Back in Cape Town

January 5, 2008 - Cape Town, South Africa


On our way back to Cape Town, Dave and I stopped at one more winery, located in Sommerset West.  It was a big estate owned by a governor which included gardens (rose and herb), a winery and a homestead.  We did a wine tasting on the outside patio before getting back on the road.

When we reach Cape Town we checked into the Backpackers (and Africa travel centre) hostel where we were to stay the next 3 nights.  We spent the remainder of that day down at the Waterfront, going to some stores we needed to.  That night we went to a quite nice restaurant across our hostel for dinner where we met and conversed with a friendly waiter named "Washington". 

The next day we visited the Townships in the morning and then the Penguins at Boulders Beach in the afternoon.  The Townships are individual areas in Cape Town at the edges of the city, which are described as "shanty towns"
.  Most of the homes are one room dwellings made of tin.  Namita and I both had reservations about taking this tour, however, everyone we spoke to ensured that we would not be imposing on or exploiting the people that live there but rather they welcomed visitors to their community.

We visited a number of different townships which ranged in population from 250,000 to 1.5 million. Our first stop was at an illegal brewery (a one room shack) which made homemade beer for sale to the locals.  The group was given the chance to taste the beer.  The second stop was in a government sponsored housing complex.  Each apartment included 1 kitchen, 1 bathroom and 4 bedrooms.  Every bedroom had 4 beds, a family lucky enough to be provided such housing would be assigned a single bed regardless of the size.  Therefore one apartment would house 16 different families.  The third stop on the tour was to visit a community healer. This person used a variety of natural remedies (animal parts, dried plans, etc.) from around the world to heal both physical and mental ailments. At one point the tour leader described the ingredients for a love potion given to older women who had not yet found their man. Interestingly enough, the leader kept focusing his attention on Namita throughout this part of his discussion.   Our last stop was a local church service. We were fortunate to have taken this tour on a Sunday otherwise we would not have had this opportunity.  The church we visted was a non descript, rectangular building. The people inside had dressed in their very best clothes (suits and dresses) and had walked to the church from all over the township. We walked into the church and took a seat at the back. The entire congregation were on their feet singing and dancing along with the preacher. It was incredible to see that such joy and faith from people that had so little. The experience was like nothing we had ever seen before. The energy was so positve that we couldn't wipe the smiles from our faces. The preacher then invited all of the guests to the front of the church to introduce ourselves one by one. He then asked the people of the congregation to come up and welcome us to the church which they did with handshakes and hugs.  Namita and I were both very moved by this event and felt quite fortunate to have experienced it.

That afternoon we headed south down the peninsula to Boulders Beach. Although a quick stop here was included in the tour we were to take the next day, Dave felt it warranted a separate trip to ensure we had enough time to visit with the penguins (it was a good thing he did as it rained the next day and the visit was indeed short). It was a long slow drive to Boulders Beach but it was a beautiful day and well worth it.  Not only did we get to see the African Penguins on the boardwalk by going through the National Park, afterwards Dave and I went down to the public beach, climbing over and under boulders, so we could actually interact with penguins on the sand and in the water.  Dave thought he was making friends with some of the penguins by imitating them as they stuck their neck towards him and turned their heads back and forth, however, their grunts and lunging, pecking action would say otherwise. We also got to watch two penguins mate.  I thought it was cool to be so close while this happened and to be able to watch them mate from beginning to end.  I also thought it was quite interesting, how the male after the act, climbed off of the female and basically acted as if nothing happened.

We then headed back to Cape Town from Boulders Beach for our hostel where we cleaned up, went for dinner and called it an early night.

The next day we got up early again to take a full day tour to Cape Point and Robben Island.  The morning part of the tour took us through Table Mountain National Park and down to the Cape of Good Hope - popularly and historically known as the most southern part of the continent of Africa where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet.  However, this is actually just the most South-Westerly point of Africa and the real point where the two oceans meet is 250km east of there at Cape Agulhas.  During our drive through Table Mountain NP, we saw Ostriges, Baboon and Springbok. 

We then headed to the Waterfront so we could begin our tour of Robben Island - where the political prisoners were held during the South African Apartheid.  The most famous inmate of this maximum security prison was Nelson Mandela.  He spent many years here.  The island was 45 minutes from Cape Town harbour and the swells were large.  The first part of the tour was on a bus which took us around the island itself, highlighting the town.  During this part we saw the lime quary where the inmates, including Nelson Mandela, worked.  The quary also served as their "university".  As we left the area the tour guide explained the pile of 1,200 rocks that were placed by the ex-prisoners 5 years after they were released, led by Nelson Mandela. They believe Apartheid is buried beneath these rocks.  The second stage of the tour was a vist to the prison itself led by an ex-political prisoner.  We learned how the inmates were treated in the prison and how all prisoners were classed as either "white", "coloured/indians" or "blacks" and that their privledges were based on their class.  Though we learned of the atrocities of Apartheid, the intent of Robben Island is not to focus on the mistreatment they had to ensure but rather the challenges they have overcome.




January 18, 2008
No time to read right now, but wanted to say, thank you for inviting me on your log. As always Dave, the photos are stunning.
The Shawns:
January 24, 2008
Hey Guys - What an awesome trip! Love sharing it with you via your blog as well as Mark and Terry's. Shawn and I are so excited for you guys. Africa is a continent of wonders. Keep posting and and uploading your photos. They are truly amazing. BTW, is there of photo of Namita in the muddy water??? :) :) S1 & S2
February 14, 2008
Namita - did you get any of that love potion? Bring some back for me (hee hee)!
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