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Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Cape Town
October 26th 2006
Published: October 27th 2006EDIT THIS ENTRY

Took a 2hr flight from Windhoek, Namibia to Joburg and connected through to Capetown via another 2hr flight. We really enjoyed our stay in Capetown and the surrounding area of the Western Cape. We wish we could have stayed longer and seen more, as there are endless things to do in this country. During our stay in Capetown and around the Western Cape we did our best to see as much as we could by putting some 1,743kms on our rental car! A big thank you to Iqbal, Sadika, Michael & Orit who took us out for (2) awesome dinners. Your hospitality was greatly appreciated.

Capetown is a stunningly beautiful place. The city and the surrounding Western Cape has everything, beautiful beaches, rugged coastline, lush forests, incredible wildlife, chic restaurants, great wine and hip districts. For no other reason than the natural beauty S.A. should be a stop on anyone's itinerary and no doubt at the top of the vacation list. It is certaintly a lot different than its big brother - Joburg. The most visual difference is the fact that there is a "downtown with business" and there is no need to fear for your security while walking around. Another difference is that people don't seem to live behind big gates and electrical fences. Off course the most obvious difference is the naturally beautiful setting that the city is situated in. The views of Table Mt and Lion Head are awesome and being able to wine and dine in Camps Bay while watching the sunset isn't all that bad either!

We were very lucky with the weather during our entire stay in the Western Cape, and as such, on our first day we headed up to Table Mt. We opted for the lazy persons route and waited 1 1/2 hrs to catch the cable car. Hint don't go up the Cable Car on the first day after it has been closed for (2) consecutive days!! Unfortunately, after spending a few hours on the Table we went down to purchase our tickets for Robben Island, only to find out that it was sold out for the next (5) days - again the previous couple of days of cancelled sailings did not help. Oh well, this will be one of many reasons for us to return to the Cape in the future.

We drove Champmans Peak on our way
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(1) million plus people live here in Absolutely Barbaric Conditions - NO RUNNING WATER, Steel Roofs etc. Minutes away people sip on Lattes.
to Simon's town to see the colony of Penguins and then headed further down the coast to Hermanus to watch the Southern Right Back whales. The penguins were certaintly entertaining but the show that a mother and her calf put on for us while we sat on the shore in Hermanus was out of this world. For a good hour the Mom and youngster frolicked in the bay a few 100 meters offshore and for good measure breached for us several times. Having driven the Garden Route, Route 44, and all the other recommended scenic drives in the Western Cape, the most scenic in our opinion was the stretch between Gordon's Bay and Kleinmond - not to be missed.

Another highlight was of course the wine tour to Stellenbosh, Franshoek and Paarl. Needless to say we enjoyed the free wine from the (4) wineries we visited. The highlights were certaintly the cheese and bread from Fairview Estates and the great views at Tokara.

We did a township tour in Knysna where we visited an orphanage, primary school, and a work centre for the physcially challenged. We did our best to give as many kids as possible candys that
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Off the shore of Hermanus
we had bought the night before as well as distribute pencils at the primary school. In addition we visited our guides "home" - it resembled a metal match box. Our guide was very well presented, which was extremely shocking after seeing her living conditions - a real eye opener. She is considered lucky, as she lives in a formal township, and has electricity, however no running water. Her home is made of sheet metal, and to pretty up the inside she nailed cardboard to the insides walls and painted them green - a crude version of giprock. The only problem, is now she has rats and snakes living between the cardboard box and the sheet metal. If this sounds over the top - GOOD - you are getting a wee glimpse into the life of the majority of people, "Non-White" in S.A.

South Africa's history is well documented but we feel compelled to tell you our experiences, as we saw and heard. For the past 2 1/2 weeks we have struggled digest what we saw, at the same times we were in awe at the sheer poverty that exists and in the next breath we were catching our breath from the stunning natural beauty of the country. Although apartheid has officially ended it is far from over for the millions who struggle in their daily lives. It is a society divided by economics of which the apartheid years have made it such that it will take generations to correct itself, if ever. Whites live in big homes, manicured lawns, chic restaurants, ocean views and have all the amendities one would expect in the 21st century of the Western World - just what the WHITE government intended in the Group Areas Act of 1950 which set aside desirable city properties for Whites, while banishing non-Whites into townships. On the other hand the majority, no less than 80%, of the South Africain population, live in sheer poverty that the average person living in the 21st century can or could not phathom. Only minutes away from the opulent White suburbs, millions live in formal and informal townships as well as shanty towns - none of which have running water. The size of the shit boxes that the majority of the population live in are no bigger than a small trailer, they have no running water, most have no electricity, they are made
Table Mt.Table Mt.Table Mt.

From Bloubergstrand
of sheet metal, and if they are lucky they have roofs of wood or sheet metal - most have plastic tarps. Unfortunately, the legacy of Apartheid will go on for years and years and the sad part is all this was systemically calculated leaving the present gov't with such massive problems and issues to deal with that they will be hard pressed to solve one let alone the many. Then there is the biggest issue of them all AIDS.

What makes S.A. and in particular the area of Capetown and the surrounding area so difficult is the fact that when your driving along the stunning coastline, rugged mts and the rolling hills via the Garden Route, Route 44, the Overberg, Route 62, and the Little Karoo.... it is astonishing that no matter where you are there are townships and unimaginable poverty on the outskirts of each town. It is obvious when you are approaching a township or shanty town....first you see one person walking, then (5) then (10) then (20) etc.... the reality is there is no public transportation for those that live in the townships, hence making it difficult to get into the White prosperous towns/cities. The people have to resort to walking or hitch hiking... how is one to get a proper job and get to work on time when the infrastructure is not there to provide for the people who need it the most - Another Brilliant idea of the Apartheid Gov't. It will take the present gov't years to address the most basic of issues such as providing running water to each citizen, proper housing, education, healthcare, transportation etc. Given all this there is a tremendous amount of optimism among the people and certaintly no lacking of big smiles and laughter when you visit the people whom call these townships/shanty towns home.

Some will say that it has now been 15 years since the "Peoples" gov't has been in power and "what have they done?". The truth is that what this gov't has inherited will take generations to resolve, if at all. The focus has to be on the social and economic issues that exist as a result of the conditions that the majority life in. Without changing these conditions - providing clean running water, electricity and proper housing, education will be difficult. At present, education is the easiest solution, but lacking the bare necessities means that kids are not healthy enough to attend school and learn effectively & properly. For most of the kids, they are malnourished, have lacking attention spans and are going home to illiterate parents. The Gov't is progressing as they are building new houses and slowly moving people out of their shit boxes, but this will take years to achieve. In the meantime people are on waitlists, that at the moment are years in the making.

We are really pulling for S.A. to meet FIFA's goals in the next year with the big hope that change will come quicker than expected and that having the World Spot light on S.A. will make more people aware of such a beautiful country with such mounting poverty and issues.

Well we are now off to Hong Kong and further afield into Mainland China.

Places we Stayed

- (5) nights in Capetown at The Backpacker (awesome travel center
and restaurant
- (1) night in Hermanus at Moby's (great location & friendly)
- (1) night in Plettenberg Bay at Nothandos (great location & friendly)
- (1) night in Swellendam at The Adventure Lodge Backpackers (rustic)

Well we are now off to Hong Kong and further afield into Mainland China.


Additional photos below
Photos: 54, Displayed: 28


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Swellendam

N2 Highway
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Assembly in Progress

Township Primary School


27th October 2006

poverty's prison
very interesting read (and great photos too!) I cannot speak from experience, having never been to SA. And knowing people in poverty I know it is a prison of which it appears impossible to escape. But I can't help asking this question.... you show photos of the squalid condition of the 'front yard', whose responsiblity is it to clean up that mess? That isn't apartheid... am I wrong to say, it's laziness? If I were trapped there, I'd make the most of my situation, clean up the mess, figure out ways to improve things, have a garden, trees, have some creativity to make my lot better. I'd figure out a way to be industrious with what I have. I may be totally wrong. But I drive through neighborhoods in the USA, and some people simply don't have any decency to improve their lot in life. It is difficult to feel sorry for people who don't help themselves. Of course, the kids are total victims. I face that all the time, kids who don't have a chance because of lousy parents. But that isn't apartheid either. It's called not having the 'want' to, like in, 'you gotta have the want to!' Anyway, just my take on it all. I certainly wish I had an answer. Great read though, thanks much. Will make me think of it more.
28th October 2006

Reply to stupid comments
You're an idiot man. You saying that these people 'choose' to be this poor is ridiculous. Its like saying 'that guy living in the box down the street could TOTALLY make an effort to make it look nice'. What are they supposed to do, buy a throw rug or a few doily's and spread them around to 'spruce up' their shack? And the parents are supposed to do what for their kids? They have no money, no education, no means of doing ANYTHING for themselves but they're supposed to teach their children better? How do you teach someone something that you don't know? These people aren't 'lazy', they're trapped. Should they cut their lawns and plant some flowers to make their 'yard' look nicer? Maybe it would add to the appeal of their tin box. LAZY is when people with the means to make something better for themselves don't. As far as I can tell these people don't have access to the local Home Depot and garden store to fix up their home. OH, and that would cost money so even if they did it wouldn't matter. People like you make me sick. Get a freaking life and see it for what it is. EXTREME POVERTY NOT LAZINESS.
28th October 2006

Reply to: Reply to Stupid Comments/Poverty's Prison
Thank you very much for both your comments - the idea of our blogs is to generate discussion, which we are glad has happened.
22nd December 2006

Thanks
I want to say thank you for the reply to the stupid comment. I have been to Africa...and people are so destitute, t hey are looking for the next meal every second of the day. They do not have time to be cleaning yards, planting trees etc..etc. there is NO home depot. There is no time in the day to relax. You toil on your feet for hours. Usually as the blog states there is no transportation, so if you want to work in a "semidecent" part of town, you have to hike. Work hard. hike home. Find something to eat. By that time, all you have time to do is sleep and start all over the next day. It is easy for those that have no experience in what TRUE poverty is called to discuss it. I also have seen the people in America sittin on their front porch waiting for the welfare check. Now not ALL of these people are lazy...but at least they have more of an opportunity to make a difference about their circumstances due to the democracy we enjoy in this government and in much of the western world. That same democracy and opportunity is but a dream to much of the world. Ada

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