Cape Town, Table Mountain and Robben Island

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Monday, 15 May 2017

Lambert’s Bay is only a short stay as we are off again to Cape Town.  A few of the group have stayed in a different guest house, due to the few rooms available at this one, but join us for breakfast as we compare notes.  We are on the last stretch now to Cape Town, but before we get there we stop at the Swartland winery where the group has the opportunity to do some wine tasting.  Unfortunately wine does not agree with me, not even the smell so I need to sit downwind a ways and watch from a distance.  After the wine tasting we file into the bus again and travel the last few miles to Cape Town, where we’ll be staying at the Lady Hamilton Hotel. As we enter Cape Town, Jaco points out the sites of this city for us.  Cape Town is really one of the most beautiful cites in South Africa that we have seen so far.  We arrive relatively early and as far as G-Adventures is concerned, this is the end of the tour, but we still have some discovering of our own to do in this city.

Cape Town

We start in the afternoon with a visit to Tafelberg/Table Mountain.  Gepke has some issues with the Uber app, but eventually we manage to summon a ride to Table Mountain, a ride we share with John and Liz.  The four of us have a good time as we take the cable car up the mountain and walk, take pictures and just admire the view from up there.  We see many birds, but also a few Dassies, a type of small badger that lives up here.  It’s hard to believe that this small mammal’s closest relative is the mighty Elephant.

A Dassie on Table Mountain

Later that afternoon we return to the Lady Hamilton to have dinner for the last time with our group and say goodbye to everyone.  Dinner is at Arnold’s with the whole group, including some people that had already left us earlier in Windhoek: Sam and Graham and Julia.  Nick gives a speech and hands Jaco an envelope filled with the gratitude of all group members.  A similar gesture was made for our dedicated driver Deon when he left us after Lambert’s Bay to return to his family in Windhoek.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

We get up at 7:30 as we have a reservation for the Robben Island later that morning.  We share an Uber with Luke who has a reservation at the same time as us.  The ferry leaves from the cozy waterfront area of Cape Town, an area bustling with tourists.  We get in line for the boat, where once aboard Gepke and Luke immediately head towards the upper deck, as where I look for a window seat in the relative safety of the lower deck, near the center of the boat:  I hate boats.  Luckily the trip is not to long, nor is the ride to rough so I survive relatively unscathed at Robben Island.

The Island is pretty barren and we are immediately scuttled into busses that start a large tour of the Island.  A young man apparently unhappy with how things went in the past attempts to indoctrinate us along the tour and make us feel guilty for all the regime in South Africa had done wrong to their political prisoners.  When I let my attention slack, he immediately tries to discipline me, an act that just gets him a very angry glance from me and the promise that he has forfeited any tip.  I am happy to leave the bus at the end and have the ability to tour the remainder of Robben Island on my own.

The tour at the actual prison where Nelson Mandela and his fellow political prisoners were held has a much more lasting impression on me.  This may be due to the tour being done by one of the former prisoners: Dumisani Mwandla.  I visit almost every cell to read the stories posted there of each prisoner that was a “guest” there.  He spent 5 years here, working in the kitchen before he was released along with many others in 1991 when the unfair Apartheids regime came to an end.  I also talk to our guide and ask him how he can do these tours and be remembered of how he was treated in those days.  He tells me he was unsure if he could do it at first, but after a while it helped him deal with the memories and make his peace with it.  The one thing I take with me after having seen the Apartheids Museum in Johannesburg and Robben Island, is that when one group attempts to suppress another, both groups loose.  Only through collaboration and compromise can a community of any size work.

The trip back from Robben Island is a lot rougher on me, mostly because the waters are choppy and the spray from the ocean makes it hard for me to see the horizon: the point I concentrate on to survive any water born trip.  But this too passes and soon we are seated on a terrace at a waterfront restaurant enjoying a late lunch.  A few seagulls try to help us empty our plates and we need to defend our food vigorously.  By the time the evening rolls around back at our hotel we are still full from lunch and we just get some dessert at the local supermarket before turning in early.

Next: Cape of Good Hope

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