Today was great. The weather was absolutely perfect—80 degrees and sunny. We went to Camps Bay, a beach about 20 minutes from Mowbray. It was nearly empty, almost like we had the entire beach to ourselves. Eight of us went together around 11 AM even though we all hadn’t slept much the night before. Still, we napped on the beach and doused ourselves in sun block to battle Africa’s insane rays. Despite my efforts, I got a little bit sun burnt. I guess SPF 30 just doesn’t cut it. But I think I tanned more than burnt over all. After an hour or so on the beach, Will (one of our downstairs housemates), Sabrina and I went climbing on the rocks by the shoreline. We took a bunch of pictures—Sabrina conducted a rather embarrassing photo shoot of me on some rocks…check it out on facebook hah. The beach was absolutely beautiful—clear blue waters, beautiful rocky dunes, and sand as soft as silk. It was nearly perfect except for the icy cold water. Camps Bay is on the side of Cape Town where the Atlantic Ocean is, so the water is colder than beaches on the other side of the peninsula where the Indian Ocean is. The upside is that there aren’t any sharks in Camps Bay, so we sucked it up and went in anyway.
We had lunch at an outdoors restaurant where a couple of the people with us got Ostrich burgers. They took pictures with them like they were eating frog legs or something. I shared a veggie wrap with Sabrina but the butternut squash/chutney-like spread was a little overwhelming. After lunch, we split up and while some of the group went to the beach, me, Eliza and Tori walked around the strip to check out the scene. I bought sunglasses (finally—I forgot them at home) and some post cards that I’m planning on sending very soon. Apparently they take around a month to get to America, but I’ll be here longer than that so I suppose it’s worth it to send a few out.
By far the most interesting part of today was the ride home. It’s only 5-15R (less than three dollars) to ride a minibus to the beach. Minibuses are basically minivans that can fit 16-18 people and are run by two people, the driver and the recruiter. The recruiter whistles and yells out destinations to people walking by while the driver honks several times simultaneously. It’s pretty chaotic and was at first confusing, but I got the hang of it—after all, it’s the cheapest way to get places.
The first part of our adventure back wasn’t too eventful, but the driver wouldn’t take us all the way to Mowbray so we had to get off downtown—about 15-20 minutes from our flat. In the past few days we had been able to convince the drivers to just take us all the way to Mowbray so this two-part trip was new to us. The driver dropped us off in a busy part of downtown Cape Town (near Claremont I think) and pointed in a vague, general direction to where we could go to get another minibus all the way home. As he drove off, all eight of us stood on the sidewalk looking around, confused. I started walking towards the entrance of the train station when we ran into a police officer. He told us where to go and instructed us to zip our bags and stay close together—not the most-comforting advice.
We all climbed the stairwell to the upper level and exit of the station, clutching our bags and walking so close together we were nearly stepping on the backs of each other’s feet. Once we reached the exit, we weaved through a maze-like market with food and crafts and clothing that was completely inundated with people trying to sell anything and everything they could. We walked like ducks in a line, each of us holding on to some part of the person in front. After a few seemingly long and frenzied minutes, we came to a street that led to an open garage type of building comprised of numerous lanes marked with destinations. We located Mowbray in lane 20 and told the recruiter that we had eight people all going to the same place. We piled into the back, four in each row, with two people sitting on laps and left.
The driver sped into traffic like he owned the road, creating third lanes when the other cars weren’t driving fast enough and cutting off people left and right, while the recruiter hung out the window pointing to the lanes the driver planned to swerve into in front of the other traffic. At points he would cut off buses and other minibuses and drive in the opposite lane towards oncoming traffic, moving back onto the right side of the road before crashing into another vehicle. Meanwhile, the entire time 90’s R&B was blasting from the speakers, making the situation even more hectic. The entire time we were all exchanging amazed glances. One girl even said, “I thought it was bad in the Middle East…” Finally we got to our destination and hopped out of the minibus as quickly as possible. Frazzled, we went immediately across the street to the liquor store where we hoped to conjure up a drink or two to calm our nerves. Tori, Sabrina and I have all just showered, so we haven’t indulged quite yet—but all in due time.
Tomorrow: a tour starting at the District 6 Museum and then to Langa Township, ending at Robben Island with a ferry ride.