The trail that we decided to hike up the mountain was Platteklip Gorge. Directly translated it means “flat rock” or “flat stone.” Kyle is probably the most fit of all of us, but Laura and I both have experience hiking, Laura more so than me. Wellyna doesn’t have much experience hiking, so her gear was spread between the rest of our backpacks and she just focused on getting up the trail. If anyone reading this has ever hiked up the Monkey Face trail at Smith Rock, this trail was similar in difficulty, but at least twice as long. It just kept going up, and going up, and going up! The path was mostly big steps the whole way, so our upper legs got a really good workout. My goal was to not use my inhaler the whole way and I reached that goal! I had to really focus on my breathing at some points, but I didn’t need to use my inhaler at all! I was so happy about that because that means I have made progress in dealing with my asthma!
One of the prettiest parts of the hike was seeing the natural spring water coming out of the rocks and trickling down or falling in droplets off ledges. With the sun going through them, the droplets looked like “little drops of heaven,” as Kyle called them. It was just too beautiful! We picked the perfect day to go up the mountain because it was the only day there wasn’t a blanket of clouds covering the top! Every other day “the blanket” was there and visibility from the top would have been nearly impossible. On Thursday it was so clear that we could see absolutely everything from the top! Once we were at the top, there were some nice lookout points, the gift shop, a food area, and then the cable car to get back down. This hike was definitely all about the journey and the destination was only just the icing on top.
Because we were all really hungry from the hike, we decided to take the cable car down and head to Hout Bay for “some of the best fish and chips outside of the Wild Coast” according to Kyle. He lives in the Wild Coast area and says you can’t get any better fish and chips than when you’re there. He had been to this specific restaurant before, so we let him navigate there. Turns out he was on the wrong side of the peninsula, so we drove for 2 hours before we got there, but then he couldn’t find the restaurant! We did find fish and chips (it’s not too hard here to do that), but they were less than stellar. However, because we were all so starving because it took an extra 2 hours to get there, it was worth the wait :)
Friday morning we woke up early to walk to another museum. This one was called “The Slave Lodge” and was just that. It is now a museum about the history of slavery in South Africa, but it used to be a building where slaves were forcibly held and made to eat, sleep, and work. The conditions were horrendous. The British government at the time of enslavement (because they were the ones in charge then), told the settlers that they weren’t allowed to enslave the native Khoe (pronounced like coy) San people. So they didn’t. However, they spread disease through them and there are no Khoe San people left today because of that. The slaves were shipped down from western and eastern African countries. I’m not going to write anymore about it because it is depressing, but feel free to ask me if you want to know more information.
After the Slave Lodge, we went back to the V&A to board a ferry to go over to Robben Island. The island is home to the maximum security prison where many were held for their opposing political beliefs during apartheid. The most internationally famous of those people was Nelson Mandela. He was held in the prison for 27 years, released in 1990. After his release he started his public political path and was then elected in the first democratic election in 1994. One of the other men detained at the prison was there only so he wouldn’t create public unrest. He had committed a crime at one point, but then upon his release, because the government didn’t want him in the public again, they created a special clause just for him saying that he could be detained without reason. As soon as he set foot on public soil, he was arrested and put into solitary confinement on Robben Island. It was a solemn story, but powerful as it made me realize the power the government can have and how grateful I am for our own government, despite some flaws it might have. After this solemn day, we went for our last dinner at a restaurant called Karibu. The word means “Welcome” in Swahili. Laura and I both got a dish from there that had ostrich capriccio on top! It was actually quite tasty!
Our last morning, we spent a lazy morning at Vida e Caffe just talking. Kyle was supposed to pick us up late morning, but he didn’t end up showing up until 4 pm, so we had a nice long time to talk! Kyle then drove Wellyna and I back to Grahamstown and Laura started her adventure! You can read about her two week trip back to Grahamstown at her blog: rootedandbranching.blogspot.com.