Compiled By: Working Class Wanderer- Kathryn Mann
The Lonely Planet Southern Africa guidebook: “Be prepared to fall in love with the Mother City of South Africa.” I was not, but I did. In this post and probably a few after, I hope to relate my African adventures to you.
My flight from San Francisco to London is about nine hours. Later that same day, I hop on an 11-hour flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa. Once grounded, I find myself at Backpacker Hostel. I am obviously tired, but there is no way will I sleep. Hell, I am in South Africa.
TABLE MOUNTAIN– Table Mountain is iconic to the cape. My first desire is to hike to the top, but learning the cable car is half price after 6PM I go for that instead. With the popularity of the mountain and half priced fare, the line for the ride takes an hour. Once on top, I am mesmerized by the clouds spilling over the rim, the views of the city, and the unabridged joy of people enjoying themselves. Seems like an appropriate time to celebrate this amazing experience with a glass of wine.
As the sun is setting, the wind picks up. Clouds blow past so that I am enveloped in mist one minute, and the next staring up at a blanket of stars. The approaching darkness reveals a sliver of moon hanging over the ocean and the sun placed a golden hue on the cliffs. The line to get down equals the one coming up. I find refuge from the wind and damp in a café, and eventually catch the last car down the mountain.
DISTRICT SIX MUSEUM- What I Learned: During the 1950s, 60s, and 70s the Group Areas Act and Pass Laws gave the government legal authority to move “colored” people out of an area so that an organized planned community or business district could be built. District Six was home to a wide variety of races that lived in harmony. It was a vibrant community that was destroyed when 50,000 people were forced to move. Interestingly, the planned rebuilding never occurred because public outcry, both national and international, stopped further development.
District Six was just one of many areas where residents faced forced evacuations. Home and shop owners were offered less than market value for their property, and when this offer was refused, were forced out with even less compensation. Moved where? To the outskirts of town, far from jobs, churches, and often split up extended families. I picked up a paper yesterday to read that some families from other districts are just now receiving compensation from their forced removal. I highly suggest a stop by this museum.
HOP ON – HOP OFF- This was a first for me; taking a city tour by bus. It is convenient and affordable. Normally I am prone to walk everywhere or at least use public transportation. The route took me to major sites like Camps Beach, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Imizamo Yethu Township, and many other places I had not read about. I enjoyed the stop at Groot Constantia, the oldest winery in South Africa. For R30 (30 rand – about $4) I got to taste five wines from a list of a dozen or so. The pours were generous to the degree that it was good that I was not behind the wheel.
34 DEGREES 21’ 29” SOUTH – 18 DEGREES 28’ 19” EAST : Rapture
How many times have I looked at maps and my eyes wandered to the cape? It is just one of those places that has always grabbed my attention, been a magnet for my traveling bones. Words to describe being there fail me, but the word “rapture” fits quite nicely. The fact that I made the trip with good humored interesting people was icing on the cake.
In our group are five from Connecticut, four Swiss, four Brazilians, a Michigan/Texas/South Korea couple. We travel well together. Before the cape we did a short boat trip to see seals, and stopped in Simons Town to see the Jackass Penguins (African “black-footed” Penguin, known for producing a donkey-like sound). Once inside the park we donned helmets, jumped on bikes and rode. The views of the Atlantic were stunning along the way. But nothing compared to the cape.
This seems like a good place to leave you. Please be looking for Part 2 soon.
Live, Laugh, Love in Peace – Neil