Cape Town, day 2: Cheetahs, Food and Music

Early wakeup, quick walk to the Waterfront – and we’re in the cab headed to Stellenbosch. The drive from Cape Town is beautifully scenic. We even passed a movie studio that had full-size ships floating in the pool, surrounded by wind and wave machines.

Our driver said there weren’t many studios in SA. I mentioned the movie we were assigned to watch – Tsotsi – everyone knows this movie here. He pointed out the townships as we drove by. The townships are basically ghettos located outside the city, where the Blacks had to settle during the times of the apartheid. Now, said our driver, the government supports townships and tries to make life there better, but it’s still a long way to go. Townships are not safe and life conditions are very poor. We reached the area of destination, but it turned out that our drive had no idea where the Cheetah Outreach reserve was. So we parked by some winery and asked the policeman nearby. The policeman got very excited, got in his van and led the way; at a certain point we lost sight of him as he was terribly speeding, but we found our way to the reserve. At the reserve they have a bunch of cheetahs, shepherd dogs, two jumpy jackals, and a bunch of… of… these little creatures, like Timon from the Lion King! Cheetahs are becoming extinct in South Africa, because the estate owners shoot them mercilessly, being afraid that they might attack the cattle. That’s why at this reserve they’re training Anatolian shepherd dogs – to keep the cheetahs and other animals away from the cattle without killing them.

So we ended up petting a cheetah. His name was Enigma, he was eight years old and he was mainly sleeping. But, you know, we pet a cheetah. And drove straight back to the Waterfront. At that point the others decided that they wanted to go to the restaurant, and our ways parted, because I wanted to return to the food market. Good decision! Everything was incredibly delicious. After that I walked to the big crafts market nearby, and spent a while there – mostly chatting to the sellers! Literally, those people talk so much, and they are all so nice. I spent about an hour discussing batik and Russia and Semester at Sea and Capet Town with a local artist at the market; and impressive chunks of time talking to the others. Talking made me hungry, so I returned to the food market. And there was live music, and I sat down with my meal and tea to listen. A guy and a girl, he playing the guitar and the tambourine and singing at the same tine, she singing in majestic low voice and playing the violin. I couldn’t help starting a conversation when they took a break, and we spent another half an hour chatting… Oh man, I’m getting corns on my tongue, but I’m enjoying it so much.
So I decided to go to the city center and visit the art museum, and then go catch a 6-pm musical. After some struggle I got on the right bus (at least 5 times cheaper than taxi), and found myself in the center of Cape Town.
The city looked abandoned, there were barely any people around, like in a movie – the dead city. Everything is closed on Sundays. I walked and walked, popped into some gift shop, talked to some vendors… Discussed Siberia with a 9-year-old, discussion followed by the talk about the global warming and stuff. The kid seemed older than his age, he talked and behaved just like an adult, which was very interesting to observe. At last I rushed to Artscape, the theatre, to get a discounted ticket for Guys&Dolls musical. It was awesome. But when the musical was over and I walked out of the building I realized it was already dark, empty, and the whole area started looking pretty sketchy. I started wondering whether the buses still run, so I asked an elderly couple walking nearby. Instead they told me to get into the car and drove me straight to the ship. They were amazing. The husband was a history professor from the university of Cape Town, he visited Russia in the nineties; his wife was of Jewish Russian descent. We had a great conversation on our way. I thanked them warmly for their care, picked a bunch of samosas on the way to the ship, and then had to stay at the gangway because this type of food is not allowed on the ship. While I was finishing the samosas, I figured out that the security working today were both Bulgarians and both from Sozopol. We ended up having a good long conversation, and they told me that more Bulgarians were coming on the ship as a crew. At last, exhausted but extremely happy with my day, I returned to my room and heard Rachel’s safari story. And now my eyes are so closing, goodnight loves!

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