CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- As I sit in traffic during Cape Town's busy rush hour, it's difficult to imagine that running beneath this city of approximately 3.75 million are hundreds of kilometers of underground brick tunnels, tunnels that transport millions of liters of fresh spring water from Table Mountain directly out into the sea. The mountains that overlook this beautiful city were once its lifeblood, supplying the entire population with water.
To be part of the change, to be part of history being undone and refashioned. To feel something I'd never felt in England. It has been building for some time now, though I'll admit I might have lost sight of it at times. But there is no denying its presence now. Sooner or later, everything must fall.
When I finally landed in South Africa (after two days and three flights), I now had physical exhaustion to add to an already-wearied mind. Prior to the trip, an unexpected setback left me teetering. The optimistic joviality that had sustained me all summer was waning. And I found myself anxiously awaiting a second wind.
When I went to South Africa in 2010 to lead a creative writing club for teenage girls, I made sure to emphasize that word: club. I had never taught writing before, didn't have a teaching assistantship as I earned an MFA in nonfiction. I would not be correcting their grammar, nor assigning homework. Besides, how could I persuade girls to spend their Saturday afternoons in a writing class?