Thursday, December 13, 2012

I went walking the other day and discovered that Simon's Town  has a unique feature.  Since it is built on the side of a hill, there are staircases that connect one level of the town to the next.  If you wish you can hike up the steps and gain a lot of vertical feet in a short time.  In order to keep up with Brian and Dorothy on our proposed ascent of Table Mountain, I am trying to get in shape by trucking up and down these staircases.  It was truly a spectacular view from the top of twar he town. 
Notice the white caps that the +30 knots winds have been generating
I haven't managed to get to the museum yet but Simon's Town was a favoured anchorage in the winter months, and it is suggested that Nelson may have come ashore here when he was a midshipman, the |American Confederate ship the Alabama docked here during the Civil War shortly before it was sunk by the British, the town fairly reeks with naval history.  
Houses are perched on the side of quite dramatic hillsides.  I only climbed up to where the buildings stopped, perhaps I should explore to see if these heights can scaled.

The other day an American boat, Sea Level invited us to tour a township called Langa.  This township came into being in the 1960's when there was a need for migrant workers to build the city of Cape Town.

A family would have to  live in the space the size of this bed, they also would have a locker where they would store their food, there was no mess, everyone had to be tidy in order that your area was kept neat and tidy and did not infringe on another's family's space.
 The original brick buildings housed only the men and they lived 3 to a room.  In the 70's the women and children were allowed to join the men and overcrowding began as 3 families were living in the space intended for only 3 men.  In order to have privacy the younger generation moved out of the gov't provided brick housing, moving into shacks.
The unpleasant looking shacks on the outside, but surprisingly modern inside.
Although at that time the shacks did not have running water, electricity or sanitary facilities, they did have a measure of privacy.  We got to see into one of these shacks and the family living there had 2 large screen TV's, a full sized fridge, a microwave and a stove.  The drawback was that if it was really hot or really cold or if it rained the thin, drafty walls and roofs may not withstand the weather.
In the same area, there were upper and middle class homes, when the apartheid restrictions were lifted people who were living in single family dwellings were given ownership of their homes.  This part of the township life is not shown on TV, all I ever saw were the shacks, there were neighbourhoods that looked like small town Canada.
Three generations would live in this house. 
Our guide pointed out that respect and dignity were a huge part of their culture and that having your  children receive a higher education is a prized goal for families.  If their offspring gains a good education, and gets a well paying job, he or she can help to finance the building of a large family home and thus the family will have an elevated status in the community. The tour was a real eye opener, we learned so much I would recommend a township tour to any traveller in South Africa, it will surely expand your knowledge of this country.
Perhaps the future leader of South Africa!