Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
Prev / Eastward Ho! / South Africa Next

Cape Town has been cloudy and rainy for the past few days, and thus I've been unable to visit Table Mountain for it's incredible view. Today, however, is reasonably clear, so I decide to take a chance. I hire a cab and head up to the cable car building, only to find that it is closed due to high winds. Bah. Anyway, I take this picture as the view isn't too shabby from where I stand.

Trying to make the best of the situation, I decide to take the short hike down to the city. I see clear trails cutting across the long slope, so I figure it's no problem, despite the sinking sun and having no water or supplies. I ask a cab driver how to get to the trails, and he suggest that I just cut across the brush and pick up the trail downhill a bit, as it's a long walk to get to the trail's head. Like the fool I am, I decide this is a good idea and head into the bush.

Things start out pretty good and I'm making good headway through the sometimes dense and often prickly brush. Thoughts of lions attacking even stay pretty remote in my mind. Eventually I make it onto the path I saw from above, without much trouble and in good time. Things look like I'm on a roll. I follow the wide path along, and it narrows a bit to get around some bushes. Then it narrows further as it goes down a scrambly slope, through a small stream, and then more-or-less dead ends into a big bush. To the left of the bush is a swampy/grassy area, and on the right is just a whole lot of stuff-that-wouldn't-be-fun-to-walk-through. Eek.

Thankfully, my brain recounts the tales I've heard from good friends about being lost on mountains and having to be rescued by helicopters, and I decide that the best way to go is back from where I came. After a lot of backtracking, I'm on the now-widening trail going uphill. It turns out that the "trail" I found is really more of a dried-up drainage way, converted into a small animal path. Regardless, following the trail backwards leads me to a real trail, with people and everything, that I follow safely into town.

David 1, Wild Bush Lions 0.

My first major activity in South Africa is sleep. Indeed, I sleep so much my first day that my roommates dub me "that sleeping guy" and show genuine concern for my health. However, after my long sleep I feel ready for anything, even ready for Mama Afrika.

I invite myself along for dinner with their group and we settle upon this colorful establishment for its advertised authentic South African fare. The food is good, but not nearly as memorable as the music. Performing near the bar is this band of perhaps a dozen native singers, dancers, and drummers, as well as a complete brass section. The amount of energy they pump into their music was unbelievable. On top of the sound, they often joined in what I can only assume must be some derivative of tribal war dances, as they involved charging fist and feet first into an unlucky member of the audience (thankfully not me), only to pull away at the last second before the next person does it again and again. A startling experience for me, and ... [more]
Towering over Cape Town is Table Mountain, named for its flat top and obvious resemblence. Seen on the upper right corner of the mountain is a giant building for receiving cable cars from down below.
While sitting one of Cape Town's fine coffeeshops, enjoying a cup of tea and minding my own business, a pretty girl sits down in the chair I explicitly left open on the off-chance a pretty girl might sit down. After a bit of converstaion I discover that she's a journalist for a small local newspaper, and that a CD release party for a famous South African poet that was imprisoned and then banished for his struggle against apartheid. She leaves for the "invitation only" party, and I leave for dinner. After dinner, I decide to check this party out for myself.

First, I get a glass of wine at the downstairs bar to look official. Next, I make a bee-line for the private upstairs room. Not too fast, else you look anxious. But not too slow, or you look suspicious. No eye contact, and don't answer to anybody trying to address you. Just keep walking and you'll be fine.

Of course, none of this was really important, because nobody was checking names at the door anyway. In no time ... [more]
Perhaps the greatest restaurant in Cape Town, at least on Long Street (where I spend most of my time), is Mr. Pickwicks. It's a fantastic sandwich/coffeeshop with good food and a great vibe. Not only do they have great tea (Earl Grey, to my liking), but they don't hesitate to bring me lots of hot water. Here is where I met the group of South Africans with which I spent the weekend, as well as many others who gave me good suggestions for my stay here in South Africa. In the picture you see a plate of Chicken Schnitzel with, that's right, an actual chicken drawn on the top with mayonaise. Is that cool or what?

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