Cape Town Strikes Again!
My second stop at Cape Town was going to be much longer than the previous one.
I arrived at the “commune” – that’s how my capetownian couch surfing friends called their house, and the word was simply perfect for it. What I liked most about them was that you never knew what could happen next, so that same night we ended up at a rock concert armed with our bandanas on our foreheads like a glam band from the eighties.
Apart from my life at the commune, I started sightseeing in Cape Town and its surroundings with some of the people I’d met in Hermanus.
I couldn’t leave Cape Town without paying a visit to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of the total of 27 that he was imprisoned. This island is placed 12 kilometers away from Cape Town. Due to this isolation, it had previously been a hospital for people with leprosy and the mentally and chronically ill. In 1964, Nelson Mandela started his imprisonment years there, condemned because of his opposition to the racist apartheid regime. After more than 18 years in a tiny cell, he was transferred to two other different prisons until his release in 1990.
Nowadays Robben Island has turned into another tourist attraction. It receives many groups during the day, so it’s always full of people and the tour is not very long. But I was really interested in the history of this place, and the fact that the guide was an ex-convict of the male-only prison made it even more interesting. He recounted his prison experience with devastating realism, even if it sounded like if he was reading a paper, because it was obvious that he had told the same story too many times.
Two of the common cells, the Jesus version and the Santa Claus version:
One of our day trips was a road trip through Cape Peninsula, while we tried to explore it and find places without tourists – which was difficult. But we discovered an empty beach with white sand dunes, it was magical. And of course, as is characteristic of the African continent, we saw many animals hanging around.
At the city we visited Bo-Kaap, formerly known as the Malay Quarter. It’s a Muslim neighborhood where the houses are painted with bright colors; the atmosphere was very peculiar. We had an amazingly tasty Malay dinner at a halal restaurant.
After all this moving around I was already an expert taking the minibus taxis within the city. I entered the van, gave my 4 Rand (around 40 euro cents) to the “ticket guy” – he was the one who collected the money, opened the door, shouted the destination on the streets, and told the driver when to stop by a knock on the metal wall – and said where I wanted to stop. I felt capetownian! As I explained in another post, it is unusual for a white person to use this public transport, they usually go about in their cars.
After all this sightseeing I was ready to hike up Table Mountain, the number one on my list of favorite things in Cape Town!