By Len Friesen, Tour Leader
This is the day of departures. In fact, it has already happened as Lois and Nancy departed for the airport and a Durban add-on about 2 hours ago. There is a certain melancholy in the air, and not just from me I think. Don’t many of us experience that emotion as a wonderful experience comes to an end? So it has been for almost every TourMagination trip I’ve ever led (or, even better, led with Mary).
But I didn’t tell you about yesterday did I? Well, we visited the “District Six Museum” yesterday in Cape Town. This “Museum” is actually a living memory of a mixed race (as it is termed) settlement in the heart of Cape Town that was cleared for a Whites-only settlement in the 1960s. Our “tour” was led by a gentleman who had been born and raised in District Six until the forced departure. He talked about his rich childhood and the pain of the dislocation as he walked us around the photos that made up the museum. It was a sobering visit, and in some ways brought a full circle to a tour that began 10 days ago (it seems like we’ve been travelling for months actually) in Johannesburg’s great Soweto.
We then were dropped off at the Eastern Bazaar for lunch, in the heart of the city. Anyone who thinks that TourMagination is just some travel company should have joined us for lunch yesterday. There were no tour busses to be found at the Eastern Bazaar. That’s because there were no tourists to be found. We were truly in the heart of the city, and people finally had the chance to eat Bunny Chow. It’s terrific. It’s very South African, and it has no rabbit. But you’ll really need to sign onto the next tour to South Africa to find out more!
From there it was a short drive through the Bo Kaap neighbourhood to Signal Hill, with its unparalleled views over Table Mountain, the sea, and the city. We marveled at the views, including the hang gliders who were steadily taking off from right beside us. It was beautiful, a grand way to see the Mother City of South Africa.
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering about the city, taking in some of the sights we had not seen yet. Most of us went for a walk to Desmond Tutu’s St. George’s Anglican church, then to the Company Gardens, where you can see the reason why Cape Town exists in the first place (and some of the greatest views of Table Mountain); others made their way to other destinations.
We then gathered for an evening meal at “Momma Africa” on Long Street. The cuisine, the décor, the live African marimba band was spectacular. The mood was buoyant. Many of us ended the evening walking down Long Street in the early evening hours. Once again, what other “Travel Company” puts you so directly into the lives of those who actually live in the place you are visiting.
I will end my tour blog with this message. I am typing it out at the edge of the V & A Waterfront. About 7 meters in front of me lies the Atlantic Ocean, its waves crashing in along the cost. Robben Island, which was Nelson Mandela’s prison those many years when South Africa was transformed, lies 5 miles off shore and I can see it clear. If I turn ever so slightly to the left I see the magnificent, jaw-dropping, city-defining, world-renowned Table Mountain.
It is a splendid day in Cape Town. I am sorry that I couldn’t share the leadership of this tour with Mary. But I could not have found better travel companions than those who signed up for this tour. And a heartfelt thanks to TourMagination for making it all happen. We have been blessed indeed.
Signing off for TourMagination’s South Africa tour for 2018,