With some of us feeling slightly worse for wear after last night’s endeavours, we headed to the V & A Waterfront to take the boat to Robben Island. The waterfront itself has a great atmosphere, both locals and tourists frequent the area for coffee, shops and admiring the view across the water. There was a small collection of independent stores near the quay where we grabbed a delicious 50 Rand sandwich.
The weather was gorgeous, with blazing sunshine all day – even more enjoyable from the boat, where we were delayed for one hour, as someone had an accident and had to be carted off to hospital. The boat arrived at the island and we were ordered to get on our buses to start our tours immediately.
The guide was excellent and seemed to relish the idea of putting us all in the Maximum Security Prison – a part of the tour where you could walk around the place Nelson Mandela was kept and see his cell. What struck me most about the whole day was how recent it all was. The prison closed in the 1990s, less than 20 years ago, which is within my lifetime and it was strange to think that there were prisoners here living in quite awful conditions in the 20th century.
The island is a museum but the staff live on site and walking around at one of the stops there is a definite air of isolation and emptiness which makes you feel almost quite depressed and that was just for a few hours, so for the prisoners it must have been worse.
To make up time, the boat sped back to Cape Town and we had fun bouncing over the large waves and enjoyed a magnificent view of Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background.
In the taxi back to the house we saw the sun setting making everything glow in the fading light. Together with some traditional African music playing in the taxi, it created the perfect scene for reflection. I thought how wonderful this country really is – full of different cultures and languages and partnered with the most beautiful and diverse landscapes I have ever set eyes on.