The Trip Begins

Sanibonani from Cape Town! It’s been a busy week. Allow me to quickly summarize in list form:

  • Finalized flights
  • Moved my things out of my dad’s place and into The Jambulance
  • Drove with my father to pick up my crated motorcycle
  • Discovered the crate was too large for the trailer we’d hauled from Kalamazoo to Detroit
  • Rented a u-haul trailer
  • Picked up the trailer
  • Entered Canada
  • Dropped off the crate at a bustling freight warehouse near the airport
  • Checked into a Chinatown hostel in Toronto
  • Bid farewell to my mother
  • Caught an Uber to the Toronto airport with a South African driver who spent the entire ride cautioning me in no unclear language about how extremely dangerous South Africa is, including personal anecdotes wherein he overheard the staff at a hotel he stayed in in Cape Town colluding to rob him that evening in Sotho (a language they assumed he didn’t understand), ending in him getting in touch with the hotel owner and having them fired
  • Flew 10390 miles, 21 hours with the layover and delays, to Cape Town via Addis Ababa
  • Stopped by the Cape Town cargo terminal and learned my motorcycle is arriving Tuesday afternoon
  • Caught an Uber to the AirBNB I’d booked south of the airport
  • Drove through the middle of some extremely seedy townships, the driver repeatedly remarking that the neighborhood is “very dangerous” and proceeding to lock the doors, roll up the windows, and run a stop sign
  • Got dropped off at my AirBNB in an uncomfortable-feeling neighborhood of tiny houses
  • Called my host when there was no answer at the door only to be told he was out of town and had mistakenly accepted the request for a room
  • Drew a lot of looks lugging my stuffed backpacking backpack through the labyrinthine neighborhood to a major intersection
  • Caught another Uber to a nice hostel in a student area near town
  • Checked in and drank a much-deserved beer
My bike, all packed up and (nearly) ready to fly

First to the question you’re clearly already looking to ask me: I’m totally aware that Uber is a company that’s been acting like garbage pretty much since the beginning, but I’ve mostly had no choice! There’s no Lyft in Toronto or Cape Town! 😉

Hi Mom! The camera is over there, though…

Alright, we’ve gotten that out of the way. Let’s talk second impressions: I had the privilege of visiting South Africa seven years ago with friends, one of whom grew up here and still has family in the Eastern Cape. On that trip, we had a rental car and spent a large portion of our time on the tourist circuit or staying with my friend’s family. Traveling solo is always a different beast, with every interaction colored by others’ perception and your own lack of group influence. 24 hours in, I feel extremely welcomed here.

Aside from the occasional stare, folks have been helpful, kind, friendly, and open. On a personal level, walking down the streets (an activity you see very few white people doing outside of the downtown CBD) and feeling like the odd one out is, to me, a valuable lesson that anyone who’s lived most of their life with an appearance similar to the majority of the people around them should learn. The smiles and help I’ve gotten from pedestrians, bus drivers, and kids serves to me as a stark juxtaposition to the treatment minorities often get elsewhere. Considering how recently there were major shifts in race relations in South Africa, it’s hard for me not to feel heartened about our abilities to co-exist, forgive, and perceive people as individuals, not just members of a group.*

Looking for some side-eye with your beer? Look no further than Ethiopia!

For those curious about my plans, my next week will be dedicated to three things: preparing to attend AfrikaBurn next week (a gratuitous self-indulgence at the beginning of my trip), exploring Cape Town, and, most importantly, planning my next steps after. More to come!

Please be OK today!

*NB, as a white guy from the Midwest, my own knowledge and depth of experience on these subjects is limited at best and is in no way meant to be authoritative. I’ll also add that my last trip to South Africa, I heard some of the most blatant and offensive hate-speech I’ve encountered anywhere.

12 Replies to “The Trip Begins”

  1. Thanks for sharing your blog! I’m excited to read about your travels and live vicariously through you 🙂

  2. Ahh! You’re there! Thank-you for sharing your journey online so we can all live vicariously through you. I’m bummed I didn’t get to see you one more time before you left, but I’ll be creepin! Remember, our next meal is on me! 🙂 Hugs and much love to you. Stay safe and soak it all in!

  3. So glad that Brandi linked to your blog. I’ll be following for sure. I’m two years out from living and traveling full time in an RV. It will be great to see a fellow SH native on a grand adventure.

      1. I purchased a 1994 Coachman Destiny last year. 38′ diesel pusher. I’ve been renovating it ever since. I’m still in SH. I work with Alan at Vochaska Engineering.

        1. That sounds super exciting! I’ve got an old ’95 Ford e350 ambulance with a 7.3 diesel powerstroke. I love me some diesels 🙂

          1. I figured that was what the Jambulance was. Haha. I sold a toy hauler and my ’94 F350 dually with the 7.3 to buy the RV. Has an 8.3 turbo Cummins with a 6 speed Allison transmission. What bike are you going to be riding?

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