A Visit in 27th Century Cape Town
by Hans M. Hirschi
Nobody’s seen Willem of the Tafel since he left town a few years ago, setting sails toward the great unknown. I just arrived on a ship last night and now I’m walking through this amazing town.
This is my first visit to Cape Town. I’ve heard a lot about this city, from friends and people I have met through work. I’m a bit of a time traveler, you see, my origins are in what is considered the 20th century in the old way to count. To be here now, in Cape Town of approximately 450 A.W. (after the Great War) I hear Abeni was recently re-elected as the council leader, marking her second term. And the South Africans are looking at introducing a new constitution. I just hope they get it right this time. What good does paper do, it is quite patient, if you don’t follow the rules you put down on it?I walk around in the new part of Cape Town, down by the old harbor and marvel at what the people of the Tafel have accomplished in such a short time. It’s all relative, I know, but it’s been less than twenty years since they emerged from the mountain and look at the buildings, look at the streets. Cape Town isn’t nearly as big as the other Earth Capitals, say New Denpasar, Mombasa or Belem, not to mention Antananarivo, but it is growing fast! There’s a hustle and bustle around town, a buzz of life and activity that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
When I left New Denpasar, which is where the old Ubud once stood on Bali, after spending some quality time with Willem and Hery who had just arrived there as well, they suggested I visit Cape Town, and see how technology could finally used for good. And here I am now, marveling at it. Let me give you an idea. Picture a fairly large city, roughly a million citizens, all wiped out by a nuke. Most buildings are left in rubble, infrastructure is destroyed. Six centuries later, someone settles there again, starting fresh. Most of the old ruins had already become overgrown (mother nature doesn’t waste any time), and overall, the “old” Cape Town looks like something out of a jungle movie, complete with Mayan or Incan remains. The architecture is different. Steel and concrete instead of basalt and granite.The narrow streets of the new Cape Town are lined with street lamps, not the way it was done in the old days, but rather just cables with what I presume are LEDs, that go from house to house, making the city look like something out of a Christmas dream at night. They still struggle, of course, with the production of new cables etc. It’s a vicious cycle: you need energy to produce the goods you need to produce energy, but people here are really resourceful, and since pretty much all of the knowledge about ancient “pre war” technology is inside the heads of the people of South Africa, they travel here from all over the world.
Cape Town by night is a marvel, the electric light setting it apart from e.g. New Denpasar, where I started my trip. There was still no electricity installed, as they were still working on installing the grid and the power generators. With the sun shining abundantly in Bali, the focus will be on solar energy, and the first panels based on the old technology had seemed very promising. Produced in South Africa they had been shipped to Bali and had just arrived a few months before I dropped in. But progress is slow, and for a traveler from the past, like myself, it is hard to conceive. I could’ve left my iPhone back in the 21st century. It is of no use here, although I did get a GPS signal, oddly. Of little use though, as few streets and roads are still in use and maps have changed with the rising sea levels.
To travel from Bali to Cape Town, now that was an adventure. Normally, in the past, I’d jump on a plane to Singapore and get on the first direct flight to South Africa. All in all, maybe a fifteen to twenty hour journey, depending on the connection. In this day and age? No such luck. And without even a horse left, even the walking seems to be taking an eternity. Took us hours just to walk the few miles from New Denpasar to the harbor to catch our boat, and months to sail to Africa. Thing is, they don’t dare to take the open sea, because the ships are too small, so they tend to sail along the coast, west, along Java and Sumatra, before crossing over to Ceylon. That’s usually a longer stop before crossing the Arabian sea to the horn of Africa and then sail south along the African eastern seaboard. It’ safer, but it takes a long time. They don’t really have much of a choice. Without any rescue options, only relying on the power of their sails, travel in the 27th century is a hassle.But alas, having said that, there’s also a serenity to life in that time period. Imagine getting up in the morning and all you need to do is stay alive and help out on the ship with whatever they need. In between, you either meditate staring at the open sea, or you let your soul dangle as your eyes feast on the glorious coastlines on starboard.
Sailing around Cape Horn and coming into the harbor in Cape Town was quite something, the way we were greeted, the way in fact every arriving vessel is greeted, whether it is bringing new people, supplies or news from other parts of the world. Every ship is a cause for celebration, every ship is welcomed and every crew well taken care of, and for every crew that comes, one or two stay behind. Electricity and the promise of technology have an interesting allure on people. I can’t wait to go climb the Tafel Mountain tomorrow. I hear there are ruins after an ancient cable car up there, and the view is said to be spectacular. It will take us a few days to get all the way to the top, but I hear it’s worth it…
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