Cape Town, So. Africa: Still Cooking (in & out of the kitchen)


So, after one of the best days ever, I had to go and be silly by not being ready to let the vibe go, and so I went out. Again.

We hit Marvel on Long Street. Again. And it was pleasantly comfortable in crowd size. The joke about Long Street (District full of bars, cafes, boutiques, etc) is that you can’t go out and get home before 4am. And it was true. Again. And just like in Mexico, the people I seem to attract are all types of off limits, like the 23 year old cutie pie black dude from England. Why are you all up in my ear telling me you live two blocks away? Why are you telling me your Baby Mamma lives in Mauritius (our next port)? Why is your butter smooth voice and baby face reminding me that you are YOUNGER THAN MY BABY BROTHER! Get out of here, scram crumbsnatcher!

I got to sleep in the next morning until 9:30am! (something that is RARE on this trip). I pulled myself and my life together to make a good smelling entrance to my cooking class (yipee!). I was the trip leader over to the Bo-Kaap district (predominantly Muslim) where we had an amazing time at the museum and then had a hands-on tour of the oldest spice trader in the area (Atlas Trading), then off to Savaya’s house for an afternoon of food, foibles and fun.

Savaya, showed us how to make Samosas (think filo dough with seasoned meat inside then fried), Roti bread (yum! Stacey are you drooling?) and Chicken Curry (double drool). Their house was painted a beautiful meditaranean green on the outside and cool whites and pastels inside. It was warm and welcoming and Savaya has a warm spirit and a gift for entertaining.

After class I caught up with Sherri (another SAS staffer) who wanted to hit a particular restaurant in the Bo-Kaap. We found it then I dragged her back to the spice store where we both bought a ton of stuff. I picked up some Masala, Tandoori, Braai (bbq), and Peri-Peri spices. A whole bag full of stuff for less than $14 US including some tea, souvenirs, and some snacks for my next stretch on board the ship.

Next we headed downtown a little ways to Musica Africa where I burned up my credit card and bought up all kinds of music. I got some Kwaito (african hip hop), Cape Town Jazz, African Choir Music, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, African R&B, etc. I guess music is going to be one of the central themes of this trip for me since I’ve bought fantastic tunes in Puerto Rico, Salvador and now Cape Town. I picked up some souvenirs for my parents, siblings, nephew and Chris and Tracy who are watching my rental property for me. Mailed postcards, more souvenirs for friends and colleagues. I want to give everyone a little piece of So. Africa.

I met up with Shayla to take our Robben Island tour at 4:15pm. I had talked her into going on the last ferry over so we could do the tour at sunset which I thought would be cool. It was. The ferry ride out to the former prison, most well known for being the place Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years, took about 25 minutes in the warm sun and salty sea spray. Shayla and I laughed and played with our digital cameras and tried to figure out what nationality the people around us might be.

The first part of the tour was of the Island itself, we saw the elusive white rabbit, penguins, spring bok and the outer facilities (lighthouse, school, etc). Our bus guide lived on the island when he was younger, his mother was a teacher at the school for the families of the guards.

The acutual prison tour was hard for me. The description of the conditions of the prisoners, the way they were treated based on race, the countless lives and families that were torn apart because of political ideology all made me angry. We got to see Nelson Mandela’s cell, the tour of the prison facility is given by a former inmate which is a concept that I loved. Our guide showed us his former cell, spoke of his experiences and in his regal manner spoke of the ultimate ego-less act…forgiveness. He told us how most of the guards and former inmates are now cordial/friends, they gather annually and there is no animosity.

I wonder if I could live that divine act? Hell, I still hold playground grudges from 1983. We all got to crowd into the group cell and feel how small it was, wonder how we would have survived in such conditions, swore we would have escaped, the usual stuff you think in these situations because you have no idea what you would/could do.

Strolling around the prison as the sun set, the wind picked up and the animals quieted down, was powerful. I promised myself that I would buy a copy of Mandela’s book, A Long Walk to Freedom. That though I’m traveling with another historical Rabble Rouser for Peace (Tutu), that there are so many who sacrificed so much for so long, without complaint, and I need to know their stories.

The ferry ride back over to Cape Town was in almost complete darkness as the last rays of the sun hugged the horizon. The stars popped out one by one, shining jewels in an inky black sky, until we got closer to the glare of the city lights. I was lost in my thoughts on the ride back, the boat was moving fast through the spray and it was cold. I pulled up my hood and gazed at the sky, trying to identify stars, versus planes, versus satellites.

Shay and I immediately ran to the book store which was due to close at 9pm and we made it with about a 1/2 hour to spare. I picked up Mandela’s book, A book on Desmond Tutu, a cookbook on How to Braai (bbq) to supplement the recipes we got from Savaya at our cooking class, and some gifts and goodies. We ate close by the harbor, both exhausted, chilled after the boat ride, and with lots of activities left to enjoy. She is off to skydive and I am heading out to Meerkat Manor in the morning.

I was asleep by 10pm. The siren call of Long Street was broken at last.

5 thoughts on “Cape Town, So. Africa: Still Cooking (in & out of the kitchen)”

  1. My Goodness! I’ve got a ton of catch-up to do here and over at Gadling for that matter! I leave for one week and you make it all the way over to Africa!!! Gar! Okay, I’ll be back in touch once more, but I’m certainly going to have to thumb through your Flickr gallery too!

    Keep on cruising woman! Cruise on!

  2. Cape Town alone is a novella in the happening… 😉 One of the biggest thrills of my life was seeing Nelson Mandela at the ballpark in Oakland when he did his U.S. ‘tour’ after being released…I will NEVER forget the JOY of tens of thousands of people standing and yelling and crying and laughing over the sight of him on that stage.

  3. I am overwhelmed by your description of the prison – reminds me of going to concentrations camps in Germany, but the fact that the former guards and prisoners still get together and are friends is humbling – what a lesson.

    Have fun at Meerkat Manor! Thomas is so excited!

    Love you!

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