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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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Reports

Sunday, 7 October 2001
Johannesburg --> Tamboerskloof, Cape Town (SA)

Today I flew off from Johannesburg to Cape Town, a sophisticated city at the gateway to this majestic continent. A giant city, proudly counscious of itself and yet always subtle, the Mother City is both elevating modern and humble, as down-to-earth.

I stayed at the home of a former diamond trader in the African Congo and his wife.

With waking up somewhere in the morning at Lesley-Ann’s place for the last night, I had breakfast and prepared a lunch package for in the air, as today I would fly off to the southwest of South Africa, to the Mother City of all cities: Cape Town.

Further south on this continent isn’t possible.

I was picked up after noon by Christine, the personal assistant at eTravel headquarters, brought me to Johannesburg’s International Airport, where Britisch Airways Express sponsored the domestic flight to Cape Town.

The plain left around 4.30pm, so after the heavily secured check-in I spent reasonably some time at the departure dates. It was a great opportunity to contact the people who had invited me in the Cape Town area and to find out if and when I could stay at their place.

The person I was going to stay with this night, was so tremendous excited to meet me, that he would pick me up at the Cape Town Airport.

The only problem he had was that he had absolutely no furniture yet, as the couple sold their old and were still waiting for the new furniture to arrive.

“Ramon! Don’t worry, I’ll put you up in a hotel for the night.”
What can I say against that?

It was 6.45pm when I arrived in Cape Town and met my new hosts Ludo Van Oostende and his wife Juanita. Ludo was oh so happy to see me and couldn’t stop saying that he really loved, loved, loved my idea of travelling the world.

They live in Tamboerskloof, which is an erea right next to the original town centre of Cape Town. The Dutch name is Kaapstad, which means Cape City - it might have been more appropriate.

The complete city, containing over 25 suburbs (and all part of Cape Town), is built around the Table Mountain, a premium tourist attraction in South Africa.

The mountain is sculpted from sandstone and it rises 1,086 metres above the bay. Its flat summit measures nearly 3km from end to end. When clouds move over the flat top, they drape down as a table cloth. That is why it is called Table Mountain.

Table Mountain has long been considered as one of the most powerful energy points on the planet, attracting spiritual seekers from around the globe who yearn to experience the ancient heart-beat of Africa.

Before we entered their apartment, Ludo checked me in at the Saasveld Lodge. A simple, but decent hotel across the street. Luckily they had still one room left.

In the little office space, which Juanita uses for her real estate commerce, in their apartment, we drank coffee and got to know each other a little bit better. It was strange to see the emptiness of the rest of the apartment. “We thought the furniture would arrive on time…”

Ludo is originally Belgian, but has been a diamond trader in the African Congo for over 15 years. When the civil war suddenly started there, he got jailed for being a stranger, but escaped and finally decided to live a peaceful and retired live in South Africa. He then soon met with Juanita and they got married.

He discovered the internet and saw how people had success with it. He started an South African free lotto website, based on a French successful formula, but because of the lack of advertisers or investors he kept being the onely person that gave away holidays, laptops, theatre tickets, etcetera. When he found out that it wouldn’t work in South Africa, he had already lost over one million of South African Rand.

He learned from it, eventhough he did not mind giving away all the prizes himself. He believed in it.

Now she helps out his wife with the real estate. Maybe he even makes the website for her business, but that might be all he will do, online.

Outside I noticed it was windy and I already weared a jumper on my shirt. My khaki shorts had been exchanged with long trousers as it was more chilly in Cape Town than in Jo’burg.

Ludo decided to go out to eat out in an Italian restaurant, he knew a good one down the street on Kloof Street, just outside of the historical centre of Cape Town.

We all three enjoyed the meal at Bacini’s restaurant, where I had Veal Caparascio (or something sounding that mafia gangish).

The owner of the restaurant had turned off the music in the restaurant and suddenly the news was on a television above the bar: the United States of America and the United Kingdom had started to make fire works in Afghanistan.

Of course this launched discussions in the complete restaurant.

According to Ludo the problems have all started due to globalisation of western companies (like how Coca Cola tried to conquer every country east and west from the US, without any understanding its country’s culture).

He had a point there. How would I, as a Western world citizin, a citizen of the First World, react as suddenly a wide range of original Afghani products came into my country? And that it would be very cheap and be very good, because it is Afghani?

It will be okay as long as those products are not forcing into my own culture that I don’t agree with. It will make me angry, because those multi-international companies take over your national companies. Taking away your pride.

It’s the same as having Britney Spears performing in Buddha or Muslim countries, showing off her belly and shaking her booby's.
It is so unrespectful to the country's culture.

The values of life are so much different in every country (most people can't even realize that), and the big money making companies don’t see that. They just want to have their monopoly in every country and conquer the world.

Imagine yourself being also religious and you feel suppressed by this all - coming into your country, destroying the companies in your own country because of their multinational powers.

Isn’t it clear that if you are really angry, you only need a Leader to tell you how to ‘fight’ this?

It might be as simple as one plus one. A person living in Africa or the Middle East would understand this all. But how do you explain this story, for example, to a Western civilist European, or American?

It might be an unchangeable mind-difference forever.

Maybe my travelled-learned opinion is even totally wrong.

Ludo ended the discussion on the table with this: “Both Osama Bin Laden as George W. Bush are not innocent. If you don’t talk with each other, if you can’t bear to understand each other and be respectful, they are both two new Hitlers.

"They are both becoming a Hitler for their own people (who don’t even see it like that, like the Germans didn't when they believed in Hitler, they only saw the pride). And both countries are having their own propaganda machines running for them. In one country it is the religion, in the other country the media."

Which leader of a country lately said: “We all need wisdom, not power”? He was absolutely right.

After the dinner and the many discussion at the restaurant, we got back to their apartment where I could write my reports on their computer.

It was passed midnight when I hit the street and walked towards the hotel. I heard the most contradicting stories about crime in Cape Town. But when I was there, I saw nothing. No cars, no people, just silence.

However the tourist board here always tells:
"Tourists should take the precautions they would in any major city. Avoid carrying large sums of cash, having cameras or video cameras loose, leaving belongings unattended, and in general take advice on where to go after dark."

Still not knowing what to expect and not really wanting to expect something to happen, I was lucky with the hotel just across the street.

Good night Tamboerskloof!

Ramon.



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