Cape Town, South Africa
Arriving from Lesotho to Cape Town was as much of a culture shock as going from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg, but the vibe’s all positive: people walking around everywhere (this makes a huge difference), scheduled bus routes and safe minibus taxis, friendly locals, and a modern, heavily-organised atmosphere that feels vaguely European. It’s also clearly affluent. One of South Africa’s three capital cities (besides Pretoria and Bloemfontein) and by far the most visited one, most visitors tend to start their Africa trips here. Locals call it a soft landing: for me, it’s a soft readjustment, a one-week staging area for me to get used to a more Western style of living again, while still having small bits of the African hustle and bustle I’ve grown used to. Even the demographics don’t feel quite African, with people of myriad races and mixes represented, and a whole lot of white people: you could mistake it for an American city, if you didn’t hear the telltale click sounds in the local African languages all over the streets. South Africa calls itself the “Rainbow Nation”, and I guess this is what it means.
This is the last stop of my Africa trip! It took a few hours to sink in. I wandered around the ultra-modern Waterfront area (not unlike a kitschier Granville Island or Halifax’s harbourfront, but supersized and with big malls) in the early morning. Table Mountain loomed overhead, as it always does, but my mind wasn’t even on that: I had just made it all the way down from Ethiopia; Kenya by land! While I can’t say it was all that difficult, I did feel elatedly proud of myself, having a moment of disbelief as I ran into a sign pointing to Vancouver: I’m finally going home!