Saturday, March 17, 2018

My Days in Cape Town, South Africa - the Lion's Head.

 Me at the top of Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
While flying from Johannesburg to Cape Town, I saw that the mountain ridges resembled the spine of a dragon, and I was in awe. Perhaps the great mountain was really just that: A sleeping dragon, ready to wake. And when it does, the earth will quake and tremble and shatter. Plumes of smoke will rise from the great pits of the black abyss and sulphur and cosmic fire will rain on us all. But for now; the petrified dragon rests in an uncertain peace - the peace the ancient earth inherited when it was born. How long that peace will last though; no one knows. My boxing coach always told me: There's a beginning and an end. But I wonder: Is that really true? 

I told the lady sitting next to me, "The mountains here look incredible." She asked me if I was my first time here, and I said it was. She was quiet and charming and soft-spoken lady, who looked Indian. I thought she was a doctor - because she was reading medical literature.

I came to Cape Town not knowing anyone and not having any plans. I didn't even have a place to stay. Imagine if you did that. Show up to a place without any plans. Not a way to travel for those who need control.

 I sorted it out though and ended up in a hostel on Long Street. Accommodation is expensive in Cape Town; so, I had to go back to a hostel.

My taxi driver told me: "Oh, man, you're not gonna sleep tonight. The noise is gonna be loud and keep you up. This is the party place, man."

And that it was. I was in the center of Cape Town and the rhythm and the pounding beat and the partying and the drugs and the sex and the prostitution filled the air of Long Street. (In fact, Long Street first started as a hub for sailors to meet hookers and booze up.) It was hard for me to sleep, not because of the noise, but more because of the jet lag.

Being back in a hostel meant I would meet new people again. I met the good and the bad.

The good first. I met a Japanese guy named Naoto - who was staying in my room. I was impressed with him because he had traveled for 9 months in Africa on a budget of $4,500 USD. THat's incredible. He was sick of Africa though, because he was tired of African people making fun of him and calling him China man. So, he was moving on to India.
Lion's Head (c) Wikipedia

Before he left though, we hiked up a mountain called the Lion's Head. It's 669 meters high or 2,195. Naoto and I weren't prepared to hike the Lion's Head, because we were originally going to the beach, but midway through - Naoto wanted to hike the Lion's Head and see the sunset from there.

I told the taxi driver to stop. The taxi driver was from Pakistan. Naoto visited Pakistan and told him all about it. The Pakistani driver gave us a discount for it. That was nice.

The problem is that we were in flip flops and had no water. But we chose to climb up the mountain. There were a lot of tourists hiking the trail. They mostly seemed from Germany.

Naoto, random Israeli guy, me
(from left to right). 
On our way to the trail, an Israeli guy caught up to us. He was very talkative and extroverted. He liked Naoto, because he was obsessed with Japan. He told us about all the places he went to Japan, and Naoto was impressed. (In fact, I told Naoto that I wasn't that interested in Japan, because of my experience in Tokyo.) We found out he was a flight attendant, and he was about to quit, because it was too tough for him.

At the top of Lion's Head, we were tired and thirsty. But a bubbly girl saw that I was tired and thirsty and offered Naoto and me water. She was from Southern California and graduated UCLA too. I thanked her profusely. People were staring at us, because we climbed up that mountain in our beach flip flops. But we did it, but we were slow at doing it, especially because the flip flops didn't have a good grip.

We made it down before dark. We didn't have a ride back into town. Naoto found some tourists who gave us a ride back to our hostel. I thought again to myself - Naoto is a good travel partner.

And that was it. Naoto didn't see much of South Africa or Cape Town. He wanted to leave Africa, so that night he was heading off to the airport on his way to India. I told him he was silly for leaving so soon without seeing more of South Africa, but besides being tired of the racism, he also said it was too expensive. (I think that South Africa is expensive, especially with the increasing power of the Rand.) I wished him good travels.

As for myself - there would be more days for me on Long Street and in Cape Town and more people and more places and more food and more coffee and more stories.

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