Campus News

Cape Town Diary: August 31. By Kristen Heim, Colby College ’03.

Story posted August 31, 2001

It has been raining for a solid week here in Cape Town. Today, some of the main city roads were flooded. We drove through six inches of water in some places on our way to the University of Cape Town this morning. There were power outages throughout the city. In some suburbs, the roads were impassable, and people couldn’t get to work. Everyone, to varying degrees, has been inconvenienced by the rain.

The wind blows hardest at the University. There, the rain does not fall downwards, as is its custom, but in a horizontal fashion. It is inevitable that, regardless of which way you are walking, the rain is coming directly towards you. It is a blinding rain, and it is sometimes rather painful. Just in walking from one building on campus to another, one’s pants become soaked through. Umbrellas are useless, and raincoats provide little relief.

None of the houses in Cape Town have central heating. Thus, once you are wet in the morning, you remain wet and cold for the rest of the day. At the center, we are fortunate enough to have a large heater in the computer lab. For each degree that the temperature drops outside, we crank the heater up another two. As Americans, we are unaccustomed to being constantly damp and chilled.

I have always made an effort not to complain about the weather, as there is nothing that is going to change it anyway. This, however, has gotten to be a bit ridiculous. One begins to wonder if the rain will ever stop. Thus, the whining and moaning about this relentless rain has intensified.

Life’s tough when it rains. The walks to and from the cabs seem a bit longer. Our twice-weekly trips out to Langa and Lavender Hill for community service aren’t quite as fun. When we go out at night, we’re forced to cart around umbrellas and raincoats. In order to stay warm, we must all spend a little bit of extra time in the computer lab.

It is sometimes hard to appreciate what we do have. One must look at a bad situation and consider how much worse it could be. Imagine this rain from the perspective of an individual living in a shack in Langa. Imagine just how inconvenient it is for them; then remember how truly easy we have it.

Many of the shacks in Langa do not have foundations or floors. Thus, the rain pours in from under the doorway and creates a pool of mud. Some children do not even have shoes, and must crawl out of their cold, damp beds in the morning into this sea of muck. There is nothing but old pieces of iron nailed together to protect the residents from the rain, and I would venture the guess that they offer little protection. Obviously, there is no insulation to keep the houses warm, let alone a heater.

So, as we sit here in the warm computer lab and wait for our pants and raincoats to dry out, perhaps instead of complaining about the rain that has been falling outside for seven straight days now, we should consider ourselves lucky. Perhaps we should also consider the ways in which we can be of service to those that are not so lucky.

Kristen Heim, Colby College ’03

Additional information on the Cape Town program is at CBB Cape Town
Other Cape Town Diaries:
Cape Town Diary: July 3. By Julie McGee
Cape Town Diary: July 14. By Julie McGee
Cape Town Diary: July 27. By Kristen M. Heim
Cape Town Diary: July 27. By Rachel Meiklejohn
Cape Town Diary: August 6. By Paul Min
Cape Town Diary: August 6. By Heather Finn.
Cape Town Diary: August 10. By Chris Reigeluth.
Cape Town Diary: August 13. By Kathryn Spirer.
Cape Town Diary: August 15. By Philip Drake.
Cape Town Diary: August 20. By Dana Kramer.
Cape Town Diary: August 20. By Noah Lambie.
Cape Town Diary: August 24. By Brendan Ferriter.
Cape Town Diary: August 27. By Katie Spirer.
Cape Town Diary: August 27. By Laura Bilodeau.

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