bright and early this morning we hopped a ferry to the famous robben island, a small island off the coast a couple of miles from cape town. it's been home to prisons over the past couple centuries, a leper colony during the 1800s/early 1900s, and before its close in 1991, was a prison for political activists against the apartheid government during south africa's heated civil rights struggle. nelson mandela was imprisoned here for more than 20 years, and we saw his cell and the lime quarries where the prisoners were made to work. i couldn't believe this place was still in use up until the 90s; furthermore, i couldn't believe the apartheid laws weren't abolished until 1991. 1991! segregation and treating others differently based on something as simple as their skin color just seems so backwards to me. the tour was a real eye opener.
whilst on robben island, matt and i found a 'penguin boardwalk.' huh? we took a stroll down an elevated, wooden pathway that led through some dry brush and trees, and lo and behold, we saw penguins!!! they were nestled under the brush in shallow holes they would dig out of the dirt. they were so cute! but they were stinky badgers... whew! we got a little picture happy with the cute critters -- i'd never seen a penguin in the wild before, and i had no clue you could find penguins in africa. hmm. what an educational trip this is turning out to be.
we left cape town this afternoon in a rental car. now, for those of you who didn't catch the weight of that statement, we left cape town, a city in south africa, which was colonized by the british, which means these cats drive on the left side of the street, in a rental car. giddy-up! after exploring transportation options and discovering there really weren't any, we decided that renting a car was our best bet to get us from cape town to jo'burg over the next 9 days of so. we've decided to only travel during the daylight, however, because although we've experienced nothing but nice paved roads so far, we're not sure what we could encounter up the road in the kingdom of swaziland.
and tonight i'm typing to you from a posh sheraton resort near hermanus, south africa. we had some hotel points to burn, and staying in this nice resort hotel is cheaper than staying in backpacker hostel down the lane (go figure). but don't you all worry, we're planning on using those thread-bare bed sheets and towels we packed pretty soon here.