So many have sung Cape Town’s praises We have little to add—except to say that everything you’ve heard is true. We drove here from George, a small city more than 200 miles to the east. The road from George to Cape Town is called the Garden Route. Spectacular mountains and rolling farmland form the backdrop on our right (to the north) while to the south we saw neat villages and the occasional glimpse of the Indian Ocean. Something about the light is very special. Even though hazy at distance, nearby objects take on a hard-edged, almost surreal brightness. It’s surprising that the Cape has never been touted as a painter’s paradise; the gorgeous light reminds me of New Mexico, and Georgia O’Keefe would have loved it.
The mountains are rocky, soilless piles of massive tumbled boulders, roughly rectangular, perhaps sandstone. Sloping down toward the highway, hills roll gracefully on, rising and falling, mile after mile. That sheep graze everywhere suggests the topsoil is inferior; where there are no sheep, herds of ostriches peck away at whatever grows.
We are staying at the Enjoy Africa guesthouse in Somerset West, a neat suburb nearly 30 miles from downtown Cape Town. Our hostess is Kathrein Boehl, an elegant German expat. This former journalist now devotes herself to managing two terrific dogs, this establishment and hosting arts-related human-potential workshops. Her breakfasts are wonderful, and she is fine company. Visit her at www.enjoyafrica.de or better yet, here.
Somerset West is manicured and prosperous, and security is clearly a big deal. Nearly ever house is surrounded by a high wall, and cars and people enter through a remote-controlled gate. A morning jog along these gracefully curving streets sets off howling and barking from dogs behind every fence, inside every house. Signs threatening ARMED RESPONSE are posted everywhere.
David and Jean Mayes hosted John for two days. They retired here a dozen years ago, from PA via Iowa. Deeply committed to service, they have the energy and wisdom of couples half their (and my) age. A scholar of French, Jean studies Sugarbirds, teaches English to Congolese immigrants; David is a volunteer and a fervent patron saint of nearly hopeless causes. They guided me through part of the wine country and the Helderberg Nature Reserve. Introduced me to Ostrich meatballs.
Next entry, we pick up the pace. Penguins! Crashing surf! Baboons! And buddy, do not make eye contact with the baboons!