Taxi-drivers and beaches
South-Africa is a whole new world compared to Holland and a good way to get accustomed is by talking with those for whom South-Africa is reality. In my case, these were mostly the cab/Uber drivers. I noticed that they all had some negative connotations towards people in townships. As in my first blog, the general conception is that it is their own (negative) accomplishments that have brought them where they are. On the second day, an English guy and I went to the botanical gardens and also the (black) driver that drove us to it shared this perception. He added that he was not racist, but that it was mostly black people who lived there. Then he connected this by saying that they are also most involved in criminal activities. Whether that is true or not, it characterizes the reality in South-Africa. The reality in which still so many black people, subordinated during the apartheid-regime, are still blocks behind most white people. This, of course, is a generalization, but it is also what is perceived to be still the case. The driver came up with an interesting story in which he said that people who were robbed in the townships were stripped completely naked of any belongings except from a sock. I asked why, but he did not have an answer to this. Then, I joked, it must be a guy with one foot where after he said, ‘yeah so next time you see a guy with one foot, beat him up’. Since this may sound like a joke, but was not a joke, point made I would say.
After arriving at the botanical gardens and after been warned once again not to hike alone we decided to hike up the Table Mountain. It was a great, quite strenuous hike, climbing over boulders, on ladders and on what not. On top there was a great view of a part of Cape Town and surprisingly, a lake. It turned out to be a dam, created to regulate the water flow, used for drinking water, but apparently also as a beach, as could be referred from the enormous amounts of sand around the lake. So then, why not go for a swim, right? The water was great and being the only one in the water, on the table mountain, with the tops rising around me and the mist coming in, I knew this was an amazing moment. Back at the hostel at about 3, the plan was to hike up Lion’s head to enjoy the sunset. I had met a group of 4 Dutch people and we planned on going together. Unfortunately, the clouds had been moving in and we decided not to go anymore. However, the 5 of us would go surfing at Muizenbergbay and then climb Lion’s Head, which meant to me another day another chance
It has already been two weeks since my arrival in the amazing country of South-Africa. It has nothing been like I have expected, but it also has been everything. The enormous amounts of safety precautions I got told by everyone upon arrival in Cape Town, the amazing nature of the Cape and the contrast between the richest and the poorest not to forget about the crazy weather, it is all South-Africa. 4 days of Cape Town was not enough, but it was amazing to get a taste of the Mother City, its nature and its people.
After my 3 flights (Munich, Johannesburg and Cape Town) I got picked up by a guy who the Amber Tree Hostel had arranged for me. Together with another girl who had just arrived, we drove away from the airport to immediately drive along the townships where ‘houses’ were built from just some scratch metal withstanding the burning heat of the Cape Town summers. The driver was from Cape Town and as interested as we were in the South-African life, he explained everything we asked. Politics; the president, the ANC, the DA (Democratic Alliance, the party who ruled in the Western Cape where Cape Town is situated), the townships, his life and many advices from especially what not to do and were not to do, were all discussed. Apparently, the people in Cape Town and the Western Cape in general are not very much in favor of the ANC and according to the driver, they are a bunch of corrupt politicians. He had an interesting view on the people in the townships. It came down to the fact that they did not work hard enough and that they were where they were because they had not grabbed all the possible opportunities. I wonder in how far this is true, certainly to some extent, but when you’re born in a township, I have the feeling that not many opportunities will ever be there for you. After I had gotten dropped off at the hostel and had unpacked some of my stuff, 2 Austrian guys arrived. Happily not to be the only one, the 3 of us went out to eat some and explore Cape Town.
Since we had been warned over and over again, we decided not to bring anything except from our wallet. To experience Cape Town on foot is again something else. So many things stand out contrasting Europe, don’t even know where to begin. An immediate observation was that at all the restaurants and bars, many black people seem to work and serve the customers of which the majority was white. This was something interesting and I didn’t know what to think of it. After our meal, we decided to explore the vibrant and lively downtown areas of Cape Town. It is amazing just to look around, the skyscrapers, the table mountain in the background, the stores, the beggars, the business men and many more impulses from the city. We decided to walk to the central station because the guys had to go look for train tickets where after we left for the waterfront. After some sketchy back alleys that looked like the places we have been warned for, someone let us through a staff-only door after which we arrived at the waterfront. With all the sunshine, the beautiful weather, the water and the tranquille atmosphere, it was hard to believe all the dangers I had been warned for. But having driven through the townships and seen all the baggers on the street, really South-Africa has enormously opposing two sides, the one dark, the other bright.