Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Life's too short to drink bad wine"

Camp's Bay
Mom and I in Stellenbosch
Penguins at Simon's Town
Nelson Mandela's cell at Robben Island

Freshly Ground at Kirstenbosch

On top of Table
View from Robben Island

Sauv Blanc, Oysters and Baboon Attacks near Cape of Good Hope
I haven't updated in a while but things have been moving along since being back from my trip. Cape Town is as amazing as everyone says. It has mountains, beach, great food, and perfect warm and breezy weather. Being land-locked often makes me feel like a fish out of water, so I took advantage of the 2 oceans and all the delicious food that comes out of them. In fact, I felt a little like George Costanza when the Ocean called cause they were runnin' outta shrimp. Table Mountain is one of the "new" 7 natural wonders of the world, partly because it is 6 times older than the Himalayas and is home to one of the 6 floral kingdoms on this planet, a very unique thing indeed. We got to ramble around Kirstenbosch botanical gardens which puts Longwood to shame (as gorgeous as that place is) and enjoy seeing Freshly Ground perform at the coolest venue ever. And South Africans know how to tailgate, they even brought wineglass holders that stuck into the ground! We drove Chapman's Peak Drive, hung around Camp's Bay, viewed Cape Town from on top of Table and from across the water on Robben Island. Seeing Nelson Mandela's cell and prison of 18 of his 27 year sentence was profound, especially coming from a guide who was imprisoned there himself. We finished up in Stellenbosch where we praised the wine Gods for a few days. However, and its going to get a little corny for a moment, my favorite part of Cape Town was the fact that we stayed in a beautiful apartment where we got to cook a bit and eat breakfast on the 'deck' just like on Lesley Lane. Not everyone has a mom who travels across the ocean to ensure you get some home-cooked TLC.

That being said, the Apartheid has left its mark on Cape Town in a unique way, even on a visual, people-watching level. I had very little knowledge of it besides for the Disney Channel Movie “The Color of Friendship” and from a few novels. It’s a global city and we found people from many countries there mingling together, we also noticed where people did not mingle and where racial and class lines still seemed to exist. The shantytowns surrounding Cape Town took me by surprise and the juxtaposition of fantastically wealthy and dirt poor reminded me of what I have heard Rio de Janeiro is like. There is a lot of crime in South Africa, and Joburg has a terrible reputation for it, which largely stems from the many divides that still cleave the county. Electric fences and alarm systems are apparent everywhere. It was shocking to see coming from Swaziland which doesn't have many profoundly visible divides on any level and is a place many people came to escape Apartheid South Africa. Either way, South Africa is an awesome place and somewhere I will definitely return.

It wasn't easy to part ways from my family in the airport and has been even harder to trade in Table Mountain for having no table, sushi for canned tuna or having a car to khumbis. Besides for missing it all and having a little trouble getting used to utter darkness at night, I feel extremely rejuvenated from the trip. The timing could not have been better, and the break enabled me to renew my purpose for being here. 

My impression of Cape Town and Capetonians is that they love the ocean, they love their wine, and they love to exercise, I think I could take up the last one to enjoy the former two!

Random SA Fact: Lots of languages mix in South Africa and Zulu and siSwati words get used by Afrikaans and Afrikaans and English words get used even here in Swaziland, many of these ended up in my guide book. Here are some favorites:
Shame: A sign of sympathy but can also mean cute, or other things, depending on context
Bru: Bro
Shap/Sho: Cool, how to end a coversation
Izit?: Said during conversation to signify interest
Hawu/Haayi/Haayibo/Eish!: Exclamations and used in many ways. My favorite is when "Eish" is used in a Professor song rather than a common "rap" sound such as "Unh, unh"

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