I had a wonderful few days with the Gates' and was was sad to see them head off on Wed. I moved form the waterfront digs to a Backpacker (aka hostel) not too far from table mountain. It was nice enough with a bar/cafe on site, internet, etc. and most importantly some nice folks. I booked into one of the dorm beds as they didn't have camping and made fast friends with Kierin form Ireland, and Wendy and Tova traveling from the states. Kierin was in South Africa on his way to New Zealand, so with any luck, I may bump into him down the line, and Wendy and Tova were heading overland to Nairobi on a 41 day tour and then on to India, Nepal and Asia.
As I tihnk I mentioned, Capetown is a fantastic City, and I enjoyed just walking some of the streets and visiting a crafts market to get a feel for the place. I did stop into the District 6 Museum which tells the story of how 60,000 were systematically removed from their homes between 1966 and 1982 when a neighborhood just outside the center of Capetown was declared a "white" area under the "Group Areas Act" of 1950. The musuem (www.districtsix.co.za) tells the stories of the people that called this area their home, the musicians, students, families and shopkeepers who had created a vibrant and colorful commuinty only to have the state force them form their homes and demolish many of the buildings.
It's an unbelievable story, but one that sadly resonates somewhat with our own history in the US - the native Americans, the Jim Crow Laws, the internment of Japanes Americans during WWII. While there is still racial tension, South Africa seems committe to moving forward under a true democracy.
I also headed back up Table Mountain, this timeon foot. It was a nice hike, but basically straight up - like walking up stairs. The highlight for me, was actually at the foot of the mountain where some workers were clearing trees that had scorched earlier in the year during a fire on the mountain. They were cutting up the huge trunks into more manageable peices to roll them over the road and into a gully on the other side. They seemed to be struggling with one particularly large one so I stopped to lend a hand. After soem rocking back and forth, we got it rolling and off the road. I hung out for about 40 minutes while they cut a few more up and we rolled them off each time comparing different strategies for leverage, grip on the tree etc. I finally left them to head up, but I snapped a pic of the crew on the way down as they were finishing up.