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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA: First Impressions

Photo by Marilynn Windust

From much of the literature, and conversations with Cape Town locals on our 22-hour flight, we deplane expecting to get robbed and stabbed. Arriving at the hostel too early to check-in, a young man with an “I Dream of Jeannie” hairstyle and a nose ring looks up from smoking a joint. “Leave those backpacks here or they’ll rip them from your back.” We relax with a brew and dine on ostrich burgers tonight. Our travel plan for the next three months includes renting a car to explore South Africa and neighboring countries. (And move to a different hostel)

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Capetown, South Africa

Let’s walk Cape Town for a week…

Shops, restaurants, and yachts larger than our house line the Waterfront. Fresh seafood is plentiful, from delectable sushi to Mozambique shrimp. We get lost near Sea Point along the Atlantic shore. White folks with pepper spray strapped around their wrists are walking their Jack Russell Terriers, and we ask a man for directions. “Stay away from the blacks,” he advises. “They will knife you even after you’re robbed.” Hmm…it’s time for a beer! Mitchell’s Scottish Ale House seems appropriate.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The Waterfront

Televised NFL is out of the question, so we hop a train to what many call the world’s most spectacular Cricket venue. Not understanding the game, $2.00 beers and hot dogs win us over. The athleticism of Cricket players surprises me.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Newlands Cricket Stadium with the Castle Brewery conveniently located nearby

The proprietor at hostel “Atlantic Point” cooks-up a traditional Braai, a South African “meat grill” of beef, lamb, chicken, boerewors (farmer’s sausage), with beers.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Braii, African Bar-B-Q

We meet Shannon at the Braai, a thirty-one year old geophysicist from Houston who works on a gas/oil exploration ship. The next day we hike with her up the steep, high-stepping Platteklip Gorge Trail.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Platteklip Gorge Trail

This trail gains 2300 feet in elevation up Table Mountain in under two miles. At the top, views of Cape Town and numerous bays blow us away. We are happy to take the cable car back down.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Looking down on Lion’s Head from the top of Table Mountain

In the morning, barricaded streets give us the impression that a “fun run” is getting started. Turns out to be a massive march of black people celebrating the 103rd anniversary of the ANC (African National Congress).

Photo by Marilynn Windust

ANC supporters marching to the Cape Town Stadium

The ANC is a social democratic party founded in 1912 to unite Africans against white majority rule. Supported by the communist party, it has been in power since the establishment of multi-racial democracy in 1994. Ironically, we pick this day to visit the District Six Museum, which powerfully displays how apartheid affected the daily lives of regular folks being forcefully removed from their homes and segregated. I’ll bet that the Sea Point folks are nervous today. We’re starting to question our travel plans as well.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Just one of the disturbing displays at the District 6 Museum

The proprietor at our hostel relaxes us. “Don’t worry, the Sea Point and Cape Town locals are neurotic paranoid about danger,” he says. “The best way to see South Africa is to drive, and the only way to do Kruger National Park is to camp.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Table Mountain

Feeling a range of emotions from paranoid to safe (alcohol helps) the amazing beauty and fresh air of South Africa wins out over our fears. We purchase a tent and sleeping bags and rent a car. After all, we’re here to explore South Africa and neighboring countries.


25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for sharing, so interesting!!! Will be thinking of good times and protective energy surrounding you throughout your journey.

    January 11, 2015
    • Thanks Carla. We are looking forward to heading out tomorrow for an awesome adventure!

      January 11, 2015
  2. gene stabile #

    for more than a moment, you moved my mind across an ocean. couldn’t stop reading. safe travels and enjoy.

    January 11, 2015
    • Gene, hard to believe, but when we drive off tomorrow the first stop may be a penguin colony on a land with no ice. Travel definitely moves all of our minds, just not quite sure where or even why!

      January 11, 2015
  3. Mark Stodola #

    Love the post! I hope you didn’t get robbed or stabbed while writing it:)!

    January 11, 2015
  4. Vicky Barr #

    Have a great adventure! Be careful!

    January 11, 2015
    • Thanks, Vicky. I’m sure that common sense and human spirit will guide us even when were lost.

      January 11, 2015
  5. Skip #

    WOW…I didn’t know you were off on another trip… STAY SAFE, be Careful…I await the many stories of your adventure(s).

    January 11, 2015
  6. Dwight #

    Fantastic scenery, how is the beer? Stay safe friends. Dwight

    January 11, 2015
    • Dwight, Castle beer is 5% tasty with only about 150 calories per bottle. I’m on a 1200 calorie per day diet!

      January 11, 2015
  7. Yahoo! You’re back on the road traveling and posting! Great shots and good, catchy prose. Can’t wait for more as you continue your African adventure.

    January 11, 2015
  8. Glenn #

    Wow the view from the top looks frickin awesome. I think I’d make a habit to look over my shoulder if the locals are advising to not ask the blacks because they won’t hesitate to stab you. But you guys are experienced travelers so I’m sure you did your research as to what to watch for during your journey. Be careful-stay safe.

    January 11, 2015
    • Glenn, we don’t trust anybody anyway (previous professions) regardless of color! Got to realize that we have higher homicide rates in Chicago and Detroit.

      January 11, 2015
  9. ma, pa and jack #

    Stay safe kids!!!! Your ma, pa and Jackeroo look forward to your safe return….

    January 11, 2015
  10. eric jorgensen #

    Wishing you great adventures. I look forward to following your trip.
    Eric Jorgensen

    January 12, 2015
    • Thanks, Eric. I’m glad that you enjoyed New Mexico and Colorado. Sunshine does lift the spirits!

      January 12, 2015
  11. Mary Anne Legarski #

    Continue to explore and have fun. Enjoyed reading of your adventures. Love you my friends.

    January 12, 2015
  12. Doug Pilcher #

    Love > Fear

    January 12, 2015

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA: First Impressions — Ron Mitchell’s Adventure Blog – Social Movements in South Africa

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