A Cultural Tour & a Cultural Shock

Leaving Montagu at a reasonable time, we stopped at Paarl on our way into Cape Town for lunch. I had found on line in my research a distillery with a great sounding Italian restaurant. It certainly was a lovely place to stop. We thoroughly enjoyed the gin, food (I even tried snails for the first time) and a lovely rose. We played UNO while we waited & relaxed & check out the hand Andrew got dealt!!

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We arrived in Cape Town early afternoon and found our apartment with no trouble at all. The host met us there & we were delighted to find it exactly as it had been described on Air B&B. We had incredible views back over Table Mountain & felt very safe on the 9th floor.

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Main bedroom
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Boy’s room
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The view
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Outside one of 3 gates to get in

The boys didn’t feel like venturing out so Rod & I drove into town and joined a walking tour to get our bearings & a little basic understanding of the city. It was great. Run by locals it was entertaining & informative.

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Street art – Nelson Mandela
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Street art – Winnie Mandela
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Street art – Desmond Tutu
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Typical Art Deco architecture
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A very sad lion

After finishing up, we returned to the apartment and picked up the boys for dinner at the restaurant recommended by our host just down the road. It was right on the beach & had terrific views & the food was enjoyable. Back to the unit to hit the sack.

On our first full day in Cape Town I had organised for us to participate on a cultural tour to take us into the townships and show us what projects are being worked on to improve the lives of the people who live there. Sometimes I think I must be very naïve because I certainly underestimated the size of the townships & just how poor the housing was. Because we were “living” outside of the city we had to meet our guide at the Westin where we could park our car. Given that the peak hour traffic into the city from Milnerton increases the travel time by triple, we decided to get an early start & have breakfast at the Westin before we met him.

It was a fabulous breakfast but I think made the contrast between rich & poor even more extreme!

We joined a lovely young family from the US who were at the tail end of their year off travelling the world and home schooling their 15 & 13 year old and an older gentleman also from the US. Our guide was Xolani from Uthando Tours. He drove us out to Kyleshita. When we entered the township, we could see it stretching as far as the eye could see. It houses some 1 million people. Quite inconceivable actually. Some of the houses are quite reasonable – being brick & mortar but many many are just tin shacks. Some of them served as hair salons but with the current drought, they are all closed.

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We stopped first at a memorial site for some men that were shot during the apartheid protests. Then to another memorial for a young American girl Amy. She was trying to undertake social work when one day she entered the township when a group of young men who were extremely angry over recent brutality carried out by the white police against another young man & his mother (that in itself is another story which had me in tears), attacked Amy’s car and when she tried to escape brutally murdered her. The story doesn’t stop there however. The men were sentenced. A few years later new rules were introduced that saw anyone who had been imprisoned for certain crimes could have their time in court, tell the truth to the victims (which in this case were Amy’s parents) & if they were forgiven could have their sentences finalised. This happened in this case & 2 of the young men ended up working for the foundation that had been established in Amy’s memory. The power of forgiveness!! Not sure if I would have the strength to be able to forgive as Amy’s parents did.

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Our first stop was at a children’s kindergarten. This kindie was started from the funds raised through tours such as ours. There are several classes and include children from 6 months to 5 years. Our first class was the 2-3 year olds who sang us some lovely songs & looked quite interested to meet us. The next room was the babies room. They just looked at us like stunned mullets. We tried to play with them but they were a little too young & scared. We then moved onto the older children’s rooms and had a lovely time listening to their singing & when we started to sing “Twinkle Twinkle” to them, they joined in. It was an incredibly special time. In the last room we visited we sat & played with the children who had building blocks etc. We were OK to take photos so I took some on my iphone (including selfies) & they lapped it all up. Finally we saw their computer room. They have about 9 computers and they use them to teach the children some simple programs to help them learn English as their primary language is Khosi (the ‘click’ language).

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Our next stop was at an organic vegetable garden. It was amazing. It was very large and run by retirees. They are very proud of their individual patches which make up the whole & judging by the quality so they should be. They sell their produce at market but for some reason (which I couldn’t quite understand) that wasn’t working at the moment & they sell to restaurants and the local community. I asked about vandalism but was told that the locals hold the garden in high regard so there is no issue with that.

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Mushrooms being grown

Our last stop was at a women’s empowerment workshop. We were told that 60% of South Africa’s youth is out of work and 60% of them are women. The workshop helps to teach some women skills such as craft & there is a small shop there where they sell their products (which of course we had to spend some $$$). Before all this however we were entertained by the most wonderful group of young men who sang harmony. They sang us three songs then we were called up to dance with them. The whole tour was such an educational and humbling experience.. would recommend it tenfold!

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Some street scenes taken on the way back

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We were then dropped back to the Westin. We headed back to the apartment, then headed down to the V&A Waterfront for some lunch. We had a look around & whilst it was lovely, was just an oversized shopping mall.

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That night I’d booked Rod & myself into The Test Kitchen which was voted the 27th best restaurant in the world last year & is the brainchild of Luke Dale Roberts. It has been cutely renamed The Drought Kitchen due to the water conditions currently being experienced in Cape Town. The restaurant is in the up & coming hipster suburb of Woodstock & the redeveloped “Old Biscuit Mill”. We had such a fantastic meal. Definitely would recommend it if you are into your food. Don’t worry the boys didn’t starve. We had shopped for basic supplies at Woolworths and they cooked themselves some Spaghetti Bolognese back at the apartment.

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