Farewell Cape Town


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Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Cape Town
August 29th 2009
Published: January 23rd 2010
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I left Cape Town today. I tried to arrange transport via the hostel but their bus would have me waiting at the airport an extra hour and a half and their taxi was half as much again as the one I got when I arrived. Sighing, I set off to the street outside and this time had more luck locating a taxi quickly. I arranged to be picked up in good time and then decided to spend the rest of the morning doing a little sightseeing.
I walked toward the Company Gardens which seemed to be a good place to spend a little time relaxing.
The Company's Garden was laid out by Cape Town's founding father Jan van Riebeeck on order of the Dutch-East India Trading Company to secure the provisioning of the colonists with vegetables. The gardens were originally closer to the coast, but in a bid to plant in more fertile soil, on ground sheltered from the wind, they were moved with its northern boundary on Wale Street. Today the gardens remain in this location and are used as a public park, bordered by several museums.
I found the Company Gardens easily as I remembered passing them on the tour bus yesterday. The gardens are indeed a peaceful place to relax and I strolled along the paths and around the fountains.
I had a slight probelm when it came to dodging the sprinkler system. Now I understand that the gardens looks so green and lovely because they are well-watered. However, I fail to understand what the purpose of watering tourists is. I was walking along one path when I heard a funny gurgling sound and a few moments later water shot across the path ahead in an arc watering the plants in the opposite bed, and everything on the path in between. I continued my walk and eventually just sat on a bench under a huge tree, looking up through the branches and taking a moment to relax. I heard a stuttering gurgle. I eyed the sprinkler opposite me with suspicion. The blank nozzle stared back. They wouldn't would they? Why would they aim a sprinkler directly at a bench. I sat a while longer. The gurgle came again. Deciding it wasn't worth staying put, I moved up a couple of benches. Sure enough a moment later water came shooting out of the nozzle soaking the bench I had just been sitting on!
I caught sight of a grey squirrel who wasn't so lucky. Soaked to the bone the dark grey, flat furred creature shot up a tree and sat quivering on a branch, before starting some urgent grooming.
On my way back to the hostel I stopped beside the benches opposite. I had been shocked to see them from the tour bus yesterday until I was told they are part of a memorial exhibition across Cape Town. The benches stand either side of the main doors of a building where race clasification hearings once took place. The segregated benches state clearly 'Whites Only' and 'Non-whites Only', a poignant reminder of the segregation that dominate South African society.
I walked back to the hostel, taking a slight detour through town to view the markets and buildings and hurried back to pack away my things and leave my room. Back at the hostel I made lunch and sat upstairs in the 'dining room' an upper level accessed by wooden stair that feels more like an indoor balcony than an actual room. A few people were lunging in front of the TV while a couple of guys played pool on the table at the far end. I curled up on the picnic bench dinner on one side book in the other until it was fianlly time to get my flight back to Jo'berg.
The flight was reasonable and I although not really looking forward to returning to my dingy, albeit cheap hostel from before I was glad to be on the homeward leg of the trip. I arrived at Jo'berg airport, phoned the hostel to say I was ready to be picked up and went outside to wait for the car. Twenty minute later I was feeling rather cold and annoyed. I stood on the dark pavement watching cars come and go and other people filing out of the airport and leaving. I called again and the man at the hostel impatiently explained that 'yes, the car is on it's way, please just wait' Another twenty minutes passed. I called again and the man sounded really annoyed with me and told me to wait. I politely explained that I had been waiting for over forty minutes and the hostel was only ten minutes away. He told me traffic was bad and I'd just have to be patiet. Another twenty minutes later I wandered back into the airport, freezing cold and not wanting to stand on a dark street alone anymore.
I found a help desk and asked the woman if she could help me as I'd apparently been abandoned by my hostel and I was running out of credit on my phone. The woman actually gasped in horror when I said I'd spent all my credit and had been waiting outside for an hour. She said Airport backpackers are known for abandoning guests. I said I'd stayed with them at the start of my trip and they'd been ok if ultimately rather inconsiderate. She called the hostel from her own mobile and told them to call her back. We waited ten minutes. She called again and demanded to know what was going on, how they were irresponsible to leave a guest waiting on the street so long and would they come immediately. The man hung up on her. Outraged over what was going on we had a mutual moan session in which she told me she also thought the man sounded drunk and she didn't think I should go with them even if they did turn up. Ten minutes later the man called back to apologise and to say I should go back outside to wait. I rolled my eyes and said I wasn't go to wait for what would probably turn out to be another hour and asked if were there any other nearby hostels she could recommend, I was happy to lose my room deposit if it meant I'd actually get a bed for the night. She sent me over to the information desk where initially the woman frowned and said they couldn't phone hostels on my behalf and then when I told her the whole story, threw her hands in the air and muttered about how awful Airport Backpackers were. She phoned Brown Sugar Backpackers and told me to wait, they'd come and fetch me from the desk. Twenty minutes later I was finally off, completely exhuasted from what had turned out to be a long day of travelling.
We drove up to the hostel, which I was surprised to see was castle! Well, a modern built, castle-looking hostel anyway. I checked in at the bar (!) and was shown up to my room, a tiny box facing a balcony with a toilet and shower in two little rooms down the steps and an open air sink and mirror! Weird - but kind of fun.


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31st January 2010

Interesting Blog
Hi Anna, I was looking for something completely different on the net and stumbled upon your blog. I must say I found it very interesting and informative. I am British, but have been living in South Africa for 27 years. I have travelled a lot around this country and been to many places, but still seeing new places every time. I think that you opened my eyes to peoples views who do lot live here and tend to take things for granted. Thanks again for a great read, when I was supposed to be going to work!! :)
2nd February 2010

I'm very glad you enjoyed my blog, and thank you for your kind comments. It is especially nice to hear from someone who lives in South Africa. I do hope I didn't make you late for work...;)
2nd July 2015
Non-Whites Only

Request to use photo
I am in the process of having a book published on South African English. One of the items is the term 'non-white'. Would I be able to use your photo in the book? Thank you.

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