Sunday, October 6, 2019

No 74 - South Africa - a Week in Cape Town

It was a comedy of errors with more than one miscalculation of our arrival time.  We stopped a few times during our southbound drive to Cape Town.  Nomad Adventure Tours dropped us at a city center hotel where we said goodbye to our traveling friends, exchanged email and Facebook contacts, and stationed Kathryn and Andi inside with the bags.  We then hailed a taxi out to the airport.  It was a quick 20 minute drive to the car rental counters...our cab dropped us right at the door.  With no luggage, we got quite a few stares from the staff..."you are traveling for three months and no bags!"  Bidvest was the fastest and most efficient rental company yet...ten minutes...a moderate amount of paperwork, and we were out the door.  We stopped at the local telephone store and got a SIM card for South Africa...that was easy too!  $25 for 30 days - 10GB and renewable monthly for the same rate.  Loving it so far!!!  We returned to the hotel, gathered the girls, bags, and headed out to our Airbnb.  Humorously, there are three different roads with the same name and our first attempt took us 30 minutes outside of the city.  A phone call, some Googleing, and we eventually made it our home for the next week.  A charming landlord met us, Derek, and we were quickly checked in and shopping at the local Woolworth's for groceries an hour later.  Pasta for dinner on our first night...what else!!!

Not too shabby for $12 a night per person....

We walked around the corner and picked up several days worth of groceries before settling in for the night.  We enjoyed our traditional "first-night" dinner of pasta...of course.

Our first day out we had planned to visit the top of Table Mountain, however, it was cloudy so we took a long walk along the beach and toward the harbor.  Along the way, we spotted some humorous and interesting sites.

The beachfront.

Rent a dog for a walk.
Multifaceted sculpture.
 Look through the sights and you see the rhino.
 Sentinel Mountain behind our apartment.
Insuring a better view.
 Not sure what is is and did not want to ask.
Old hotel from the late 1800' apartments and restaurants.
 The following day we decided to do the full day tour of Robbin Island.  This is where Nelson Mandala and many other political prisoners were sentenced to hard labor. The tour was great, very sobering of course. We learned about what it was like to be classified as white, colored, or black...and what that meant in regard to how you lived your life, worked, and fed your families. No vote of course, and heavily restricted travel, even across your own town. Seeing Mr. Mandala's cell was riveting.
We had a lovely guide, a young man, maybe 30, who was well informed, talented and passionate. During one of our stops, I took him aside and shared a few of my observations. I then asked if apartheid was still alive and well. He admitted that it was, that things were changing, and that opportunity and equality were much better. Then he hit me with a "ton of bricks."
He said, "you have to understand, these things take time to change. After all, we have only been free for a bit more than 25 years."
Our boat only took 20 minutes.

 The main entrance.
 A mosque built in memory of one of the political prisoners.
 Graveyard of those executed on the island.
 Rock quarry where Mr. Mandela made littel rocks out of big rocks.  Hard labor for years.  The cave was here they urinated, etc., during the day.  Since the guards did not like the smell, that is also where they met in group to plan strategies.

A Dutch Reform Church...yes, the same church that established the rules for Apartheid.
 And yet, another snake crossed our paths.  It seems I can call them as well as leopards.

 The only public building on the island was a school for the children of the guards and staff.

 Cape Town, eight miles in the distance.
 Entrance the political prisoner section.

 Our guide was a former prisoner.  Certainly gave us a unique perspective.

 The cell that held Nelson Mandela.  He lived here for years sleeping on a woven cloth mat on the floor.

 Thousands of commorants on the breakwater.

 We were brought back to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront late in the day and enjoyed an hour or so walking around the amazingly built tourist site.  It was like being back home...and sadly, mostly white.

 Our next day started with an Eggs Benedict breakfast.

 Then we drove the coast south to the Cape of Good Hope and the Cape Point Lighthouse.

 Entrance to the National Park.

 Cape Point.

 The lighhouse.  Its light seen from 67 KM out to sea.
 Cape of Good Hope and hundreds of underwater shipwrecks dating back to the 1400's.

 The official sign mobbed by toursits.
 From here we drove north to Boulder Beach to see the South African Penquins.

We got back home around 5PM and Kathryn made us a lovely Lemon Chicken dinner.  it was a long day.  We woke the next morning to rain and clouds and opted for a down day.  Bobbie took a long walk, and I had a man-day at home.

Our last two days were busy.  On Friday most of the day was devoted to a visit to the US Consulate in Cape Town where we began a six-week process to get our Ghana visas.  This includes getting a duplicate passport from the US, arranging for a South African delivery point, then transmitting all by courier back to DC and the Ghanaian embassy, then on to Andi and its forwarding back to Cape Town for our Christmas week arrival.  Amazing...and all because Ghana will not let us process a visa while in South Africa unless we are nationals.  This little adventure will end up costing us about $900 USD.  Ugh.

Later in the day, we happened upon a large suburban mall that made us feel like we were back home.  Ultra-modern big box stores and local shops...were the locals buy...and an assortment of nice restaurants.  Andi treated us to lunch,.  It was a nice change...but...we are ready to return to AFRICA.

We drove Kathryn to the airport the following morning and spent the rest ofr the day getting ready for our South Africa road trip starting Sunday.  Yippee.  Back into the bush.


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