Arriving in Cape Town almost feels like coming home. It’s extremely European and according to locals very different from the rest of the country – which means I haven’t really gotten the full experience of this country. I’ve spent two weeks here in Cape Town and haven’t seen half of the sights. After travelling for two months I needed to spend some time relaxing and processing all my experiences.
All of us of course know one the greatest humanists Nelson Mandela. You can’t visit Cape Town without visiting Robben Island where Mandela spent so many years as a political prisoner. I clearly remember the apartheid regime from when I was young, and it was a fantastic day when he was released.
Robben Island is a desolate place, flat with not much vegetation. The guides on the island is former political prisoners. Our guide spent 10 years here and he told about torture, famine and the humiliating treatment by the apartheid regime. Since the regime ended improvements have been made but there is still a long way to go.
The difference between rich and poor are still huge, even more than I have seen in other countries. The different governments have only managed to lift a fraction of the poor out of poverty. And like under apartheid it is primarily black people who are poor, lack education and are unemployed. Unemployment rate is approximately 25%.
At first sight Cape Town looks like a wealthy city, but then you begin to see all the beggars. There are so many beggars, none of them are kids though like in some of the other countries. I’m not sure why.
The humanists I met are concentrated around Cape Town. They told me this country is just as religious as the other African countries, but it is easier to be a non-believer in South Africa. Or it depends on which parts of the country you are in. In some areas, rural areas, you would never say out loud you don’t believe. While in others it would not be an issue, like in urban areas.
The cultural diversity is extreme. One example I got from one of the humanists illustrates this very well. South Africa has a secular progressive constitution and homosexuals has equals rights, same sex marriages has been legal for many years. But while kids can be raised by homosexual parents without facing any challenges in their daily lives, just 20 kilometres away lesbians get mass raped as punishment.
On top of this there is infrastructure challenges. Everywhere you go there is posters asking to save water. The power plants cannot deliver enough electricity during peaks times, which means they will cut the power in designated areas for a couple of hours at a time – this is called load shedding.
Despite all the challenges I like this city – just the daily view of the mountains, Table Mountains, with the clouds makes me feel good. When you are used to only the flat land in Denmark mountains are mesmerising. Even though I am afraid of heights, well to put it another way I am afraid of heights when I’m around cliffs and trees. I bungy jump and want to skydive but I will not climb a mountain.
And being used to have the ocean nearby I’ve been happy to be close to the water again. I have enjoyed the waves which are like at Vesterhavet back home, the cliffs which looks like Bornholm only a thousand times bigger. I’ve had my first encounter with wild penguins and seals.
It’s the first time I’ve been this long in one place. On one hand it has been nice to be able to empty the suitcase and hang my clothes in the closet. It’s been nice getting to know my maid Jeanette and the people in the reception & the restaurant. But on the other hand, I know I’ve missed out on so much. I could have explored the country even more if I had spent maybe a week travelling up the coast.
I would like to come back one day – they have it all – the mountains, the savanna, the desert, the ocean. I want to go whale watching & swimming with seals one day, and searching for a leopard the next, diving with sharks on the third day.
Tomorrow I’ll be flying to Namibia and then there is only one week left before I’m back in Denmark, planning the next steps.
South Africa (Denmark)
Population: 58 mio. (5.8 mio.)
Area: 1.221.000 km2 (43.000 km2)
Density: 48/km2 (133/km2)
Life expectancy: 63 years (80 years)