The next day was clear and sunny so we decided to take advantage of the weather and go up Table Mountain, one of the official New Seven Wonders of Nature. One can hike up the mountain or take the cable car up. We opted to hike up because we had been consuming mass amounts of food in the Winelands and really needed a challenging workout. The hike up took us an hour and half and the view at the top was the perfect reward for our workout. Check out some of the photos:
That evening was so lovely that we decided to walk along the beach in Camps Bay. The light was phenomenal so I spent most of the time taking pictures. While approaching Camps Bay in the car, I spotted what looked like an amature photo shoot of a man in a suit floating in the water. It immediately made me think of one of my favorite artists, Rene Magritte (famous for painting men in bowler hats). I jumped out of the car and from a distance, I snapped a couple of shots of the scene. I was incredibly jealous of the photographer, but happy I had the chance to see his vision!
That evening we walked down the street from our hotel to Gold Restaurant. It's a popular tourist spot in Cape Town that received rave reviews online because, not only do they serve typical South African dishes, but they also have a series of live performances of African music & dance. While the food was very good, I enjoyed the dancing and music most.
During this stay in Cape Town, we talked at length to a gentleman from Zimbabwe who was working in South Africa. As most of you know, Zimbabwe went through an economic meltdown and political revolution in the late 90s/early 2000s and has been slowly trying to recover ever since. Because of this, many people have fled the country to find work - some permanently and others, like this man, hope to one day go home to a growing, stable country. We talked for a while about his history, family, the challenges he faces being from Zimbabwe and living in a South African township, and his vision for the future of his young family.
At one point I asked him what he thought of the US, since I like to get an outsider's perspective on our country. He response: To live and work in America is my biggest dream. But it is impossible for me to get in. It will never happen. America - it is the impossible dream.
He was very sincere and looked off into the distance when he talked about the US, as if he was visiting the imaginary life he had built there many years ago. A few things struck me about what he said:
1) What made it impossible was that he literally can't get into the country. He wasn't concerned about having no money - he would do anything - any kind of work - everyday for the rest of his life just for the privilege to live and raise his child there.
2) He knew we were from the US and never said anything like - you are so lucky to have been born in the USA. He didn't seem resentful or make us feel badly about our good fortune for being born in a successful country. He just answered my question simply and honestly.
3) He spoke similarly about the UK and Germany. He just wants the opportunity to work in a strong, diverse economy where you can make a better life for your family if you work hard.
I think about my grandparents who fled Cuba or Chris' grandmother's family that fled Germany during WWII. They both came here with very little money and almost broken spirits. Everything was taken from them so quickly. But they had the freedom and opportunity to work and prosper. And they did so quickly - rebuilding little by little from the ground up.
I've always known that I'm lucky to have been born in the USA, but I never felt more thankful for my country and the freedom & opportunities we have as Americans than I did after that conversation.