Monday, 30 May 2016

Diary entry #2 - Prison, prosecco & photoshoots

After spending two weeks now in Cape Town, it’s safe to say that so far, it’s treated us pretty well. In fact, as I’m sat writing this in the gardens of the hostel, looking out onto Table Mountain, it’s safe to say the city has treated us incredibly, and the best part about it all, is that we have another four weeks here to see and explore (and eat) even more.

Our first weekend in Cape Town was perhaps centred around having a drink or three, but I mean, we did hike up Table Mountain so really, it was wholeheartedly deserved. With these deserved drinks though, came two pretty heavy heads, so the start of the week was relaxed to say the least - although the staff at our hostel most definitely think we are insane (I suppose they’re only half wrong..) for lounging out in the sun by the pool whilst they walk round in fleeced jackets, trousers and winter boots. Blame the English weather…

One of the main things we both wanted to do in Cape Town, and something that you really couldn't not do if you’re in this city, is take a trip to Robben Island, the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 16 years. The actual tour itself, was great, and the guides who take you round the island, and the prison, are absolutely fantastic. I hadn't realised before going on the tour, that you are actually taken around the jail by those that actually spent time in that prison. Our guide, who was a political prisoner and spent seven years on Robben Island, was incredibly insightful and so interesting to listen too and he really added that extra touch to the tour itself.

The only downside of the trip, was that it appeared to bring out the worst in tourists because FYI, taking selfies in the cell where Nelson Mandela spent his time in prison is not okay, and what is with people taking photos of every single thing they lay eyes on. I actually witnessed a man take at least 4 photos of a scuff on the wall. A scuff. On a wall. No story behind it, it wasn’t…a significant scuff which had a story behind it, it was literally….a mark…on a wall. The same guy also took a photo of a sign saying ‘Keep Out’ so I mean, he was really making some memories for himself.

The next day was hot (for English people), with temperatures reaching around 23 degrees so, after a really strenuous few weeks (ahem), we headed to Camps Bay beach, to…relax. The scenic views from Camps Bay, are just stunning, and really, is there a better feeling than stepping onto the beach and getting white sand in-between your toes (I mean, there is if you hate sand because I imagine that it’s possibly one of the worst sensations you could have but if you do! Oh if you do, isn't it great!).

Something that I genuinely think could only have happened to my friend Rosie and I, as we simply
laid out on the beach, innocently reading our books, was for a journalist from the Seattle Times to come over and ask if she could take some ‘natural’ photos of us for a piece of work she is doing. Of course, as soon as she said natural, I immediately sat up, pretended my feet really do point elegantly down as I lay on the sun bed, laughed in the way of Marilyn Monroe, instead of the honking donkey that I usually am and flicked my hair around as if I was filming an advert for L’oreal. Sooooooo natural….

The sunset in Camps Bay is completely and utterly stunning, with the sky changing colours from yellow to orange to pink to red. Over a gorgeous meal at Zenzero, with AN ACTUAL GLASS OF ACTUAL PROSECCO, because we finally found it and I know how you’ll all sleep so much better for knowing we’re no longer in a drought of the fizzy stuff, it was really the most perfect backdrop to a really relaxing day (excluding photoshoot because sweaty mess does not equal photograph material).

On Friday, we had organised to go on a township tour to Langa. Langa township is Cape Town’s oldest township, established in 1923, and is one of the areas in South Africa that were designated for Black Africans before the apartheid era. Our guide, who has grown up in the township, and still lives there today, took us on a four hour walking tour of the area, and introduced us into people’s homes, both in the formal and informal areas, their traditional bar and around the streets generally.

Of course, at times, it was very sad, with some of the living conditions really not good at all but what struck me the most, was the incredible community spirit and culture that the township had. Everywhere you turned, people were chatting and laughing, everyone knew each other and greeted us, kids ran up to you in the street and wanted to talk and play and I feel like we could learn so much from that kind of community spirit. For the most part, they have so little but they’re happy, it’s an experience that I’ll carry with me now for a long time. I really don't think you can come to South Africa and get a real feel for the place without visiting a township - I’d recommend it to everyone.

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