A short 7-hr. flight from BA on a Malaysia Airlines plane that maneuvered like a skyscraper turned on its side, we arrived in Cape Town and back into the English-speaking world. My mom (Helen) flew in the same night and we picked her up from the airport in our hot dog Hyundai. The Conifer Cape B&B we stayed at was owned by former musicians and the place was filled with cool art, Cezanne, Rothko, et al, an old piano, and an outdoor garden. Tia immediately detoxed from travel in the claw-foot bathtub and, little did we know, ended up using the rest of the hot water for the next 36 hours. Figures that the first nice place we stay during our trip turns out to be worse than the lead pipe sticking out of concrete in Cartagena that still managed to produce warmth.
In the meantime, my mom began her quest to find the best deal in small African crafts by exploring local trade stores and the stalls at Greenmarket Square. Much browsing but no buying (after all, what can one do with a giant beaded elephant or wildebeest chair framed with gold-painted wood?). We took trips to the V&A waterfront and posed in front of the four statues of South African Nobel prize winners. Table Mountain formed a spectacular backdrop for the city – too bad strong winds meant the cable cars weren’t running. The three trips we took up to the base of the mountain to be informed of this fact weren’t in vain, however, since one of the store owners told Tia all about South African “farm boys”: muscly charmers who will steal a girl from right under your nose. Needless to say, I went back to the hotel and quietly excised any barnyard tours from our itinerary.