Tuesday, 12 January 2010

First thoughts on Cape Town

A day later in Cape Town I met up with my close friends Amrita and Lucy. Whilst Amrita and I were merely visitors, Lucy lives in Cape Town. We were given a swift tour through the outskirts of Cape Town then up into the tree-lined suburb of Newlands where Lucy lives.

Whilst Cape Town is a glittering city that stands as a jewel on the ocean’s edge and against the backdrop of magnificent Table Mountain, on the outskirts of the city are impoverished townships – proof that your feet are still firmly planted in Africa. However, unlike other townships I’d seen on my travels through Africa, in Cape Town there are signs that wealth is slowly trickling down to the poorest levels. Street lighting had been erected, satellite dishes hung off the corners of some of the ramshackle huts and cars were parked in makeshift driveways.

Newlands was a stark contrast to the townships. This elegant suburb felt very Kensingtonian with its stylish boutiques frequented by 30-odd-year-old mums pushing expensive prams. Even here, however, were clues to a darker side of Cape Town. Around each property were thin lines of electric fencing, tall gates guarded entrances and plaques issued the threat of armed response to burglary.

We picked up Lucy’s fiancĂ© Derek from their stunning Newland’s home then headed high into the hills to get a stunning view of Hout's Bay (i think it was Hout's bay??). It was hot, the sea glistened and we had stunning views over this colourful bay in the city. After taking in the view we headed down to the small quay where we enjoyed a drink on the ocean's edge.

That evening I enjoyed my first Capetonian braai with Lucy, Amrita, Derek, Lucy’s sister Gina and a friend of Gina’s. It was fantastic to enjoy a few luxuries and a few glasses of South African wine after two and a half months on the road.

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