Unexpected diversions

Wednesday we decided to take another two-pronged assault on Table Mountain.  I would take the bus back to Kirstenbosch, hike up, and meet Jenna at the upper cable station after she had the morning to walk around town.  The "tablecloth" was enveloping the mountain, a thick shroud of cloud that rolls in from the Atlantic and dissipates around the edges of the plateau.  From the gardens I could see a thick blanket of cloud stretching out to the southeast, meaning a hike would be completely socked in.  I made a quick change of plan and found the quickest way back to town.

I took a metered taxi from the garden down to the main road in Newlands, then hopped on a minibus taxi back to Cape Town's civic centre.  The taxi ride had nearly the full complement of quotidian drama:  I was wedged in between a large woman and the door, the barker hung out the door shouting, the driver casually wove through moving traffic, narrowly avoiding numerous collisions, playing his horn like jazz trumpeter.  There was an entire language spoken by hoots.

Rejoining Jenna we adapted our plans.  The mountain was not meant to happen on this trip.  Instead we walked along High Level road to explore the Bo Kaap neighborhood.  This area is characterised by brightly-painted houses lining the streets.  The colourful palette of buildings is a relatively recent transformation of the neighborhood, but it has a longer history of being a home to Cape Malays.  We learned some history of the quarter in the small museum and breathed deeply of the exotic aromas across the street in the Atlas spice trader's.    

Jenna wanted to visit the District 6 museum, so we walked west with a break at a balcony cafe overlooking Long Street for a cup of rooibos.  District 6 is an area of prime real estate just outside of downtown that had been populated by minority groups during apartheid.  In the 1980s the government began a systematic relocation campaign to move its residents to far-flung suburbs and redevelop the area for whites.  It was a sad period of local history and the museum is a beautiful tribute to the spirit of the community that had emerged organically in District 6 prior to relocation.

The tablecloth over the mountain behind Bo Kaap.  Note the new development encroaching on the historic neighborhood.