that we feel as Jews when we hear the tunes we grew up singing, the words we can recite by heart. I know I’m lucky knowing this. Sometimes I think we take for granted the familiarity of niggunim and the knowledge of weekly t’fillot, which some Jews around the world do not have. But here I was, in Cape Town, South Africa, singing along with other Jews from about four different continents, and it was beautiful.
There was something so special about ending an incredible week away by coming back to Zimbabwe, a country that doesn’t seem so foreign anymore, with hugs from people who are becoming my mishpacha. I am so thankful for the experience I had last week and for the beautiful people I met.
I was once complaining to someone that after so many experiences I have had with people all over the world, sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it if in the end I just have to say good bye. She told me to think of it as a safety net. That the people you connect with are here for you, no matter where they are in the world, and the more people from different places you meet along the way, the wider your safety net becomes. I’m so thankful that this trip widened my safety net.
A few pictures I collected from others (most of my pictures were on the phone I lost while I was in Cape Town)