Cape Town Walking Tour

Trip Start Jul 21, 2009
Trip End Jul 21, 2010

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Where I stayed
St Martini Gardens

Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Saturday, February 6, 2010

Friday we took a walking tour around Cape Town. We went through the Cape Town Tourism Office to book this tour – and their tourism office is so much better, in my opinion, of what we have in the States.  We learned a lot of interesting facts about the area; what surprised us is that 80% of the slaves that the Dutch East India Trading Company brought to Cape Town were Mozambican and a small percentage were from Malaysia; but there is a large Malaysian tradition here instead of Mozambican.  The highlight of the tour was what used to be the District 6 area – the District 6 was a residential area where blacks, coloreds, Indians, and even a few whites lived.  Because it was minutes from the downtown area the government declared the area "whites only" and over 60,000 people were forced out of their homes and moved to another area: Cape Flats – which is about 10-15 kilometers from the city.  The government bulldozed all the homes to ensure that no one would go back to live there.  Although the idea was to build new homes for whites – given the history of the property no one wanted to live there and it remained abandoned. The museum uses former residents' stories and pictures to show how District 6 was once a very vibrant community and how the forced removal tore people apart.

After the group tour we continued with our own walking tour and headed to the Bo-Kaap area which used to be called the Malay Quarter.  The Bo-Kaap is a Muslim community; the people descendents of East African and South East Asian slaves.  The neighborhood used to be larger but gentrification has set in as it (used to) offer affordable housing right in the city.  The neighborhood is noted for its brightly colored houses and extremely steep streets – where at the top there are great views of the city.

Last night we checked out the action on Long Street – the nightlife king of Cape Town and it was hopping.  All types of different bars and clubs – it was great to see also that it was racially diverse as well. 

Today we took it easy.  We started out with a run to Sea Point – which has great city beaches and parks.  Then we checked out Green Point where the new World Cup soccer stadium has been built.  The stadium is nice; it is designed to resemble the cloud that often rolls over Table Mountain; and we think they did a good job with it.  We also saw a movie, Skin, a South African film that is based on a true story.  The movie is about a young girl born in the 1960s to a white Afrikaaner couple but who looks black (or in their terms colored).  The movie is VERY good – if it's still out in the States you should see it.  Of course the girl has an extremely difficult time growing up – and the relationship between her and her parents throughout the years is literally heartbreaking.  Don't want to give it all away – but one of the craziest scenes – which is actually true; is that if there was any question of what racial category a person should be put in government officials did a “pencil test.”  They would stick a pencil in a person's hair and tell the person to shake their head – if the pencil came out they were white if it stayed in the hair for awhile/never fell out they were colored/black.  Is that not TOTALLY insane – and this was an “official” government test!  Sometimes truth is truly stranger than fiction.    
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