Mossel Bay: Europeans landed on this spot of southern African soil on February 3rd (my birthday!) in 1488, making their first contact with the indigenous inhabitants of the land.
The modern-day coastline community celebrates this piece of its history at the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex, and travelers and locals alike are drawn to visit the 500 year old Post Office Tree on the museum grounds and the life-size replica of the Dias Caravel ship, sailed from Europe to the museum on a repeat of the original 15th century journey from Portugal to Mossel Bay and beyond.
We followed suit and paid a visit, curious to learn more and interested to see which angle they’d choose to highlight the region’s legacy.
The life-size replica of Dias Caravel accompanied by paintings and displays featuring modes of maritime transportation down through the centuries
Ducking under the 500+ year old Post Office Tree
The museum complex includes seashell collections, ethnobotanical displays, access to the freshwater fountain Aguada de Sao Bras (watering place of Saint Blaize), and a replica of the 1786 structure built by the Dutch East India Company, but our favorite was an unexpected temporary exhibit: “Separate is Not Equal: The Struggle Against Segregated Schooling in America” funded by the US Consulates General of Johannesburg and Cape Town and produced by the Apartheid Museum in cooperation with The Smithsonian Institution and The Levine Museum of the New South.
Convicting to look at my own nation’s history of segregation and abuse through a South African lens and recognize the connecting themes of violence, mistreatment, and passive silence responsible for destroy lives in both lands.
The exhibit followed the timeline of education in the United States, articulating stories of stubborn, insistent, passionate shifts across society.
The exhibit concluded with hopeful, optimistic images – evidences of true change brought about over time by efforts of those willing to stand for justice and let their voices be heard until they couldn’t be denied.
I’m grateful to have been raised in a home where we were taught to love and value all people, and just as I recognize the ongoing tensions as communities across our nation work to acknowledge, heal from, and overcome the painful past, I am hopeful for South Africa to continue pursuing healing from its societal wounds.
Ships and history are grand: even better are righted wrongs and hopeful shifts for the future.
Back outdoors on the Museum grounds, we walked down to beach access overlooking Mossel Bay. Later, we hunted more ocean-side fun farther down the coastline.
Can you spot Ted in his purple sweatshirt, playing chicken with the crashing waves?
Purely for the sake of random, light-hearted goodness, I leave you with this:
We tried a few restaurants in Mossel Bay. We went for fish and chips and shrugged our shoulders. We aimed for Cuban Food in memories of Pambiche in Portland (and missed, by the way; all atmosphere, no flavor). But when we found this fellow deep frying chip twisters and mini-donuts out on the waterfront, we knew we’d struck gold.
A very happy Oregonian in Mossel Bay.
(Nope: I’m not eating and driving. It’s a left-handed stick-shift, and Ted’s in the driver’s seat…)
Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex
Monday-Friday: 9am – 4:45pm
Weekends and Holidays: 9am – 3:45pm
This post is part of our twoOregonians Tour the Cape series featuring quintessential and offbeat South African experiences, one-of-a-kind accommodations and beautiful B&Bs, respectful wildlife programs, social service projects, and landscape photography from the South African Cape. As always, all opinions, photos, and stories are our own; thanks to Mossel Bay Tourism for extending the invitation for us to come and visit.