Shortly after my last entry I boarded this Lufthansa jumbo for my overnight flight across the dark continent. My luxurious first class seat, upstairs, in the bubble of the aircraft, put me beside a native Afrikaner, a sweet 91 year-old lady travelling by herself!
My book of African folktales was put on hold once again as I kept her company, but when she confided in me that “blacks are very lazy”, I decided it was time for bed.
Though my huge seat folded perfectly flat for sleeping, it was almost 3 am before our midnight dinner was over, and the cabin lights were turned back on for breakfast at 6 am sharp. The service was fantastic — I had a South African wine with dinner, some Rooibos tea before bed, and an exotic new fruit with breakfast. It looked like a pink slice of tomato but had the consistency of mango, so I’m calling it tomango! Unfortunately, Lufthansa lost points on their zero tolerance for mobile phone use, even during a one-hour stopover in Johannesburg.
Here’s my first-ever view of the mountain range near Cape Town, taken during our descent. I couldn’t figure out where the famous Table Mountain was, but I needn’t have worried — I’m looking right at it from my hotel room window!
A gun shop in a nearby mall…
I got all sorts of warnings about crime, both from my racist seat mate and the cab driver who brought me in from the airport. Don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket. Keep your camera hidden. Don’t be out after dark. Don’t use ATMs outside. All of this filled my head as I stepped off hotel property for a stroll around the neighbourhood. Not ten paces from the front door I was flanked by two teenagers, friendly at first, then asking me if I would buy them a sandwich. I politely declined, with the excuse of needing change from an ATM. They offered to accompany me but disappeared as I passed a couple of cops. A few blocks later a gentleman offered to sell me some weed, but didn’t force the issue.
I refuse to live my first South African experience in fear, and even with years of Apartheid stacking the deck against me I have vowed to give indigenous South Africans the benefit of the doubt. And I would have stayed out after dark last night, but I really, really needed a good night’s sleep.
Twelve hours of much-needed rest later, I’m ready for more exploring, ready to find more of this… I think.