Today we’re going on a tour to Cape of Good Hope, alleged to be the most southern point of Africa. I say alleged because the first thing our tour guide, Faried, explains to us is that it turns out that it’s not the most southern point of Africa. It’s the most South West point so we’ll go with that. Faried is a coloured. (Apparently its politically correct to continue to refer to people as white, coloured or black, in fact there is some pride in being so identified.) Faried takes us on a very touristy trip today. No history lesson today except to remind you that the Cape of Good Hope was that pointy bit on the map that all those Europeans had to figure out how to get around to get to those spices in India. Did you ever wonder what the big deal was about? Spices! Really, would you jump on a ship and risk your life for a little bit of curry? Actually, I might. Anyway, views galore, pictures of water, overpriced tourist lunch etc. etc. etc. However, here’s the exciting part (irony) We’re going to Simon’s Bay to see the penguin colony. Yes, penguins. Remember in Cape Town, the South Pole is in your sights, so to speak. And what is the South Pole famous for? Penguins. Some of them have migrated to Africa and here some of them reside. Claire has never seen a penguin and she is mighty excited. So off we go, we look at them, they look at us and its over just like that. We come to Africa for a safari and so we’ve seen a bunch of penguins.
This is going to be a short blog so I’ll mention a couple of short snappers unrelated to the day.
A feature at our hotel which is becoming quite popular I understand. In the room there is no land line phone but a cell phone is supplied. While you’re in the room you use it as you typically would use a phone, (Hello!). But when you go out for the day you’re welcome to take it with you and use it for any local calls you want. And of course, the hotel number, recommended cab companies and emergency numbers are all preloaded. No charge for its use.
We saw the Cape Town stadium build for the 2010 World Cup where they played soccer or rugby or football or whatever you call it. Built at cost of 5.5 billion Rand (about a half billion dollars) there were 8 games played there. The economics of the investment are being questioned. It does seem though that it was the inspiration to “clean up” the city. And since we’re leaving Cape Town tomorrow, that brings me to the wrap up. Nice city. Modern, contemporary, seemingly prosperous. Although employment is 17% and there are huge squatter camps in the area, you are insulated from that in the city. As you sit in a waterfront restaurant, or walk around the downtown, you could be in any modern European city or even North American. I suppose that’s OK, but to be honest I was disappointed not to find any connection to the Africa that I had expected to see. I’m looking forward to moving away from the coast and seeing a different face of the country (and continent).
We cab it to Camps Bay for dinner. A beach front restaurant row strip. Drop dead gorgeous and windy as heck. Apparently always so. We’ve been tipped to a restaurant where there is no menu. You point your finger at the fish in the fish display case you want and they price it and cook it. Food was outstanding. Dinner with a bottle of wine, dessert and coffee under $50 including a tip. With the current exchange rate we’re finding everything (except the grilled crayfish) quite inexpensive. Not only is food reasonable, but good quality South African wines can be had for less than $15 a bottle in a restaurant.
Finally, we’re driven home by our cab driver, Kevin. Kevin is a black and while we’re driving home he tells us about him and his family having their home taken away from them and being relocated away from the city when he was 10 and about his later involvement in resistance groups. He, along with thousands of others risked their life and freedom to enable the free county that South Africans live in today. Sadly, Kevin and others we spoke with over our stay worry that the new freedom and democratic process is not being properly harnessed and that the leaders of today are beginning to enjoy the spoils of power a little too much. They feel that too much was risked and sacrificed to have it frittered away.
Tomorrow. My way or the rail way.