Monday, May 25, 2009

cape town

We flew into Cape Town for the first time this rotation. We’ve got two more flights scheduled but this would be the only one we actually spent in the city. We’re heading to the wine country one weekend and our last weekend will be spent 2 hours from Cape Town in the coast city of Hermanus in an attempt to see some whales.

We arrived on Friday in time for dinner on the waterfront. Cape Town has a great little waterfront area with live music, tons of shopping and colorful boats sprinkled throughout the harbor. Outside of a little taxi/shuttle drama it was a nice night. It seems that a fairly large proportion of taxi driver are cheats and jerks no matter what country you’re in.

After a comedy of errors getting everyone together and into the car (the entire team went on this trip so you can imagine getting 8 people on the same page) we set out for Cape Point and Boulders Beach on Saturday morning. It was overcast but the drive along the coast was really nice. Boulders Beach is home to a pretty large colony of Jackass Penguins. They get this name from the noise they make which sounds exactly like a donkey’s bray.

Pretty cute little birds to make such a raucous...

Cape Point was awesome and after a quick tram ride up afforded some great views…

On our way back we stopped at a little local beach for the sunset…it was AMAZING. Seriously it may have been the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever bore witness to…

We all headed out for sushi that night and afterwards a few of us went to one of Cape Town’s many gay bars. As you know we’ve barely seen any other gay people since we’ve left so it was nice to be in a very gay friendly city. We went to a very unpretentious bar called Beulah’s just a few blocks from the restaurant. With a very healthy mix of guys and girls it really reminded me a lot of Athens…just with an older crowd. We had a few drinks, danced to non-house music (nice to be away from Europe in that respect) and just enjoyed being in the company of some fam.

We had an early afternoon tour of Robben Island on Sunday. This is the island where Nelson Mandela was held for most of his 27 years of imprisonment. It was a sobering tour but I found it both fascinating and inspirational. It is incredible for me to think of how young South Africa’s democracy really is…just 15 years old. I know this country has a lot of work yet to do but it is wonderful how far they have come in such a short period. It was only 15 years ago that people’s lives and futures were completely dictated by the color of their skin and now they have true equality under their constitution…including gay South Africans who enjoy the same marriage rights as their straight countrymen. Our guide at the prison was a political prisoner during the dark days of apartheid. He spoke of how is country is learning from other great democracies in the world but I couldn’t help but think that maybe my own country could actually learn something from them.

Although Sunday was supposed to be nice and sunny the clouds clinging to Table Mountain refused to budge. Having to neglect our plans to visit it we instead had a long leisurely lunch on the waterfront and then did some shopping before heading to the airport. Looks like we’ll have to do Table Mountain one of the other weekends we’re on this side of the country.

Next weekend we head to Zambia to see Victoria Falls!

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