Day 7: Touristy Saturday….and the Night I Feared for My Life

Posted: October 2, 2013 in Deed 30, South Africa, travel, volunteer


During my stay, I am volunteering Monday-Friday and have the weekends free to explore the city.  Today, myself and most of the other building volunteers spent the day exploring Cape Town on a tour bus.  To be honest, I have never been to a more beautiful city.  The views on the coast are just breathtaking and the pictures do not even do it justice.  However later in the day, I was reminded of how sometimes the most beautiful places in the world can be the most dangerous.


Tony, the crazy Frenchman

The volunteers and I enjoyed the day taking in the views, wine tasting, eating, among other activities.  We enjoyed it so much so that we lost track of time.  This means that we had to take a train and minibus back after dark…bad idea.  As soon as dark hits, the streets, train stations and everywhere else that were bustling minutes before, empty out.  The only people left on the streets are…lets just say they are the type of people that you would not want to meet in a back alley.

We arrived at the train station, quickly found our train and hopped aboard.  We sat down and were the only ones in the car.  Soon after we sat down, a man with eyes bugging out of his head (likely on some sort of drugs) came up to us, leaned over the seat and repeatedly asked “what are you guys doing” and “why do you look so nervous”.   We ignored him for a few minutes until he eventually realized we weren’t going to be bothered and walked away.  It was an ominous sign to start the trip back home.

When the train pulled into our stop, most of the volunteers separated to head back to their respective house families.  Myself and Jomo (the Englishman) got onto a minibus and started our trek home.  The minibus was packed with people and dropped off one local after another..after another, until Jomo and I were the only passengers left in the van.  This was not a normal occurrence so I found it a bit unsettling.

As we continued driving, we stopped at a stop sign and looked to our right.  A man was crouched down with a knife about 8 inches long, just scraping it in the street looking through the window and what felt like straight through my soul.  Jomo and I immediately thought the man was going to get on the minibus.  After 3 hours of stopping at the stop sign, luckily, the mini bus continued on (OK, so maybe it was about 10 seconds but it certainly felt a lot longer!).

After driving for a few more minutes we came across a group of gangsters walking down the middle of the street.  They were carrying something large between two of them in a makeshift bag made out of a blanket and sticks.  The mini bus stopped and the driver and the gangsters exchanged words in the local language (Afrikaans).  I started to think the worst case scenario..Were the gangsters going to get on the minibus Were they negotiating to kidnap/rob us?  Was this the reason why the driver dropped everyone else off first?  It turned out to be none of the above and we kept on driving.  We finally made it close to my home and the driver asked us to get out a few blocks away from the normal stop.  To be honest, I had no idea where we were as I was born without an internal compass and everything in that area looks identical.  Luckily for me, Jomo knew the way home and we walked/ran all the way to the front doorstep.

Was my life in danger? Probably not.  However,  there is a reason why the Projects Abroad team members warn volunteers about going out at night without a door to door taxi.  I made it home safe but will most certainly not take public transportation after dark again!

Note: What made this night a bit scarier is that I found out earlier in the week that in 3 separate incidents, volunteers had been robbed. Two of them at knife-point and 1 at gun-point, which are stories all on their own.


View from the Winery

  1. sula1968 says:

    South Africa is beautiful and I love my country with a passion but you must be sensible and careful. I do not recommend travelling by minibus at night.

  2. Jomo says:

    I’ll never forget this day/night. I can honestly say, I thought we was going to become a case study!

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