Some things are learned the fun way; others are learned the hard way. In either case, we come out the wiser for it, right? Every time I leave Canada, I feel like I discover as much about myself as I do about the country I’m visiting. This past couple of weeks have been very eventful, filled with lots of great stuff, but also some bad. I guess that’s fairly typical when we travel through.
Two weeks ago I went to a market in Stellenbosch (A University town close to Somerset West) with some friends. The market reminded me of Toronto actually. Lots of interesting foods, and clothing I couldn’t afford. I enjoyed browsing. Afterwards, I went shopping in Stellenbosch with my flatmate. It wasn’t soon after; that I found myself standing at the bank money machine, completely baffled by the thief who had just driven away with my debit card and pin. You are probably wondering how the heck I managed that one. I wasn’t careful enough and let my guard down. I feel pretty embarrassed about letting someone “help” me at a money machine actually. Who does that? Thank goodness there was a daily max. on my account, and the bank is going to refund me the money that was stolen. What a stressful lesson learned. It’s very scary being in another country and having your source of money taken from you. I’m glad I brought a MasterCard with me. Maybe this will be a lesson for whoever is reading this too. Don’t let anyone near you at an ATM. Take 2 ways to access money. Don’t carry them at the same time. That evening, my flatmate took me out for drinks though, and it was a nice gesture to cheer me up.
The following weekend, I went to the Cape Town city centre with a friend who met me at the Long Street Backpacker. It was a relaxing weekend, walking around the botanical gardens in Kirstenbosch, eating out on patios, touring the city on the double-decker red bus (getting sunburnt), visiting the Aquarium at the waterfront, shopping, shopping and more shopping. I am just about ready for Christmas now.
The Long Street Backpacker is a great place to hang out on the balcony and people watch. It’s sort of like a movie. On Saturday nights, it’s packed with people, going to the bars and restaurants. If you sit there for long enough, you will see a fight break out. We went for a walk to the MacDonald’s about 3 blocks away, and 3 guys asked us if we wanted weed. A lady asking for money followed us for 2 blocks until I asked a “public safety” worker to get rid of her, and on other occasions, a beggar threatened to steal from us because we wouldn’t give him anything. It’s something that’s so “normal” for this area of the city, but I wouldn’t go anywhere alone. All of these things happen in Toronto as well, but it’s scarier here for some reason.
I’m going to tell the rest of my stories and what I’ve learned with photos below.