susys running away to sea

"The rigors (sic) of an expeditionary lifestyle"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

In which Thabang takes us for a trip to the townships and I swig maize beer ..

Thabang bursts into the guest house in a whirl of neat black dreads, lime green fleece and the ever-gusting wind. He's taking us and four other people on a tour of the townships, those miles of shacks, tin huts and block houses spreading miles over the sandy flatlands beyond the city limits. A result of apartheid and enforced social engineering and forcible removal, the first sight of these shanty towns is daunting - and makes me feel like a prying whitey visiting an alien species in a ragged zoo. I'm uncomfortable - definitely not frightened, despite dire warnings about murder, mayhem and mugging back in the UK - and ask Thabang if anyone minds being stared at. He assures us they want people to visit the townships. And that's what we are - not tourists, but visitors.

We visit, admittedly, the legal areas. Not the better block houses, nor the illegal worst cobbled together bits of wood and plastic sheeting, but the middling wooden and tin shacks

Oh, eyes closing .... more later, peeps.

In which the Cape Doctor prescribes something for wind problems...

The Cape Doctor is a health-giving wind, apparently, cooling former colonial brows red and sweating beneath their pith helmets. This one was more of a (what's a collective noun here?) Cape Med School? - howling and hurling grit into our eyes and making us walk at 45 degrees from the vertical. I've never known quite such a wind - and it lasted all the three nights/two days we were in Cape Town, joined by monsoon rains off and on ...

We were staying at a beautiful guest house at the foot of Table Mountain - all art deco and formal French gardens of lavender and white roses behind high white-painted walls adorned with armed response plaques as warnings to would-be robbers. You couldn't see TM, though, as the rolling gray clouds had fallen down the mountainside - not so much a table cloth, as a dark fluffy shroud. Mine hosts Mark and Ivan said it was at the cleaners ... And the little cable cars were closed due to the weather. So the famous landmark was off the list of places to see, things to do.

Instead, L had booked a guide for a township tour and a Cape Town tour with Thabang.

In which Qatar Airways plays silly buggers, my bag plays hide and seek and I meet the Cape Doctor ..

Which tells you I'm back home - oh the relief to get back to cold gray drizzle ...

I don't think. Not often, anyway.

Actually, we had dreadful wind in Cape Town ho ho and torrential rain. Not the wall to wall sunshine we'd expected .. though it wasn't cold. But probably less than half the time was the sky bright blue and the sun hot enough to make you ponder skin cancer ..

Let me go back six months or more.

When an old chum suggests a visit to SA in November - and throws in the lure of tea with elephants - it would have been churlish to refuse, wouldn't it? So I didn't.

Which found me at the check in (Qatar Airways) at Heathrow just over three weeks ago, unable to produce the credit card which I'd used to book online. Oh dear, they can't accept that I've paid - SIX MONTHS PREVIOUSLY - a scam to make their checking-in lives easier, I suspect, in the guise of fraud prevention. I politely ask what makes them think someone else would be so philanthropic as to pay for me to have a holiday, and that I've got rid of this card some months previously to reduce my debts, and that in all my extensive wanderings this year, all booked online with credit cards, no-one NO-ONE at all has asked for my card to check it's really me ... What happens? Why I ferking get out another ferking card and PAY AGAIN, don't I?

Do I sound less than coherent here? That's true. I've still got to claim back £430 from the thieving beasts..

Anyway, we do get to board eventually, have a lo-ong flight via Doha, Qatar (it was cheaper), finally ending up battered and smelly in Cape Town nearly 24 hours later. We (L and I) lurk at the baggage reclaim. And lurk. And start making those joking, brave and increasingly desperate quips as bags came and went, until at last the luggage runway ground to a halt, as empty as our trolley. We peered into the dark hole where the bags had emerged, planning a new holiday wardrobe and wondering whether the insurance would stump up, when I spotted our luggage cowering in a dark corner. Ignoring official shouts to keep away, we grabbed our stuff and ran for the exit. Which is when we made the acquaintance of the Cape Doctor.

Monday, November 17, 2008

No need for a title huh

Route 62 in the middle of the western cape. Yes im in s africa. No internet yet.