Monday, June 14 and Tuesday, June 15

Paula: Heavy rain on Monday gave us an opportunity to read and complete the planning necessary for the rest of our stay in South Africa. An unexpectedly pleasant afternoon allowed us to explore the waterfront area. Much of our time was spent making reservations for Kruger National Park and other travel arrangements up until our departure on July 2.

The Victorian & Albert Waterfront is nicely developed and has lovely shops, restaurants, an aquarium, museum and theaters. We enjoyed the signpost indicating the distance to Boston and the kids teasingly set off in the direction of home. Seals follow boats in the harbor and a landing area has been set aside for them to gather.

On Tuesday we walked through the city's center in the morning, stopping to see the old city hall and the Good Hope Castle, the oldest structure in Cape Town.. We found the Greenmarket Square bustling with vendors and made several purchases. David and Katie purchased their usual key chain and charm (they buy one from each country that we visit) while Steve negotiated for African Zulu masks.

The highlight of the morning was our visit to the District VI Museum. This small museum was established for the former residents of District VI. This area of Cape Town was leveled by bulldozers during the apartheid period. The government found the cosmopolitan neighborhoods here threatening, and wanted all land in the city center reserved for white residents. Noor, our guide in the museum, had lived in District VI during this time and was forced to relocate to a "colored" district. He told us that his father cried when the family's home was demolished and that he had a friend whose family was relocated to different areas because he was colored and his wife was black. The museum contains pictures of the old neighborhoods and a large map allows people to sign their names on the spots of their their former homesteads. Noor told us that some of the original residents of the district, with the help of the government, moved back into the area just last week. We were all touch by the museum and especially this man's personal story.

We spent the afternoon touring Robben Island. The island is seven miles from Cape Town Harbor. While the island has been used as a naval base and isolated area for leper colonies in the past, it is mostly known for the prison that held political prisoners during the apartheid years.

During our tour of the prison, we were able to learn about life in the facility and view the living quarters and quarries where the men were forced to do hard labor. Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of prison here and we walked by the cell he occupied during most of his time on Robben Island. Our guide was an ex-political prisoner himself, had spent five years here from 1984-1989. He explained what life was like as well as how the prisoners were gradually able to improve their conditions mainly through a series of hunger strikes.
The Robben Island experience and visit to the District VI Museum today gave us an opportunity to learn about apartheid rule and the amazing spirit of the people who sought freedom and democracy. We were left with the impression that the people here are thankful for their new rights and hopeful about their future. Their appreciation for democracy and all that it offers was refreshing.

The view of Cape Town from the island was quite nice and we watched large waves crash into the shoreline. We were surprised to find the island alive with wildlife. We saw a small antelope called a springbuck and hundreds of African Penguins. The penguins were everywhere, nesting in low bushes, crossing the roads and wobbling along the beach. We had fun observing them up close as they seemed totally unconcerned by our presence.

We returned to the waterfront by early evening and enjoyed another wonderful seafood dinner before heading back to watch European World Cup Soccer on television. Soccer is replacing our appetite for spectator sports at least for a few more weeks.

Tomorrow we are hoping for a sunny day to explore the peninsula and have been invited for dinner with another friend of a friend.












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