Saturday, July 29, 2006

From South Africa 2005 Part 1 - Cape Town

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2005 13:56:34 -0500

Subject: hello from SA

Hi everyone,

Well, we arrived two days ago and we're having a great time. The flight was just fine - I actually kind of enjoyed it and I didn't need to take any sedatives! They have screens on the backs of the seats in front so we got to choose what we wanted to watch or listen to... Dave watched the Matrix and Lord of the Rings and I watched Bollywood Queen and Something's Got to Give... But it was a real marathon... flying to Amsterdam was a breeze but waiting in the airport for 3 hours, then waiting an hour on the plane for them to de-ice the wings ("you go right ahead and take your time, I thought. "Do it right.") was not fun. And Africa is a huge continent - I never realized it was so big till I tried to fly the length of it! I started to feel like Cape Town kept moving farther and farther away the closer we got but we did eventually arrive. The screens could also track the flight on an electronic map and gave details of how much time/distance was left... At one point, I was quite pleased because we only had 5 1/2 hours to go... then I realized that we'd only just reached the halfway point of that leg... anyhow, we're here now! And it's amazing!

Yesterday we went to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, which is full of South African indigenous flora... the Cape has its own floral kingdom, called fynbos, which are only found here. Apparently this region has a huge diversity of flora. It's at the foot of Table Mountain, which the city wraps itself around, and was very beautiful. We got a real English tea there, with scones, jam, real clotted cream and everything. Yum...
When we arrived at the airport, we found out that as of Mar 1 dual citizens need to travel in and out of SA with a South African passport, but Dave's had expired years ago so he just had his Canadian passport. They let us in but said he would need to get a temporary passport to leave the country (I told him I wasn't leaving without him).

So this morning we went to the Office of Home Affairs and I got my first taste of South African bureaucracy. It's very similar to Canadian bureaucracy but the office is less flashy, maybe a little dingy. Dave's Dad was most impressed with its efficiency today though - he said SA is world famous for its inefficient bureaucracy.

This afternoon we went downtown to the SA Museum and wandered around another public garden... the architecture is beautiful - colourful and tropical - especially against the backdrop of Table Mountain and Lion's Head. Dave's dad has a press pass to the Parliament building, so he gave us a tour... it's a beautiful old building, much like Canadian parliament buildings.

Then Dave's dad took the long way home and drove us around the mountain and along the Atlantic coast. He said it was a shortcut though because traffic is quite bad at that time of day - I guess it's quite difficult to address traffic issues with a huge mountain in the middle of the city. We drove past a part of the city that's quite posh and pretty much right next to it was an informal settlement... a shanty town sort of... apparently no one knows how many people live there but it was quite a juxtaposition.

Dave's dad and stepmom are very nice and totally spoiling us. His dad's very quiet (big surprise, I know, knowing Dave) but very generous, and funny in a dry, sarcastic sort of way. Tomorrow we're going to Dave's uncle's place, who's a potter, and we'll have a look around his studio. I'll really have to keep a tight rein on myself, otherwise I'll have to leave my clothes behind to bring pottery home. Somehow knowing the potter is family makes it ok to buy lots...

I'll write more when I can...

Love Kate

No comments: