Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Walking Tour

Walking Tour We booked a walking tour today. I like getting up early and showering on the patio. Even if the wind is strong in the morning, it is a real liberating feeling. The air is cool and it is windy yet again today. We called the Rikki taxi to go downtown. This is our first time using it. A Rikki is like an open van. They are licensed to take up to 8 passengers at once, but the most they take is six. The fee is set, so from here to downtown is 10 Rand ($1.56) per person. With a taxi, you are dependent on the meter. There are six Rikkis on the road at the most depending on how many drivers they have any given day. All of the drivers are exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable about the city. Rikki phone number as of 2006 is 021-418-6713 callable from a mobile phone that works in South Africa. While I am on the topic of mobile phones, Vodacom is the largest and most reliable mobile phone company in South Africa. Since I had Vodafone in Hungary, I was able to get a set rate for roaming, so it cost me $1.00 set rate for roaming when I used my mobile there. Having a mobile there for calling taxis and Rikkis is essential. There are tourist phone rentals, but I did not need them, so have not checked out the costs. Our Rikki driver was a young black man that was so polite, it made me humble. He kept calling us sir and when he found we had not been in Cape Town, but a week, he pointed out all of the sights along the way and gave us the history. Our stop was the Tourist information office downtown, which is extensive and very tourist friendly. The staff are exceptional helpful. The Catwalk Internet Café is a ¼ of a block away and has less expensive Internet service, though. We paid for our Footsteps to Freedom Walking Tour here and received our vouchers. The tour was led by a woman named Karen. She was extremely well versed in the history of the city, many of the buildings have a special history of their own, and of the gentrification of the downtown area. There were five of us on the tour. As part of the tour, we went to the District 6 Museum. Every day here, I confront my feelings about the haves and have notes. This museum brings it to life. Relocating a whole community, degrading their lives by elitists, and now trying to make amends is too little too late. The whole tour including the museum was about three hours. Still today, in many restaurants you see whites as patrons and people of color as the workers. It is difficult to find the equity. After the tour, we went back to the café where Tanya works, but she had the day off. Alex was our waiter, nice guy, but not as exuberant as Tanya. Ron has wanted to check out shirts for Marge’s wedding. We looked some places, but he could not find anything he liked. Most of the clothes are American or European styles. I went to Vodacom to see if I could buy a Blackberry phone there and have it work in Hungary. They said it most likely would not. By 3:00, we were ready to head back to our little nest. We called the Rikki, but we had to wait 45 minutes before one was available. When we returned ‘home’ our invoice was waiting with an African magnet that had one of Patricia’s poems on it. There was one like it on the fridge and we were going to ask were we could buy one. As we were taking a nap, a note was slipped under our door. Patricia and Don had invited us to dinner that evening. The invite had a drawing on it showing place settings and eight wine glasses. There were eight of us for dinner. We trekked up to the grocery store to get more money to pay our stay in full and did some shopping for the next day. The afternoon had finally started to heat up, but the wind was still ferocious. At 7:30, we went to our ‘neighbors’. Anne and Trevor were the next to arrive. She is a realtor and he is a Civil Engineer. Both were lovely and had been married quite some time. Anne and Patricia had gone to school together, but had not seen each other in years. The next couple to arrive was Anré and Leslie. He was a math professor at one of the universities. Patricia had prepared chicken, scalloped potatoes, and salad. Since their patio is sheltered, we could eat outside. The conversation flowed as did the wine and at 11:00, we bid farewell.

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