Tuesday, December 4
A visit to Cape Town is not complete without the cultural experience of riding the metro. My first challenge is that the ticket office only takes Rand, of which I have none. So I trek back to Cherub’s house and luckily her sister Dayle and Dylan are still there. They collectively loan me R150 and I head out to try again. My train ticket is R23 for the round trip. The exchange is currently about 14 Rand for $1 USD. Soon after leaving the station the train comes to a stop, and there we sit for about 30 minutes. I finally arrive in Kalk Bay around 11am and immediately find an ATM to get out cash. It doesn’t work no matter how many times I try and I’m crushed. I filter through the beautiful shops of Kalk Bay and wallow in my money challenges. I love the local art shop Artvark which has beautiful things. I make my way out to Kalky’s and the pier but I’m having a hard time shaking my frustrations. I sip a beer in view of the train but in the whole hour I sat there the train has not come. I start to get worried but find out that it’s incredibly delayed. I stand at the tracks and wait another half hour before a train comes by in my direction. The train again comes to a stop for long periods of time before I finally reach my destination. There are no train maps showing stations and there’s definitely no announcing the stations so you got to be paying attention so you don’t miss your stop. Apparently these delays are normal, perhaps part of the rolling blackouts (aka load shedding), and a result of the corrupt governmental practices of past-president Zuma.
Wednesday, December 5
Cape of Good Hope
Boulders Beach and the African Penguin
I Uber to the V&A Waterfront to catch my Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope tour bus. Immediately after getting my bus ticket I realize that I no longer have the house key in my pocket. I get a bit frantic and search everything. The beaded bird key chain must have gotten caught on the mesh of my pocket and not gotten in there far enough. It’s certainly sitting on the back seat of my Uber ride. I message Uber but soon have to leave on my tour and no longer have internet connectivity. My stomach is in knots as we start the tour, my mind getting overloaded fretting about how I’m going to get the key back. Then I have to tell myself that what is done is done, and that I really want to enjoy this trip today.
The tour guide dispenses a lot of good information and about an hour and half later we arrive at Cape Point. We’ve got almost two hours to hike up to the lighthouse, have lunch and take a peak in the gift shops. Then it’s time for the hike out to the Cape of Good Hope. I’m surprised how many people stay on the bus which will meet us at the bottom in about an hour. The waves crash far below to my left as we spy a pair of Elands, the second largest antelopes in the world. The Cape of Good Hope is photo-op central and there’s a long line for the honor. Although Cape Agulhas marks the geographic divide between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the boundary between the warmer Indian Ocean water and the cooler Atlantic waters can be found seasonally at Cape Point.
We push on to Boulders Beach where the African Penguin has found a happy place. My first wild penguins ever! They are adorable of course! Listed as an endangered species there are only about 3,000 birds here at Boulders. Having to leave too soon, the bus climbs over the mountains as we make our way back to the waterfront. I sit there for the next hour and a half trying to resolve my Uber issue to no avail. I eventually concede defeat (temporarily) and Uber back to Cherub’s house. Cherub was a gem and got pizza dinner.
Thursday, December 6
I’m still without a replacement key so I’ve got to get help leaving the house. There’s a series of a door and two gates, which all require a different key. And you can’t just leave with no keys. The gates can only be opened with a key (in both directions). So if you’re in the house with no keys you are essentially locked in. Dylan helped me out yesterday and today it’s Dayle.
It’s a foggy morning at the waterfront. I seek out an ATM and cross my fingers. Oh glory, let there be cash! I get a wad of Rand and I’m officially very happy. Yep, naive American here had not filed for travel with my bank so once I did that I was good to go. It’s the little things in life.
I board transport to Robben Island and we roll through the chop. Once at the island we get sardined onto buses for the tour. First up is a tour of the prison and its cells. The tour is lead by a former prisoner Diende who was imprisoned for protesting Apartheid. He spent 7 years in prison in addition to the more horrible six months of torture in detention. There’s general population cells where Diende was held and then there were solitary cells like where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years of his 27 years of imprisonment. All for protesting Apartheid. He shared about how prisoners would communicate between cell blocks. They would sneak messages into cut tennis balls (they were allowed access to tennis courts) and then ‘accidentally’ hit the balls into the next cell block. Or messages were wrapped in plastic and hidden inside food for the community cell blocks that had no tennis courts.
The tour ends with a brief ride showing a few other places on the island. Like the limestone mine where prisoners were forced to work only for purpose of keeping them busy.
It’s braai (say it like bry) time back at home, which is a South African barbeque. I get some sausages and fix up a salad and we have a grand evening of laughs.