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“Cape Point — less”, Johannesburg, March 16th, 2011

“Cape Point — less”, Johannesburg, March 16th, 2011

When leaving the bus at the Namibian – South African border around 4am on this Saturday, March 12th, I get the chance to confirm my feeling on that girl sitting on the other side of the isle. Yes, I was right. She pulls out a German passport. Turns out Juliana is a police girl from the north doing some kind of exchange training program here and so we chat a bit which kills another 2 hours. Also I manage to sleep almost 3 hours on this very comfortable, MERCEDES made, bus. As always the last hour is the longest but finally we reach Cape town and Juliana’s boyfriend gives me a ride to my hostel on Long Street where I sign in for the evening BBQ and find fast internet across the street. Great.

Really great? I am back in 100% civilization, in a complete western world with western bars and pubs and western prices. Am I ready? I have to. I guess the moves from Zambia into wealthy Lodge driven Botswana, onto German organized Namibia and now into “half white people” SA were a good step by step approach. Will see.

Sunday, great weather, Table Mountain day. However, this stupid fantastic internet connection (which allows long Skype phone calls) delays the start to 1:30pm. “Early morning and late afternoon” are the best times to climb up says the Lonely Planet and not even half way up I understand what they are talking about……………..:

What do think how quickly I made it up there and even more important, how fresh do I still look? Here we go:

It turned into an adventure and I enjoyed it. Actually I got to see all weather conditions within one trip, starting at perfect blue sky with great view of Cape Town and ending in a cold, windy, nasty table cloth. Fantastic, smile.

Even though I am quiet tired I feel like going to this botanic garden. On Sundays during the summer they have a small festival going on and everybody goes there for a pick nick. I want to see it and Ray, the Japanese girl from the hostel joins in as well. Wow, I am impressed. Black and white, young and old, rich and poor, normal and crazy, singles and couples, even gays and hetero, all are here, all enjoy this Sunday evening, all dance, sing or at least move in the rhythm. Only one guy seems to have a hard time. Watch the couple on the bottom right on the following video. Any man who says it has never happened to him lies, smile.

The Japanese earthquake is shocking, but more to me than to Ray, who will fly back to Tokio in just a view days, it seems. When calling her boy friend they discuss relation matters rather than if and how life goes on with nuclear disaster. I guess its that Japanese mentality of “what can I do about it”, “it’s a challenge” and “we will struggle through there” that is so helpful to deal with such a disaster. I almost admire her for that attitude. But maybe its also their culture to suffer quiet and inside rather than crying out loud. In any case distraction works. So her, Joe from the UK and I rent a car and take off towards Cape point and Cape of Good Hope. A short swim in the Indian Ocean, a visit to a penguin park and here we are, where the two Oceans meet. Or maybe not? At least where Vasco da Gama saw light at the end of the tunnel reaching the southeast point of Africa, or maybe not? Here is what we learned:

Don’t get me wrong. This place is fantastic, the scenery unbeatable but the legends behind it are just a great marketing tool. I am a marketing man; I love it and trapped into it with pleasure. A Sushi dinner finished a nice touristy day.

Kululu is another low budget airline in the region taking me to Johannesburg for just 70€ this Tuesday. They are friendly, helpful and flexible putting my little pocket knife in a big box of fragile luggage when I forgot to check it in.

Johannesburg however is just a big Moloch. The ride from the airport to the “Brown sugar” hostel does not impress me, neither the heavy rain nor the power cut we have for hours. Matthias from Germany does. He deals with diamonds and has great stories to tell when we eat out in china town. As my last attempt to reach Rumy from Botswana (is in Johannesburg today) fails also I go to bed early and catch solid 9 hours of sleep. I needed it.

My last day in Africa starts with trying hard to make me feel good leaving it. I booked a guided tour for down town and Soweto. The guide does not really speak. If he does it’s like a tape. Either his strong cold is really turning him down or he is a jerk. However, he is unlucky today as I am with him. Continuously I ask questions, tell him interesting things myself and finally he smiles, talks a bit and becomes flexible (instead of back to the hostel he takes me to the airport without extra charge). Johannesburg is not nice but interesting. For decades down town was bussy between 8am and 5pm, completely empty at night (too dangerous) and some of the 5 star hotels have never been in use. Only now, with the world cup last year and heavy investments some move back. Even more interesting is the famous SOWETO, which stands for SOuth WEst TOwnship. Partly it fits the cliché perfectly. Only black people live here, not a single exception and poverty is very evident. On the other, surprising, hand, many nice and rich houses are around, big housing programs are visible and a huge hospital “attracts” patients from all over the country. Going into some of the rather poor areas I feel welcomed and safe.

It is Soweto where Nelson Mandela worked and lived before being arrested for 28 years. It is here where the black uprising against apartheid of 1976 took place. And it is here where I find something I would never have expected. Try to read it yourself:

This letter is placed in Nelson Mandela’s house, which now serves as a museum showing very simple but well his life and influence. His suffering as well as his peaceful engagement for his people and country is beyond the imaginable. So is the influence he had, has and will ever have. That he was a human being is nicely illustrated on the fact that he was married 3 times, giving his wife Winnie the chance to achieve something very special too. What it is, watch:

On our way to the airport we stop at soccer city, a nice reminder how crazy this continent is about soccer. At 6:30 I take off to Sao Paulo leaving Africa after 5 months. Wow. This “vampire” continent has left its mark on my trip. What I think about it, what I mean with vampire and how and why my opinion towards charity has changed dramatically I will summarize in the posts to come. For now: Good bye, but not forever………………  .

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