Cape town is a beautiful city surrounded by an unfortunate political rhetoric. Set on the southwest tip of the continent of Africa, it is surrounded by ocean and mountains and is incredibly scenic. We spent a sleepy first day exploring the city: The popular long street, brimming with pubs and restaurants, the tranquil city gardens and the historical District 6 museum, which outlines the history of this particular neighbourhood and the forced removals and segregation that it endured under the apartheid state. We then meandered around, stopping at a cute café or pub here or there and went for fantastic sushi for dinner (there would be plenty of time for local dishes!). Throughout the day, though, we had the curious observation that almost everywhere we went, we were surrounded only by other white people. I thought apartheid was over? We came to realize that a massive racial divide still exists here. I can’t be sure whether we saw so few black people in these places because of primarily social or economic reasons, but I would guess it is some combination of the two. Whenever we had the chance to speak with locals or read up on the current climate, it added a little colour to the situation, which is really the result of eleven different ethnic groups being systemically pitted against each other for generations to further backwards political agendas. There is also massive distrust and dissatisfaction in the current government. We were both sad to see that the country had not come further in terms of integration, though these things do take time and are incredibly complicated.
We enjoyed our time nonetheless, taking in the sights and climbing Lion’s Head mountain to catch a spectacular sunset.
We took a ferry to Robben Island, to visit the prison where Nelson Mandela (and so many others) served a term of his 27 year sentence for political crimes. The tour was particularly interesting as it was led by a former political prisoner who, himself, had served many years there.
My hope for this beautiful country is that they get strong leadership that can continue in Mandela’s footsteps to bridge the divide between the various ethnic groups before tensions’ escalate further.
We took a train to the nearby surfing town of Muizenberg, where we spent four days hanging out on the beach, trying some local food (including polony and vetkoek sandwich, below) and really basking in our laziness before embarking on or 26 day tour through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. ❤