A visit to Cape Town

In December we decided we needed a break that would allow us to indulge
ourselves in some of the things that Malawi doesn't have. We originally
planned a weekend in Johannesburg, but then heard that the Drakensberg
mountains (near Joburg) are even more beautiful than the Alps and the Rockies so we added a day and changed our itinerary. But then Claudia managed to get a few more days off, and for only marginally more airfare we could go all the way to Cape Town. It was at this point that people started telling us about Cape Town. The way people described the restaurants, the scenery, the wine - they were all superlatives. Multiple well-traveled people told me it was their favorite city on the planet. But after not having left Malawi or Zambia for one year I couldn't even imagine a movie theatre in subsaharan Africa. Therefore my expectations were high even if my imagination wasn't able to keep up.

Cape Town delivered. Our highlight was probably the food. We ate really
really well. Most of the time we chowed down at Pan-Asian restaurants,
but there was also a great German restaurant (Paulaner Brauerie), and plenty of outdoor cafes in decidedly non-Malawian environments (skyscrapers, live music, strolling shoppers). We have never been into sushi before, but it was such a novelty and so tasty that we had it three times. Our favorite meal was at Haiku, a restaurant with 4 different kitchens for each of their Asian specialties. The food was unique and the atmosphere was uber cool. We also visited beautiful wineries including Waterford, which had a wine and chocolate experience - wonderful!


We also drove to the Cape of Good Hope, watched a movie (Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe), and enjoyed a Latino concert in beautiful gardens with the spectacular Table Mountain as a backdrop.


The strange thing about Cape Town is the absence of black Africans. It was really weird. Despite the struggle against apartheid, or more likely as the result of decades of successful apartheid, Cape Town feels like a very non-black town. There are a large number of mixed race people (called coloureds) but they are significantly poorer than the white people. It was common to be in a restaurant with all white people being served by white waiters, cooked food by coloured or asian chefs and having our dishes washed by black workers.

I have read Mandela's biography, A Long Walk to Freedom, and we visited the desolate island prison where he spent 30 years of his life preparing himself and training others in the miraculous and relatively peaceful revolution that ended apartheid in South Africa. But after seeing Cape Town (and even the airport in Joburg), I think it will be a while longer before equality reigns let alone true reconciliation. Then again, I suppose this is a struggle that the whole world is experiencing.

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