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Welgelegen: A Place to Call Home

25 Oct

In Cape Town I was farther from home than I had ever been in my life. That made me appreciate my boutique hotel, Welgelegen, all the more. I commend my safari company, Africa Adventure Consultants, for listening to my preferences for a quiet and homey place to stay. They certainly found it here. It was located in the quiet and safe neighborhood of Gardens near Kloof Street. They had resident tourist agents who could arrange tours. My third day there they arranged for my own private tour of the Cape Flats townships and the wine country near Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Every morning I could choose breakfast items from a buffet in addition to ordering from the kitchen. I also had a view of Lion’s Head from my window. Really I could not have asked for a better accommodation.

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Parting Shots

23 Oct

Just a few more photos of plants at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in the winter.

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The Boomslang

21 Oct

Earlier this year Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens opened its newest attraction, a tree canopy walkway which rises above the treetops and gives you an expansive view of the gardens and distant Cape Town. You can enter on one of two points on the hillside and the walkway curves gradually upward until you are above everything. It is named The Boomslang, after a large venomous snake. Here are photos.

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Mandela’s Gold

21 Oct

Nelson Mandela, (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was South Africa’s first black chief executive, and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalized racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation.  (from Wikipedia)

There are many ways to honor the memory and the accomplishments of the late Nelson Mandela. For one, a flower now bears his name,  Mandela’s gold strelitzia. It is more rare than its cousin, the orange and blue Bird of Paradise. Both varieties grow in Kirstenbosch.

Mandela’s Gold Strelitzia

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Bust of Nelson Mandela in Kirstenbosch Gardens.

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The more common orange and blue variety, known as Bird of Paradise.

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A Winter Afternoon in the Garden

20 Oct

Upon my return to the hotel I learned that this afternoon would be the only good weather of my remaining time in Cape Town.  After Table Mountain my Number Two destination was the botanical garden. Visitor coordinator Colleen convinced me that this was my best plan for the afternoon. Next stop: Kirstenbosch.

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Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is situated on the eastern side of a mountain in the city of Cape Town. The afternoon I spent there roaming the hillside pathways was an overcast, breezy day, but without rainfall. I enjoyed a late lunch at their restaurant before I began wandering. Here are some landscape shots that show the lay of the land. Even in winter there are many plants that are in blossom.

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I am from St. Louis, Missouri in the US. We have a fine botanical garden in my hometown as well. I was very proud to see the signpost at the entrance to the garden indicating the distance in kilometers to my home.

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High End African Souvenirs

18 Oct

No city tour of Cape Town is complete without a stop at a jewelry store selling diamonds and other gems. Ours was no exception. At this store they offered a demonstration of the process of cutting a diamond. In addition there were many expensive African souvenirs on sale. The whole store was very eye-catching. I am not a big fan of expensive jewelry, but I admit that I was bowled over by the beauty of Tanzanite, a beautiful and rare deep blue gemstone found only in one small vein in Tanzania. I was tempted to buy one, but resisted. Here are some photos of ways to spend a lot of money.

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Blue Tanzanite! African dolls! Carved ostrich eggs!

Bo Kaap–The Muslim Quarter

17 Oct

High up on the side of Signal Hill overlooking the city of Cape Town lies the colorful area known as Bo Kaap, the Malay (or Muslim) quarter of the city. Bo Kaap means Upper Cape. The houses here are painted bright, dazzling pastels. As you gaze down the street your eye feasts on walls of color. I’m sure that it is even more vibrant on a sunny day.

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Those steep narrow streets remind me of San Francisco. The Atlas Trading Company is a well-established store for buying herbs and spices.

Greenmarket Square

17 Oct

In the heart of Cape Town Is a small square where you can buy authentic African crafts and artwork at reasonable prices. We stopped there at Greenmarket Square to browse through the stalls. There was a dizzying array of wonderful items, but I was only on my first day in Africa. I didn’t want to go crazy. I did buy some gifts for my children though. For my daughter a traditional African family sculpture and for my son carved wood salad utensils.

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Here I am photographed with the artist and his work.

District Six Debacle

17 Oct

A city tour of Cape Town always includes a stop at District Six, a vacant, grassy area located near downtown between the docks and the mountains. District Six is a former inner-city residential area which was home to many colored people: colored Muslims (Cape Malays), black Xhosa, in addition to Afrikaans, white, and Indian residents. It was a relatively cosmopolitan community.  In the 1970’s over 60,000 of its primarily colored inhabitants were forcibly removed by the apartheid regime and resettled in the sandy Cape Flats townships to the east of the city.

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District Six today.

 

 

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Photos of the once vibrant community.

 

 

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(Below from Wikipedia)

“Government officials gave four primary reasons for the removals. In accordance with apartheid philosophy, it stated that interracial interaction bred conflict, necessitating the separation of the races. They deemed District Six a slum, fit only for clearance, not rehabilitation. They also portrayed the area as crime-ridden and dangerous; they claimed that the district was a vice den, full of immoral activities like gambling, drinking, and prostitution. Though these were the official reasons, most residents believed that the government sought the land because of its proximity to the city centre, Table Mountain, and the harbour.

“On 11 February 1966, the government declared District Six a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act, with removals starting in 1968. By 1982, more than 60,000 people had been relocated to the sandy, bleak Cape Flats township complex some 25 kilometres away. The old houses were bulldozed. The only buildings left standing were places of worship. International and local pressure made redevelopment difficult for the government, however. The Cape Technikon (now Cape Peninsula University of Technology) was built on a portion of District Six which the government renamed Zonnebloem. Apart from this and some police housing units, the area was left undeveloped.

“Since the fall of apartheid in 1994, the South African government has recognised the older claims of former residents to the area, and pledged to support rebuilding.”

The District Six Museum chronicles the lives and experiences of the people who once resided there. One can ascertain the underlying anger at the disrupted lives due to apartheid, removal, and destruction of the old neighborhood.  It is still palpable. Restitution is long in coming.

Banners in the District Six Museum.

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Comments of former residents embroidered into banners.

 

 

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Richmond Street before the bulldozing began.

 

 

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And after.

 

 

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Floor of the District Six Museum with a map of the streets as they were once situated.

 

 

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St. Mark’s, one of the churches that was allowed to remain standing.

 

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Winter in Cape Town

14 Oct

Who’s that knocking on the door? Really? What time is it? I haven’t slept that long….I had a scheduled city tour at 9 A.M. that first day in Cape Town. The hotel staff was waking me up because the van had just arrived at 8 A.M., and they were waiting for me. I got ready as quickly as I could, and apologized to the other tourists in the van. What a dreary and rainy day! Typical, I understand, of winter on the Western Cape. With the rain and eight passengers in the van, it was difficult to pick out and photograph sights as we passed. I ended up with many blurred pictures. Very unsatisfactory photography for me. That said here are a few taken in the downtown area.

This is what I mean by poor visibility.

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In front of The High Court Civil Annex we found some remnants of apartheid.

 

 

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And our guide Darrol engaging in “civil disobedience”.

 

 

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St. George’s Mall pedestrian walkway

 

 

 

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Palm trees and a traffic robot.

 

 

 

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The Castle of Good Hope

 

 

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Here I am looking a little ragged.

 

 

 

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Castle of Good Hope with the train station behind.

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Cape Town City Hall

 

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Here I am again standing in front of the balcony where Nelson Mandela delivered one of his major speeches.

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