Somehow we made the decision to travel from David, Panama to Capetown, South Africa. It strangely was cheaper and more ‘cost effective’ according to our travel agency to not go through Brazil (which would make the most logical sense) but to fly from David, Panama to Panama City, Panama to Miami, Florida to Doha, Qatar to Capetown, South Africa…so that is what we did…If we could get through this travel day, we could get through ANY travel day.
Did I mention that on our travel day from h@!l, Mattie AND Stephen were sick pretty much the whole time with a stomach bug perhaps caught in Panama!!! Fever, vomiting, Montezuma’s Revenge, everyone’s worst nightmare…that happened. If it wasn’t for the giant Teddy Bear in the middle of the Doha airport AND the Airport Hotel where we could sleep for a 9 hour layover, not sure we would have gotten through it before flying to Capetown, Africa.
Mattie & Stephen were troopers. We didn’t think that we could really get through it. And voila, 42 GRUELING hours later, we were in South Africa!! We made it to the Motherland!
We stayed in the neighborhood called De Waterkant. Typically a sought-after area for young professionals, the upper-class gay and lesbian community, and niche restaurants, boutiques and markets. It very much reminded us of West Hollywood in LA. The charm factor was high and we settled in nicely to nurse everyone back to health. It took us a day or two to regain our strength but before no time we were up and running.
We loved our little abode and could walk to many shops, restaurants & markets. The historical neighborhood Bo-Kaap was right to our South. Bo-Kaap is the home to some of the earliest members of the ethnic group known today as Cape Malay. They arrived as slaves and were brought to Cape Town from Southeast Asia by the Dutch. Cape Malays also have a South Asian or Indian heritage, and it was their influence that brought Islam to South Africa. Painting the homes in bright, cheerful colors was a way to express happiness and joy an has developed into a tradition throughout the neighborhood. It was like driving through a rainbow 🙂
Our first night out we went down to yet another historical site, the V & A waterfront. A bustling mega-boardwalk situated right on the marina with many restaurants, shops, and live music. Also, home to the Cape Wheel which gave us stunning inital views of Capetown. A great introduction to the omni present Capetown.
Our first instincts told us modern day Capetown has it all: art, culture, a smattering of African & Dutch dialects/languages, music, nature, wineries galore, great surf, great food…though, of course, we (re) learned about the history of South Africa too and its past. Harder to swallow, harder to understand than the present South Africa, we drove though historical neighborhoods that were once completely segregated and now aren’t because of the end of apartheid. But also we were very aware that even though apartheid is no longer there still are very much areas of poverty and shanties. So on some level, apartheid is ‘gone’ but we noticed a divide much like our own country. We realized that past still haunts the present but we also hoped in present discussion we can broaden our kid’s global perspective. After all, they will be the new Citizens of the World! We also (re) discovered and discussed Nelson Mandela and his influence on South Africa, and what he did for the country. Robben Island was a stern reminder and eye opener for the kids when they realized how many years he actually spent in jail (around 20) before apartheid ended. We talked alot about Nelson Mandela and how we became a voice for the ‘voiceless’…And one of my favorite quotes : “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” . This quote alone helped us face our fear of selling it all and seeing the world. Broadening ourselves as much as we can.
And yet Table Mountain has seen it all…omnipresent, majestic and surreal, it watches you wherever you go. It sets the stage for Capetown, creating an amazing backdrop but also IS the foreground. When the clouds settle over it, the locals call it ‘the table cloth’. We knew we had to see it up close and personal, no matter what weather condition. Luckily, we had a fairly clear day. We took the cable car express, other people can hike pretty close to the top. Not this time. Not with 3 kids in tow.
We took an afternoon and explored Capetown’s many parks and paths along the coast. Absolutely breathtaking, the geography and scenery, the air was so fresh and the light exqusite. We grabbed some sandwiches at a local organic market and had a picnic next to the Ocean. Catherine got to jog solo and we discovered a natural park where the play structures are made of branches and natural elements. The kids also enjoyed a lovely old timey train that took you around the park.
We definitely had moments in Capetown where we could imagine ourselves living here. Not to mention, the cost of living was surprisingly low and very affordable. I think if it wasn’t on the other side of the world from family and friends we would really consider it! You never know…stranger things have happened.
Capetown also has an amazing collection of museums for kids and adults alike. It’s hard to choose because there is TOO much to do. So, this time around let them chose what they wanted to do. The Aquarium won out and they also chose a little mining museum called the Scratch Patch where you can spend hours foraging for precious stones and minerals and take them home with you.
Capetown is full of a million family friendly restaurants, wineries, cafes…We chose a restaurant called Cafe Paradiso with the genius idea: where kids learn how to cook while the parents have a quiet few minutes to themselves. They take the kids back to the kitchen and give them some guidance then let them do their thing…this place was truly inspired and the food delicious, even the pizza the kids made 🙂
We also took a day trip in and around Capetown. We stopped along the way to gawk at the scenery. And we knew we had to accomplish 2 things on this daytrip: 1) driving to the southern most part of South Africa which literally is the edge of the world and 2) seeing penguins in their natural habitat!!! Everything else was just bonus.
We found our penguin friends at long last and we also made some new ones along the way! The drive took us through many small Dutch influenced towns rubbing up next to shanties en route to Kirstenbosch Gardens. We stopped at False Bay, a fishing village nestled on Kalk Bay Harbor. Our driver Ivan was a sweet old man that told us many stories about the history of each stop. The most enticing for the kids was of an African man who has been feeding one lone seal for years in Kalk Bay. You can always count on him to be there all day, every day. Not only does this man and this seal clearly have a deep bond but the man feeds the seal fish with his own mouth. Hence, the deep bond I assume. Ivan also pointed out many shipwrecks off the coast which captivated Charlie’s imagination….Kirstenbosch Gardens was heavenly. And majestic. We really could have spent one whole day there. It was also cool to see a wedding taking place with African music instead of your typical ‘Here Comes the Bride’…At the end of our day, we capped it off with a winery tour. Capetown just never disappointed us. It was like the gift that kept on giving…we will be back, Capetown. Maybe to live!