Robben Island, the Company's Gardens and the District Six Museum
Robben Island Travel Blog› entry 24 of 24 › view all entries
We had a good night sleep, but we get up with mixed emotions. We are looking forward to going to Robben Island, but itâ€™s not a good feeling that we have to go home tonight, South Africa has grown on us.
We go out for breakfast, order the same dish as yesterday and have some tuna sandwiches made for takeaway. We are not sure whether we will be having time for dinner before getting on our flight tonight.
Our boat to Robben Island leaves at 9 am, but we have to get to the docks first.
We get on a bus where a former inmate starts telling us the history of the island.
A pile of rocks lies near the entrance of the quarry, this is a monument that came to be by accident. Nelson Mandela visited the island one day, after he was released, and put a rock on the spot where the pile now lies, all people present followed his example and the monument was born.
Once we get off the bus and walk through the gates, the feeling of being trapped starts to surface again.
I wouldnâ€™t have missed this visit for the world, but I am very happy that the tour guide lets us go after he receives his tip. Upon leaving the island by boat again, some seals are waving us goodbye while floating merrily in the sea.
A little after midday we are ashore again and a couple of seals lie waiting for us, as if they were afraid we wouldnâ€™t come back again.
In the afternoon Trudy and I have got some last things we want to do. First we go for a walk in the Companyâ€™s Gardens. These gardens we established in order to grow vegetables so the VOC ships that were on their way to the East could replenish their food supply so the sailors wouldnâ€™t succumb to scurvy. Nowadays theyâ€™re more a park where people go for a stroll in their spare time. St. Georgeâ€™s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and the South African Museum are all in the direct vicinity. The gardens are a good way to get away from the city noises without actually leaving the city.
The last thing on our program today is a visit to the District Six Museum. We find the museum after searching for it for a while and we are longing for an air-conditioned building. Unfortunately thereâ€™s no such thing, itâ€™s warm inside, damp and warm. While looking around we get a better idea of the history of District Six, from which all the people were forced to move to other areas, because it had become â€śthe worst part of Cape Townâ€ť after the wealthier people had moved out to better locations. The homes of the poor were demolished by bulldozers, even though many people didnâ€™t have a place to go. Today District Six is a barren outlying area, known as the Cape Flats. It will probably remain like this, because no-one has the guts to build something there. It is still too delicate a subject for a lot of people. We donâ€™t leave the museum in a very happy mood, but when you visit a country you canâ€™t close your eyes for the downside of itâ€™s history.
Back in the hotel we have time for a refreshing shower (we can use the showers in the hotelâ€™s gym for this), and then we have to go to the airport. On the way there we have another first in South Africa: a traffic jam. Strange, in Holland we have this every day, and here it is the last thing you think of...
At the airport we say goodbye to Johan and Gert and then all we have to do is check in and wait for the plane to take us back to good old Holland again...