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Reports

Wednesday, 10 October 2001
Rondebosch East --> Rondebosch, Cape Town (SA)

I joined my hosts' family life today, visited Di's work office and saw how Jon was doing as a museum designer.

However some other things occured:
I did a donation to the Cultural History Museum of Cape Town, after delivering the gift with just 276 years of delay. The coin was given to me by my host in Lillehammer, Norway.

And the night I was suddenly into the South African vibe again, with firespinners and African drums and a foolish male stripper in a dancing...


Di woke me up this morning, telling me it was time to go again. Jon had already left for work and had brought Michael to school. I had a shower and joined Tara with breakfast as we soon headed to her high school.

She was complaining about the school uniforms, which are no common thing where I come from. I guess it won’t be a bad idea to have them in Holland too, because there is just too much of a material goods difference in my country.

Kids need to wear the latest Nike shoes or have to be dressed cool to be part of the club. Some parents can’t afford that and their kids get wind-up by those “in the club”. A uniform clothing standard would break that difference and make every pupil equal.

Tara wasn’t really against the uniform, but more against the age of it. It is still in an old English style. “They could modernise it a little bit, so it becomes more comfortable to wear,” she said.

Di brought her to the school and drove me around here work place at the Public Health Department of the Cape Town University.

While she was in a meeting, I spent a few hours using her office Internet connection to get some necessary ‘work’ done, until Jon came to collect me around noon.

I had a mission. Remember my stay in the Norwegian city Lillehammer last month? My host Hårvård Bjørgsum gave me a Dutch “5 stuiver” coin, dating from 1724. It was found on the shipwreck of the VOC-ship Akerendam that was on its way to Cape Town, but stranded during a heavy storm in a bay of Ålesund in 1725 and was only found in 1972 (the ship had to make a detour around the British Isles as the Dutch were in a conflict with the British).

The freight of the Akerendam, many silver and gold coins and over 29,000 stuiver-coins never made it to Cape Town.

It was my mission to get this coin from Norway to Cape Town with only 276 years of delay.

As Jon works at museums he created to perfect opportunity to have the coin officially handed out to the South African Cultural History Museum of Cape Town.

At the administration building in the centre of town I met with Dr. Aron D. Mazel, a grey bearded man with great interests in history and the stories it provides. Aron is the director of the museum. Dr. Heléne Vollgraaff, the curator humanmatics, was very glad to accept my well-travelled coin and enjoyed the story that has now evolved around it.

I signed a paper where I stated my donation to the museum and officially handed over the coin to Heléne as the local press made photographs for the newspaper. I hope the locals here don’t get too fed up with my media-appearances, but I just can’t help it... The coin will soon be displayed in the museum.

Jon and I had lunch, joined by Aron, at Trisha’s, as I earlier said: probably the most popular lunchroom of Cape Town, because I also had lunch here with Ludo and Juanita.

Sitting on the same table told told me that he found it a nice story to finally have the coin arrive in Cape Town. “But I am a historical geologist too, so I normally would have said that the coin had to stay on the wreckage. Museums should than show the correct representative sample of anything found down there.” Of course he had a good point there.

After the lunch Jon and I picked up his brother Paul again from the Woodstock train station and took us along to the Science Centre in Century City, another suburb of Cape Town.

He showed us where he worked and took us along the playground of the Science Centre, where any age can learn and play around with gravity, chemistry, geography, architecture and astronomy.

Jon took us up to the Camera Obscura, located in a dome, high up in a mall tower. A big lens projected the live image, reflected through a lens outside, on a round white table.

Suddenly we could see a complete panorama of the city on the table! When the table was lifted up higher, it would zoom in on the image and we could even see a cyclist change his gear from inside the dark dome!

From the Science Centre (where I could play around for hours, like a little kid; great) Jon drove me to my next destination for the coming night.

To the home of Brian Wright, located in Rondebosch.

Brian is a young graphic designer at Touchline Media in Cape Town and works mostly on sports magazines. He has lived in Cape Town all his life and loves the city.

He also saw the report about me on national television, logged on to this website the next day and invited me over to his humble little apartment.

His granny used to live here and now his mother had arranged this for him. It occurred to me that everything was so in a retro-80’s style, but it actually all dated from that time.

When I arrived at his place he noticed my tired eyes and asked if I was beaten (tired). I said I could easily use a little nap and he agreed that it would be a good idea. Then afterwards we could have a meal and go out into town. He understood that staying with different people and at different places was pretty tiring although I sleep average normal hours.

After a two-hour sleep in his bedroom, I found Brian playing a Nazi-killing game on his Playstation. I gave it a try too as he prepared dinner, but gave up soon. I am just not such a button pusher.

After the pasta with dried tomato sauce we watched the news on television and decided to hit to town.

I settled behind him on his aged Vespa Piaggio 20E and we first drove to another suburb, called Observatory. We walked up and down the Lower Main Road where galleries, hairdressers and neon lit cafes were located and already gave it a unique atmosphere in my eyes.

We ended in a place called Cool Runnings (named after the movie telling the true story of the Jamaican bobsled team attending the Olympic Winter Games). It was an open-air pub completely built up of bamboo and with white sand around it. Just in the middle of a city!

We drunk a pint of Guinness and slowly noticed the relaxed air as some people started playing on their African drums and firespinners hurled around with fire.

Suddenly I was encountering the laid back pulsation, with dreadlock people surrounding me (mostly white) – some of them tranced by the rhythms of the drums.

As I took some photographs I met up with Jean-Pierre, who wanted to know how he could get copies of my shots. He was the coordinator of this weekly event at Cool Runnings and was suddenly fascinated by “my” way of life.

“Damn, you are doing something I always was thinking about!” he said as he explained he had been travelling a lot. “Oh man, you are now some sort of a God to me! Cool man! Awesome! Excellent!” Well, Jean-Pierre, the images are here.

Brian scootered me to the real town centre after this extraordinary event.

And as we drove 90 km/hr on the quiet motorways, I spread my arms out as we passed numerous palm tree passing by. It was a strange thing to feel how the air changed a few times from cold to warm in the darkness of the beginning.

We ended up on Long Street, where I already know my directions. We walked it up and down and decided to have a drink at Mr. Pickwick’s. Brian treated me on a famous Cape Town ‘hummingbird cake’.

We talked about the current hype around reality-television and about the embarrassing moments that occur on that if something is broadcast live. Of course we fed each other with examples of Survivor and Big Brother episodes from all over the world.

We drove around the centre for another while, not knowing yet if we would visit a dancing club or just another pub, as it was just 11pm.

We ended up in the 169 On Long on Long Street 169 where people stood on the Victorian styled balcony and the music blasting inside on the dancefloor was entertaining the street kids outside.

Inside were a lot of people of different backgrounds, enjoying popular R&B music by Destiny’s Child and R. Kelly.

As the rhythm got into my knees, the mood suddenly totally changed to the opposite, as a male stripper looking like a miniature Bryan Adams started to entertain the ladies on the dancefloor with rock (!) music.

When the guy was jumping around in his knickers, trying to find a lady to tie onto a chair with his belt, Brian and I had already left the building. Someway it all made us yawn and enthusiastic for a night sleep.

Back home I discovered Brian’s CD-collection and enjoyed my favourite album by the Counting Crows, Augustu and everything after…, containing one of my life songs.

I handed over the Letmestayforaday-gift from my previous hosts Jon and Di and their children, hoping that he would continue the chain with a present for my next host.

He received a handmade chameleon, made of iron wires and strings of beads and the whole idea of the present (as he didn’t really know about it) fascinated him.

Brian told me I could sleep in his two-person bed in his bedroom as he would sleep on the couch for the night. I told him it wasn’t necessary to spoil me, but he insisted on it.

Brian is a pretty relaxed guy and very much an offhand person, very much enjoying the use of the word “Cool”. Really funny! What if the rest of the world was this relaxed, wouldn’t it be a better place?

Good night Rondebosch!

Ramon.



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