Thankfully we were able to dock this morning when we did. Winds suddenly came up around 7:30-8:00am and other ship traffic has to sit outside the harbour until the winds die down, which they (the local port authorities) hope will be around 9pm tonight.
Our tour to Table Mountain was cancelled due to high winds so we opted for the only tour left “Scenic Drive To Chapman’s Peak”. This tour did not disappoint. But first a little about Cape Town itself.
This is the third most populated city in South Africa, it’s the legislative capital as well as capital of the Western Cape Province. The city lies at the foot of Table Mountain (3570 feet or 1090 meters). Unfortunately for us the winds are blowing so hard we can’t see the top of the mountain but understand why it gets it’s name, it looks like a white tablecloth draped over the top of the mountain.
Cape Town is both a commercial and industrial center; oil refining, food, chemical and fertilizer processing, and the manufacture of cars, leather and plastic goods, and clothing are the main industries. It’s an important port (Durbin is the largest) and Cape Town of course is known for its exports of gold, diamonds and fruit. South Africa has a thriving wine industry and exports 30% of it’s wine to Europe. I wasn’t able to find out what percentage goes to North America, but will assume its close to Europe as the South African wines are in abundance in Toronto. It has one of the world’s largest dry docks, ship repairing is an important industry. I believe one of HAL’s ships is coming here later this year for a major refit.
This harbour is fairly new and has all the latest modernizations available for the workers. New road ways are currently being built and there is much discussion about a new or at least upgraded transport system for the poorer or less fortunate (of which are many). Unfortunately the white or more affluent communities don’t want the transport revised as they believe it will attract less desirables into their communities; and because the current situation allows for mini cabs to transport people to and from work (at a higher rate of payment), they don’t want to lose this business. We both believe that things will HAVE to change because it’s still so obviously a black and white state. They have made wonderful strides in harmonizing the white and black communities and they have a LONG way to go. But we believe that because it’s started it will continue to get better for the black communities.
Housing for the poor or black communities is so obvious. They live in shanty towns with tin walls and tin roofs. They cook outside the home with a pot over a wood fire. I haven’t seen inside these homes but I can only guess the living conditions are less than standard and they wouldn’t have a lot of furnishings. The employment rate stands at around 40% (and we complain 5 or 8% is a lot!). We think the education system should or perhaps it is being revamped. The blacks really do need a) a better education system and b) better opportunities to be given to those looking for work.
Now our trip to Chapman Peak was a real treat. We were lucky in that because our trip to Table Mountain was cancelled we had additional buses at our disposal so they split up the group into 3 buses – this meant we could all spread out with only 20 people per bus. The scenery is just amazing and the higher up we went the more glorious it became.
One of the most unusual things was that people parked their cars on the roofs of the houses near BAY? and they built the buildings into the rock on the face of cliffs with an uninterrupted view of the ocean and bays. As we drove along very affluent areas it was easy to see the white class and the money they have. Of course, I’m sure a lot is well earned. House prices in Clifton and similar upscale areas go from R1.5m to over R32m! ($200k to $4.6M)depending on the area and view. The beaches (mostly private) are white, sandy and well groomed. The streets and roads are spotlessly clean and there is little to no graffiti in sight. Restaurants line the roads and people are taking advantage of the lovely windy weather to sit and drink coffee. We pass Bishops Court where both the British and Indonesian Embassies are located; houses in this area are between $1M and $3M (US); most are gated with private roads. Middle class residential houses have either barbed wire or electric fences around the properties. As much as we love the country, we don’t believe we would live here.
Along the way we passed Maiden’s cove, awesome views of big waves rolling in.
Our guide for the day (Bromwyn – Tai Chi Instructor) managed to talk the driver into making an unscheduled stop at a local market. Here we were able to have a coffee or browse the stores. In one little store Pat purchased a pair of pants from Zimbabwe. African wooden ornaments are everywhere but we haven’t purchased any (YET!).
Because we got back early from our bus tour we were able to take advantage of the local shuttle bus and went into town. We went to the former dock area, now a commercial and tourist waterfront area with museums, craft markets and restaurants. This area is located next to the Victoria and Alfred mall(Alfred was Queen Victoria’s son, he travelled, she never did). It’s one of the largest shopping malls in the world and covers several acres. He actually tipped the first cart load of rubble in 1860 to kick off building of the harbour.
Of course, a trip to Cape Town wouldn’t be complete without us having a local meal and the meal did not disappoint. We eat at the Karibu South African restaurant. Pat had calamari done on the grill with a very hot spicy (and wonderful) sauce (appetizer) with Springbok shank done in a red wine with Putu (a form of rice) and Chakalaka sauce (introduced to this amazing sauce during our Mariner Day Braai party). Gerrit had pickled fish as a starter and a trio of venison medallions that comprised Ostrich, Springbok and Kudu. Washed down with a wonderful bottle of South African wine (Paradyskloo). Total bill was Rand 740 or $100Cdn. Very good price and wonderful food.