First of all, NO jokes about taking gay tours to prisons, OK?
As most readers already know, Savvy Navigator is fiercely committed to bringing new and different gay travel experiences to his friends and clients. With gay tours to South Africa planned for May and November of this year, the Savvy Navigator itinerary includes off-the-beaten-path experiences that no other gay tour operator offers.
One of the best options for a free day in Cape Town is excursion to the Pollsmoor Prison Mess - a full-service restaurant inside a national prison. Just outside the city, down the cape, the prison is home to South Africa’s most hardened criminals. While not usually a destination on too many gay tour itineraries, the Pollsmoor Mess is an innovative rehabilitation program for non-violent inmates that offers a first-rate dining experience to the public.
The dining room is run as a full-service restaurant, with prisoners working as chefs, waiters and other support staff. With experience gained in prison in this working restaurant, the prisoner develops vocational skills that, upon release, allow him/her to seek gainful employment in the fast-growing South African tourism sector.
When Savvy Navigator last dined at the prison, he enjoyed a lunch date with an adored nephew, who never in his life had experienced such a meal. The staff was friendly and competent and the waiter was actually pretty cute.
While it’s not cool to inquire about the reasons for incarceration, interaction with the staff is easy and fun. The steak frites lunch was very well prepared and as good as any meal in the suburbs of Cape Town. The dining duo was even allowed to purchase wine and beer to go along with the meal. After the meal, tips for the individual staff were placed in locked boxes, and the funds are available to the prisoner upon release.
The bottom line here is that this dining room is not to be missed, and is a must-do item to include on any Cape Town itinerary. If you’d like more information, there’s also a terrific Washington Post article
from a few years ago.
Any readers ever been to prison, here?