I have been travelling with very organised friends over the last few years so with everything being planned for me, that I have become lazy. When I boarded the flight to Cape Town, I knew what I wanted to do and see, but made no attempt to research how to get there, how much it would cost, or how long it would take. This is how this morning of my final day in the city, I found myself with Robben Island and Cape Point still to visit. They are 62 kilometres apart and it’s not impossible to visit both of them in the same day, but it would have been too difficult to arrange so last minute and too rushed that I would not have enjoyed either. So I had to pick one. In the end, I decided on Cape Point point, partly because I did not want to get emotional and angry again like I was during the apartheid walk, and partly because I do not like choppy ferry rides.
I took the coach from the city centre. There were about 30 of us altogether. Many were from Europe, a handful from Asia, and two black South African ladies. I smiled and tried to make eye contact with them, but they just looked at me and continued with their conversation. I plugged my headphones in, and waited for the journey to start.
On the way, the guide pointed out various places of interest, including the first university in Cape Town, where the Afrikaners settlers first displaced the local people, his home town of which he was very proud, the many many acres of land owned by Rhodes and his ancestors, (yes him again), as well as plants and wildlife native to the region. It was a scenic drive with the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in view for most of it. When we arrived at Cape Point, we were given two hours to do whatever we wanted. I climbed up to the clock tower and joined the long queue to take pictures with the scenic ocean and rocky background.
As I waited, I got into conversation with some African Americans who were on their maiden trip to Africa. After three days of hardly having a meaningful conversation with anyone, it was nice to find some friendly people to speak to. I walked back down with one of them, and we exchanged views on Cape Town and travelling in general. She works for an American airline and was an army child so she has travelled and lived across all of Asia and Europe. But surprisingly, it was also her first trip to the continent. At the bottom she joined her crew, and I sat down by one of the viewing points and watched the world go by.
The walk (or hike as the guide called it) down to the Cape of Good Hope to meet the coach was uneventful. Other than some lizards and different views of the rocks and ocean, there was nothing much more to see.
The next stop was Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town. It is famous for African Penguins which are apparently the only penguins found on the continent. I didn’t pay to go into the colony but instead chose to check out some arts and crafts stalls that littered the route to the colony. On sale were jewellery, paintings, carvings, musicals instruments and some very beautiful pottery all at tourist prices.
I chatted to a Zimbabwean artist who was selling his paintings on one of stalls for awhile. We discussed the migrant situation in South Africa and the the economic situation in Zimbabwe. He’s been in South Africa for about six years now. He trained to paint in Zimbabwe and tried to practice his art there but the economic situation was so dire he was just about managing a meal a day. So he came to South Africa to try and make some money to feed himself, and the rest of his family. He initially settled in Johannesburg but he left after five months because he did not feel safe. He says that, even in Cape Town, he no longer feels safe after recent attacks on African migrants. However, he believes that he’s still better off in South Africa, than he would be if he returned to Zimbabwe.
From there, I made my way to the beach where I was very surprised to see penguins on the rocks just nearby. I wondered what the difference was between these penguins and the ones in the colony. After taking some pictures and then watching them go in and out of water for a while, I found some food then made my way back to the coach for Cape Town.