22. Oct, 2015

Seeking Contenment

Links to photos on Facebook


Diving in at the deep end we boarded the tour bus and what a tour bus it was. We got off at the harbour and jumped onto a narrow boat. Being ruled by the Dutch for many years there were several canals but it was my understanding that many were no longer in use, hence the popularity of narrow boats. We whizzed around the harbour in 45 minutes and were given a brief history of it. Robben Island lay as a floating ghostly jail a few km away reminding you of the horrors and the injustice as well as the freedom and vindication for which it now stood, while 22 million people annually poured with beaming smiles and bulging wallets through the gates to do their shopping. Across the bay we saw the Ice Breaker preparing for its 6 month trip to the Antarctic and the infamous seals on wheels - seals lying in the huge tractor tyres around the harbour. 

As we toured the city in the bus we stopped at a place called Clifton - a trendy seaside resort for the rich and we were told some famous. Young men played football on the beach eagerly waiting for the golden egg to come their way as the Atlantic waves crashed upon the sandy beach. Ladies wrapped up in winter clothes despite the warm 75+ heat under the palm trees waiting for the sun to set before they trudged back to their township with empty bellies again. School children shielded their eyes from the burning sunset and surfers surfed alongside the intrepid paddlers waiting for the waves so they could take that final plunge earning the respect of the onlookers.

Still on the bus we were told about Kalitsha, which is the biggest township in Cape Town. Just outside the wooden fences I saw a handful of infant boys aged up to about 6. 3 were jumping up and down on an abandoned mattress while one pointed, what I believed was a toy gun at them and stands firm. Such an interesting composition illustrating their history and if the grandparents and parents are around it will not be their future. 1 million people live there in a space of only 28k sq. ft. 

Film sets are often installed in Cape Town on the edge of the city with the dramatic backdrops and an ocean setting who could blame them. It is often a source of income for many of the locals bringing in 5 billion rand to the local economy. The drive along the coast is stunning. 

Rugged landscapes draw on for miles and miles making you sigh deep into your heart. As we head further up the coast some of the land has been farmed. The landscapes are not too dissimilar to what you would find on the British Isles, just everything is bigger. 

Men often walk around in small groups going ... Who knows. They look mischievous but then any youths gathered and walking aimlessly can look mischievous. 

It's 26 degrees plus yet still many local blacks adorn bobble hats scarves and gloves.

The traffic lights or robots as they are referred to here are a challenge for visiting pedestrians. Green means walk safely across the road, easy to do here as driving is safe. And flashing red means run for life and good luck. It would be so bad if the green man stayed for more than 4 seconds - most cars start to move as the red man flashes!

I have not heard children cry or moan since leaving Spain, but here in SA I have heard many. It made me consider why. In Central and South American countries in the main, the children are part of the family and I mean a part. They are loved, cherished and most importantly seen as someone from an early age who will contribute towards the family in every way and that includes working. Whether it is working as a surrogate mum to a sibling or cousin or carer for the elderly in the family or manning the shop or stall or studying hard at school, children have as much worth and responsibility as the adults. I am not sure we view our children like that in the wealthy west and indeed in wealthy SA. Children are often seen as something to have, something to honour, something to cherish and worship and give everything to. In fact give the best to. We do not want our children to cry but then make them do things they do not want to do, we do not want our children to fail, but then give them high achieving and sometimes impossible goals, we want our children to be happy and then set them up to feel pain. Whereas where I have been travelling for the past 3 months I have witnessed contentment being sought and taught, not happiness but contentment. And with contentment comes peace  and  I believe contentment is sustainable, I am not sure happiness is. We constantly strive for that high, but with highs comes lows and with lows comes a feeling of inadequacy and often medication and maybe even a long term illness - 21st century living in the west is making some people very sick. It is not possible to keep being and getting better. It is possible though to keep striving for inner peace and contentment, I know so many of my friends and family have. A deep feeling of being.  All I ever desired was for my children to be happy, after this trip all I want is for them to have inner peace or a strong sense of contentment. I will seek to teach them and the next generation this. Because this is what I have learned on my travels. I maintain though that the warm weather helps to find and keep inner peace - a rather challenging task  - embracing and thriving on the British weather, a daily battle that we must overcome and see the beauty of. I know I love the seasons, always have done. They always surprise me with something wonderful - a reason for so many festivals in the winter is to brighten people's spirits. But the passing of the seasons is something that when I am away I miss dearly. I miss the 18 hour days and the spring flowers and the icicles and the rainbows etc. but I love to travel and that will never change.