On Fire

What began as a normal touring day became anything but that. We had our usual breakfast routine and awaited our tour van and guide. The day was the usual cool morning start, with the temperature expected to be about a high of  60 degrees, with some clouds and as we on the northwest refer to it, sun breaks. Derrick, our guide, introduced himself and we joined the group, making us 12 for the day. We headed for the Cape peninsula driving along the coast past the area called Millionaire’s Paradise. I could see why. Fabulous views of the ocean waves crashing on the beach, with the many houses and condos and hotels hugging the coast with the Twelve Apostles mountains behind them.

We drove to Hout Bay and took a tour boat out to so-called Seal Island. We were told at the last moment that we ought to expect rough water. Dana, who gets motion sick, looked at me as if she ought to reconsider the ticket she just bought. But she braved it. And what a ride it was! We motored out of the harbour to increasingly bigger waves. We rocked and rolled as we sailed through the breaking surf. Rounding the headland we came upon some large rocks, the “island”, covered with Cape Fur seals and surrounded by even more of them splashing in the waves. It was amazing how well the boat captain managed to steer us so close to the rocks without an issue.  

Back in the harbour we encountered something totally unexpected – a local protest, apparently about unemployment, with men blocking the road by lighting tires, creating a large flume of black smoke. Now the problem that arose was that our vehicle and driver were on the opposite side of the fire from us.  He was blocked from getting out. After standing by for awhile, realizing that the police that were present were not helping rectify the situation, our guide led us along the beach past other men beginning to block that egress, with some notably carrying knives. Yikes. We managed to get by and headed up a street in town where we waited in a small cafe while our guide figured out how to handle things. We opted to have some tea and coffee and happily sat with a couple from our group, Rick and Susanne, from Naples, Florida. We ended up spending more than an hour waiting and chatting. While they were enjoying their trip they related that they had no idea how their home was faring with hurricane Irma. Distressing. We hope the best for them. Life was not dull at that cafe – while sitting there we looked out to the street just to find a man seem to appear from nowhere wearing a contraption that looked like something out of a movie. He walked past me and said “I was just flying”. There you go. Eventually Derrick said another bus was coming from Cape Town to fetch us and then once our original driver managed to get past the protesters he met up with us further along to continue the tour. A bonus from having our time delayed was that we spotted humpback whales frolicking along the coast as we wended our way along a very curvy, narrow road that hugged the cliffs and dropped away to the sea.

The next stop was to see the African penguins. We walked along a boardwalk in Boulder Penguin Colony set up for penguin viewing and saw so many of the cute critters. Some were juveniles and still more light fluffy gray than the usual black and white. We spotted them laying in the sand amongst the brush, out on the beach and basking on the rocks, singly and en masse. They totally win one over in the cuteness category. 

We then proceeded on to the Cape of Good Hope, that originally had been called the Cape of Storms. It’s the most southerly point on the African continent. The further we drove to the point we saw no trees, just the bushes they call fynbos – the fine bush. But we were treated to sightings of baboons along the edge of the road. There were large males, females carrying babies on their backs or hanging from their chests, and juveniles. We were warned to stay clear of then as they tend to be rather ornery. Further along we saw a pair of eland grazing up in the hillside bushes. I was surprised at how large they were. And then we came across a number of ostriches munching away. We saw one adult male who was the black and white you’d expect plus a number of juveniles whose feathers were gray. Close by were a few ibis. I’m finally seeing all the animals that are continuously in my crossword puzzles.

We reached the Cape and got a few pictures with the requisite sign, despite there being large groups milling about. Our fellow travelers, Rick and Susanne aided that by kindly taking a group shot for us.

We then drove over to Cape Point where we walked up a well made path to the lighthouse marking the way for the ships rounding the Cape. It felt great to stretch my legs and get a bit of a climb in. Amazingly it wasn’t windy.

Then it was time to head back up the peninsula. Our only stop along the way was at the Kirstenbosc Gardens. We didn’t have much time, due to the protest delay, but we did manage to walk up the center of the garden through the tree canopy section. It had this wonderful winding, elevated walkway that put you into the tree tops. But my favorite thing was to see some protea, the national flower of South Africa.

It was then back to town to drop us all off at our hotels after a long, full day, our last here in Cape Town. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful city and it’s charming, gracious residents. It’s now on my mental list of favourite world cities.

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