Yesterday we moved into our house on 197 Lower Main Road in the Observatory neighborhood. There are 17 students from the US living here, so you can imagine it is quite relaxing. I am in room number 3, which I thought would be near the front of the building where there is a lot of foot traffic, but it happens to be in the back of the building on the third floor. Two walls have windows with an amazing view of Table Mountain. It lets in a lot of sun and gets really warm in the early evening, but once the sun goes down the room cools down a bit. The Observatory neighborhood is quite “happening” with many bars, shops, and restaurants only about two blocks away from our house. Lower Main road seems to be the big nightlife area in the area so you can imagine the amount of people walking around the entrance of our house.
197 Lower Main Road’s front entrance
The mood in South Africa, and Africa as it seems, has been very relaxing. “Africa Time” is much more open-ended than schedules in the US. Ten minutes in the US really means 30 to 45 minutes here. Being in Cape Town though, the pace quickens compared to other parts of the country but still seems very chill compared to anything back in the states. I enjoy the calm state of mind that fills the city and surrounding areas. I am personally, I think, very similar to the people here in this respect. What happens… happens; and when it happens, it does. As the locals say, “This Is Africa” (TIA).
This entire day has been devoted to a tour around the Cape Peninsula, or should I say, “the most fantastic piece of earth my eyes have every laid sight upon.” All of us were packed into six coaches each with a tour guide describing the surrounding area. The tour began in the town as we passed the political house of parliament and other historical buildings associated with the government before, during, and post apartheid. Then our route took us to Green point to see the remarkable Green Point Stadium in construction for the 2010 World Cup. I have to admit, I was getting a little “giddy” at this point. But that was only the beginning. We toured down the west coast of the peninsula and saw some of the world’s most beautiful beaches with perfect crashing waves and enormous rock structures jutting out into the sea. We weaved our way along the coastal mountains, making the coastal route in California seem like a Poodle to the Great Dane we were cruising on. We stopped in a poorer district called Ocean View and were treated to a welcoming braai (barbeque) by the local community center. Again, the people here are so generous even as they live much less materialistic lives than we do in the states. Piles and piles of food covered tables. As we feasted, we were treated to a show consisting of singers and hip-hop dancers from Ocean View, who were lockin’ and popin’ like there was no tomorrow.
Exile Penguin staring into the rocks
Little brus at Ocean View district
We departed Ocean View and made our way to Simon’s Town and saw the famous penguins of South Africa! Not much to say about them, other than the fact that there were penguins in 80-degree weather. We then traveled to the Cape of Good Hope and hiked in the nature reserve to the lighthouse that ships use for navigating the Western Cape. We also stood at the Southwestern most point of Africa. The cliffs overhanging the sea were very similar to those of the Northern Highlands of Europe in Ireland, Scotland and Scandinavia. After about an hour and a half of hiking the beautiful trails that led up and down the mountains, we headed back up the eastern coast of the peninsula and got back to UCT and Obs (Observatory neighborhood where I live) around 6:30pm.
We’re expecting rain tomorrow since a cold front is moving in from the north and south. This shouldn’t be a problem since we will be inside and doing the usual orientation stuff. This will help me fight the sun burn I have developed over the past three days. I found a lovely Thai/sushi place where you can get a gigantic amount of pad Thai for only 28 rand (4 USD). The sun is slowly falling behind the mountain right now, but it won’t be dark until 9:00pm or so. Cape Town continues to amaze me I suppose ☺
Ciao for now,