Back in the RSA!

I left the Grotto at 11.00am on saturday, bidding a fond farewell to what had been my ‘home’ and extended family for the last 4 weeks. I would like to put on record my thanks to Kelly, the Book Bus Project manager who looked after us all so well and made sure we got every opportunity to make the most of our time in Livingstone. I will miss the Grotto’s faded charm, Grubby’s alcohol induced bawdy tales, Cuzzy’s doleful eyes when begging for scraps, Ellington the night watchman – the kindest and most gentle of men, and of course my fellow volunteers.     

From the moment I arrived in Jo’burg airport, for my connecting flight to Cape Town, I was in a different Africa and some would say not the ‘real’ Africa.  But to be honest, much as I loved Zambia,  I was ready for that change. South Africa is gripped with World Cup fever, merchandise around every corner and digital clocks counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to kick off. Having said that, football is very much the black man’s game although every black South African I’ve spoken to either couldn’t access or afford match tickets. There is much talk of World Cup greed, particularly in Cape Town.

Rugby is still predominantly the white man’s game and as we flew from Jo’burg to Cape Town the pilot gave regular score updates on the Super 14 Final in which the Bulls beat the Stormers.  He also pointed out all 3 of ‘Jo’burg’s sports stadia, which were directly beneath our flight path.

Ellis Park, an  iconic sports venue where South Africa lifted the 1995 Rugby World Cup, will this time around be hosting the round ball  game. This year’s  Super 14 rugby final was, for the first time, played in Soweto at the Orlando Stadium. On July 11th Soweto will also stage the biggest football game in the world, in the new multicoloured Sun City Stadium which has been designed in the style of a traditional African calabash cooking pot!      

By 8.00pm I was safely ensconced in my 14th floor hotel room, complete with double bed, soft pillow, a duvet, en suite shower and stunning views out towards the Waterfront. The welcoming, night-time panorama included the illuminated Green Point Stadium, where England will be playing the USA, and across Table Bay the blinking light house on Robben Island.

I spent Sunday morning bartering  for African souvenirs, with the friendly stall holders in Green Market, before  strolling through the beautiful Company Gardens, beyond the Cecil Rhodes statue and out to the South African National Art Gallery  for a whistle-stop tour of its highlights.

A text from Nicci alerted me to her pending arrival at 1.30pm and I arrived back at the hotel just as her taxi pulled up to the front door!

It was great to see her. She was surprising lively after her 16 hour flight and we  were soon headed out to a Waterfront bar, soaking up the sun and sipping an ice cool Castle lager. We watched the yachts come and go, seals playing in the harbour, and the ever-changing cast of  vibrant street musicians and dancers.

We had a lot to catch up on. It transpired that on her flight out, Nicci had been sitting with a very chatty South African cardiologist, of Polish extraction, from the Christian Barnard Memorial Hospital, who as a young doctor, back in 1967,  had taken part in the very first heart transplant!  Away from the hospital, he was also apparently something of a South African wine buff  and in his youth had to choose between training as a  surgeon or concert pianist!      

Today we were up early and atop Table Mountain by 8.30 am,  way ahead of the crowds. I stood beneath the cloudless blue skies taking in the stunning views, for a second time, but this time it was nice to have someone to share it all with.

By lunchtime we had taken a taxi down to Camps Bay, nestling below Table Mountain, and walked along the largely deserted and beautiful sandy beach, paddled in the Atlantic and watched the surfers riding the waves.     

It’s been a great day and we have done and seen a lot, and enjoyed the gorgeous ‘winter’ sunshine, although Nicci did get caught in an unexpected  shower!

Tomorrow we have tickets booked on the first ferry out to Robben Island, which I’m really looking forward to. Watch this space!

3 Responses

  1. Fascinating insights Phil. Interesting to campare with the WAGS in Jo’Berg on TV currently.
    Now enjoy the sights and the relative luxury

    • Glad you have been following the Blog, Phil. I’m enjoying Cape Town but looking forward to home now and of course four weeks of TV football!

  2. Dear Phil,
    congratulations for your successful trip. Your experiences seem to be great.
    Greetings from Simon.

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