A Slow Start
On Wednesday we got off to an extremely slow start. After all it’s not easy drinking the night away and teaching an entire city how to party.
After a long morning of blogging, drinking coffee and relaxing we decided to head down to the V&A Waterfront to go paddle boarding through the canals. While Tarynne is a seasoned expert, this was my first time standing on a paddle board.
Turns out paddle boarding is pretty legit and we’ll probably take the boards out for a spin one more time before we leave.
Once we got home from the paddle boarding excursion we spent the evening downloading photos and video to our various storage devices and went to bed early with a packed schedule planned for Thursday.
A Day of History
Thursday got off to a quick start with three activities planned for the day. First on the docket (@zupaloop shout out) was the District Six Museum, a museum dedicated to the 60,000 people forced from their homes in the 1970s by the apartheid government.
District Six is a neighborhood in inner-city Cape Town that was made up largely of colored residents in the post WWII era. In accordance with apartheid philosophy, the government stated that interracial interaction bred conflict, necessitating the separation of the races. So in 1966 the government declared District Six a white-only area. By the mid-1980s more than 60,000 people had been relocated and their homes had been demolished by the government.
The District Six Museum now stands as a remembrance of the culture and people of District Six before the removals and as a community gathering point for those who were a part of, or can identify with its history. The museum is filled with maps and tapestries marked and signed by the families who used to live in the neighborhood before the forced removals.
The museum is small, but packed with exhibits and displays that show the many families and vibrant culture that were destroyed by the apartheid government. Walking through the museum, it was most staggering realizing that the apartheid regime was not overthrown until 1994 and that these policies were in affect only 20 years ago.
Castle of Good Hope
Next up we ventured over to the oldest official building in South Africa- Casteel De Goede Hoop. Built between 1666 and 1679 by sailors, slaves and soldiers, the castle served as a major pit stop along the spice route for the Dutch East Indian Company. The former center for civilian, administrative and military life at the Cape has undergone some major cosmetic surgery and is now open for obnoxious tourists to explore. After ecstatically flashing the Coug badge for a 10R student discount, James then splurged on the map. Note: The currency in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR), and at the time of this positing 1USD = 8.96ZAR. However James’ currency is in hamburgers, so without hesitation James proudly announced that his forward thinking “Just saved one-quarter South African hamburgers.”
The quick glance down at the map confirmed my humorous doubts he was surrendering to the role of ‘tourist’ but instead revealed he knew exactly what he was looking for – the torture chamber and dungeon. Of course. I excitedly picked up the pace to match.
If you don’t know us well, please note that we are visual learners.
As entertaining as this was for me to capture the moment of James’ being a vulnerable tourist, I knew we would arrive at our departure point for our Robben Island tour on time. Good thing, since African time is about as precise and accurate as our estimated return date. The boat was an hour delayed, so of course we went to eat and drink. James ate and I was fortunate enough to witness a reenactment of his Mickey Dees tres hamburgesas night (@titoville would have been impressed).
After a quick 30-minute nap on the ferry we arrived at Robben Island with recharged batteries. Since the island is fairly big the first part of the tour is a bus ride around the island to see all the different amenities. The bus tour showed us the various prison buildings, churches, prison guard village and limestone quarries where Nelson Mandela and the other inmates worked each day. The bus tour also stopped on the shore of the island to give us a look back at Cape Town under the shadow of Table Mountain.
After the bus ride we were dropped off at the entrance to the maximum security prison where we were met by a former political inmate who gave us a guided tour of the prison itself. First we were shown the main entrance where prisoners were first given their uniforms and inmate numbers. Next we saw the mail room where all of the incoming and outgoing mail was censored by guards so the inmates couldn’t effectively communicate with the outside world. From the mail room we were led to the main cell block where a majority of the inmates were held and shown the cell where Nelson Mandela was held for 17 years.
From the cell block we were led outside to the prison yard where prisoners were allowed to play football once a week on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Our guide told us that it was during the football games each week that all the prisoners ignored their differences and were united by the sport.
From the prison yard we were led into the group cell where the prisoners ate and slept. It was in this room that our guide showed us the meal “menu” that our resident dietitian Tarynne deemed insufficient.
It was in the group cell that the guided tour came to an end and we had to hurry back to catch the last boat of the day. Exhausted from all the walking, we once again had a little snooze on the ferry.
Once back on the mainland we walked from the waterfront back to the Zebra Crossing Lodge were we cooked dinner in the kitchen and went to bed early so we would be rested for our trip to Muizenberg and St. James the next morning.