South Africa Pt. 2
Returning to South Africa reminded me how a short flight can transport you to a completely new culture and climate. By the time I got back to Johannesburg winter was in full effect. The shorts and t-shirt I was wearing for weeks did not cut it anymore. I got bundled up quickly and headed out towards Randburg where I was staying. The reason I stayed out in the suburbs this time was to be closer to the Cradle of Humankind. A couple I had met at the hostel in Zanzibar turned out to be spelunkers, one of them even as a professional. They recommended some easily accessible caves with historical importance. The one I chose to go to was at Sterkfontein and Maropeng a’Afrika where the Little Foot fossils of an early human ancestor were found.
Getting to the museum was a little bit of a journey. I decided to go by local minibus out to the caves. The ride took about an hour and a half and only cost about two dollars. The downside of going that route was having no option to get between the caves and the museum, which are eight kilometers apart (look it up). So what I had to do was find a ride and fast. At the same time as I was walking up to the ticket window another car arrived with tourists. They were a woman from Hong Kong and a woman from Japan. Fortunately they spoke English. Unfortunately, they did not drive themselves, so even though I got a ride, I had to negotiate with the taxi driver over the cost. I would say the price was right in the end and once again I dodged a bullet.
The Sterkfontein cave was short and sweet. We saw parts where some fossils had been discovered and the tour guide gave us a lot of information about how fossils are snooped. Walking through some parts of the cave were a tight, tight fit. The shock of seeing how small the space was, I have to admit, I hesitated. The tour was worth it, though. Then we headed over to the museum.
The museum was amazing for all the information that it provided, it was a lot of fun too. The whole tour opens with a boat ride down a lazy river taking you through the history of the world before humans. Once I got the rest of the exhibits, I was pretty excited to see the rest of what the museum had. The information was great and all the displays had some interactive aspect to get people’s attention. I would highly recommend taking the time to go there if anyone reading this gets out to Johannesburg, the museum was probably the highlight.
After a safe ride back and a day of hanging out, I took a sixteen hour bus out to Cape Town. The right was not too rough and I had enough wits about me to get over to Muizenberg on False Bay. My hostel for the time I stayed in Cape Town was right on the water overlooking the waves with small mountains behind. I got to wake up and see the surf from the patio outside the kitchen before I headed down to try the waves myself.
The people staying there were also really cool. By the end of the first day some of us were making plans to hang out together over the next few days. I ended up going hiking with four other people, a Dutch woman, two Americans, and a British guy, on the small mountain just behind the hostel. The views were great and the weather turned out to be really nice. On the way down we decided to go to the store and buy food to have a barbecue. We had so much good food, with plenty of meat and veggies for everyone. The one guy and I got the fire going and everyone worked together really well. A great end to an already fun day.
The British guy was hanging around the hostel while he did some volunteer work with local organizations. I was hoping to be able to go with him to one of them but the timing did not work out. Nonetheless, he invited me to join him when he went to a local free market on Friday night. The place was interesting with lots of good looking food and drinks. The atmosphere was not my style, though, so I left after not being there too long. The best way to put it is I like more traditional street markets than artisan markets. It really made me miss Nampo-dong in Busan.
Over the weekend I managed to make some more German friends, surprise (not)! They were some students finishing a semester abroad who came to the hostel to do some surfing and hiking like I did. We ended up going together to the surf shop. The one guy did not know how to surf so the rest of us worked with him to help give him enough confidence to stand up by the end of the day! I had fun riding some waves myself since it was my first chance to use a fiberglass surfboard rather than a foam one, which is standard rented equipment at Korean surf shops. I really wish I had my own wet suit, though, because I could not handle the Antarctic currents very well after spending so much time acclimating to warmer weather in Kenya and Tanzania.
Otherwise not much else happened during my time in Cape Town. I went to a park on the Atlantic Ocean coast for part of a day, I got followed for blocks by a guy asking for money while he threw veiled threats to assault me, missed out on another hike, and planned for a trip to Namibia and Botswana. For me, Cape Town was a nice city, but I was ready to move on after a few days. Next stop, Namibia!
South Africa Pt. 2