Cape Town Consciousness
Originally published June 26, 2014
When we were invited down to Cape Town, South Africa by our friends atTravel Massive, A global travel industry gathering that takes place in 48 cities worldwide.
We flew from Johannesburg to Cape Town via South African Airways. We were happy to learn about the airline’s commitment to a greener environment through the reduction of carbon emissions & the projects they’re working on with both the Centre for Entrepeneurship in International Health and Development and Uganda Stoves Manufactures Ltd to do so. ‘The Uganda Stoves Project supplies efficient wood burning stoves to families and institutions in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and subsequently throughout the country’.
After two hours, we arrived in Cape Town. Driving along a beautiful highway with stunning mountains ahead of us. Our first few nights we stayed at the Kingslyn Boutique Guesthouse, a charming, relaxing bed&breakfast that was close to the V&A waterfront and the Green Point Urban Park and seafront.
Shortly after we dropped off our luggage we headed out for a short walk at sunset along the ocean front. Even though the area was safe during the day the general advice we were given was to take a taxi at night. We stopped for dinner at a local restaurant named The Big Route where we ended up having a two hour conversation with a very friendly local resident named Colleen.
One thing in particular we noticed was that South African people are very willing to help. At our Travel Massive meet up the next evening at a really cool place called i love my laundry, we learned how much the travel community in Cape Town were giving back to the community and they made it a point to include a local project in their promotion, that needed attention and support.
We learned about an interesting product called the Street sleeper, created by Oliver Brain, which was made out of old billboard material to create a sleeping bag /backpack for the homeless.
Tim & Denis, the really nice owners of Kingslyn and Atlantic Point who offered us a place to stay while in Cape Town. We really appreciated how much they did to make us feel welcome. They’re also committed members of the travel community and introduced us to Juma Mkwela, who they work with to help promote his walking art tours of Woodstock and township tours to Khayelitsha.
Juma is an incredible human being & artist/entrepreneur who moved from Zimbabwe to Cape Town and endured much hardship in the initial days of his transition to South Africa but who took it upon himself to change his own circumstances and in turn help others to change theirs. He lives in Khayelitsha and is very active in the community there. We visited Khayelitsha with Juma and another girl and were really inspired by the work he was doing in the community. We met the youth that participate in an arts program there. Juma taught us a lot about life in the townships. Our first impression was how horrible it was but we also noticed the spirit and the sense of community there.
We liked hanging out at Atlantic Point and meeting lots of new and interesting friends. I met another filmmaker there who was also working on a documentary. We loved the energy of the hostel and we enjoyed making our own home-cooked meals while we were there.
With the weekend coming up we wanted to do something for the solstice and Juma took us on a sunrise hike up Lion’s Head Mountain. We didn’t make it to the top because mom has a bit of a fear of heights but with Juma’s help she managed to get most of the way up. It was incredible!
on our last day we decided to wander down to the V&A Waterfront and visit the Two Oceans Aquarium. We were so excited to see the sea creatures, but also so pleased to see how the aquarium took the opportunity to promote ocean conservation. Seeing how magnificent these creatures are reinforced our belief that we should care not only for each other, but the environment as well.
Also at Travel Massive we met up with The Backpack, owned by Toni Shina & Lee Harris . Toni invited us to go visit one of the townships that the hostel has a project they support. It was located in Heideveld, an area with a lot of drug & gang related crime, however we were escorted to the school where I would meet Michaela, a bright 17 year student in her last year of high school. Despite all odds, losing her parents at a young age, growing up in these rough conditions, she persisted with the help of the program and I was really happy to be able to interview her for the film.
I have to say that I was also really impressed by how much effort Toni & Lee have put in giving back to the community as it shows in so many things they are doing to promote responsible travel and fair trade at their hostel. We stayed with The Backpack on our last night in Cape Town and woke up to see a sunrise through the skylight in our room.
Leaving Cape Town was difficult as we had just started to get to know it but hopefully one day we’ll get to revisit and see how all the friends we met along the way there are doing.
To find more hostels like the ones we stayed at visit www.hihostels.com