Thursday, April 12, 2018

Meeting the South African WiseMan

Hermit Hovel by RollingMan
So, when I met with the three of them (the WiseMan and his two friends), they were all drunk on white wine. It was a hot and sunny and beautiful Saturday afternoon in South Africa - and I guess a few chilled glasses of white wine could hit the spot.

I introduced myself and gave the WiseMan the red wine I brought for him as a gift. One of his friends was a winemaker, and he was in a very good mood - a very good mood indeed.

After they found out I hitchhiked, the WineMaker would hear nothing more about it. I was going to stay with him the night. He showed incredible South African hospitality.

We all chit chatted about this and that, about the small things and the great things, but unfortunately not about the important things. They were drunk and not in the mood for it.

The WiseMan had pizza delivered to us. It was a sign of his hospitality, because I told him I was hungry. I had been traveling for hours to see him.

After, they brought out two more bottles of white wine. In total, they may have each drank a bottle or more of wine that day. The WiseMan's cheeks turned a bright baboon red, and he said he needed a rest.

I was disappointed. I came all this way. I wanted to share my story. I wanted some wisdom. I needed some help. But it happens. Whatever it was.

The WineMaker and his buddy took me around town. We went to a bar on the hill. The WineMaker kept talking about how bad the methodists were for some reason. Later, he introduced me to a number of friends and his girlfriend.

One of the WineMaker's friend said, "My grandmother believed in only two things: Methodists and Jan Smut. Methodists aren't good people." I wondered what was wrong with these methodists.

After the sun had set behind the hill, he took me to his place. He had a cozy and well-built and well-designed home. I slept in a nice bed. I had to take a short shower. Their area had so little water - everyone was waiting for Day Zero to hit soon.

The WineMaker talked with his girlfriend and friends. He was rather drunk - so much of it didn't have too much relevance, but some of it was interesting.

I slept for 9 hours, but when I woke up, I didn't feel rested. I think I had a glass of wine too much too.

The WineMaker and I and one friend had breakfast. It was decent but nothing to rave about. Nobody was in a good mood; they all looked hung over.

I stopped by the WiseMan's place. He looked hung over too. I said good bye to him. I was still a bit disappointed I didn't get the wisdom I was seeking.

After, the WineMaker took me back to town through the backroads - where I was able to see some beautiful African birds fly through the fields. I even saw African deer that looked like a unicorn.

Before he dropped me off at my AirBnB, we did another wine tasting. That lifted both our moods. What is it about wine that it could do that?

The WineMaker told me about all the different varieties in the region. He knew them well, and he even knew the year of each one. We overlooked more of the mountains, and I told him stories, like when that speed boat almost tried to kill me Colombia. We talked a lot about travel.

After, the WineMaker paid. That was generous of him. I tried to pay. I regretted not paying, so much so, I thought about it for days after. He was such a generous man.

After he dropped me off, I met my next host - who turned out later to be a White Supremacist that believed the Jewish race was trying to enslave or kill him. Imagine staying with someone like that. He tried to be polite, but he was so full of rage and anger and stress, it was hard to be around him.

In any event, the next morning, my next host gave me a ride to the nearest train station. I was able to make it back into town, but I kept wondering what was the point of all that. I didn't learn much. They seemed kind of suspicious of me, but they were too drunk to let me even explain my story.

I wish I could have told them that their wisdom needs to be invested in the next generation for mission to continue. I wish I could have told them that I probably had knowledge for them as well, or more about my own journey. But perhaps next time. There could be a next time, however and whenever that happens.

But I was still proud of myself, I had did it against the odds. When I came back, I was welcomed with smiles as I told everyone: I did it! I saw the WiseMan of the South African Mountains, and I told the people my story.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Seeing the WiseMan of the South African Mountains

"I don't know if I'll make it, Lloyd," I told the Xhosan receptionist. "But I have to see him." I heard there was a wiseman in the middle of nowhere I had to see.

Lloyd said, "Oh, man, it's going to be hard. That's in the middle of nowhere. And you don't have a car. It's almost impossible to get there." Lloyd had dreadlocks and a bright and sunny and white smile every time he spoke.

"But I have to see him, Lloyd. He might have the answers I need."

I left on a Saturday, not knowing if this was going to work. I packed my things. I brought a fine bottle for the wiseman. I heard that he may have the answers I need in my journey hence.

Nicky, the morning receptionist printed me my sign of paper, because it's so hard to hitchhike in South Africa. It read: "American / Ride Needed / Can Pay." The receptionists and I debated whether I should write "Can Pay" or "Help". They both said "Can Pay" would increase my chances of getting picked up.

But Lloyd warned me. "Man, it's a Saturday. The trains won't be running frequently. You might have to get there really early."

I couldn't walk to the train station with that advice. It was 2 miles away. So, I asked a young dutch guy named Dave to give me a ride. I would even pay him, but he wouldn't accept it. After, I gave him my number to keep in touch.

I bought a train ticket for 13R ($1USD). I had to get to one station and make a change in trains.

Train rides are interesting in South Africa. In general, this tripper but good way of transportation is only done by the blacks and colored (mixed) people. I didn't see one white person on the train. I was the only Asian person, and I could feel the eyes being glued to my skin.

One lady even called to me and said, "Ching Chang! Where are you from?"

Not wanting to answer her, I said, "Japan," and changed seats.

I had to change trains. There, it was running about 30 minutes late. I had to wait about 40 minutes. I started reading. It was a good way of getting reading done.

On the train - a dirty guy kept grabbing his crotch and looking at me. I thought something was wrong and asked him, "Are you ok?" He touched my knee and I told him, "Don't touch me."

I moved seats, where he stared at me with a fixed gaze. Then he started ranting and raving. I figured he was mentally not well.

He left, and the other people on the train agreed with me that he was mentally unwell. The train ran through a number of filthy townships. Townships are these shacks made of tin, where the poor blacks and colored live. There, I saw a little boy defecating on a pile of trash.

After the last train, there was a bus that was going to 7 miles away from my destination. I had to wait an hour for the bus, and the bus told me that there wasn't a return trip. That was worrying, because my AirBnB was booked 20 miles away from where the wise man lived.

I had faith. I believed I could do it. I had to see him, and there was no turning back now.

There were thoughts and what ifs. What if I don't see him? What if he's not there? What if I can't get back at night? What if no one takes me back to my AirBnB? 

But I controlled my thoughts and pushed them aside and told myself, I have to try. It'll work out.

The bus dropped me off at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere. There were just grape vineyards everywhere that went on expansively but stopped at the base of the surrounding mountains.

At the crossroad was a black guy who was also hitchhiking. He was a worker from Zimbabwe. It was rare to see another hitchhiker. I talked to him. He said he was going into the same town I was. He knew the wise man of the mountain.

I took out my sign that Nicky gave me, and we waited for a ride. After 30 minutes, an Afrikaner farmer with a white pick up picked us up and had us sit in his bed. He drove us into town, and I thanked him. I told him I was seeing the wiseman, and he was excited for me.

The driver stepped out. I asked the Zimbabwean guy to take the photo. He tried to take it of just the driver and him. I told him, "No. You must be part of the photo." I got the selfie of the three of us, and I told them both I would send it to them later.

I kept wondering if the wiseman would be there when I came.

After walking for about 10 minutes, I remember seeing his back. He was sitting on his porch, drinking wine. I recognized him. He had two friends with him.

 I thanked my Zimbabwean friend and said good bye. Then, I introduced myself and brought out the bottle of wine.

One of the guys named Tony looked at the bottle and said, "That's a nice wine." I told them how it took me three and a half hours, a car ride, two trains, a bus, and a hitchhike to arrive.

It was then, Tony said, "Have a seat with us."

They brought me out a glass of white wine. It was chilled. We toasted. We drank.

(To be continued.)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

My Last Thoughts on Cape Town

Lion's Head (background) and Cape Town (below)
shot by Paul Cook from Table Mountain
I erased my original posts and thoughts about Cape Town and wanted to share more of my thoughts and feelings about South Africa. Yes, I did the touristy things, such as Lion's Head and Table Mountain and the Victoria and Albert Waterfront and the aquarium there. But, that wouldn't capture my impressions of Cape Town and South Africa. My final thoughts is that South Africa is in a bad shape. The social fabric of trust has completely rotted in South Africa. No one trusts anyone.

View of Cape Town from Lion's Head
One thing I did that was special and not listed in any of the tour books (not in the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide), is that I sat in a session of parliament. It's free and worth doing in Cape Town, as my hostel was nearby. The entire session was a like a circus. The minority parties were arguing with the ANC, and the ANC acted like it didn't matter what legitimate complaints existed, they were in charge. So, why should they listen?

Most of the houses are surrounded by electric wires to keep thieves out. I met a pair of South Africans, who were robbed at gun point in their gated community. Every place, like restaurants and bars, have a big iron gate in front of it. You have to be buzzed in a lot of times. 

It's the small things that get to you. Like, nobody hands the waiter their credit card.
A shark at the aquarium
at the V&A Waterfront
Instead, the waiter brings the machine to you, or you walk to the front counter with the credit card. This is because credit card fraud was rampant at one point.

Talking about the small things getting to you. I also don't like how when I hitchhiked here, people look at you like your crazy. I still got picked up, and the guy said, "Man! You're crazy. Nobody will pick you up."

And I said, "Well, you did."

"Consider yourself lucky and get yourself a taxi next time."

"Why won't they pick me up?"

"Because, no one will trust you. Everyone thinks everyone else is a criminal."

Over breakfast today, the nephew of my host said that a
hitchhiking passenger killed a driver recently. Not good. Like I said, it appears that the social fabric of trust in South Africa
The Butcher by Jane Alexander
Featured in the National Gallery
(These are the creatures Apartheid created.)
has deteriorated, at least towards the stranger, to the foreigner, to the unknown person. In my view, the concept of Good Samaritan has been lost. 

What that means for an entire nation, who knows? According to Jacques Pauw of South Africa, he says that South African untouchables "are unemployed for life. Exports are falling, commodity prices are falling, growth rate forecasts are falling, business confidence is falling. We have become world leaders in income inequality, racial tension, rape and illicit financial outflows." I don't recommend investing in South Africa, sadly. I'm sure the future will only tell us more.

On the theme of investments, there was a day I learned about diamonds at the museum. It was so commercial, I won't even bother telling you which diamond museum I went to. Did you
Cartoon at the National Gallery
Doesn't it remind you of Baldwin Park too and
their refusal to give up records?
know that a man-made diamond is exactly the same as a natural one? You can't tell the difference. 

I asked my guide, "Well, what if De Beers started making
artificial diamonds and putting them into their trade?"

She said, "They wouldn't do that."
"But if they did, nobody would be able to know. You just explained that to me."

Nothing was said after that.

Sunset of Cape Town from Table Mountain
All in all, I've decided I'm not going to buy a diamond. It's a dirty trade to put your money into. The pursuit of diamonds have caused the death of so many blacks and Boers alike. No matter what De Beers says, all South African diamonds are blood diamonds.

Final political thought. The big stir here is whether former President Jacob Zuma will be convicted of his crimes, which are so well documented. It's kind of the same problem in Baldwin Park - how does Mayor Lozano and his men continue to engage in corruption without prosecution. In fact, it's becoming more and more blatant and overt.

Not good at all. It appears that accountability and prosecution of government officials and administrators is a global problem. I'm convinced we've come to a point in time, where, we as a human race need to figure out how to prosecute those who govern us. Currently, South Africa has shown me that the checks and balance system is clearly not working but hasn't shown me how to make it work. 

One thing that I haven't mentioned about Cape Town is the beautiful coffee and food and ice cream I had. I'll post on that separately, as I think it should have it's own article.

So besides meeting "interesting" people and some good people, eating good food and drink, and seeing a country in one big mess, I think I can say I have a good feel for Cape Town. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Day 274: Lesson from The Easter of 2018 - On Being Free

Table Mountain at Sunset, Cape Town, South Africa
Shot by Paul Cook
Who would have ever thought that I would have been writing an Easter post from the Western Cape of South Africa even a few months ago? Really, this entire trip is taking me to places I would have never thought I'd end up in. I've been traveling now for 274 days, a little over 9 months. If there's anything that marks this Easter as special, I think it's about being free.

The holiday of Easter, and it's close relative, Passover, are really about freedom, right? Jesus said he came to "bring good news to the poor . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind . . . [and] to set free the oppressed". (Luke 4:18-19, GNT). And isn't Passover about the Jewish flight from Egyptian slavery?

In my opinion, it's hard to understand the concept of freedom today; the term has been so distorted. I'll never forget, after the September 11th attacks on the Twin Towers, when George Bush said that the White House was going to eat "Freedom Fries" as opposed to "French Fries" that day. It's hard to imagine more ways to mock the word freedom.

When presidents and western leaders say they're going to take over a country to introduce democracy and freedom, are they really bringing freedom to a people? Or are they bringing a new type of enslavement, and using it as an excuse to take the resources of those countries? I mention this, because once again, the meaning of freedom is clearly muddled today.

Perhaps - we in the West (and in many places around the world), think we're free, because slavery has been abolished. Technically, at least in the United States, humans cannot be the property of another.

Being in South Africa, however, has given me perspective. Enslavement, the abuse of humans, and the painful legacy of subjugation is so clear here.

I've spent close to a month in Cape Town, the political capital of South Africa, and there's no way you could be in Cape Town, without the people reminding you of the abusive system that Apartheid created. Apartheid was the South African version of America's Jim Crow laws. Laws were enacted to promote white dominance over colored and black people. Whites and blacks were separate; but not really. Blacks could still be servants for the whites, and hence share that space - but only if they were servants. But people were not equal, and the laws stifled advancements of colored and black people.

These laws maintained and perpetuated a white power in South Africa - which allowed the prevailing party to loot the resources of the land. Blacks were kicked down, literally and physically, spat on, and called racial epithets to chain them down. For instance, blacks were not allowed to work in certain jobs or even vote. As of April of 1994, Apartheid is technically abolished, but is it really?

Really, Apartheid was the modern and physical manifestation of what it meant to be enslaved and not have freedom. In short, it was cruel and degraded humanity for the benefit and wealth of the few.

And learning about Apartheid made me wonder, even though we're technically free in a place like the United States, are we really free as well? Its perhaps on this trip, I'm beginning to understand better the foundations of enslavement and freedom.

It's even plausible that the Scriptures argues that spiritual enslavement, as opposed to physical enslavement, is the worse of two evils. That's a radical idea, and understandably an abhorrent argument. How could a rich and young prince have it worse than someone in poverty, who is being beat and broken and abused? It's absurd, and one might argue, even trivializing revulsive systems like Apartheid.

But it's clear in Apostle Paul's response that one can experience joy even in the worst of circumstances. When he was in prison in Philippi, he writes: "I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now. And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:3-6).

To summarize, Paul in prison, gives thanks, experiences joy, and encourages his congregation (from prison) to strive to be better people. Although physically shackled, can there be a better illustration of freedom? I don't know about you - but I'm generally not an encouraging person when I'm suffering. In fact, for those of you who have been reading my blog long enough, know that the Mayor of Baldwin Park threw me into jail for protesting him. Although I thought it a humbling and crucial experience in my life - I can't say that I was nearly as joyful in my response that Paul demonstrated. Paul shows that one has freedom in how one responds to others - no matter how much is going wrong with life. (Notice; he doesn't even blame God, when these things happen. He doesn't even question why God doesn't free him.)

The passage of Scripture reminds me of how Prime Minister de Klerk, the head and power of the South African State had to negotiate with the prisoner Nelson Mandela. I mean, in this moment - who is the one that is really in power? Who is the one that is really in charge? In this moment, who is really slave? Who is really free?

Hence, in the West - like in America - there's an illusion that we're free, when we're really not. I met a privileged guy, recently, who ruined his reputation, his finances, and his relationships, because he was spending all his money on ecstasy and cocaine and marijuana - just because life was just too painful for him to live through sober. He'd rather be, what academics call, "in the zone."

(The phenomenon can often be seen in gambling addicts, who can't leave the slot machine. You'll see that they go into a trance. But what do they sacrifice to get into "this zone" - this artificial taste of freedom and joy? Generally, everything.)

And that begins to beg the real question. Are you in charge of the pleasure (whether it be in the for of gambling, drugs, alcohol, sex, quest for money, or power), or is that desire actually in charge of you? Who controls who? The answer to the question is whether a person can abstain or say no to that pleasure? And if he or she cannot, they are spiritually enslaved, and that harm has a way to seed and grow and root and manifest and control in other people, especially those we care about, like our friends, relatives, and children.

But to think about these problems, only bring despair. Is there even a solution?

Passover and Easter, however, are a reminder that a solution exists to this type of spiritual enslavement. The celebration of these holidays remind us that God is also the God of love and freedom and that through him - freedom is achievable. The Gospels, unlike what prosperity preachers say, never promises us wealth or power or a life of luxury or security or comfort. It does promise us a new life and the freedom that comes with it, if one is willing to admit that he or she needs to die to him or herself and trust that God will raise that person back from the dead.

That is the Christian paradox. In living, there is death. In dying, there is life.

I'm on a sabbatical now, and although many have looked at my journey across the world with envy - but really, it has been a mentally challenging journey. I paid off my student loans to the bank to reclaim my physical freedom. And that, in turn, cleared the way for a trip throughout the world, to learn more about the peoples of this planet and myself and my God, and how it all connects together.

Some times, I still worry about the future and my security, but when I do, I have to remind myself (some times quite often) that I serve the God that created the universe. What's most important is that I trust he knows what I need, and he'll provide for me.

Anyways, those are my thoughts for This Easter.

Happy Easter from the Western Cape of South Africa,


Sunday, March 25, 2018

My Days on Long Street, Cape Town, South Africa

I arrived into Cape Town after traveling for eight and a half months and settled in a place called Long Street - which was once known for brothels and drinking and is now known for drugs and tourists and food and cafes. I was on a sabbatical and just took a break from my work as a starting attorney, but it was time. I arrived into Cape Town, however, without the desire to travel anymore, so I stayed awhile at the same hostel in the city center. As a result, I met a lot of interesting and different people. They were so "interesting" there were several times that I had to be asked to move from room to room.

Perhaps the guest I disliked the most was a guy from Africa. He was an obese man in his mid 20's to 30's with a shaved and big head and a furry goatee and had the body of a walrus. I won't ever forget his big, pumpkin head.

He asked me: "Are you from the Philippines?"

I said, "Yes. I'm here illegally."

"OH!!!!! You are! Give me 800R ($66 USD), or I'll tell the police."

"Go ahead. Tell them."

(I didn't like him; so, I didn't tell the truth about him. It made me realize also what the undocumented in my country have to put up with.)

This guy would sit in his underwear all day and talk on the phone, all day. The only time he left the room was to eat, what he called "African food". He asked me a few times to join him. I told him, "No thank you."

One time, because he couldn't be bothered going down himself, he asked if I'd get him some food if he gave me the money. I told him: "You can get it yourself."

I asked him if he believed in voodoo one day. He said he did and asked for my hand so he could "give it to me." I told him, "No thank you."

I was annoyed with him, because he woke me up every morning by talking on the phone - lying like a walrus in bed in his underwear. I asked him if he could take the phone call outside. On this morning, he was talking about with a lady on the phone (presumably) about starting up a prostitution business on Long Street. He said he could get a room for her for 200R ($16.67) a day.

I told him: "Please take the call outside."

When he didn't, I asked to be moved. He found out I asked to be moved and called me a "Chinaman."

One morning, he went to the ladies at reception and told them: "You're women. You need to make me my coffee."

One lady - who had some black in her - told him: "You're making my African blood boil. If I was your wife, I'd kill you."

First, I met a guy named Naoto from Japan. We had a good time. You can read about how we hiked Lion's Head together.

Then there was creepy. A local man, maybe 50, white, pudgy, would come so close to talk to me, I felt really uncomfortable.

I asked him why he was staying at a hostel, if he was from Cape Town. He said, that he fell on hard times.

He also tried to sell me what appeared to be a stolen bus card.

He snored so loud that he could wake the dead. I asked to be moved. I moved.

Next, I met a runaway boy from the Xhosa tribe. He was 19 and said he graduated university already. He was very nice and kind.

He never met an Asian before, he told me. He was clever enough to figure out I was American too. He asked me a lot about my straight hair, which I guess he didn't see so often of.

He told me he had runaway, because he was being forced into an arranged marriage, which he wanted nothing to do with. He said it'd be a loveless marriage.

I asked him, "How do you know?"

I told him that he should return home and that his mother probably missed him very much. He didn't believe me, but eventually, he went back home.

He taught me how to click my tongue to make the different noises they do in their language. It was interesting.

Then there was stinky. He was maybe in his 30's. He was a white guy from Australia. His body odor was so bad, that I couldn't sleep. (It made wonder if this is how bad the Spaniards smelled, when they met the Incas and Aztecs. The Incas and Aztecs had to constantly carry incense around the Spaniards.)

I don't think he meant any harm about it though. But the next day, when I couldn't handle it anymore, I had to tell him: "Do you mind please taking a shower. I don't mean to be rude. But you are sharing a room with other people." He didn't talk to me after that conversation.

One night, I was a wallflower - which means a shy guy, not wanting to meet the ladies. I was sitting in the kitchen - working on computer "stuff". A Swiss-German girl told me that I had to join her for some beers. I packed up my computer and went to the balcony - where the music was booming and the people were roaming. I met a group of Germans, which felt comfortable to me. We drank and chatted.

Two German girls asked if I'd join them for breakfast. I agreed.

The next morning, one turned out to be a "hangry" - and was about to shout at the staff for not bringing her food right away. The other one, young, blood, with blue eyes, asked me if I'd join her for a walking tour. I sighed.

She said, "You don't have to come, if you don't want."

"I'll come," I said. No matter what she says, I believe she wanted me to come. And saying, "No," wouldn't be very gentlemanly.

So, I joined her. And like I had predicted, the tour was boring. She said I didn't show enough "positivity." I thought - She belongs to the new religious cult of positivity. I smiled and said, "I'll try better, next time."

Not always pleasant, but one can say my days on Long Street have been interesting nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

African Penguins

Me with African Penguin
There were penguins all over the beach in the Cape, and you can smell them. Did you know there's only one species of penguins in Africa? It's the Spheniscus demersus, common name African Penguin or Jackass Penguin; they like to hee-haw. Spheniscus, by the way, means small wedge, probably because when they walk they look like wedges. Demersus means to plunge. Being diving birds, they're little wedges that plunge into the water. These particular species are endangered.

My professor in marine biology said that penguins stink, and they do, because they defecate a lot. Apparently, their guano makes good fertilizer. The professor said they're very oily and if you chop off their heads and put a wick in them, they make brilliant candles. The students were horrified at such a comment.

(Did you know that penguins do exist in warm places too? They go as far North as the Galapagos, which is close to the Equator. I got that question wrong on my professor's test and never forgot it. That was 16 years ago!)

The difference amongst these penguins and the ones I saw in the Galapagos and Chile and New Zealand is that they're more into people. They're not as afraid of them. And to take that selfie, the penguin actually bit my sweater but stopped after awhile. When the other tourists saw that he wasn't mean, they also took photos close to him. I don't think I've ever been so close to penguins before.

Besides being endangered, the African Penguin has only two main colonies: Here on the Cape and on the coast of Namibia.

My host said I wasn't that too impressed with them when I saw them. That's probably because I've seen a number of rafts of penguins around the world.

Nonetheless, I have to admit that when I saw one jump into that water and glide in their like a zipping and zagging submarine, I was very impressed. I even saw one catch a fish swimming in the water. He just opened his beak and chased one and clamped his beak on it. Impressive little creatures.

A Dussie - a gigantic hamster related to an elephant - not a rodent.
Notice it's teeth; those turned into tusks in the elephant.

Me on a run at the beach again.

I found this furry friend by the beach.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

My Days in Cape Town, South Africa - the Lion's Head.

 Me at the top of Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
While flying from Johannesburg to Cape Town, I saw that the mountain ridges resembled the spine of a dragon, and I was in awe. Perhaps the great mountain was really just that: A sleeping dragon, ready to wake. And when it does, the earth will quake and tremble and shatter. Plumes of smoke will rise from the great pits of the black abyss and sulphur and cosmic fire will rain on us all. But for now; the petrified dragon rests in an uncertain peace - the peace the ancient earth inherited when it was born. How long that peace will last though; no one knows. My boxing coach always told me: There's a beginning and an end. But I wonder: Is that really true? 

I told the lady sitting next to me, "The mountains here look incredible." She asked me if I was my first time here, and I said it was. She was quiet and charming and soft-spoken lady, who looked Indian. I thought she was a doctor - because she was reading medical literature.

I came to Cape Town not knowing anyone and not having any plans. I didn't even have a place to stay. Imagine if you did that. Show up to a place without any plans. Not a way to travel for those who need control.

 I sorted it out though and ended up in a hostel on Long Street. Accommodation is expensive in Cape Town; so, I had to go back to a hostel.

My taxi driver told me: "Oh, man, you're not gonna sleep tonight. The noise is gonna be loud and keep you up. This is the party place, man."

And that it was. I was in the center of Cape Town and the rhythm and the pounding beat and the partying and the drugs and the sex and the prostitution filled the air of Long Street. (In fact, Long Street first started as a hub for sailors to meet hookers and booze up.) It was hard for me to sleep, not because of the noise, but more because of the jet lag.

Being back in a hostel meant I would meet new people again. I met the good and the bad.

The good first. I met a Japanese guy named Naoto - who was staying in my room. I was impressed with him because he had traveled for 9 months in Africa on a budget of $4,500 USD. THat's incredible. He was sick of Africa though, because he was tired of African people making fun of him and calling him China man. So, he was moving on to India.
Lion's Head (c) Wikipedia

Before he left though, we hiked up a mountain called the Lion's Head. It's 669 meters high or 2,195. Naoto and I weren't prepared to hike the Lion's Head, because we were originally going to the beach, but midway through - Naoto wanted to hike the Lion's Head and see the sunset from there.

I told the taxi driver to stop. The taxi driver was from Pakistan. Naoto visited Pakistan and told him all about it. The Pakistani driver gave us a discount for it. That was nice.

The problem is that we were in flip flops and had no water. But we chose to climb up the mountain. There were a lot of tourists hiking the trail. They mostly seemed from Germany.

Naoto, random Israeli guy, me
(from left to right). 
On our way to the trail, an Israeli guy caught up to us. He was very talkative and extroverted. He liked Naoto, because he was obsessed with Japan. He told us about all the places he went to Japan, and Naoto was impressed. (In fact, I told Naoto that I wasn't that interested in Japan, because of my experience in Tokyo.) We found out he was a flight attendant, and he was about to quit, because it was too tough for him.

At the top of Lion's Head, we were tired and thirsty. But a bubbly girl saw that I was tired and thirsty and offered Naoto and me water. She was from Southern California and graduated UCLA too. I thanked her profusely. People were staring at us, because we climbed up that mountain in our beach flip flops. But we did it, but we were slow at doing it, especially because the flip flops didn't have a good grip.

We made it down before dark. We didn't have a ride back into town. Naoto found some tourists who gave us a ride back to our hostel. I thought again to myself - Naoto is a good travel partner.

And that was it. Naoto didn't see much of South Africa or Cape Town. He wanted to leave Africa, so that night he was heading off to the airport on his way to India. I told him he was silly for leaving so soon without seeing more of South Africa, but besides being tired of the racism, he also said it was too expensive. (I think that South Africa is expensive, especially with the increasing power of the Rand.) I wished him good travels.

As for myself - there would be more days for me on Long Street and in Cape Town and more people and more places and more food and more coffee and more stories.