Diary of The Travelling Seanchai :-
Cape Town Capers!
2007-06-30 to 2007-07-04
The colour of the sky as I arrived into Cape Town, a manic array of blues, purples, flaming oranges and reds gave me my first indication that I had arrived somewhere truly special….
I have found one of `my cities`… Everyone has places that they have been to that could see themselves settling down in if the circumstances and the opportunity allowed, well besides Boston, Queenstown (NZ) and Sydney, we have a new contender. Now it could be that I am just excited about being on the road again but I don`t think so. Every traveller coming to Africa is warned about the crime and violence but common sense usually prevails (which might explain why the girls in the reception of the Big Blue Hostel had to emphasise to me several times the do`s and don`ts, it was almost like they didn`t trust me to stay out of trouble?!)
I make no apologies for this, but I am an Irish Pub Abroad Tragic! I will sniff them out anywhere and its been my experience that I rarely if ever meet Irish in there! This proved to be the case as I went into the Dubliner on my first night and met Marcus from Munich. Having been stood up for his date, he was keen to meet some women and he approached Chantal and Natalie (both South Africans) and in a terribly polite if worryingly colonial way, informed them with outstretched hand, “Hello, I would like to discover you!”
After the initial shock of getting mistaken for a new country and potentially having a German flag implanted in them, they joined us for a great night! I have never been much of a dancer and to compensate, when I get going, I make sure I go SO over the top that people realise that I must be just putting it on, seriously, no-one could be that bad, right?! I informed the girls that I would rather be singing than dancing and the next thing I knew, I was belting out Mustang Sally to a packed dancefloor (most of them had deemed it safe now to return since I was on stage!)
Natalie and Chantal have adopted me to an extent this week and have driven me around this amazing city, with its breathtaking coastline. It really has one of the `great drives`, particularly at sunset. The main feature of Cape Town is the amazing Table Mountain, that sits majestically above the town, watching over it. I went up there with Sandie, an Aussie girl from the hostel and the views were amazing. We found an amazing spot for a photo but it took quite some effort (without a little unnecessary potential for injury) to get on this one particular rock.
I got up there and I could overhear some women walking past Sandie say, “How did he get out there?”, I answered, “With great difficulty!”. Before she could ask “why?”, her companion said, “I think he`s Irish” which seemed to satiate her curiosity and answer her next question at the same time!
We sat and listened to Ladysmith Black Mambazo as we looked out over Cape Town, it was like something out of the Lion King!
Eva, from Sweden and I met in Big Blue Hostel, in a mutual and deep frustration over `The Norwegians`! Three of them had descended on the hostel for 5 days in Cape Town and they firmly planted themselves on the free computers (at one point, writing to each other on e-mail?!) or in front of the TV and we marvelled as we came and left the hostel to see that they had watched 4 movies in a row! The irony was that every morning they would get up early, make a right rumpus in the dorm room, get all tarted up with make up and the works and then saunter down to get on Facebook on the PC! Idiots!
As an aside, I am now on Facebook too, bloody silly website to be fair but like a good sheep I have followed seemingly everyone else on to it too!
I went to Robben Island too, home to Nelson Mandela for his imprisonment during apartheid. It was visible from the waterfront of the Cape and that must have been hell for him and his friends, so close and yet unbelievably far away. An ex prisoner gave us a presentation and when an elderly black South African lady started to cry, it really hit home to us that the effects were still being felt in very real terms. We saw where the prisoners had to mine the lime quarry and the simple cave where they basically constructed their ideals for a new South Africa. The fact that nothing has been done to glamourise it really added to a very powerful image of how they had invisioned a peaceful South Africa.
In the paper the other day, however, three white men were jailed for the torture and ultimate death of a black man that had wandered into a white area in just 2003. Still, there are great inroads being made into trying to redress the balance that the injustices of the past put in place.
Another thing in the news that needs a lot of work is the preparations for the 2010 World Cup. Sepp Blatter (FIFA President) said that the only person that could stop these games going ahead was God. Well God had better use some of his `6 Day World Creation` magic because they seem to be way, way behind!
When I was in Sheffield recently I got talking to Pete who gave me the details for Andy who ran a whiskey distillery opposite a golf course! Needless to say, I had made contact and we went out to Wellington and played a round of golf with his son and `Uncle` Ferrus. In South Africa, men and women of older age are called Uncle or Aunty which I thought was really great!
What wasn`t, was my golf! I nearly killed `Uncle` who then vowed to stand behind all of my shots from then on! I got a tour of the whiskey distillery next morning after drinking half of it the night before in Andy`s private bar where he presented me with a rare bottle (only 6,000 ever made) which I mean to carry to Sydney for my man Donough and I to partake in after my citizenship ceremony!
I had provisionally given myself about 5 or 6 days here, now it looks far more likely to be 15 or 16. Too much to see and too much hospitality to abuse!