Monday, April 1, 2013

The Good and the Ugly of Cape Town

March 28, 2013

We started our day with breakfast on the ship and then caught a taxi over to Long Street where Mouhsine has been staying in Cape Town.  He’s not going to get back on the ship for now because he’s headed back to India for the next two weeks to button up more things with Prakti.  He’ll be meeting us in Casablanca to show us around his home-country Morocco.  We wanted to get a last interview with him before he heads out to follow-up on our Cambodian adventures.  I can’t believe that we just came from Cambodia…what I crazy life I live.

Our rooftop interview with Mouhsine.
We found his hostel which was on the sixth floor of one of the tall buildings on Long Street.  It was an interesting place.  I’d equate it to a college dorm with the way everything was painted differently, like a big collage of artists.  It had shared spaces like a kitchen and a living room at one end and a bunch of dorm rooms.  It had a homey, safe feeling.  I realized that I’ve never been in a hostel in any country, but it gave me faith in a cheap place to stay if we ever needed one when we traveled.

We discovered Mouhsine at the very back of the long hallway of rooms, and he brought us up to the rooftop.  Continuing the college dorm look, there were couches and a bar up there and some Astroturf and a big mural on one of the walls.  We wrangled up some bar stools, crates and couch cushions to fashion an interview set and got to work getting Mouhsine’s thoughts on Prakti, Cambodia and the future.  It was a great interview.
At the end, we put the place back together and said goodbye to our friend.  We’re going to miss him on the ship, but it’ll be so good for him to work with Prakti in person and tie up all the loose ends we left a couple weeks ago in Auroville.  I must say I miss that place so much.

Jessie, our fabulous sound girl, Matt and I found a fun souvenir shop on our way to finding a taxi back to the ship, and Jessie bought some earrings and Matt fell in love with some tribal art that we needed to take home.  The piece is a little wooden statue with two sides, the future and the past.  The past has little wrinkly seashell eyes and the future is wide-eyed and excited.  Matt felt that it summed up our journey and we added it to our collection.  It was made from a tribe in the Congo.

Some tasty African bevies.
We caught a taxi back to the ship to drop off Jessie, and as soon as Matt and I got to our room, we crashed.  We fell asleep around 1:30pm.  We talked about setting an alarm, but decided we should just sleep until we wake up.  At 5:40pm, I opened my eyes and realized we needed more sleep than I thought.  It felt so good.

Tendekayi had planned an African food and drum evening, so we got up and got ready to head for the African CafĂ© down on Long Street.  The whole Unreasonable bunch, mentors and film crew arrived, and we had an awesome dinner of twelve courses of delicious African cuisines and entertainment of singing, drumming wait staff.  My favorite item was the mango chicken. Had they had peri peri, I know that would have been my favorite.  I love peri peri.  Just sayin’.

Plaid sponsored this evening's dinner, so Matt
Mullenweg posed with the guys with their plaid faces.
After another massive dinner, Colman from the Girl Effect invited us all to go dancing.  We hadn’t partaken in a night out yet, so Matt and I decided to go and check it out.  We went as a group of 20 people and he led us to a club that he described as a “quaint local place.”  It turns out that Long Street is extremely violent and terrifying at night, even in our massive group, people were picked off and picked out.  We had one group get pepper-sprayed, another group mugged at knife point, and Matt was grabbed and had an attempt on his wallet.  After a strange dance, the man almost fell over, Matt let him go, and Tendekayi chased after him.  Matt had all his personal items, but it was scary enough that I was finished for the night.

We arrived at the club to a group of massive locals hanging out in a giant line outside.  We all had to squeeze ourselves through their bodies to get into the front door.  We found a tiny bar with blasting hip hop music and everyone staring at us blankly.  We were very obviously not welcome there, and there was very obviously no dancing going on.  We crammed ourselves and some extra film gear into a booth, and after one person was confronted by a local who wasn’t happy he was standing in his space, we decided we had had enough.  A group of us took the film equipment and decided to head back in a taxi.  We had to squeeze our way out and find a taxi that we trusted, but we made it back to the ship safe and sound.  A little shaken.  I’m glad we had such a fun time at dinner because the rest of the evening would have really ruined my opinion of Cape Town.  I suppose it’s like any other city – be aware of your surroundings and stay out of certain areas at night, and you’ll be fine.

The next morning we heard that a couple was mugged at knife point and a woman that was with us had her wallet stolen.  Sounded like a nightlife I was willing to miss out on.  Thanks, but no thanks, Long Street.