Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Day ten Cape Town



Phew! At least I got a little better for the Table Mountain. Karen joined us for that day. The view from the top was outstanding. Then we went to beautiful, green and lively Cape Town Gardens, where we were enjoying the sun while waiting for Tertius, who later took us to some burger place. Unfortunately, I started to feel unwell again, and didn’t really enjoy the rest of the day. I made a bargain – 280 ZAR into 230 ZAR for an African-shaped sculpture to hang on the wall. It later turned out that the same thing costs 199 ZAR in Johannesburg. In the afternoon we travelled to Franschhoek – a place, which name I will never remember how to spell. All of us were invited to a braai by lovely people, a professor of economy and his wife. Unfortunately I was still recovering and could only eat crackers with tea. It was, however, a local specialty (special tea), with an addition of buchu, which ellegedly works miracles when it comes to stomach bugs.

Table Mountain

When you start a day with Table Mountain it must be amazing, especially if the weather is a good as it was for us. How do you describe the view, if you already used all kinds of positive adjectives you know at least three times? You go to Thesaurus. So the view was astonishing, startling, astounding, marvelous and breathtaking. Then we spent just a casual afternoon in Cape Town. We went to the Gardens, visited the Green Market, ate hipster burger, visited shops in the Long Street, Zuza failed to bargain. I remember being confused about not having to hurry or having a deadline. I didn’t know what was going on.

What made the day memorable was our bunch falling prey to street vendors and sellers. Our politeness and unassertiveness made us easy victims of aggressive marketing.

Our visit to Stellenbosh University wasn’t a visit at all. I really wanted to see the library but we just walked around. The most interesting thing though: there were two pictures printed and taped to the sidewalk. Both were pictures from someone’s Instagram account (Instagram is where people publish pictures) from a Halloween party. There were people dressed up as blacks. All bedaubed with some kind of black grease, maybe foundation. Anyhow, the pictures were commented “Blackface is racist!!”. Now, seeing what is happening in the University in Pretoria, I realize that in South Africa universities are a part of political discussion. However it looks like now, I guess no longer a discussion but a fight in most cases, it is still quite remarkable in comparison with Polish reality. Here, the importance of student organizations is practically nonexistent. There are student organizations but they have no influence whatsoever. Needless to say the students themselves, unorganized, are completely disengaged from politics in their country. So yes, what is happening in the universities in South Africa right now is overwhelming and exotic and it got out of control. But it is a wonderful thing that the students feel like they are part of the conversation and they’re active in voicing their opinions (even if it’s on a sidewalk).

We ended up in Franschhoek, where we had a wonderful time during dinner with our hosts and their dogs.

Oh yes, and I must conclude that there is nothing overrated in Cape Town. 

Cape Town

Today we start with Table Mountain. I was really waiting for it. Along the way we pick up Karen. It is really nice to see her here in South Africa. We used the cable car  to get to the top of the mountain. The view is definitely breathtaking. I cannot believe my eyes, it is all so beautiful. The whole Cape Town at me feet. Ships in the distance look as if they were floating in the air. We are now 9585 km from Warsaw- impressive. I will certainly remember these views for life. Then we went to lunch with Tertius Kapp-a lecturer who worked at our faculty. Afterwards we walked through the streets of Cape Town in search of souvenirs. Unfortunately it is time to leave that wonderful city. On the way to Franschhoek we stopped at Stellenbosch University. We quickly toured the campus and we relaxed on the grass for a while. Me, Agata and Zuza stayed with Joan Archibald and her bunch of dogs. The dogs were very excited for our arrival. One of them especially liked Zuza. She had to caress him all the time. In the evening we had braai with Adrian and Ilona's hosts. We spent a really pleasant evening.

Stellenbosh University

Playing lice on Adamastor's head

The top of the Table Mountain – there are certain places in the world that just resonate with ancient energy (and Japanese tourists), and that is definitely one of them. My only problem is the little cart ride (or the elevator ride, I am not really sure how to call it) we took to the top. The achievement would be very much more enjoyable and satisfying if I would climb all the way up there instead of taking a cheap way out. Unfortunately, it is not safe to do that because of the mountain bandits. Anyway, sitting there on top all night would be a whole different experience. Note to self – do that somehow. We had a wonderful walk around the park and had lunch with THE man in Cape Town – Tertius – who hooked me up with yet another specialty of the Cape, a delicious kind of plant that is equally popular in Poland and yet is utterly different in South Africa. In a good way, naturally and expectably. I will be referring to it later. Sitting down for a while on Stellenbosch campus, we finally settled down in Franschoek for the night, in a mountain house close to the stars.


We’ve heard about Table Mountain hundreds of times. Honestly, it wasn’t a thing that I was really waiting for. I mean, I presumed that it would be beautiful, but what I saw on the top of the mountain was beyond my wildest dreams. I can’t even write about it the way I feel it.  
It was just perfect. You could see the whole Cape Town, below you. The clouds were floating upon the ocean. It looked like the ships were flying on the clouds.  Later on, we took a walk in Company’s Garden, where we could see the monument of Cecil Rhodes. I really enjoyed those moments during our tour, when we didn’t do anything specific. We were just walking aimlessly, experiencing the daily life of Cape Town. After a few hours of walking around the city, we headed for Franschhoek.  Me, Agata and Michał stayed at Joan Archibald’s house. She turned out to be a really nice lady, with three big adorable dogs. What I’ve spotted in South Africa is the fact that every host (except of Tildie) that I was staying with had a dog, at least one. I think their presence made homes even more homy and I really enjoyed their company. Later that day, Joan took us to Jan-Henrik and Amelia Hoon, with whom Ilona and Adrian stayed.  Like with other hosts, we talked about our country, politics and our studies. People were always very surprised when they got to know that we are on South African studies.  Of course there was a braai again. This time, a new dish appeared on our plates- slaphakskeentjies. The dish consisted of cooked onions with a sauce on the top of it. I really enjoyed the taste of it, as I’d never tasted anything of this kind.  

Day nine Cape Town


Cape Town

Although the next day wasn’t the best one for me (neither for Ilona), I still can recall some moments from that day. I remember we were almost late for our ferry to Robben Island. While Professor Olivier, as a F1 driver, was overtaking a 100th  car, I was just sitting on the back, almost flying from one side of van to another. I’m still very impressed by Professor Olivier’s driving skills. Luckily we made it.  Robben Island was very impressive. Probably it would be even more impressive for me, if I didn’t have to restrain myself from puking. I was praying in my head “Oh God, please, I don’t want to throw up here, on Robben Island”. Anyway, being in the place, where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years was an extraordinary experience. A man who actually was an ex- prisoner was our guide, so this experience was even more significant. On our way back to Cape Town we could observe some dolphins jumping in the water, seals and even whale! After my health problems, we met Karen, and we went together  on Cape Point. The view was breathtaking and it was the moment when you really could think “The world is beautiful”. We also saw some baboons, who were strolling around. One of them, was even walking on the roof of our van!  

Robben Island


Jailhouse Rock

In the morning we are almost late for a ferry ride, because the short, half a kilometer walk Izak sets us on to walk ourselves turns out to be a extensive run around the whole waterfront.Today we visit Robben Island, famous for being a prison island ever since 17th century (something like Australia, but smaller), and most famous for being the place of imprisonment of – naturally and inevitably - Nelson Mandela, and countless other convicts that nobody remembers. Now they have turned it into a museum-style tour serving a political purpose, much like everything else in SA. The ferry ride itself is an adventure of its own – with sun shining down and the water splashing around, all that  is missing to the utter bliss is a cold drink with a little umbrella and a sunbed. We also went on top of the Cape Point, the tip of the Cape of Good Hope, where I shortly consider staying and never leaving, surviving on sheer beauty and tourist leftovers. Similarly to what the local baboons do, completely unbothered by the masses of tourists and just minding their business. This is also the supposed place where the two oceans – the Indian and the Pacific – meet and mingle, but not really. Just what the tourists think.

dinner in Cape Town

In the morning Izak picked me and Adrian up to the ferry, along the way we also picked up Agata. Zuza was already there waiting with professor Olivier. Unfortunately, Ilona had to stay at home because she got sick. We were late for the ferry to Robben Island. Fortunately, professor Olivier did the trick and we are on the ferry. Along the way we saw dolphins, seals and even a whale. We are on the island. Visit in the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life is not the most pleasant experience. However, it was thought-provoking experience. It was time for a moment of reflection. I heard a lot about this man so I think that, even though it was not so pleasant, it was quite a valuable experience for me. After we finished with a museum , we had dinner in the restaurant next to the harbour. I wanted to try kabeljou but it was not available. Instead of this I ate grilled kinglip, which was really well prepared in my opinion.  Later on we went for a ride along the coast. We  get to Cape Point. We saw some baboons closely. One of them even decided to jump on our vehicle.

To Cape Point!

Hello Cape Town, I just woke up in Karina's house and I started the day with a croissant and a conversation about books. And I saw HIS study. It just doesn’t get any better.

I don’t think anyone knew that but when I was researching for my presentation on our second year I came across Karina’s essay about South Africa (I’ve included the link in the presentation) and I really, really loved it. It was so honest and peaceful. Since then I’ve been following her blog. So being hosted by her was like two dreams coming true at once. It was also funny (or ridiculous) because when she was introducing herself and telling a little bit about her history I’ve already knew all the facts like a creepy stalker. I hope I wasn’t too awkward or that at least my awkwardness was adorable not embarrassing for it was quite difficult to relax having dinner with THE FAMILY. Overwhelmed by the surprise and paralyzed by the awareness of the date.

Everyone made me feel very welcomed despite the fact that it must have been extremely difficult for it was the heartbreaking February 5. Karina’s hospitality made me feel very special, since from the moment I sat at the table I was treated like I was one of the household members (her cats liking me might have helped). I just cannot find words big enough to describe how meaningful and memorable this experience was for me and I don’t want to trivialize it with some clichés so I’m going to stop now despite my desperate need to go on forever. But please know it was the single most notable thing that happened to me in South Africa and one of the most significant that happened to me in life.

Anyhow, Robben Island. I was prepared to be crushed by sadness. It turns out there is no way for me to actually experience something with so many people around. Talking, joking, suffering from food poisoning. I mean the prison cell was so small and so bare but the kid behind me started to cry and the mother had to go out and then there suddenly there were five more people wanting to take a picture of it and we all had to hurry because the guide was already gone. Please give visitors more time to feel it, to really look. But it did hit me, quite unexpectedly. It was when I heard the story about the cairn of stones at the entrance to the Quarry. It was the most heartbreaking, just imagining Mandela starting the isisivane and the rest of the former prisoners quietly following the lead.

Then we found Karen, or we failed to recognize South African Karen and Professor found her, and took another picturesque road to the Cape Point. On the way we passed the Monkey Valley Resort where Karen used to work as a waitress. We took the cable car (when I get back there I’m going to walk the hell out of South Africa) with a promising name Flying Dutchman Funicular and enjoyed yet another spectacular view. But it was the baboons that stole the show coupling happily, irrespective of children in the audience. There was also one wondering around which (who) ended up on the roof of our car. They inspire a lot of respect because they care so little about humans.

Another front seat drive for me and a springbok pie for dinner. I love you Cape Town.

Cape Point

This whole day I do not wish to be mentioned ever again in my life. I stayed at my host’s flat all day, crying that I’m losing one of the most important days on the trip, and trying to force myself to eat an apple.