To the end of the world ... and back


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Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Cape of Good Hope
November 6th 2009
Published: November 21st 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

Cape Point ViewCape Point ViewCape Point View

Beautiful view from the lighthouse; note the hiking trail and vantage points in the foreground.
The forecast is for today to be the best weather of our three days in Cape Town, so Jessy has rearranged our itinerary a bit. Instead of city activities today, we have been driving along the coast. It is a gorgeous day -- blue skies, some white fluffy clouds, warm and breezy. We are driving alongside the Atlantic, which is crashing powerfully onto rock and sand beaches. We have just stopped at the "end of the world", billed as the southwestern most point of Africa (which actually doesn't make a lot of sense to me when I look at a map, as it is neither the most southern nor the most western, but I guess if you stretch logic it is the most southwestern...) -- Cape Point.

We got up at 8 this morning, relatively well-rested -- six hours in a very comfortable bed. Started my day with a little bit of yoga, a much-needed shower, and a very generous breakfast. Jessy came to see us, to explain about our adjusted itinerary. We were happy to meet her after many months of planning over the Internet. When I first came out of the room I mistook Jessy for Leslie .
LDTG at Hout Bay OverlookLDTG at Hout Bay OverlookLDTG at Hout Bay Overlook

It was a bit windy . . .
. . they are like long lost twin sisters! We set off with Brian at 10am.

We drove down from the bed & breakfast towards the coast, great scenic views along the way. We stopped briefly (for an ATM) in the upscale beach area of Camps Bay. The beach was beautiful and the area reminded me of St Maarten. Brian said that during the summer months it is wall to wall with people and cars. We continued along Victoria Road -- cliffs to the left spotted with 5-star hotels and luxurious houses -- and the ocean crashing to the right. At Llandudno (an inexplicably Welsh name) we turned inland. We passed Ocean View -- a Black township with no view of the Ocean. Brian explained that this is one of countless resettlements created when Aparthied policies forcibly relocated Black and Coloured (mixed race) people from the cities. This particular town was created when Blacks were forced out of Simon's Town on the opposite side of the penninsula. Brian said that his family, in 1965, was forced out of their home. They were given a deadline to leave - with a bulldozer waiting at the end of six weeks.
Cape Point ViewCape Point ViewCape Point View

One of the views from the walk up to the Cape Point Lighthouse.

Throughout the drive we have had many illuminating conversations with Brian. He has a seemingly endless supply of information and is able to answer all of our questions, whether about flora and fauna, geography, history, or politics. He is not hesitant to talk about the realtity of the past or the politics of the present. I am relieved by this, because I was a bit afraid that painful topics would be avoided in an effort to paint a pretty picture.

We talked about the history of British, Dutch, French, and Portuguese explorers, merchants, and colonizers; about Nelson Mandela and Helen Suzman and other proud icons of South African history; about American politics, especially Barak Obama; and about the current situation in Zimbabwe.

But it wasn't all serious. We also enjoyed the scenery! We continued on to Hout Bay, amazing views along the way, then a stop at an amazing overlook for many photos. The road in this area is along a rockslide-prone cliff. The road had been closed for two years (after a boulder-induced fatality) and was just reopened a few weeks ago. They installed "catcher's mitts" -- giant nets for catching falling boulders!

Another 20 minutes
Cape Point ViewCape Point ViewCape Point View

It was a long way down to the water's edge!
of driving brought us to the entrance of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. The scenery here was unique -- brush of brownish green spotted with flowering yellow proteas and white ericas and some other plant (not sure of the name) which was a glorious purple color and thrived specifically amid strikingly white rocks. This flat and expansive veld gave way to a steep slope at the top of which we could see our destination -- the Cape Point Lighthouse. Brian parked and we chose to walk up a stone walking path with several vantage points. We were rewarded with stunning views of the rough cold Atlantic crashing over shipwreck-inducing rock formations onto beautiful sandy beaches. It was one of those too-beautiful-to-be-true scenes, where real life looks like a skillful painting. At the top of the walk is a lighthouse from which you can view "the end of the world" -- complete with distance markers (12,000+ km to New York) and philosophical grafiti ("be resilient!") We took the funnicular back down to the parking lot. Next stop was the actual end of the world -- a photo op with a sign and a mob of tourists and buses.

By now I am back in my comfortable bed, catching up with my journaling -- have been sneaking in a few sentences here and there throughout the day.

After the photo op we drove for another 20 minutes or so, through Simon's Town (the prior home of the families of the misnamed township 'Ocean Vew'.) This is a wealthy town with a mix of Engligh and Dutch influence and is also home to Boulder's Beach, our next stop. This park boasts a colony of African Penguins. There is a boardwalk that brought us within yards of two groups of penguins lounging in the sand, some in comfy holes that they had dug for themselves, like beach chairs.

After viewing the penguins we had a great lunch. I tried a local fish, kingklip. Served on the bone but (as promised by the waiter) it slid off the bone onto my fork, very tasty. Carrie had prawns as big as small lobsters (not really, but they were very large.) Leslie and Linda had seafood curry.

While we were eating the wind picked up, howling amid the outdoor canopies. We were glad that our request for outdoor seating had been refused! We drove back to Cape Town past more great scenery, graced by more thought-provoking conversations about politics and the intended and unintended consequences of international policy.

Next stop was the waterfront, which was very much like San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. The rest of the LDTG went shoppping -- I sat at a (Scottish!) brewpub and wrote a bit in my journal. Everyone else joined me and we enjoyed another drink together while listening to some local musicians.

We then met Brian and he drove us back to our B&B. Meanwhile the tablecloth had decended upon Table Mountain and the temperature had dropped dramatically.

After changing clothes, spending a little time on the internet on our iPhones and drinking a bottle of wine together -- Leslie called it a night and Linda and Carrie and I had dinner a few blocks away. We had a fantastic dinner at Societi Bistro on Orange Street. I had beetroot carpaccio with horseradish, spinach, onions, and feta -- and then gnochi with peas asparagus and pesto. Then we shared "Chocolate Nemesis" for dessert. A decadent end to a great day.


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