So, why January 2nd? Well, dating back to the early 19th century, it was the only day that the slaves were allowed a day off because their white owners were typically sleeping off their own New Year's festivities.
So, we found out that the parade was supposed to start at 10:00am, but because there were over 70 "troupes" participating, it would run for many hours. We had made arrangements to meet with Syed and his girlfriend Shahieda (Syed was the guy we met at the hostel in Windhoek who was coincidentally on the same bus as ours coming to Cape Town) at 12 noon and go for lunch. Syed also had some tourist info for us regarding his recent visit to Lesotho. We will be going to Lesotho in February.
So we figured we would get there a bit early and watch some of the parade. Our couchsurfing host Mark dropped us off downtown at around 11:00am and we lined up with the crowds to watch the parade.
Waiting for the minstrels.
And we waited. And we waited.
Just before noon, we did the short walk over to our meeting place, and sure enough Syed and Shahieda were there. So we went for lunch and then decided to walk over to the waterfront area to see the sights there. Apparently the minstrel parade never starts on time, and ends up running very late into the evening!
At the waterfront, the first part that we came across was a bunch of expensive condos. And of course the expensive motor yachts that park up in that area.
Wait a minute. This can't be Africa.
Isn't everybody starving and poor in Africa? Nope. There are parts that are certainly like that, but Cape Town isn't really Africa! Sort of in the same way that Puerto Vallarta isn't really Mexico!
Ruth, Syed, and Shahieda.
Syed is a South African of Indian heritage. Shahieda is coloured and has lived in Cape Town her whole life. There's an interesting and somewhat confusing history between the Blacks, the Whites, the Coloureds, and the Indians in Cape Town and it was really interesting talking to Syed and Shahieda about their families.
You can read more about it here...
The waterfront area has undergone a huge redevelopment and a lot of it is very touristy with shops and tourist activities amid the docking area for the cruise ships. With one notable exception.
This dry dock exists within the touristy area. Very strange that they've left it there but it was interesting to watch.
This Navy boat was going out to be help with a yacht race that started yesterday.
About 3:30pm we started heading back to downtown. It was a zoo! Couldn't believe how many people were watching the parade, or how many people had camped out since the night before to get their prime spot.
Just a little crowded!
70 troupes consisting of perhaps 200 people per troupe!
Lots of music and dancing.
And interesting costumes.
Kids and adults.
We actually didn't stay very long. It was too difficult to see properly and our feet were tired from walking.
We tried to get on the train home but they don't run as often on Saturdays. It was going to be an hour wait, so Syed suggested we could take a "taxi". There are two types of taxis here. The metered type where you are the only ones in the car, and the pay one price type where you share the ride with up to a dozen other people depending on the size of the van. They go set routes, but unless you know where you're going it's difficult to figure out. But Syed got us on the right one, and for R7 (75 cents) each we were ferried to our destination.
But (like Guatemala) it's a bit of a harried ride! They race from one stop to the next trying to get there before the competition beside you does. With the wing man yelling out the window his destinations for prospective customers to hear. It's quite the circus!
But we made it home safe and sound. Relaxed for a bit and made some dinner, then Mark suggested we go for a drive up the coast to see the Table Mountain sunset. It turned out to be a bit cloudy, but still an interesting photo...