Cape Town, South Africa
33° 55' S 18° 24' E
Oct 15, 2005 07:35
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Text written in: English

South Africa, South Africa

South Africa, South Africa

So I totally screwed up my line thingys on my map. Blahh, anyways, almost 2 weeks later, I'm finally writing about South Africa. I'm sorry, I'm awful at this. We were supposed to be in Cape Town for only 5 days. But a few days before we arrived, we found out that we could no longer go to Kenya. There's a lot of terrorism there and a high risk for piracy in the Red Sea. Can you believe we have to worry about pirates?? Ayyy matey.  We were all very disappointed that we were going to miss our safaris that we had planned, and it took them a while to figure out where we would go instead. They decided to give us 2 extra days in Cape Town, and then head to an island called Mauritius off the east coast of Madagascar for 3 days.

   There is so much to do in Cape Town! This is probably going to be really long, so read if you will. I woke up at sunrise to watch us pull into port, with the sun coming up on Table Mountain. It was gorgeous. Our boat docked right on the Waterfront, which is kind of a posh shopping and dining area of the city (where the locals never go, by the way... they all hate it.) But it was nice being dropped off right in the middle of things, since in other ports we have been a cab ride away.

 The first night me, Kristen and Erica did an SAS trip called Township Music. At night we headed out to the townships. As I looked out the window and thought we were in them, they didn't look that bad, there were just kind of run down buildings. Then all of a sudden, without any warning, the landscape changed from buildings to shacks. Shacks as far as we could see. There were anti-AIDS slogans painted all over the buildings, announcing the availability of free condoms, and tiny businesses running from the shacks (like a tiny barber shop.) They took us to a community house type place in the Kyalitsha township, where two guys demonstrated drumming and music for us. We got to have a drum circle and join in with them. Then all of a sudden we heard shrieks and yelling, and out came about 15 guys dressed up in full tribal gear, and they did an amazing dance and chants for us. We then got to get up and join them and learn a dance.

  We then went to this little restaurant run by a lady from the township. She had been in a little shack with her restaurant but was able to move it into the community center. She was probably the most humble and sweet lady ever, she told us her life story and the story of her restaurant before we ate, and then we had a buffet style dinner. She was soo excited when people went back for seconds and complimented her food. We had Nelson Mandela's favorite dish, a bean type thing. It was actually kind of bland...

 We gave her our compliments, and everyone gave her a hug as we left. She was so cute and so happy. SAS then took us to a bar in a township to hear an AMAZING township band play. We were able to go, dance, and mingle with some of the residents of the township. We met some teenage girls and they taught us a new form of the electric slide... its funny how those kind of dances travel. It was crazy being in the middle of the township knowing about the AIDS epidemic. One lady was acting kind of crazy towards Chelsea, tried to give her a ring and stuff, and one of the electric slide girls told us that she had HIV, and one of the guys that brought us there warned Chelsea to be careful around her. Kind of creepy. But we danced in the rain with the locals and enjoyed the amazing music, which ended with Bob Marley, of course. We have officially heard Bob Marley in every country. It was such a cool night. Thumbs up SAS.

 The next day Kristen and I decided to go up to the University of Cape Town to explore and meet some students. The campus was beautiful!  It was up on the side of Table Mountain overlooking the city. I could totally see myself going there. Kristen and I were expecting to stick out and kind of create some curiosity, but it turned out we just looked like every other student there, and people thought we were just hanging out between classes, haha. We pretended to be interviewing people just for fun and met this guy Alex who we had a long conversation with. He then took us to the top of a school building to get a good view of the campus and the city, and then we went up to a monument at the top of campus. We had fun talking to students and finding out less touristy things to do. Kristen and I are the best travel buddies. She's the perfect person for me to travel with. That night we dressed up and went to a four man comedy show and dinner in this little theater. The show was hilarious and we had a great time drinking wine and watching the show.

Wednesday morning I had the Free at Last township tour. We saw new government housing in District Six, the district that forced out all of the people living in the township. We went to the District Six museum, and then headed to a township. We got to interact with the people and the children and walk around. The children were so adorable, all of them wanted to have their pictures taken and see them on the backs of the digital cameras. They all wanted to hold our hands and have us carry them. So cute. We then went to this little township restaurant with another great lady, and this time the food was DELICIOUS, and there was a band playing traditional instruments for us the whole time. They were rocking out, and they were amazing. The singer had the largest voice range I have ever heard. He'd sing reaaally deep, and then sing opera. Literally. Andrea Baccelli (sp?)

Afterwards, Kristen, Karina (my roommate) and I went to the Green Market to do some bartering. The markets are the best we have seen yet, although incredibly overwhelming. That night we ate at an African restaurant, and I had Ostrich. No, it did not taste like chicken. That night we went out with a bunch of my friends who I went on the Orinoco Delta trip with (we are all really tight now). It was a lot of fun, it was my friend John Snow's birthday (the one who I went to elementary school with...crazy) and we sang him Happy Birthday karaoke style at a bar.

Climbed table mountain the next day, which was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. It was basically giant stone steps the whole way up, the ultimate stairmaster. The view from the top was worth it though, we could see off the other side, the ocean and other small towns. We stayed up there, found some other friends from the trip, and had some wine and watched the sun set from the top. We went out (again) for John Snow's birthday.. this time the band at the restaurant sang him happy birthday, and let him and ben go up on stage to sing their song of choice (Living on a Prayer, Bon Jovi, clearly.)

Friday morning (early), these nice South African guys we met drove us out to Cape Point. We stopped at the famous Boulder Beach, the one with all the penguins. The views all along the cape were gorgeous, we were so happy. And we got to go for free! We went into the national park area and hiked down to this amazing beach surrounded by cliffs, waves crashing. We enjoyed the views, jumped down the dunes, searched for whales and didn't find any =(.  That afternoon Kristen and I decided to go exploring, used the local taxis that I only wish I could explain. It was crazy, and sooo much cheaper than normal taxis. Let's just say it was quite an experience. We went to this hippyish area of town and talked to some very interesting people.

Next morning, I woke up throwing up. No, I was not hungover. I got some sort of stomach virus or food poisoning, which held me hostage on the ship for the last 2 days in port. I got off for only a couple hours each day, only to feel miserable. I missed skydiving and the winelands and other activities we had planned, like attending a brae on the beach (barbeque parties that they have all the time in South Africa. ) So, that was disappointing.

Overall, Cape Town was awesome. It is a beautiful city full of drastic contrasts in the landscapes and the way people live. It's hard to believe that such a thriving city can have so much devastation and poverty right at its borders. The weathly whites live in the city and lead perfect lives, and the blacks and coloreds travel from the townships every morning to be their maids, nannies, waitresses, garbage men. It's easy to forget about when you're in the city. But the groups still lead completely different lives. I can't really explain it but you get the idea.

Mountains and ocean in one city... perfect.

            Off to Mauritius!