Wow, I have been a busy little bee this weekend!
It all started with being collected at 8.45am on Friday morning to heard to the farm at Philippi Horticulture to continue planning, mapping and making sure the compost was delivered yesterday!
After a couple of hours I was asked to assist them with the youths for a trip to another NGO (non government organization) in Observatory (Obz), Cape Town. They have been running for over ten years and have been fortunate enough to secure grants allowing them to offer so many extra curricula activities to the youths. This funding also allows a budget for volunteers to run projects throughout the course of their stay including such things as hiring a bouncy castle, having a day at the water slides and camping out. Baphumelele Fountain of Hope are fortunate enough to be friends with them and are occasionally allowed to join in their fun days. Friday's little event was just that - an inflatable water slide plied with three bottles of washing up liquid during the day! A surprise lunch of KFC was the icing on the cake for a perfect day out for them.
Back at the farm I got stuck in with the weeding once again, to try and make it look really nice for when the managing director comes to visit with guests ... guests = potential sponsors after all! Once I was sufficiently filthy, eyes streaming and nose and throat coated in a layer of sandy dirt, I was dropped off at Observatory where I was booked in to The Green Elephant backpackers for a little weekend away. Embarrassingly I did feel I had to explain the state of me but it turned out no one batted an eyelid; phew!
First stop shower (nice to line a different shower basin with soil grime for a change hahaha!) then a celebratory beer; well it has been a few weeks now! Whilst supping my 'Castle' and chatting to the bar man, I was joined by an American girl who also 'just fancied a celebratory beer' as she had just arrived. It turned out there were actually nine of the American girls who were just finishing their nursing course in Mizouri and were out here to get their 90 hours community service to complete the course. They were soon to be heading to the townships to start their 2 weeks volunteering by day and back in Obz each night. As the conversation progressed I found out that they were to be going to Baphumelele and so we had even more things to talk about! Their group leader passed by telling my new friend "squeeze her for information" and so our night was a long one, diverting off course a little, but I impressed myself with how much I had learnt about Baphumelele and Khayelitsha whilst being out here.
Saturday morning I decided to have breakfast out and then walk to town. Seeing as I had ALL day to do this I thought it would be just fine, but wow were people lacking the urge to tell me directions; "Oh noooo, is too faaar. Get taxi at top of the roooad." So I went for breakfast: two eggs, bacon, toast, tomato and a coffee ... R30! (£2.40 approx - bargain.) I thought I would try my luck again and BINGO the waiter told me it would be about an hours walk from the main road and it's "a lovely walk with lots to see". Excellent, off I went looking forward to seeing some sights that perhaps I wasn't aware of ...
Hmm ... two hours later I was still just wandering down a main road having passed many a gangster-esque person, tramp and minibus-taxi driver shouting "white girl". I thought; that's most odd, I haven't heard anyone shout anything like that at all before here. Obviously I just kept looking ahead oblivious until then another taxi passed and the same shout reached my ears. After this happened several more times it suddenly occurred to me that the man was in fact shouting "Wyneberg" - the destination of the taxi. Amazing how accents can change the sound of words; what a clot!
I wandered out of Obz, through Woodstock and into the city passing the castle (I didn't know there was a castle here ...) and the Houses of Parliament (rather swish buildings) until finally coming up to, completely by chance, the Dutch East India Trading Company's Gardens; my actual planned destination. A stroll down Government Avenue makes for one of the most serene walks in Cape Town. This oak-lined boulevard runs past the rear of Parliament through the gardens, and its benches are frequently occupied by snoring tramps. Saturday was no different; you could definitely smell them before you saw them lolling in the dark shade of the trees!
What a beautiful place to come across; fresh green grass, tropical plants and wildlife, a menagerie, fountains, cafe and the South African National Gallery. Sadly there just wasn't time to visit the gallery but I spent a lovely hour or so wandering the luscious gardens and making the most of this unusual find just wishing I could take a part of it back to Khayelitsha for the people to run around in.
Next stop; V & A Waterfront. I was determined to walk as much as possible this weekend to compensate for a lack of it in my compound, but wow; this was extreme! Another hour passed and I was coming up towards the docks now and was very much looking forward to my next destination ... and the soft drinks it may contain! Two Oceans Aquarium showcases the Cape's unique marine environment, where the warm Indian Ocean mingles with the cold Atlantic. What a phenomenal place! First port of call were the 'Nemo's' followed by the giant tank of King crab, luminous box jellyfish, some funky coral with an under water type spider thing attached, sea horses, hagfish (slime eels), stingray, more pretty Barrier-Reef-style-gems, South African Penguins, Macaroni Penguins, a Mole snake (which I decided was the type I saw in Wilderness), ragged-tooth sharks, GIANT grey/silver fish and then .. what we had all paid our R112 to see ... the toothy sinister fixed grin of the Great White Sharks. Measuring about 3 metres in length and weighing in at around 200 kgs these beasts were not to be underestimated! It was possible to arrange a quick dive in the tank with them, but shuck; I ran out of time! However evil these creatures looked I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the species, they are being hunted and slaughtered to the brink of existence. Poachers will catch them, cut off their fins to sell on and then dump them back in the water to die. Such cruel behaviour goes on right under our noses - how do they get away with it?
I decided to go and raise a toast to my new found friends of an alternative variety in the Ferrymans on the Waterfront. A nice, cold, refreshing Savannah, nothing better to pick up the spirits! Unfortunately I completely lost track of time and so had to sip a little quicker in order to work out how to return to my hostel before dark. I started walking again ... then my feet reminded me of why I had stopped in the first place. A massive blister on the ball of each foot was enough to make me start to hobble. This was the first time in the whole of my time here that I had not seen a taxi pass every 2 minutes ... or every 10 minutes. Typical. I was just making my way back up towards Woodstock, very slowly, when a guy walked near me and said I shouldn't be out here at this time as I will get robbed. Hmm; was he about to rob me? I didn't think so, so I had a little whine at him that I had been searching for a taxi for ages and I was getting annoyed. Who heard me? Someone did; et voila! The first minibus taxi I had seen for ages appeared. Kind gentleman flagged it down only to find out it was finished for the day (even though he proceeded to hitch a lift!) and I should catch the next one. Four seconds later the next one for "Wyneberg" arrived and I hopped on. I have never been so happy sitting amongst 15 burly black folk in a rather battered old Toyota people carrier chugging along on its last legs!
I was even delivered within 10 metres of the hostel - now that is service with a smile!
My poor old weary feet needed some vaseline-TLC to recover and my poor old weary insides needed some cider-TLC to recover. Both sets of self advice were heeded and socks were fashioned with flip flops for the remainder of the evening. Sexy.
I started speaking to the Americans again and was lucky enough (I think) to be accepted into their group for hiking tomorrow. I was banking on the fact that they looked more fashion conscious than sporty-hiking-mountaineering types so kept my fingers firmly crossed that my little feet would recover in time.