Monday, November 28, 2016

Photos from Namibia and Cape Town

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Namibia and Cape Town 2016

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Any questions, I'll be happy to try to answer them.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig (no pictures)

Morning came as it does and I dreaded it. I woke at 7am and knew that the next bed I would see lay in Seattle three plane rides and four airports later. I had a light breakfast and killed time until it was time to check out and head to the airport.

At check-in for my first flight. A short two hour hop to Johannesburg the agent asked me what my seating preference was. Certainly not center because I am not that stupid. I asked for a window and she apologized that the only window seat she had available was on an Exit Row. Oh, please, please Br’er Rabbit, don’t throw me in the briar patch !! I made the – Well if that’s all you have face – and snatched that seat assignment right out of her hand. Actually I thanked her and told her that was better than perfect, because of the next two long legs of the trip.

The rest of the tip was reasonably uneventful. A paid for extra legroom seat from Johannesburg to Atlanta, for that sixteen hour flight. I’m window seat, third from the aisle because I like having the wall to lean against. My fellow passengers sometimes take offense when I start leaning on heir shoulder trying to sleep, so I’ve found the wall a good substitute. The only problem is that I sometimes need to pee and I don;t like the idea of DVT. So I try to time my extraction from coffin sized cocoon to the same time as the others closest to the aisle get up to do the same. The only problem is that I am sitting next to to people from Nevada. You know that desert state with legalized gambling. Both of them are natives of Nevada and must have evolved some sort of camel gene over the generations. He never pee’s and she is good for four hours at a time. To make matters worse, she cam sleep on the f’ing plane I think I hate her. (actually she is a very nice woman, with an interesting history).

Eventually we made it to Atlanta, almost exactly at sixteen hours. The seat of the plane I was sitting in will dry out after two or three other flights and off to Customs and Immigration. Their Global entry is down so a smooth process turns into a bit of a cluster … but eventually I am putting my luggage back into the system and standing in line for the Take Scissors Away (TSA) theater of security. It doesn’t matter that we have just flown one one plane from overseas and didn’t blow it up over the vast stretches of open ocean we are no longer sanitary, because we talked to other federal officials and they might have loaded us up with pocket knives or atomic bombs.

I look ahead and don’t see a TSA Pre-check line. I do see shoes and belts in bins, crying babies, first time fliers and big circular radiation emitters. I pull out my three bottles of soap, shampoo and hand lotion I stole from a hotel three trips ago. Undress my feet, unwrap my waist, place my computer in it’s plastic cart and send several thousands of dollars worth of my property past the unseeing eyes of minimally screened, minimally trained, and minimally paid security actors. I do tell them they can xray someone else in my place,, because I am not going to experience any more radiation that necessary. I’d just spent sixteen hours at over thirty thousand feet, getting bombarded by unfiltered gamma rays and more I don’t want. Besides it is also a bit of my rage against the machine, I know this will break up their choreography.

A nice muse sized lady walks me past the machine that they promise won’t look at your “hoo-ha” and explains in great detail how she is going to search me, with the palms of her hands on some places and the edges of the hands on other places. Come on, let’s just get this over so I can go find a seat next to my gate. She does her thing, and something about my left boob bothers her. It doesn’t feel the same as the right. Lady, everyone has boob that don’t match. Some are larger than the other, some are higher than the other, haven’t you ever been to a locker room at the gym? So she uses one of her lifelines and calls a friend. Now we three are in a small search room and there are in low tones debating my breasts. Finally I reached down and grabbed my shirt’s hem and pulled it above my questionable tits and said, Okay now? – W-w-well you didn’t have to do that ! You can go. Shit they ruined my choreography too.

The next flight was a short five hour jump from Atlanta to Seattle. The seat was a normal seat, no extra legroom or exit, but the passenger in the seat ahead of me did not recline her seat and the people next to me were not born and raised in Nevada.

Thanksgiving in the USA. Boy was I thankful to see rain and temperature in the high forty degrees. The Airporter Shuttle does not run on three days of the year and Thanksgiving is one of those days. My best friends ever have offered to drive the two hours from Bellingham to pick me up and drive me home, but they have other friends over for supper and have a meal to prepare. Besides I really an tired. The hotel shuttle picked me up and whisked me to the hotel. I hand my credit card to the clerk, she hands me a plastic key and with a press of 5 on the elevator and a short walk I can again see a bed.

Thirty nine hours between beds. A new personal best/worst. I kind of lost about ninety minutes from the movie Get Hard on the plane from Johannesburg but the rest of those hours were branded in my non functioning brain. A three hour nap left me wobbly and unfocused. I went to a nearby restaurant for the traditional Thanksgiving meal and though I think of Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday of the year, found myself uninspired to eat myself into a triptophan (sp?) coma.

Back to the hotel for a little time killing television and dropped off to sleep during Wheel of Fortune, I couldn’t even stay awake for Jeopardy. I woke a few times in the night and then had that wake up that tells you, you aren’t going to sleep any longer. Looked at the clock and it was a few minutes past 7am. Almost twelve hours later.

The bus home was smooth as silk. Bags in the belly, butt on seat and nothing to do except look at the world from a different perspective from driving the same road I’ve been driving off and on for forty years. I saw scenery I didn’t know existed. Not to mention the voyeur I got to be looking down into the passing cars. Nothing of note, a few driving texters and too many nose pickers, but there was hope for something really interesting, which went unrealized.

My friend was to pick me up when the bus arrived in Bellingham, but was a bit tardy and in a different car. Her car had a flat tire and she had to substitute. I got home and found that the elves did not come to my house while I was gone and clean it. I did find that the plants that I forget to water before leaving nearly four weeks ago, somehow did not totally die. They weren’t happy looking, but they weren’t brown and crunchy either.

So that’s it !! I’ll settle in and review my images and post the best twenty within the next week. Thanks for coming along those of you who read all these narcissistic, sarcastic, sometimes mean posts. It means a lot to me to know that you too the time to look them over.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Criminals and critters

Tuesday November 22 2016

Last full day in Cape Town. The plane leaves CPT about 2pm for a two hour flight to Johannesburg. Then a fifteen and a half hour flight to Atlanta and then a five hour flight to Seattle. Good gravy tomorrow is going to be long. I have the extra leg room seats from JNB to ATL, but was too late to snag the same type of seat from ATL to SEA. We’ll see what Delta can do. Maybe a different flight. Maybe I’ll get bumped.

Since it was my last full day and the weather was rreasonable I went to Robben Island. The infamous prison there Nelson Mandela was kept fr seventeen years. The boat was scheduled to depart at 11am so I left the hotel around nine to have time to relax a little and get a cup of coffee before.

I went to a restaurant on the waterfront that I ha had a nice lunch before. They advertised good coffee and I was tired of Starbucks instant and crappy hotel coffee. I got a cup and ordered a chocolate croissant. Things were going smoothly. Coffee was good, pastry was good and almost half eaten when one of those brown birds with the red tipped wings landed on my table, hopped over to my unguarded croissant grabbed it and tried to take off with the sucker ! The only thing that saved my breakfast from flying the coop was that it outweighed the bird and he had to drop it. First my iPhone and now my food. This country is full of thieves.

I strolled over to where the boat moored and waited in line with the rest of my boat. Boarding was smooth and I found a seat on the top deck with an unobstructed view. The ride was billed as forty-five minutes and was every bit of that. When I looked down on the harbor from Table Mountain I thought it was like Alcatraz and within swimming distance. It was almost seven miles from Cape Town. There was none of this smelling the chocolate factory on the island, like you could on Alcatraz.

Cape Town 11 Km away
The sea was dead calm, a slight breeze but a real pleasant trip. We did hit that deep ocean roll about half way there and I expected a few passengers to head for the railing, but everyone seemed to handle it just fine. Then from the other side of the boat was a roar. A whale had surfaced for them and as quickly dived again. Missed seeing it, but the boat was suddenly tipped to that side as everyone rushed over there in hopes of seeing it again.

The boat arrived and we disembarked and were loaded on buses for a tour of the island. It had been a military post, ship’s resupply point, leper colony, insane asylum and of course a prison. Well actually two prisons. One for common criminals and one for political prisoners. We saw two churches, a cemetery, dog kennels and stopped for a bathroom break.
The guide was emphatic that we had fifteen minutes only. Most took sixteen, some took twenty and one couple took twenty-five. The guide made them stand up front and told them to sing their national anthem. Well either Spain doesn’t have a national anthem or this couple didn’t know it, or care that they had wasted a bus load of people’s time, because they wouldn’t sing.

Next stop we departed the bus and entered the maximum security prison itself where we were guided through the prison by a former political prisoner. The talk was held in a very echoey room and even though he did speak English I only made out about sixty percent of his talk. He explained the conditions in the prison, from visiting policy to mail censorship. From bedding to latrine usage. Of course there was the political message as well. I felt bad for the visitors who did not have English as their first language. I can only imagine how much of the talk they were able to absorb.

Then a walk through the solitary cell area and the highlight was a glimpse into Mandela's cell. Then exit to the grounds and given directions to how to walk back to the quay and get the boat.

The boat ride back was about the same as the one out, but the weather had changed. A little windier, a little cooler and a hint of rain on the horizon. We, meaning I did see two whale tails on the way back. That was exciting. I saw a Dolphin do four leaps and a small cadre of penguins in the water. A successful day all around.

Nelson Mandela's cell for 17 years
Back at the wharf, I thought I’d get a nice seafood dinner on the wharf for my last dinner in town. A beautiful restaurant had an appetizing menu so I got a nice window seat. Ordered a glass of Chardonnay, a green salad and a delicious sounding seafood casserole.

The wine was good. My second glass of white wine served at room temperature here in South Africa. It must be the way it’s served here. I just spoke to the bartender here and he said white’s should be sold cold. The salad was good, chopped lettuce, bacon, sliced tomatoes and bug. Bug? Well this is Africa after all. Then I looked at said bug and it was a fucking roach !! Not a regular fly in bug but a dirty kitchen roach. If it had been alms any other bug I might have flipped him away and finished my salad. After all I have voluntary eaten a cricket in Cambodia. But a roach, sorry. That is a sign of a poorly maintained kitchen, and I think I’ll pass on consuming anything else here.

I called the waiter over, pointed out the offending critter and promptly canceled the remainder of my meal. The manager came over and didn’t charge me for the salad and comped me the wine. I told him I’d pay for the wine and he insisted. I just left.

Taxi back to the hotel and an evening in my room shuffling this and that from one piece of luggage to another getting ready for tomorrow’s departure.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Table Mountain doesn't

Monday November 21 2016 – Cape Town

I looked at the trees while having breakfast and they weren’t waving in the breeze. Kind of jut a slight flicking of their leaves. The sun was out Table Mountain wasn’t covered in clouds. I guess today is the day to take on on of the “New Natural Seven Wonders of the World”, none of which are in North America. Now I could walk up the three thousand plus feet of the mountain but we all know that isn’t going to happen. Instead I’ll get a taxi up to drop me off at the cable car and ride in style to the top.

The cab got here in record time an up to the ticket booth without delay. I got out sun around three times and sort of got my bearings. There was a loooong line. I guess all my friends also decided that today was the day to go to the peak. I walked to the end of the line and saw one but two lines. One for those with tickets and one for those with out tickets. I was in the without line it was longer than the with one.

The No tickets line in next to the tickets line
Wait, wait, shuffle, shuffle. The sign said “You was 60 minutes away – if you want we have free WiFi and you can buy your tickets online at”. Hey ! I still had my phone ! I logged on, put in the requested information and in the blink of an electronic eye I had a bar code and stepped from Without to With. Still there was a wait, but not a wait to get tickets and then get in line.

We crossed the road, went up a ramp and then waited for the elevator to take us up to the tram level. Then another line to get checked in and a cluster of fifty or sixty for the actual cable car. It wasn’t your normal rectangular box on a string. It was round with a man in the middle sitting on a plush chair advising us on proper protocol. We started up the line and the floor Ala Space Needle started rotating affording everyone a full 360 degree view on the way up. That was a smart bit of engineering, no jostling around the and no swinging of the car.

We got out and the view was spectacular. I am very glad I didn’t follow through and not go. One side and there was the Atlantic Ocean and a view almost to the Cape of Good Hope. Maybe on a clear day you can see it. Today there was just a hint of mist in the distance. Then a turn and there was Cape town harbor and the Indian Ocean with Robben Island in the center. Sitting like Alcatraz in the middle of the bay with the city a short boat ride or long swim away.

The top of Table Mountain is flat when viewed from the city, but once up there it is a series of small rounded rocks with cement paths laced through the rocks and brush. Lizards, birds were easy to find. I didn’t see any Springbok or Oryx up there. They probably didn’t want to wait in the Without Tickets line. It was the UN up there, most countries represented and all with their national culture brought along. Ladies with surgical masks, because at home the air isn’t safe to breathe, so it must not be safe anywhere. Selfie sticks People walking three abreast and shoving singles off the path. Tons of Excuse me’s. Millennials who walk in from of my lens and stand there while I’m trying to compose a picture. The world in miniature.

I did the big circle loop on top of the mountain and then found the toilets, restaurant and gift shop conveniently located near the top of the lift. I took advantage of to of them and thought over two dollars was too much for a simple postcard. Food here is is inexpensive. Three and a half dollars and I had a nice chicken sandwich and a medium Coke. Cripes at my local grocery store a tuna sandwich almost cos that much and to find that price at a tourists site was astounding. There were some very aggressive little brown birds begging food. They were so habituated to people that I reached out slowly to see how close I could get to it before it flew. About and inch and a half, and then it didn’t fly, it just hopped away.
After the snack I went and watched Abseil Africa. For seventy bucks they will wrap you in webbing.
Tie you to a rope and let you slowly climb down a three hundred cliff face as your feet touched the wall, your butt faced the ground and your head hung out into space. I watched this for fifteen minutes. Men and women were doing this. I’d see them step over the cliff face and disappear. I never saw them come back. I wonder.

The ride back down was the same as up, except the line was shorter and the woman behind me insisted on rubbing her breast on me, until I finally asked her to give me a break. A taxi back to the hotel and the price was not what I was expecting. Seems there is the Table Mountain taxi cartel that charges 15 per km not the usual 10. So much for saved money on food.

The cab driver did give me a good piece of advice. If I want to go to Robben Island tomorrow get my tickets today.

As soon as I hit WiFi I logged on to the Robben Island website and tried to order a ticket for tomorrow. All the sailings were not available. Rats ! I cried to the desk clerk and she tried ‘Phone a friend’ and friend wasn’t answering.

What the heck. I wasn’t doing anything this afternoon anyway. Caught a cab to the waterfront where the boats eave daily for Robben Island. The ticket office was easy to find, no line just walk up. Do you have any tickets for tomorrow? Sure, what time, they are all available? The online said there weren’t any available. We limit those. How about 11 tomorrow? Here’s your ticket, be here at ten thirty.
Well that was simple and fast, now what? Might as well and hang out with my favorite several thousand closest friends. I found Haagen Daz sat on a bench and watched the world roll by as I actively avoided getting ice cream drips n my hand. Watched the same bands play as last time. Even bought their CD. The mime was new. He was the walk behind someone and imitate their walk type of mime, not the locked in the invisible type. I bought a cigarette from a resting chef and generally just hung out and enjoyed the waterfront from non jaded tourist eyes.

Taxi to the hotel and the invariable where are you from and what do you think about the presidential election results. The taxi drivers here are more interested in US politics than most of my friends at home.

Everywhere philosophy even atop Table Mountain

The Cape of Good Hope blows

Sunday November 20, 2016 – Cape Town

Woke up this morning and no wind! No wind!! Do you know what that means? The tram may be open! Heck Cape Point might not be hurricane lethal ! But first breakfast.

Coffee is almost impossible to come by in this hotel. That is, if you can find a cup and saucer. I really am not sure how it came to pass, but after asking another table where the coffee came from, I found a passing busboy and got a (I think) clean cup. I put my coffee on the table and a glass of orange juice and left my eBook in search of actual food.

I returned with a plate covered in bacon, eggs and some sort of bread to find a man sitting at my table. I pulled out my chair, put down the plate said Hi and sat down. He looked up and said Hi and went back to eating. I sat down and ate my breakfast and we never exchanged another word. Just like Sunday breakfast with my parents.

I have been on cable trams in several countries, especially when skiing. I’ve never been to the end of a continent before, so the decision was made. I tabled Table Mountain for a later date.

I asked the desk clerk to call me a regular cab and not the hotel cab. In a flash I was comfortably sitting next to the driver on my way to the train station. This time my iPhone is staying in my pocket and my camera wrapped tourniquet like around my wrist I fund the train, but it didn’t leave for another 30 minutes. At first I sat outside and watched people walking by. Pulling my camera closer as some younger men walked near. I decided to sit on the train and wait for it to pull out of the station. Instead of sitting near a door like last time. This time I’m in the middle of the car. I hate, hate, hate this feeling of being hyper-aware of my surroundings. Thinking everyone wants t steal my property. It is not fun.

Just like last time the train turned into a bus and drove us two stops to the correct station. I found a waiting car and asked the driver how much he wanted to go to Cape Point. He gave me a price, that was high, but it is a long way from Simonstown and h said he’d give me plenty of time at the point. In the big scheme of things it was fine with me. We drove for a half hour or more and then turned off the road to enter the park and stopped. The line of cars was a least a mile long, so we waited.

Eventually we made it to the ticket booth and even though he was driving a taxi and a local they wanted full entrance fee for him. That explained part of the reason the price was a little high, because he had his share out ready to pay. I told him to give me a few Rand to round out the bill for two and paid his entrance fee.. I’d struck the deal with him assuming I was paying for the car and his time and he wasn’t going to be charged the entrance fee. I’ll look at it as his tip.
Once inside we drove anther fifteen minutes to the parking lot for Cape Point. The place was jammed with tour buses, limo vans, taxis and cars. That really brought home it was a summer’s Sunday. Except it didn’t feel exactly like a summer. Well maybe summer in a typhoon. The nice calm day I left behind in Cape Town had evolved into gale force winds at the Cape. I could see the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean and still get blown backwards I tied to get up to the lighthouse and the wind kicked my ass.

I made it back to the car and told him I was a wimp. He suggested a different location and I voted a big Yes. We drove back the way we came and then turned off the main road and down a long grade to The Cape Of Good Hope. The traffic was as bad as it was at the point and the winds might have been worse. Trying to get a picture of the sign was a chore Worse than getting a shot at the Taj Mahal. The best thing about all those people is that they sort of broke the wind for you. It was colder here too. Enough of this fun. I fought the wind and the wind won. It was probably gusting to forty and it just wasn’t worth it. If I want to be at the end of another continent I think I’ll try Key West.

I got back in the car and safety. Told him it had beat me. He said that the day I had been looking at the penguins it was blowing at 65 knots. Which Google says is a hair under 75 miles and hour. So today it wasn’t even really blowing that hard. Ya, sez you buddy.

I thought about walking Simonstown but it is your typical seaside town that caters to tourist. Lots of pastel colors, car shops, t-shirt stores, dress shops, spelled Shoppe. I do almost no shopping and the wind was blowing here too. Back to the train station please.

The train left the station and not a bus. This was weird as it was last time. Th car I was in was a first class car, you could tell because there was a piece of fabric on the hard plastic and not just plastic. As we stopped at the stations the car began to fill up with everyday people, not the tourist or suit and tie type who would pay for a first class ticket. Then burned out drunk r junkie white guy got on the train and started playing his guitar and singing. He was so bad, I wanted to pay him to leave out car. He had his hat on the floor t collect tips and some idiot put coin in it. This only made his sing louder and a second and third song Some young women got on from a day at the beach and were laughing their asses off at him and then clapping exuberantly which only kept him going. You’d think that his empty hat would give him a clue, but t was not so. Finally the Gods interceded and he broke his G string, and peace was again in the world.

The car was packed t standing room only and a troupe of kids came in dressed like Zulu warriors accompanied by an adult playing the drum. They were doing really nicely and then the Transit Police entered the car and suddenly we were left with an empty car. Another African magic trick.

Train arrived at Cape town, I still had my iPhone and camera. I found a beat up taxi and knew he wouldn’t know where my hotel was, asked if he knew it. He nodded yes. Really? Yes. Okay, I was prepared for a tour of the city again. One left, another left a long straight a left and a quick right and we were at my hotel. Unbelievable.

Just finished my vodka tonic. Think I’ll go back to that Mexican restaurant again. Ciao!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

..... And still more tourists !!

Saturday November 19th 2016, Cape Town

The party at the Mexican restaurant below my room was going full blast when I had lights out around ten thirty. I expected to toss and turn until two am. It didn’t happen that was. I had the best sleep I’d since getting to Cape Town.
I did the morning water thing and had a mug of Starbucks instant before emerging from my room. Breakfast was included in the price of the stay. Had a croissant and coffee at a local bakery on the hotel’s dime. Checked out, caught a cab and dropped things off at me new/old hotel, before heading over t the Bo Kaap section of town. Former Muslim section of town. There is at east one and possibly two mosques that I saw. The area is known more for it multi colored homes. Every home was a different pastel and all in wonderful condition. I took several snapshots of the streets, tried to stay out of the way of other people with their camera glued to their eye and watched seventy-five percent of them shooting into the sun, not with the sun to their backs. Then they wonder why their faces are so dark and the background is so bright.

I stopped it to a small local coffee shop and had a pretty good Americano. There was one sign that grabbed my attention.

Taxis were hard to find, so I resorted to walking into a hotel and asking if they would call a cab for me. Without a blink of an eye they did and then sent security to stand with me as I waited for the car.

The driver suggested The Old Biscuit Factory. They are a weekend thing. It was not what I had expected. It was supposed to be a weekly local market. Turns out that everyone who was V&A a few days ago was at the Old Biscuit Factory today, including the Yuppie with the sweater tied around his neck. Did my best to navigate through the throngs without bumping into too many people or getting an elbow to the boobs. I needed some peace and quiet and found a small restaurant in the corner of the facility that advertised the best burger in Cape Town. I ordered it and though I have nothing to compare it to in Cape Town it was a very, very good burger. So good I took a picture of it.


The crowds eventually overwhelmed my and I caught a taxi back to my new/old hotel. Got a room without a view of the mountain, barely larger than my previous room’s bathroom and TV viewing area, with almost no WiFi reception. Maybe I’ll take a nap and chant for something different.

Too many tourists and too few bathrooms

Friday November 18th 2016 – Cape Town

No calamities in the last two days. It’s been so, so boring.

Breakfast in the 17th and then a short walk from the hotel to the District 6, museum. District 6 in now a combination suburbs, retail and municipal. Prior to 1966 District 6 was a reasonable cosmopolitan blacks area. But since it was close to the white center of town, Apartheid said the racial mixing would cause disharmony so the blacks had to go. Still a segregated country the resident of Division 6 were forced to move and then their homes were demolished by bulldozers. It reminded me of my own country’s relocation of U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry in the early 1940’s. Similarly both groups were paid pennies on the dollar/Rand or their property loss. I wandered to halls and looked at the pictures and read some of the stories of the former residents. Nothing really new, same stories, different dates and different locations. I left knowing more, but not particularly more educated.

Earlier I has eschewed an offering of a city map by the hotel, but soon realized I had no idea what was where or what for that matter.

The map gave me a few ideas on where to go and since it cost me nothing also in HUGE letters and primary colors, where to buy the best gemstones. I saw a large star shaped object called The Castle. It looked similar to the footprint of forts used in the American civil war. It looked close so, why not ?

I did find it after crossing several busy streets. Always with the traffic light with the little green man brightly lit. I still haven’t gotten used to looking left when stepping off the curb and right when in the middle of the street. Its been close a time or two. I found the Castle with no problem and began to walk around it to find the entrance. There was a road leading to what appeared to be employee parking, so I continued along. Around a corner and down a long block. Around another corner and then the sidewalk began a slight incline. Soon I was on an overpass overlooking the Castle and no way down. Hey must have been hiding the entrance from me. Winston Churchill said “When going trough Hell, keep going”. I certainly wasn’t in Hell, but I kept going anyway. Next to me were dozens of railroad tracks, so I must be near the train station, then up ahead a large lot full of shared mini vans. Yes, the train station, now I know that one !

I passed by all the mini vans and saw the sign for the train station. Inside it was completely different from yesterday. There were a few ticket kiosks and several placed to enter the tracks and no one was there. I mean no one. A huge empty cavern of a place and no one was there. Slowly I realized I was one floor above the main floor. Piece of cake, all I need to do is find the stairs down to the main floor.

I walked up to the first open ticket seller and asked her how to get downstairs. She said I could go outside and get knocked around be the wind on the pedestrian overpass and go down there. Or I could go back the way I came passed the piss smelling corners and mini vans. AND, I shouldn’t be there alone, she’d call and get me a security escort. I told he no thank you. She insisted. I mean I had just walked through the winos and street sleepers and their pee’d in corners to get here, surely I didn’t need an escort in an empty chrome and marble transit hub. I thanked her for her advice and went and forded the pedestrian overpass. Once on the street with fingers turning white holding my camera close to my body and head swiveling like a bobble head I made my way through the crowd with my best “Don’t F with me” walk.

Finally a taxi. He knew where my next destination was, the Victoria and Albert dock area. The guy was from Zimbabwe, like yesterday’s meandering taxi driver. This was not starting out on a good note. Not to worry, the V&A is a huge tourist area and everyone knows where it is. Along the way I hear how poor things are in Zimbabwe. How he does a bank transfer to his mother and the bank in Zimbabwe doesn’t have any cash to give her. Then we need t stop for gas because he doesn’t know if we’ll make it to V&A. Once gassed up we are driving along and the car coughs and shudders to a stop. He gets out and opens the trunk to get the key that unlocks the hood and does what everyone does. He unscrews some caps, bangs on something, shrugs his shoulders, closes the hood, puts the key back n the trunk, gets back in and starts the car and we drive off. Somehow nothing else go in our way and we did make it to V&A.

What a tourist trap. All I saw was tan pants, yellow shirts and whit sweaters tied jauntily around the men’s necks, all the women were in clothes with designer’s names or initials on them. Thousands of faces and none of them black or even mocha. Well there were some, bu they were all carrying trays, taking orders or selling something. The remainder were whiter than a bag of marshmallows. Not a piece of paper on the streets, glass and chrome everywhere. This was not what came to Africa for. I was about to run away from this mass of consumer insanity and then the sign – Life is too short for bad coffee – beckoned.

I had an iced tea (in a can) and a chicken burger Both were surprisingly tasty. The sweet potato chips (fries) were soggy, but the burger was near perfection. Due to my post safari promise I left half behind. Paid and left a US. Percentage tip, waved to the waitress and left. Twenty feet later the manager ran me down and handed me a doggie bag of the rest of my meal. I’m staying in a hotel, I don’t do leftovers.

A taxi got me to my hotel and then to the new hotel. Then the new hotel had the nerve, the nerve to tell me my reservations were for the next day and they had no rooms available. What the nerve of them manipulating the calendar that way ?!

They did manage to find me a place nearby for the night. I’ll be back, tomorrow.

The new hotel is a Marriott brand and is clean and big. It is not impersonal though. Room secured, Wi-Fi abysmal in the room, but great in the bar. What a bonus. I sent out like seven or eight days worth of blog entries and then had dinner. A nice hotel dinner. Nothing special, but it was palatable.

Morning came a long hot shower and Starbucks instant got the world off to a great start. Big hotel breakfast. Not a big breakfast, but the same breakfast you see in big hotels. Egg station and a mile of hot dishes and half a mile of cold dishes.

The woman at the front desk said the tram to Table Mountain was probably not running due to the continued winds. As an alternative suggested the botanical gardens and a lunch spot with a view. Sounded good to me. She called a taxi for me,, and the darned thing came with the hotel’s logo on the side. There goes and additional 30%. The gardens were nice. Established a hundred years ago and many of the plants had a sign telling if it was over a hundred. A free walking tour was starting in fifteen minutes. The presenter was a volunteer who was plant crazy. I suppose you don’t take a volunteer job giving free tours if you weren’t crazy about whatever your topic was. I enjoyed the tour and the time I spent there. The high point for me was the Boomslang (named after one of Africa’s poisonous snakes) walkway. A long twisty walkway in the tree tops that is supported at noth ends but the center is unsupported and maintains it’s integrity through he way is is built in a series of S’s. It was a little wiggly in the middle buut that only added to it’s magic. Finding a toilet was a bit of a chore and full of directions like a general direction hand wave or an “Over there”. Astronaut diapers would have come in handy here.

Information flagged a taxi down for me and I told the driver my destination. He’d never heard of it Phone a friend time. A sentence or two we were on the road. Me hoping the friend wasn’t from Zimbabwe. We arrived at the Cecil Rhodes memorial of Rhodesia (AKA Zimbabwe and Zambia) and colonization of southern Africa. Way, way up a hill in a quiet park. I got out, closed the taxi door and heard it drive away – thinking how the heck am I going to get back? Guess that’s something to worry about later.

Found good old Cecil’s bust. I’m not too sure, but maybe the pee stains and his nose broken off says something abut how well some of the citizens of Cape Town think of him. The view was stunning. Overlooking the entire city with the Indian ocean to the left with bright white beaches and breakers. The cafe that the desk clerk suggested was a short walk uphill. Good food, great view, canned iced tea. What the heck, this used to be owned by the British, can’t they make tea, water it down and toss in an ice cube ? This time at least they asked if I wanted a doggie bag and didn’t just pack one up without asking.

The cafe was able to call for a taxi for me. While waiting for the taxi I heard the call of a bird. I don’t know what it’s name is, but I recognize it’s call. Some say it is calling ‘Work harder” and some think it is “Drink lager’. A ride to the old hotel to get my luggage and to the new hotel. The new hotel’s room is twice as large as any I’ve been in this trip. It is huge, balcony. There is a bar below but I haven’t tried to sleep yet, it might not be too bad.

Dinner at a Mexican restaurant that was as good as any American Mexican restaurant. Even a decent Margarita. The house was mad. It was like Free Drinks night at Azteca. The only place t sit was at the bar. I have had “Mexican’ in other countries and it never came close to what I was used to. This one lived up to and exceeded my expectations. It was like they had Star Trek transferred a Los Angeles Mexican eatery and stuck it on a hill in Cape Town. I broke me ‘only eat half’ and Hoovered up everything.

Now nine pm, time to shut this down.