Posts Tagged ‘trains in south africa’

A moment in the South African sun

January 6, 2012

6.30 am. I woke up and hit the snooze button. Then again at 6.40, 6.50 and 7am. Them I got up and made coffee and walked a few kilometres in the cool morning air to meet an old friend and take the train from Cape Town to Newlands to watch South Africa play test cricket against Sri Lanka.

Near the station ATMs in the underground mall walkway, theatre posters.

Recession comedy and puppets. Do I even want to know?

The Cape Town Station used to be a classic 70s place, with reminders of apartheid in the separate entrances and even separate ticket windows. I have this image of doves sitting in the high windows near the roofs. And usually there were a few skollies hanging around. Now it’s clean, shiny, policed and has digital boards. It’s still got 70s style but it’s more like a small modern airport airport than a station.

The trains are running on time.

Step out of the main terminus, and all is just as it always was from then on, except that first class and third class (there’s no second class) are indistinguishable except by price.

You can buy sweats, suckers, chips, and cool drinks from informal vendors here or on the train. The trains are covered in colourful graffiti - which is actually really pretty. My friend Chris says only tourists say stuff like that.

Step on the train, and it’s even more like stepping into 1995. The windows are frosted on many trains so you can’t see out. There’s no visible sign of security (I’m told they employ very large women, who sit in pairs in first class, avoiding the customers, and BBM).  And someone’s written welcome messages all over the train.

I know what that is!

CUNT. Oh, well I'm glad you finally learned how to write your name.

Ah, those yellow doors.

Something to do with satan. And tik, I assume.

More about the doors. This guy looks really uncertain as to what to do.


Since he put it up upside down, on the roof of the train, I'll read you the doctor's note... DR MORRIS can take care of... "Sexual problems for men and women. Including: Quick sperming, feelings of highness, bad smell in private parts, dryness, any financial problem, any desire you might have, any desire you might want not to have... ". Awesome.

I love the train. It’s sign blog heaven. Anyhow, moving on, we hopped off at Newlands and join the small queue before 9am. It’s not moving. At all. Turns out the ticketing booth is closed because the computers are down and by 10am there’s a line around the block. South Africans seem very patient. Everybody just waited. I was outraged, more by the complete lack of communication than by anything else.

This guy saw a crowd and started busking with his guitar. Made about R50 before the booth opened. We were also visited by an opportunistic motivational speaker. But for some reason the cool drink sellers didn't think to come by - they could have made a fortune.

There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck outside the stadium when you can hear the sounds of the game, an the crowd cheering, and smell the pig lip sausages cooking (that’s “hot dogs” to you, Americans). The fact that tickets were half price when the booth did finally open at 11.30am made up for it though.

Success. Minutes later I was eating a double hot dog with chili sauce and drinking a coke made with real cane sugar. Yay!

That's people holding up signs when Kallis hit another four. The sixes on the back are kinda funny.

Nearly naked people sit behind a woman in a full scarf and black dress. Here in South Africa, "clash" doesn't necessarily follow "culture".

At lunch time all the mini cricket players get to play on the big field. Very cute.

The way back. The trains are still running on time.

An amazing day, an amazing game.