As part of my solo trip to South Africa, I spent nearly a week in Cape Town. It was a great experience. I had such an amazing time in Cape Town. I truly loved the time that I spent there and the things I was able to do.
While there, I stayed in a small townhome of sorts where three other guys lived. I slept on the couch. While I was still in Johannesburg, my generous host put me in touch with a guy he knew and that guy offered to let me stay with them.
Upon my arrival in Cape Town, I rented a car at the airport and drove to the guy’s house. I had a bit of trouble along the way as I was still quite new at driving a stick shift (that’s definitely a story for another time), so by the time I arrived I was a bit frazzled. After meeting him for the first time, he offered to drive me (in my rental car, since all he had was a motorbike and an ancient pickup truck, referred to as a bakkie) to see some sights.
Give my keys to a guy I just met in an unfamiliar city so he could drive me around in a country known for its high crime rate and carjackings? Sign me up!
Despite the cavalier attitude toward personal safety on display, it was a great time. He drove me out to the waterfront where we enjoyed a meal overlooking the ocean. Then he took me on a jaunt around some of the suburbs, effortlessly navigating the steep hills and perilous roads. I had no idea where we were or where we were going, and the Afrikaans place names meant very little to me as he rattled them off while we drove by. But I knew we were going up. And up and up.
By the time we arrived at our destination, it was quite dark out. Which was as he intended, because he wanted me to see the city lights. We were up on Table Mountain, and stretched out below us was the city of Cape Town, three and a half million people.
He told me about the city. About how South Africa is full of desperate people who will steal and kill in order to survive or prosper. About long-standing racial tensions still simmering below the surface, sometimes boiling over. About the country teetering on the edge between civilization and chaos, new and old, of the Dutch settlers who conquered the native tribes and lived there for generations until they themselves were overthrown by the English and eventually given self-governance.
As we drove back down the mountain to his flat, I had a lot to think about. South Africa is a complex country, and I knew that in my time there I would barely scratch the surface.
I really appreciated my host for taking me to see that sight though!