Monday, May 22, 2017

Wine Country & Dinner in "The Township"

We continued our journey with a trip back up the coast on the inside along the coast of False Bay and into wine country. Since time was flying and we wanted time to look for some good wine, we picked up sandwiches at a little shop in a town along the highway and ate in the parking lot of the first winery.

I have taken quite a liking to a wine known here as Pinotage. In fact, I have sampled it in every restaurant in the area! It is a little heartier than a Pinot Noir, but not as heavy as a Cabernet Sauvignon. And it has a nice price range.

My mission was to go to a winery whose Pinotage I particularly liked and buy a few cases. Mission accomplished at Rickety Bridge! Our driver stopped at several other vineyards and we sampled the wines, but I knew what I wanted. We found a few bottles at each to take with us, of course.

The wine country is beautiful with lush rolling hills of grape vines that go on for miles and miles. It is no wonder wine is relatively inexpensive in South Africa. And there are hundreds of wineries throughout the country. There were some eighty vineyards within a two-hour drive of Cape Town alone! All in all, it was a good day.

Our driver, Jimmy, was wonderful and made sure we got to see all of the places we want to see. And find the Pinotage at Rickety Ridge!

It was a beautiful drive through the mountains and vineyards. Many of them are tucked back from the main highway so the approach to the tasting rooms offered a view of the scenery behind the gates. 

Of course, I was happy when we finally reached the gate of Rickety Bridge. Having been in South Africa for five weeks, we had many opportunities to sample wines at dinners and gatherings on other boats. I was even lucky enough to be able to compare the different labels of Pinotage so I knew what I was after.

We purchased several cases from Rickety Bridge and stashed them in the bilge lockers on the boat. Since we rarely drink at sea, it looks like we will have to indulge heavily at each of our next landings - and there are not that many left. Too few landings, too much wine! Taking it back to the USA on a plane is a hassle and shipping it is expensive, so we will have to drink up!
 

Jimmy was very knowledgeable of the area and the winery tasting rooms so we covered a lot of miles in a short afternoon. We needed to be back at the marina in time to freshen up and join the rest of the WARC fleet for dinner. Jimmy was very pleased to learn that we were having dinner in Langa that night as that is where he lives. He said most of the workers in Cape Town live in this area and take buses to and from work each day.
To cap off a great day, the World ARC fleet had organized a dinner in Langa, the local “township.” The word “Langa” means “sun” in Xhosa, but the name of the area is derived from Langalibalele, who was a famous local chief who had been imprisoned on Robben Island for rebelling against the government.

Townships are the areas outside of the city where the black population was moved during apartheid times. Some of the townships are very poor and the housing is sheets of metal somehow holding together to create a one room structure. Others have managed to create a community and become nicer areas. Following apartheid, the black African people were given the buildings, but not the land. It was the first time they were allowed to own anything.

Langa was established in 1927 as part of the Urban Areas Act which designated certain land areas for black Africans before Apartheid. They were required to carry passes as part of an internal passport system designed to segregate the population, manage urbanization and allocate migrant labor. Several people were killed there on March 21, 1960 which was the same day as the Sharpeville massacre where 50,000 people burnt their passes in defiance of the Apartheid laws.

We had a wonderful native meal in the home of a family who has made their house into a restaurant. The lady told the story of how her restaurant came to be: her mother saw a lot of tourists coming to Langa to see “the Township.” She knew they would need a place to eat! So she convinced her daughter to make it a reality.

Then some young American worked with her son and got the restaurant listed on Trip Advisor. And now she is the #1 restaurant in Langa! It is fun to see her check her phone regularly to make sure she is still listed as #1. Her mother has passed away, but the family is dedicated to keeping the place going. The buffet of local cuisine was delicious!

After the meal and history lesson, we were entertained by musicians and we all got involved with the instruments and dancing! What fun! This is a great WARC fleet.

Her story and many of the other sites we have seen in South Africa are constant reminders of the era of Apartheid. Apartheid policies started in 1948 when the Nationalist Party won elections. Anti-apartheid structures both within and outside of South Africa began to gather momentum and finally reached a peak in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned for 27 before his release and when the first truly democratic elections were held in 1994.


Today, the ANC party still rules and was 65% of the vote at the time of that first election. There are still tensions between the races, which may be caused as much by the difference of the haves and the have-nots as in many areas of the world. You can see the many attempts to keep peace and put forth a united country.


All in all, we found Cape Town to be a nice place to visit and felt quite safe. Of course, we did not walk outside of the Waterfront area at night. The police presence was very obvious as they are on every corner. I was comfortable going to the Waterfront area by myself to shop.



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