Seven months around the world.... August 2004 - March 2005 travel blog

Cape Town from the ferry out to Robben Island

First look at the prison.

Clearly a high security place in its time

The bedding Mandela and others had for most of the years they...

The courtyard where the prisoners worked and recreated - maybe you've seen...

The middle picture is the one I'd seen of the courtyard from...

Entering the area where the political prisoners were "housed"

This fella (also in picture two previous) was a guide - he...

Mandela's solitary cell for 20 or so years.

Arrived in Cape Town, in the southwestern corner of South Africa, on February 12th, and ended up making a shorter stay there than originally planned (not that I originally planned to go there at all, just since a change of plans in mid-Jan). Was intending to be there five nights, but it just didn't grab me as the sort of unique place I have been seeking out all along.

Not that it's not unique in its own right. Cerainly, the location is quite special, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. And the presense of Table Mountian as a backdrop to the entire Cape region is quite spectacular - looming big on the horizon no matter where you are.

But, as a few of you warned me, it felt like any major European city, or (having never been to a European city) San Francisco - with its own version of Richmond (in this case, the three townships of the Cape) a lot closer to the city and a lot poorer. So, I decided pretty much right away that I would move on sooner than planned.

My hope was to get to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela and company spent so many years in jail), climb Table Mountain and head out. I got the first one done, but a day long fiasco getting my plane flight changes worked out and approved kept me from getting up Table Mountain. Next time.

While my Valentines Day was largely sour due to all the plane flights logistics, it ended quite nicely (shall I say on a sweet note) with my getting all my remaining flights figured out minus one, and a very enjoyable dinner, beers and conversation with a Tasmanian G-Man - or woman, who works in the tourism branch, and is a former wilderness guide. We had much in common, and these type of connections with good people in far away places is, as Larni said, what makes traveling so intoxicating.

While it all felt a bit rushed, my time in Cape Town was enjoyable, the visit to Mandela's jail was profound, and "the Cape" is one more place I've been that gives me an increasing sense of familiarity with the world - a result of this trip I have lately been realizing is a great benefit to my sense of place in the world as a human, and a US citizen. So, once again, it's all good.

Sorry, no pictures for now.

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