Penguins! Cape of Good Hope! Baboons!
01.07.2010 - 02.07.2010
First, let me explain Josh’s absence: he has pledged his love to a video camera. It’s about the size of a cigarette pack and captures great video. My blog, not to mention the whole concept of the written word, is so over; instead of adding to this, he’ll post a ton of videos on YouTube.
Cape Town is a modern city, far more shiny and prosperous than Jo-burg. It’s something like the more touristy areas of San Francisco. Many buildings along Long and Kloot streets—the night life strip—sport second- and third-story cast-iron balconies, like New Orleans. Tons of people, crowded streets and restaurants. Beyond the city center are the customary slums, acres and acres of tin shacks separated by narrow dusty streets. Also present were blocks of (what I think is) public housing, tiny rectangles of brick
We spent an entire day driving down the peninsula from the citry to the Cape of Good Hope. A stunning drive under the bright morning sun. The narrow highway is hemmed in by high mountains to the east and the rocky beaches of False Harbor to the west. Resort towns string out along the road, with lovely homes dotting the steep mountainside.
We visited the penguin colony at Simon’s Point. History has it a pair of penguins swam ashore here in 1983. They enjoyed the sheltered beach and the view, spread the word, made love, and now tens of thousands of penguins bask on the beach and bob around offshore. Tens of thousands of tourists watch them; tens of thousands of vendors peddle tens of thousands of stuffed penguin souvenirs. Needless to say, the rich folks who built resort homes above the beach—pre-1983—are not amused by the tourists or the vendors or the smell.
At the end of the highway is the Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern most point on the continent. The view of the jumbled-rock mountains and hammering surf is wonderful, and it is satisfying to see the near end-of-the-earth that Vasco de Gama beheld five centuries ago. (Cut me some slack on this—not on-line, so Wikipedia is not available). Josh climbed to the very top of the Cape, up a steep and narrow trail; John pretended to have “left something back there,” and settled for the observation point. Both views are worth the climb. This is very near where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans clash, and the surf proceeds on long waves, then explodes in huge clouds of spray on giant boulders. Only the suicidal would surf here.
Baboon sightings highlighted our drive back up the coast. After lunch in a town called Fish Hoek we picked our way through a family of baboons patrolling the road. Local, and numeous signs warned us that they were dangerous, and to secure our cars. One old volunteer even said, “Roll up your windows and lock your doors.They know how to work the handles, and they’ll come right inside your car. They’re after food, don’t you know, but they’ll steal your camera—and your passport.” Steal my passport? Fearing identity theft we beat it back to Somerset West.
Now we head home. I looked for baboons on line at the airport. Saw none, but who knows?
Just one more entry, when we return—some superficial observations and half-baked opinions on South Africa today, its past and prospects for the future. Just ignore it--i'll postmore pics, as well.