The Red Bus Tour

The second day I was in the country Anna, Amber and I went on the Red Bus tour, a “hop on, hop off” tour designed to familiarize people with Cape Town and what it has to offer. The red double-decker bus has a pre-recorded narrative, complete with red earbuds. It is very British and generally quite good—informative and sprinkled with occasional humor. At the time I was appreciative, but had no way of putting any of the places in context. My internal compass was off, and it was impossible to remain oriented with even basic things like which direction was north. Highlights of the tour include the ritzy beaches of Camps Bay, the Table Mountain Cableway and an impressive number of museums and historical buildings in downtown Cape Town.

At that point my luggage hadn’t caught up with me. I was lucky to have a set of borrowed clothes to wear, but essentials like sunscreen and a hat were a problem. UV protection is a much greater issue in the Southern Hemisphere. This led me to my first encounter with the generosity of Capetonians. When we reached the lower cable station on Table Mountain I hit the concessions in search of the sunscreen and a hat. I hadn’t had a chance to get local currency, but was lucky to be able to use my debit card for the sunscreen. The hat was another story. The hat I chose was in a shop run by Mavis. She was unable to deal with plastic, and astonished me by insisting that I wear the hat on the cable ride up to the upper station on top of the  mountain where the only ATM was located. She was so motherly and genuinely concerned about my lack of a hat, totally at odds with the usual capitalistic attitude. When we got to the top it turned out that the ATM was out of service. In the end, Anna and Amber pooled their funds and I was able to honor Mavis’ trust.[album: Bus Tour/]