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Around Cape Town

Day #2 in Cape Town saw some relief from the rain by late morning but still no sight of the top of Table Mountain.
We started with a walk along Long Street, a main thoroughfare. It has some old Victorian buildings, including (we noticed now that it was daytime) the quirky building hosting the Pan African market and Timbuktu restaurant where we’d eaten last night. The market is a series of small stores selling all sorts of African crafts and curios, inhabiting higgledy piggledy the rooms, stairwells and hallways of the building. Our friend was still crooning from the balcony.
After reaching the end of Long Street, it was back down through the Company’s Gardens (that’s the Dutch East India Company – the organisation that once helped get this place up and running) and past the stately official parts of Cape Town. Here’s the planetarium, and what should be the Lion’s Head behind it, but today in the cloud.
South African parliament:
The sun briefly poked through when we came back down to the Castle of Good Hope, which is South Africa’s oldest building dating back from when the Dutch started construction in 1666. The flag over the castle has changed five times, but it’s never seen any action itself.
We didn’t go into the castle, as we figured our limited time was enter spent at the nearby District Six museum. Located in a former church that was shut down because of its opposition to apartheid, it tells the story of the residents of the multicultural District Six neighbourhood who were forcibly evicted over time as the area was zoned as a whites only area, and then demolished. Even the streets were erased. Apart from the obvious cruelty in the dislocation of 60,000 residents in the pursuit of a bigoted social engineering policy, what was most touching to me was how this had sapped from people the small joys that provide us all with our happiness – whether the story of the man whose jazz band was fractured, the boy whose soccer team could no longer play together, or the man whose homing pigeons didn’t know how to find his new home and kept returning back to an empty lot in District Six. The neighbourhood still hasn’t recovered, and empty lots are still waiting to be redeveloped.
Not far away is the City Hall, from where Nelson Mandela gave his first public speech after being released from Robben Island.
Across town and up the slopes of the Lion’s Head is the Bo Kaap district, where the Malay (a general term for Muslims of southern or south-east Asian background) community has lived since emancipation from slavery in the 1830s. Many houses are brightly coloured – a tradition that apparently started as a counterbalance to the Malays’ forced drab slavery clothing.
On the hop-on hop-off bus, we went up the slopes of Table Mountain as far as the cable car station. The best view we had of the summit was this photo – still very cloudy.
The view down the the city bowl would be much better without the low cloud.
The bus took us over the back of Table Mountain and along the Atlantic coast through some of Cape Town’s well-to-do suburbs. The coastline is spectacular even in the drab conditions.

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