cape town

White People Do Some Crazy Sh*t

by Spencer

Why leave everything, every last comfort, to venture into the dangerous unknown? It’s a good question. There are even a couple good answers. But I know that sometimes I act without fully thinking it through, without justification, simply because to do so is easier, more expedient.

We decided to climb Table Mountain, the epic backdrop to Cape Town’s city center. We didn’t think it through. The mountain’s summit is a massively wide mesa 1300 meters (about 4000 feet) above sea level. Our hike took us up 1000 meters in an hour under the afternoon sun. There was no shade. Every step had to be placed carefully. It was tiring.

Dehydrated at the summit, we went in search of water, but despite having great tap water, in South Africa free available water can be hard to find. I have seen only one drinking fountain and it was broken. By the time we were back half way down mountain the sun had set. Climbing down a mountain without a torch (flashlight) in the dark was slow going and naturally there no taxis to be found. So we walked some miles through Cape Town at night attempting to find our way home.

Why did we do that?

When you tell someone you’re going to bicycle through Africa, it’s funny. The reaction is rarely complacent. It’s either that’s awesome or oh my god you’re going to die. And yet bicycling through Africa isn’t crazy, I don’t think. It’s been done, many times. Sometimes you get a different reaction.

Take the first night in Cape Town, drinks at a bar that is more like a house, two stories, haphazard decorating, and a bed. The patrons are high, eyes blazed red. The conversation is of Miles Davis, JFK and the nature of truth, I kid you not. They’re not surprised to hear of our trip. White people do some crazy sh*t. They climb Everest, bike around Africa, but do they go out to the township?

People are funny. The endeavors we choose to tackle. I’m still trying to figure out why I’m here. But maybe that’s why I’m here? To figure out why I’m here?

We made it!

edited 1/1/2015

Cape Town

by Spencer

Cape Town is dramatic. It’s South Africa’s second most populous city, a sprawling metropolis of more than three million, framed between water and mountains, where an industrialist with a BMW can live next to a witchdoctor in a shack.

We climbed this. It's a beautiful backdrop to the city.
We climbed this. It’s a beautiful backdrop to the city.

It’s at once beautiful and easy going, then at a second it flips to stark, dark and scary. Our hostel was in OBS, Observatory, close to the University of Cape Town. I step out and down the street there is a small crowd. An attempted thief has been thrown to the ground, it’s street justice.

It’s a city of contrasts. Homes, mostly Mediterranean in style, pastel and stout, are fully enclosed, some have barb wire, others electrified fence, every entrance guarded. Yet the city is bright, green with plants and a bright blue sky. Fresh breezes whip up the air and toss the trees’ leaves. Meanwhile, advertisements for the upcoming election are ubiquitous, as are those for a doctor who promises to cure bad luck within seven days.

We just skimmed the city’s vibrant vibe. Unfortunately, I think that’s going to be the par on this journey. Stay for a day and then back to the bicycle.