“This is a First World country with a Third World mentality”, said Mark our Afrikaner guide. It could be easily have been applied to so many countries in the world that I had seen. Italy included.
We don’t need really a guide for the three day hike From Cape of Good Hope to Cape Town, but I decided to join a group. Safer and less boring than a solo hike.
“Human being are made of relationships and memories. I have to stay”, said Mark when I asked if he was considering to move abroad. He is in his 60s and most of his friends left the country at the end of the Apartheid. “My mother is Irish, my father was German, but I never applied for a second passport and now it is too late” he said.
“Now the country is less tranquil than in the past. I am not racist”, Mark said. “But the black in this country think they are being passed over for jobs. In the squatter camps they have no jobs, no money. They thought that after the apartheid they would get jobs. When it didn’t happen they began to get wild”.
My company for the three day hike is a couple from Iowa (but living in San Francisco) Kerry and Eric and a brother and sister from Sydney Matt and Lisa. Eric is a doctor and has just finished a 6 month project in Tanzania. The Australian are taking a gap year.
The Table mountain national park includes granite and sandstones mountains, giant-boulder-strewn beaches and shady forests. To reach the mountain’s 1088 summit from the Cape of Good Hope we took many hiking routes, but mainly the 80km Hoerikwaggo trail runs the full length of the peninsula from Cape Point to the upper cableway station. The weather is great and along the trail we meet many flowers and plants and penguins, baboons , zebras and antelopes.
We slept in beautiful designed tended camps where we meet different people: Afrikaners, coloured, Americans, Swedish and we have BBQs together. On Friday 17 I share my bottle of Jameson and we celebrate Saint Patrick around the bonfire.
At the Orange tended camp I met Andile, a black man that is helping us to cook ostrich sausages and hoek (merluzzo di mare in Italian). Andile has grown up in Polokwane and a gone to a black school there.”It was just a country school, he said. I was very young and didn’t know anything. But one day we took the train to Potchefstroom to play another school at football. After the game we were so hungry! We walked to a restaurant. We saw white people inside, but they wouldn’t let us in. They said, “Go to the window.” Beside the restaurant was the window where we were served.”
Andile said, “Here it was take-away for black peoples during sit-down for white people. We didn’t get angry. That was the situation. We got used to it, but that was my first experience of “Go the window”. I never sat in a restaurant. Even now -true- I don’t know how to use a restaurant. You need money, yes, but you also have to know what to do when you get inside. I don’t feel comfortable.
The signs “Slebs blankes, white only”, persisted into the late 1980s.