Day 62 24th
We crossed into South Africa in the morning and I headed straight for the beach, the area at the front of the truck where you can lie down. I felt fine when I got up, but once again I just feel soo tired. We stopped off at Spring Bok where I went in search of my coffee fix, would you believe the only place I could get a decent coffee there was in Nandos.
The landscape now appears to be wine fields galore, it's just so different to what I've been used to seeing. The people also look different they are a paler brown with smaller eyes than say people from Zim or Tanzania, and they have rounder figure types. It would be wonderful to spend more time in these places to really get to know the people.
Tonight is our last campsite as of tomorrow there will be no-more tents. In prep we've done another truck clean.
Day 63 25th Stellenbosch (with Cape Town interlude, below is copied word for word from my diary. It did get better)
I'm writing this a few days later so already it's hard rembering what happened exactly. I'm also pre-occupied by the fact that I'm in Cape Town and I hate it. It's hard to walk down the street without the fear someone is going to beg something from you. I've just arrived at the waterfront where my waiter asked if I'd been drinking because I have red eyes. I'm not sure if this is because I feel so strung. I'm in a weird state of being, almost to tears and shattered through the effort of being here. Thank God the lady has arrived with coffee and a muffin. It seems wrong that all I want to do is hide away, but that's exactly how I feel. At this rate I'll be heading down here everyday to escape. No-one need know, but me being me I wont do that. I'll confront this and be out as long as possible and explore everywhere on foot. Although I may give-in today and go to the cinema.
Ok so back to Stellenbosch. We arrived around lunchtime I think because one of the first things the group wanted to do was the chicken nugget challenge. The stack of boxes looked so bad, it can't have been healthy. And yet, the nuggets smelt kind of nice so I thought I'd break my five years of no McDonalds and have a happy meal. McDonalds is tastless, it's amazing you have to put so many condiments on the food just to make it taste like something.
Stellenbosch is a strange place. It feels really european. In fact I felt more like I was near Luxembourg than in Africa as appraoching the town the fields were entirely devoted to growing grapes. In the town itself most of the buildings are white and no bigger than two stories high. It's a bit like a toy town I suppose.
Day 64 26th
Wine tour day began with my first ever introduction to Mugg and Bean, a restaurant type chain that does massive portions of cake and a follower of the bottomless coffee. It would also become my sanctuary in Cape Town, so much so all the waiters in there knew me and later I would find out had given me my very own nickname- the girl with the eyes (apparently they're quite blue).
Anyway I went in search of coffee and Ben went in search of breakfast. It was nice because as soon as we walked in we bumped into Andy and Kate having brekkie too. Since I'd already eaten I decided to have a scone. You'd think hey a scone that's like what maybe the size of child's hand or something, but nooo not Mug and Bean's version. It was a little off the size of a Victoria sponge! Yes I ate it all, I love cake.
There were four wineraries-Simonsig, Fairview, Dieu Donne and Boschendal. The first one we learnt something about how to taste white wine and how they make wines, it was interesting shame I didn't really like any of the wines though. The second winerary was my favourite they had so many nice tasty wines aswell as cheese tasting. The inside of the place also just really looked the part. As you went in there there was the cheese area to your left and then to your right you walked a little further towards a dimmer lit area with two round wine tasting bars, it was very cosy and stylish all at the same time. I bought a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon here.
The second and third wineraries were once again in beautiful surroundings and beautiful presented, but ask me about the wine and I really couldn't tell you, all I know is I must have liked another bottle as I bought another one and I also broke a man. The last part of that statement could probably do with some explanation. Basically we were told at the fourth winery the first person to cross the field on the back of someone would win a free bottle of wine. Well I found a tall Nederlander and jumped on his back. We were doing so well and then, he fell, but rather than put his hands out to save himself he just fell flat on his face. This tactic didn't work so well for him he ended up with a very scratched face and a bloody nose, poor guy.
Day 65 27th Cape Town
We arrived quite early and pretty much checked in straight away, although there was some room confusion which involved me carting my Malawi wood around a bit, but yay I've finally packaged it up. I had a massive Blue Peter moment using my pillow as padding and wrapping the table legs up so that they ended up looking like a giant's earbud. The box resembles more a giant envelope than a box, cross fingers it gets home ok.
After the mammoth packing session I decided I should brave outside. I didn't want to, but I thought I am here for such a long time. It's odd, of all the places I've been this was the only one I was worried about. I blame Silent Witness, if I hadn't seen that episode set here then I wouldn't have known about the ridicously high crime statistics. Anyway as a I headed down Long Street I could see Ed and Becky coming from the opposite direction so I bounded over to them, perhaps in a manner not to dissimilar to a lost puppy. No sooner as I had reached them though a Lady comes over starts asking for food and then pulls down her top to prove she's breastfeeding. Becky gave me a chance to get away and I took it, luckily Charlotte spotted them not too soon after and dragged them into the Dubliner, Irish pub. My walk continued on bumping into a few more people from the truck along the way including Carlos who I randomly ended up shopping for earrings with for my cousin's birthday.
That evening was the last of our group meals, an all we could eat BBQ feast put on by the hostel. Sadly no more cook group times, but it was very tasty.
Day 66 28th
Obviously this day was very stressful for me as the entry from a couple of days ago suggests. Moving out the hostel wasn't so bad, I just had to make everything fit into my backpack, which it hasn't for about fifty-odd days. My new hostel is kin of cool though. So far I have the room to myself. It has three white bunkbeds, red and white walls and a bit of girly heart theme going on. The kitchen is on the same level as my room, it's open plan with a gigantic stainless steel work surface and lots of cooking equipment. Going along the corridor towards the bathrooms there are loads more themed rooms dragons, zebra print etc etc. There's also an attic (later I would come to realise this wasn't the bar but in fact the TV lounge, which explaned why the TV was always on and why it seemed quiet. The bar was in fact on the roof and had an amazing view of the city.)
As I left the hostel that day the guy in the elevator told me to be careful because quote "Cape Town is not very safe", great! So off I went in search of the postoffice and then the waterfront. Eclipse sounded a very welcoming idea, plus I knew a few of girls were heading there from Oasis. Three cups of coffee and a muffin later and after previously mistaking a girl in Mugg and Bean for Kat, I did actually see Kat so ran and hugged her. Kat told me how much of joke some of Eclipse was so I went upstairs to watch it myself.
I felt so much better after the cinema, but maybe not quite myself as Ricki spotted me walking back looking very English "stiff upper lip and all that". We ended up in the Dubliner drinking guiness.
Day 67 Bo Kaap
After posting the box/envelope I headed towards Bo Kaap, an area of Cape Town with very colourful Dutch inspired architecture and a whole host of descendants from the area's colonial days. After my fill of orange, pink, blue, green etc buildings I headed for High Noon, a tea place recommended in my guide book. The walk up the hill was quite a trek after a stop off at the Tana Baru Karamat, a cremation cemetary with slate gravestones and a magnificent view of the city, I became aware an old guy walking behind me was making much better progress than me. He obviously lived there so maybe if you ever visit this place don't be offended that old people overtake you, it's a big hill.
I thought I was going in for cake and tea, not quite. The food was Malay cuisine so I ordered the cake plate and cardamom tea. There were three sorts of "cake" one that was cakey and had grated coconut on top, the other one was a beef samosa and then the last one was like a bargee made with spinach and chickpeas. The food was so good I ended up ordering a main meal- Masala fish and a roti. I think if anyone visits Cape Town they should definitely go to this place. There was just so much flavour to everything, the price wasn't bad either.
Whilst I'd been eating I had also been writing postcards this gave me another excuse to walk to the waterfront. I ended up watching Shrek and booking a trip to Robbin Island.
Day 68 30th Robbin Island
The ferry ride to Robbin Island didn't take long and it helped that they played a video about the Island's history all the way there, mind it did have the effect of making you feel a little depressed. The tour began with a drive around the Island. It's such a strange place, in a way it felt like a ghost town, but there are definitely people living there as the guide said he'd spent the summer before there. The amount of history there is incrediable not only is the prison still there but so are the kennels they kept the dogs, the quarries where the prisons worked as well as the second world war houses and guns which they are currently restoring. The message they are going for though is that this is not a monument to repression and cruelty but the truimph of justice and freedom. I like it that it has a positive message, but I still went away feeling sad.
Afterwards I was quite hungry so being on the waterfront I headed for Mugg and Bean. I suppose the waiter was intrigued by me as I was by myself and I was wearing my Nottingham hoodie. He'd studied culture at University so he wanted to ask me questions about things, one of them really got me thinking though- "What kind of differences are there in the cultures in Africa?" And you know what I don't really know. I think my trip was brilliant because I got to see so much but I don't think I really got to study every group of people I met. So other than people like the Masaai who are quite obviously different I couldn't really say. I answered truefully and I'm glad I did because he confessed he didn't really know either. He knew his heritage, but there are so many traditions and peoples in Africa. It was a really interesting talk, although it was a bit ackward when I wanted to order something else, like ordering a friend to get you something else.Day 69 31st Old Biscuit Mill and District Six Museum So yesterday one of the hotel staff told me instead of heading straight for Table Mountain I should head to the Old Biscuit Mill first. The Mill only has a market on once a week and is a foodie's haven. Everything is organic or goumet, it looks and smells amazing, but my experience walking there put a bit of a damper on it. I'd planned my route the night before thinking it didn't look that far a walk. I don't think many people went the way I did though, at least not on foot. The whole way there it felt very dodgy, for ages the only people I saw were very poor looking people and the area didn't look so good either. I could of turned back but then I felt too many peope would have clocked me walking through originally so instead I plodded on quietly cursing myself for putting myself in the situation. Later I found out my route had taken me along the edge of District Six. Eventually I arrived at the Mill and as I stepped inside the entrance it was like I'd suddenly stepped into another world, the world of the wealthy Capetonians. It's a lovely little place with little shops selling jewellery, furniture and of course food. The food is freshly prepared or baked and because I'd been told the beef sandwiches there were the best I'd ever try I decided to fork out 500 rand (five pound) for one of them. Yes it was amazing, but then again it was five pound! The problem was the whole experience for me just felt so false I had to get away. I'd noticed the District Six Museum wasn't very far away and because the clouds over the mountain were still there I jumped in a taxi, well I wasn't going to walk again, and headed to the museum. I spent ages in the museum reading the accounts of peoples lives before they had to move, the community they loved and what happend when they realised they had to go. From what I can make out yes the area wasn't the best, but it was a darn sight better than the shanty towns that now surround the city. Eventually after walking the city's Parks I ended up in my dorm room. I have a few roommates now. One of whom is from Jo'berg and wanted to know why I didn't like Cape Town. This is roughly what I said- "I feel so intimidated here. It's not that there are beggars it's that they follow you too and because there are so many you are constantly on your guard, which gets very tiring, but then you feel bad because you wonder is this the only way they can make money and you think the "whites" behaviour-Apartied, Colonialism, pretty much screwed up this country. But then it makes me angry that there are shops like Louis Vouitton at the Waterfront, places you spend five pound on a sandwich and not even question it and you can't help but ask yourself, and your asking me for money? (the person walking around in a very tired looking hoodie and equally tired pair of jeans)" (I realise I know very little about this situation and all of the above was made through my own observation, but one thing is for certain this country has problems and it really does have to start finding solutions.) After this talk I finally decided to take Jack and Cormac's offer up on going out for a couple of drinks. It was officially their old truck group's last night so a group of them were going out on Long Street (Jack and Cormac I'd met previuosly in Swokupmund and randomly they happened to be staying in the same hostel in Cape Town. It's a Small World has just popped into my head). Turned out a night out and being around a group of people again was very good for me.