Archive 2008 - 2019

Semester in Cape Town: Part 11 B

by Bella Tobin

We arrived at Coffee Bay about two hours later and were staying in a place called Sugarloaf Backpacker. We expected it to be more populated, but the town was right by the huts, and the backpacker was enclosed by a chain-link fence.

The staff was friendly and made a welcoming fire for us. Sugarloaf had a beautiful view of the beach. After settling down we took a walk to the beach.

A young boy came up to us and started singing the National Anthem, only he missed the Afrikaans part, which was a bit awkward. It was obvious he wanted money, his clothes were torn and ill-fitting, and he was eyeing Alicia’s purse the whole time. We weren’t about to give him money, so we tried everything to get him to go away. We were perfectly polite, told him he sang well, and after many awkward silences we finally just asked him to leave. Then Christian stood up in an intimidating manner and said “John, it’s time you walk away,” and he ran away like a scared little puppy. On the way back we were asked twice to buy dagga (marijuana) or mushrooms.

The backpackers cooked a traditional meal, and we sat around the fire and chatted with people from all over. There was a young man from Canada, who was a full-time student at UCT and a few American students, some travelers from Norway, and a bunch of South Africans.

The next day we headed to Durban, a long drive, and we got stuck in roadwork on the highway with no way around it so it became a one way lane.

The cars on one side wait while the others go, which can be a long time . The guys in a pickup a few cars ahead of us cracked a few beers. It was a long wait.

Unfortunately it was getting dark and driving at night is not safe, so we spent the night at the Spot Backpackers.

We drove to Durban in the morning and stopped for breakfast but realized it’s not where we wanted to be. It didn’t seem safe or welcoming, so we skipped it and headed to the market, which was even worse. The city streets of Durban were dirty, with trash everywhere and probably twice as many homeless as Cape Town. We drove past the run down market and decided we should just stick to the safe, touristy area of the boardwalk. It was a good decision.

The boardwalk was beautiful; it was called the Golden Mile, and was four miles of beaches, pools, piers, bars, hotels, restaurants, and ice cream shops. We continued to walk the boardwalk, where we found beautiful sandcastles, a surf competition, and a nice beach where we could finally do some tanning.  


On to UShaka marine world, where we could dive with sharks.

We explored the aquarium- one of the best aquariums in the world, and then headed to our backpackers.

For our dinner we planned on getting bunny chow, or bunnies as we call them, which is what Durban is known for. It’s essentially a loaf of bread hollowed out with curry in the middle, and the bread that was removed placed on top. It sort of looks like a bunny’s tail, which is the theory of the name. They came to be back in the time of apartheid, when coloreds and blacks weren’t allowed in the same restaurants as whites, but they were allowed to purchase the food so this was sort of a curry-to-go. They were great, although definitely the spiciest Indian food I ever had. 

The next morning we went to the airport where we said goodbye to Christian, as he was driving back through the Free State.

It was an amazing experience that I will share with friends and will give me memories for a lifetime. This week's journey will be a story I will tell my children’s children.

This semester in Cape Town has certainly been an education.