Long days, but rewarding
06.09.2015 85 °F
It is a long travel day to get from our camp on the Okavango Delta to Cape Town. First we have to go back to the airstrip and board a little prop plane to fly to the town of Maun, the main town in the Okavango area. ("town" and "Maun" rhyme. Do they look anything alike to you?). Then we fly from Maun to J'burg, and then to Cape Town. It is a long, un-luxurious, steerage-class day. But it's what you do. One highlight was that I got to see Captain Doogie again. I didn't co-pilot the plane this time but we got to chat for a minute. He is a darling boy, I wish I could be around to congratulate him when he lands his first job as a regional airline pilot (instead of bush planes). Alas, I am sure our paths will never cross again. (whaaaaah!)
So here I am in the Taj Cape Town Hotel. Of course I am sitting in the bar, drinking some Chard or another. (My wonderful waiter, Cameron, suggested it for me.), and catching up on blogs. I let my Kindle run down to practically 0, so Cameron scurried around to find an outlet and an extension cord for me. Most accommodating.
Today we did some Cape Town highlights and I was amazed at the modernity of this city. It is clean and sleek, kind of a cross between SF and Seattle, and It appears to be home to a lot of wealth. There are some wonderful stores here - lots of high end stuff and of course lots of brightly coloured art and textiles. This could be dangerous.
I am failing to give the day its due. Today I went to Robben island. Even typing the name "Robben Island" makes me emotional. I am fully aware that Mandela is not the only person who was an active and important participant in the overthrow of apartheid here. But he is the face of the struggle. And from the day I became aware of his existence I was a devoted supporter. I only wish that I could have made it to S. Africa before he died so I could feel what it is like to share the same air with him. As it is, I shall be content just to know that my feet have fallen on the same ground as his and that by visiting the place of his imprisonment, I can get closer to the suffering and struggle. But I will say that as a white woman, I feel like I am trespassing on the cause with my sentimentality. Oh well, I can't change that.
Next stop, Table Mountain. I can see this imposing geological shape from my hotel room. But I can't see my hotel room window from atop Table Mountai because everything looks very small from there. To reach the top, one takes a cable car, which was a bit concerning to me at first, with my fear of heights. The car holds 65 people, so it is quite big with windows all around. I walked in, grabbed a rail and felt fine about the impending ascent. Then, the conductor announced that since the floor of the car revolves, please do not hang on to the rails. What!? (Deep breaths, cow girl. Just be confident that if you faint, you won't hit the floor because the car is too full. ) I was fine actually. Not my favorite mode of transportation, but it's better than hiking up 3500 ft. The views of the oceans and the city are breathtaking. This is a major tourist destination and I can see why.
Cape Town is a modern metropolis of 3.5 million people. It is cosmopolitan and new with lots of upscale apartments and shops along the expansive waterfront. It is in this area where we had lunch and on the way my eyes took in all of the potential retail opportunities. My credit cards and I are not going to have enough time here. I must come back. It's only a couple days away by plane. Anyway, lunch was huge and because of that, I was not interested in dinner. I was interested in a glass of wine but upon returning to the hotel, a couple of us decided to stroll down the street to check out a store someone had spied. I got bored with the store fast and ducked out to stroll further. A couple blocks away and up a side street, to what did my wanderings eyes appear but a vendor's market!! Be still my cash! As luck would have it, they were closing down for the day so I was one of their last chances to make a sale. Combine that with the fact that the dollar keeps getting stronger against the rand, I struck it rich. I bought a painting from the artist and a beautiful beaded necklace - also from the artist. I spent less than $50. I have to laugh though, it'll cost me several hundred $$ to get that painting framed.