Friday, 6 November 2009

Arrived in Cape Town!

We arrived at Cape Town International Airport at 11.00 and after the 20 minute taxi drive arrived at the beautiful Vineyard Hotel.

Received a text from Jon to advise that he and Amanda are stuck in Dubai! They were trying out the Emirates route to Cape Town via Dubai, and missed their connecting flight. Hopefully they will be here tomorrow.

Our flight was full of Irishmen, volunteers building new homes for Africans in Cape Town, which has evolved beyond all recognition over the 5 decades in which we have regularly been visiting.

Cape Town is now like our second home, and is very different from the city that Barbara and I first saw when we arrived by boat in October 1969 en route to the Zambian Copperbelt.

The Cape Town that greeted us then was cold, grey and unfriendly. Everywhere were taxis displaying signs ‘whites only’; park benches, beaches, all with the same ubiquitous sign. The local people, mainly coloured, were (not surprisingly) sullen and an air of hostility was all pervasive.

South Africa was in the depths of its era of apartheid, designed to keep the races apart, but heavily biased in terms of land and privileges to the whites. We were eager to leave as soon as possible, but had to spend a night in a small hotel by the docks (now the sophisticated and vibrant Waterfront area). Once our car had been unloaded, and cleared customs, we set off on the Great North Road (now the N1), the start of our 3700km journey to Chingola.

6th November 20.00 Vineyard Hotel

The weather has suddenly turned very nasty- high winds, cloudy and cool (reminiscent of Cornwall).

Jon has texted to say that he and Amanda will be on tomorrow’s flight from Dubai, but they are less than impressed by the service with Emirates- had to queue for 5 hours to confirm change of flight!

Had a quick meeting at 1400 with our excellent Cape Town agent Rene Simpson and hotel staff, and met up for a quick drink and chat with Martyn and Christine Hay, the only delegates booked in today.

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