The Trip To Robben Island While Dying In Cape Town

December 28, Day 515
I was up all night sick as a dog. I wake up feeling terrible. But alas, I have tickets to visit Robben Island today and I don’t want to miss out.

I peel myself out of bed and throw up a few times. Make coffee and stare out the window for a few minutes and try to eat a piece of bread.

Get sick again.

You got this, Abbie. Get it together.

Shower, get dressed. Pack lots of water and sunscreen. My outfit is horrible today and I have no energy to wear makeup, but who cares? This is how it goes sometimes.

Pack a lunch in my backpack and get in the car and drive to the waterfront. Park the car and navigate around the waterfront to find the Robben Island museum. Find it, scan my ticket, get on line and wait to board the ferryboat.

My sweet rental car

Suddenly, the woman in front of me turns around and says something while looking at me but in another language.

I go to answer her, and then realize her husband is standing behind me and she’s talking to him. I offer to have him join her, but he says no so I stand in the middle in limbo.

Board the boat and we take off for Robben Island. The views of Cape Town from the water are stunning! At one time Robben Island was called Seal Island because there are so many seals there and sometimes penguins.

Arrive at the island and we board a bus that takes us 200 meters to the prison. I could have walked that… but I suppose they’re herding a big crowd and want to keep us together.

Take the tour, which is led by a former Robben Island inmate. I learn that Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held, was created specifically for non-white inmates who were held for political reasons. The guide teaches us how the black community was referred to as “Bantu” (though not all people were Bantu) and received different clothing, treatment and meals from the Asian, or what they called Indian, community.

Our tour guide

We see Nelson Mandela’s prison cell and the grounds where he was kept. It is my understanding that the prison was actually knocked down and rebuilt, so the tour is in a building that is a replica of the original. Seems a little strange not to see the actual building, but informative nevertheless.

Tree where Nelson Mandela and other inmates sat for shade

Afterward, we all board the bus to take a tour of the island of Robben Island. Our tour director is hilarious and I notice that most of the tourists on the bus are from the US. I wonder why that is? Maybe we’re just the ones who plan months in ahead to buy tickets? Or are we the ones with money to buy the tickets? Either way, it’s refreshing to hear the familiar accents all around me, but I keep my mouth shut. I actually miss Botswana in this moment.

View of Cape Town from Robben Island

We board the ferryboat to return to Cape Town and I sit next to a family I am sure is from Botswana. The woman is wearing a traditional Botswana German print skirt and I hear them speak in Setswana. I just want to shout out “You are family! I live in Botswana, too!” but I’m pretty sure they’ll be very confused if I do, so I don’t say anything.


Finally, the boat docks and I walk back into the waterfront area. The bridge back to my parking garage is up to let a boat pass, so I find a bench in the shade and eat the sandwich I packed and have some water.


My stomach starts hurting again and I feel very sick.

It’s time to go to bed. I am so sick and need more rest.

Navigate through the crowds back to my car (I love this car, btw!) and drive back to the apartment. Walk down to Woolworths and pick up enough food to last me for the week while I am here. I find all sorts of treasures I haven’t seen in almost two years!

Old El Paso taco shells! Rice milk! Plant-based mince!! Micro greens!

I decide that if my stomach comes back to life, tonight will be taco night.

Go back to the apartment and climb into bed by 7 pm. I wish I could go out and see the nightlife of Cape Town, but I’m too sick.

Fall asleep.

Wake up and face time with Colden for a bit and make tacos. I eat one and get sick, though it was delicious.

Go back to bed and die.

Boroko 🌙

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