On our second day, I made a reservation for mom and I to tour the wine areas of San Francisco–Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Raymond, our driver, had taken me on a similar tour four years ago. He is a very nice Coloured (the name given to South Africans of mixed descent) man who lives in a nearby township. I left it up to Raymond to determine which estates we would visit. As we drove into the winelands, mom had the opportunity to ask Raymond cultural and historical questions from the perspective of a local. Raymond was very patient and provided us with a rich history of the area. He started from the beginning of South Africa’s colonization and provided us with detailed information up to his perspective on the reported corruption of South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma.
We arrived at the Fairview Estate for our first wine pairing. We sampled eight wines with an assortment of cheeses that are made at the estate. Since our sommelier failed to provide us with a spit bowl, Ace (mom) believed it was obligatory to drink the entire glass (did I mention she isn’t a drinker?). By the time we left, Ace was complaining that her “eyes were turning”–a Jamaican terminology for when one is becoming tipsy. We stopped at a few more wine estates before heading to lunch at Le Petite Ferme. Before eating, we enjoyed a beautiful view of the mountains from the estate’s vineyard. I have kept mom happy with our 5-star dining, but my clothing is already beginning to fit tighter. After lunch, we visited a few more estates then headed back to the flat. It was a fun-filled day, but on the drive back to the flat I could feel the wine kicking in and I was beyond tipsy (but I wasn’t drunk).
Once we returned, we could do nothing else but take a nap. After sleeping for a few hours, we decided to explore an open-air market that was located within walking distance. During the festive season, there appears to be a party occurring in the streets every night. The market was crowded with vendors, and people walking around contemplating what they would purchase. The majority of the vendors and customers appeared to be Muslim. They sold everything from toys to food. We stopped at a stand with a man selling figs. Mom decided to take a taste of the figs–one and a half days in Cape Town and she already wasn’t afraid to try food from street vendors. I happily passed on tasting it. She decided to purchase a handful then realized she forgot to bring her wallet. How convenient. Of course I gave her a side-eye as I pulled out ZAR10 to purchase her figs.
As we explored the marketplace we noticed that most of the vendors and people walking around were Muslim. At this point, we were getting comfortable with feeling somewhat out of place in South Africa. One vendor sold Beats by Dre headphones for ZAR150 (the equivalent of $15). For Christmas, I purchased similar headphones for my sister for $150! Chances are the vendor’s headphones weren’t real, but I contemplated buying hem for my sister and returning the ones I previously purchased .
The previous day, mom and I had a wonderful adventure driving through the majestic vineyards of the Cape while sipping some of the best wines in the word. But, it would be a spurious claim to believe that all of Cape Town consists of fine dining, great wines and open air markets. So, on the following day we took a tour of two of the most famous townships in Cape Town–Llanga and Khayelitsha Townships. As mom got dressed in the morning, she prepared to wear one of her cute sundresses and her expensive jewelry. I immediately advised her that today, we (really her, because none of my clothing looks as expensive as hers) should wear something a bit more unassuming.
After heading to Long Street to have breakfast at Rcaffe, we boarded the tour bus headed to the townships (similar to the term “projects” in the US). Tandis, our tour guide, brought us to District Six Museum on our first top. There, he explained the history of District 6 and other townships where non-whites were relocated. Mom was enthralled in the story and walked around the museum soaking in as much information as possible. After the museum, we headed to Llanga Township (the oldest township in Cape Town with over 50,000 residents) where Luyolo took over as our tour guide. As we walked through the area, the children ran up to us and grabbed our hands. They were all so adorable, yet as we walked along, we could see the poverty-ridden homes. We walked into one of the hostiles to see how many people lived. Mom, stopped in her tracks, paralyzed and shocked that people lived this way. The common area was filled with flies and was as clean as it could be. There were up to 4 families living in one room. The hostile had one kitchen area and no living room. In one of the rooms was a lady who I met almost 5 years before. We took a picture similar to the one we took previously. Since this was not my first time through the township, I was not as shocked as mom, who was afraid of touching anything. Mom grew up in poverty in Jamaica, but she said this did not match anything that she had experienced first hand. It was a sobering experience relative to our wine tasting the previous day. At this point, mom peppered Luyolo with many questions about the standard of living.
One of the ironies of our visit was as we walked by some of the shacks the entire home was smaller than the size of my mother’s bedroom with holes in the zinc roofs. However, many of them had flat screen televisions that were bigger than televisions owned by mom or me. We entered a makeshift bar where Luyolo explained that many of the men in the neighborhood would stop by to have homemade beer. Since none of the women on the tour were willing to take a sip, I stepped up to have a try. It was served in a pail that everyone had to drink from in the spirit of Ubuntu–human kindness. The beer was warm and had a bitter aftertaste–not something I would take more than a sip of).
After Llanga, we drove through Khayelitsha Township–the largest township in the western Cape. There are over one million people living in the township. In Khayelitsha, we stopped by Vicky’s Bed and Breakfast. When I visited years prior, I met met Vicky and learned about her Zagat rated B&B in the township which raised money for the local school. But during this visit, Tandis informed me that the tour would be conducted by Vicky’s eldest daughter because Vicky was killed by her husband two years ago (her husband is currently in prison). As we left Vicky’s, we saw children “swimming” in water along the road that contained tons of garbage. It was very sad to watch, yet we left them behind and returned to our affluent area of Cape Town and continued our vacation. Nevertheless, the memory of the townships were forever etched into our minds.