Before I even get in to anything about the exploration of Cape Town, I have to mention Palace #2 that I’m currently staying in.
Please note that I’m as poor as they come, but obviously it pays to book months & months in advance... and that is exactly what I did. I am in, what I can only describe as a fuchsia room... brightly decorated with a bit of an artsy theme. Bigger than my apartment... full mini bar including chocolate bars and beef jerky... complimentary sherry (again...!), Pretty Woman hotel tub, 4 desks, 2 TVs and the most decadent breakfast spread that I have ever seen. Someone mentioned that they were waiting for reality to set it... and it’s coming...
Reality set in when I saw the size of the wine glasses they provided.
Today jet lag really tore through me. I did a walking tour of the city and it was all I could do to keep my eyes open. When I finally got back to the hotel, I lied down. Bad choice... and I knew it. I shot back up again and made the decision to go to Table Mountain. I called Uber (LOVE Uber) to take me to the gondola station, and once it was confirmed that they were on their way, I was obligated to get up and go. Modern technology at its best. Unfortunately for me, as soon as we arrived at the station, there were a team of people waiting to let us know that due to high winds, the gondola was temporarily shut down
My Uber driver was a bit of a grump... and I almost felt like I put him out by requesting another Uber drive back down the mountain. Maybe I was wrong, but then again, I was overly tired. I paid... and tipped the grouch. I think that perceived exasperation was what put me over the edge.
I exhaustedly broke.
Back at the hotel, I set my alarm to go off in 45 minutes so I could join a Historic Walking Tour of the city... and I woke up 6 hours later.
...this is going to be a very, very long night...
PS - Jet lag sucks.
Currently I am sitting in the hotel lounge and preparing myself for the crowds that should be here any moment... with their cigarettes. That’s right... South Africa still allows smoking in public places! Actually, I take that back. Maybe it’s just in this hotel? I don’t know. I should shut up before making such bold statements, because I don’t know. If you do want to know what I do know, it’s this;
Diet Coke is almost impossible to find here. Just when I had consoled myself and resolved to go cold turkey, I found some. I drank half of it... and while wandering down Long street, had some random teenager ask me if he could have a sip, so I gave him the rest of the bottle. Maybe I’m the odd one, but I’m not really big on sharing my pop with strangers that approach me on city streets.
There are some cool names for pubs here- The Cat and Moose, The Slug and Lettuce, Aces and Spades, the Village Idiot, Cause & Effect Cocktail, Dust and Dynamite, Banana Jam... and then, my personal favourite...
Waiting Room. The
I can’t make this up.
I also have to mention Mama Africa. NOT because it’s a particularly strange or fascinating name... but solely because of a certain friend of mine, Sara, and a job I once had. Years ago, in the early 2000’s, I used to work at the Outpost Pub at the Post Hotel, in Lake Louise. We had the freedom to put on whatever music we wanted while we were working - as long as it was easy listening and appropriate for a Relais y Chateau lounge. Most off the time, we complied. Our manager, Sue, was fond of this peculiar African album and we used to cringe when she put it on. One song though, we would always sing along to... although to this day, we aren’t quite certain that we had any of the words right. The only part of it that we knew were spot on was the repetition of “Mama Africa!” and then the sky was the limit after that.
Walking Long Street this morning... look what I found? !!!
After my failed attempt at Table Mountain, I wandered through Bo-Kaap - a cultural district of Cape Town lit with distinctive multi-colourful little houses lining the cobblestone roads. Apparently the colours can be attributed to the fact that while they were on lease, they HAD to be white. Once this law was lifted and the slaves were given the opportunity to buy the houses, they painted them in bright colours as an expression of their freedom. https://www.capetown.travel/getting-to-know-the-bo-kaap/
Situated at the foot of Signal Hill, on the fringe of the city centre, and formerly known as the Malay Quarter, the Bo-Kaap’s origins date back to the 1760’s when numerous “huurhuisjes” (rental houses) were built and leased to slaves. These people were known as Cape Malays, and were brought from Malaysia, Indonesia and the rest of Africa to work in the Cape.
I have to say a little bit of the free Walking Tours of Cape Town.
I joined one this morning called “Apartheid to Freedom.” I was absolutely captivated for the entire hour and a half. These guides are qualified professionals according to the guidelines of South African tourism - and they only work for TIPS.
You are only obliged to tip what you think the tour was worth, but the guides are fun, educated, entertaining and willing to answer any questions.
On more than one occasion, I got a little bit choked up, hearing about the different goings on leading up and during apartheid. The guide reminded us that this was all just 25 years ago... which is a sobering thought.
He spoke highly of anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist Nelson Mandela,the lifetime work of anti-apartheid and human rights Anglican Cleric Desmond Tutu and even one of the most influential men in history - statesman, philosopher and military leader, Jan Smuts. This man, had he won the election in South Africa, would have prevented Apartheid. He was the only person to sign both treaties ending WWI and WWII and was one of the founders of the Royal Air Force. All of them, interesting reads for sure and I look forward to discovering more as my journey continues.
”The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every tie we fall.” Nelson MandelaWe learned how they categorized and registered individuals. Interracial relationships were illegal. Associating with a person of colour was a punishable offence. Segregation was the law. Homes were destroyed. Concentration camps were erected. Rights were dismissed. Human rights were voided. It was uncomprehensible what happened. Nelson Mandela was a powerful force behind the forgiveness that occurred in the 90’s. Instead of lashing out after Apartheid ended, forgiveness became a national mantra, and reconciliation an official ideology.
Our guide made a few interesting points in regards to statues and historical plaques in the area of Cape Town. Many of the locals are dead against Colonists and repetitively destroy or deface the monuments. There has been much discussion of removing them permanently. Of course, we hear stories such as these throughout the world... even in our own home countries. Attempting to erase history by removing reminders is like cutting off our nose to spite our face. What needs to happen is present the other side of the coin, the truth, because if it’s there, it’s a constant reminder not to let history repeat itself. We were also reminded that Apartheid is still alive today.
Although there are problems all over the world with race and religion, the most prominent one is between the Have and Have Not... and unfortunately it’s becoming a world epidemic...