Updated: Oct 2, 2018
After a short layover in Johannesburg we made our way to Cape Town and are SO excited to be out of the airport. We were picked up by Yusuf and his wife Aaliqah-our tour guides for the rest of the day. We started by driving through some townships and getting a history lesson. Turns out a township can pop up on any open land…even if it is privately owned. If the land is not marked or fenced in as private, these shanty towns can pop up and then legally, as a private land owner, if not properly marked, you can do nothing to get them off your property and you are now financially responsible for their electricity, water, etc. That is written into the constitution. Blew my mind. These townships are truly little metal shacks with a wood roof and a quasi-door. There is no running water, and there are banks of port-a-potties that have ten houses assigned to one. These townships are primarily occupied by Blacks.
We learned about the basic caste system that was particularly in effect during the apartheid that ended in 1994. The Black population, from what we can make of it, is any native African. The Coloured population has some history of interracial ethnicity at some point in their heritage and then there are the whites and Indians and now a small population of Chinese. The townships consist of mostly Blacks and had no services-ambulance, fire, schools until 1994 when the apartheid ended, and those services were started. There was also only one entrance and one exit to these communities, so it made it easier to keep track of this population.
The Coulored communities had some services and schools and were allowed to have some training so that there could educate their own population. These houses are more substantial in that they are made of concrete.
The White communities had all resources imaginable and recreational areas too. Since the end of the apartheid they have integrated, and people have resources more evenly distributed and kids are required to attend school regardless of race. It blew my mind to see such poverty sitting right next to such opulent homes.
Our tour guides said since the end of apartheid, there has usually only been small instances of racism, but that recently a white woman who was trying to hijack something and was caught kept yelling racial slurs at the Black police offers who were trying to help her, in upwards of like 50 times and for this she was imprisoned for 3 years. That was the first incident they could think of like that.
Christianity is the primary religion here, followed by Islam and then Judaism. It is interesting though, in that, despite religious differences, they do not have the strong dividing lines and dissent between religions here. People are able to live in harmony and accept one another.
Our guides said they are known as the Rainbow Nation as it truly is a melting pot of ethnicities that makes South Africa what it is, and everyone truly respects one another and lives in peace.
Ok…so that was our brief introduction to the cultural aspect of things…which was so great to have! We learned all of this while we made our way to Boulders Beach…home to African Penguins! We walked around for a while there and watched them waddling around and swimming. It was confusing to see penguins where it is so warm! But I love them! Then we were off to Cape of Good Hope and Cape Peninsula…the southernmost point of Africa in the western Cape. We took the funicular (a cable car) ride to the top and walked up to the light house. We had STUNNING views of the cape. The fog rolled in as we got to the top and it looked like these huge cliffs were just floating above the oceans! We saw where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet…we weren’t able to see the difference in the coloring of the two currents, though sometimes you can physically see that.
Then we drove down to the Cape of Good hope…so called because sailors used to be able to find a place in the bay to hide form storms and give them a sense of hope. We came across some Eland…an antelope type animal…the biggest in the antelope family eating along the way. Turns out they are born blind and that the babies follow their mothers based on a clicking noise they make when they walk, which is said to the basis for the native languages that utilize a clicking noise in their dialects. There are 11 official languages in South Africa and even if a person from Johannesburg and Cape Town speak the “same” language, they sound totally different.
Then we came across some ostriches…on the beach. Also weird in my brain. The males are the black ones and females are gray and blend into their surroundings so well. We learned they are born asexual and 18 months in they obtain a sex. The men are the ones who during mating season really strut their stuff for the ladies. Their beaks turn bright pink… I think of it as the equivalent to the dog’s pink lipstick :). And they have some really fancy dances they do to attract the ladies…it’s a lot like the Deeter home:). Apparently, they have no digestive system and eat constantly-also they like shiny things including big diamond rings so watch out if you are wearing some bling.
Baboons were also in the National park and they will attack you if you have food…cheeky monies everywhere we go!
We then made our way back to Cape Town on the Atlantic side and had made a full circle of the suburbs and Cape Town. We saw a ridiculous sunset with pinks reminiscent of some Sri Lankan sunsets that I loved so much.
We made our way to our Air B n B and after 45 hours of travel we were excited to make it “home.”
There is a severe drought in Cape Town…they have been able to conserve water so well by limiting each person to 50 L a day…which is not much…so that they have now pushed the Day Zero (day they will run out of water completely) from April to June to whenever now. But it does make for some interesting showers, tooth brushing etc. You are allowed a 90 second shower a day. Let me tell you…it takes way longer than 90 seconds for the shower to heat up. So that was a bad surprise after not having showered in two days! But we want to are sure we are “conserving like a local.”
We found out our shark diving was cancelled tomorrow for weather…so we are planning our day now! Excited to see what it brings!