May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

South of South Africa

Sue, can't you follow orders?

Les says Goodbye to Ollie in Johannesburg
Hello to Michael in Muizenberg
Making friends on the bus to Muizenberg

December 4—a travel day to Cape Town.  Because the signs in the airport were obsolete for the bus stop, we did a little extra walking with our packs, but soon we were downtown Cape Town looking for the train station; then we had about 5 minutes to catch the train to Muizenberg.   

When we got out I had to stop and gaze over the scene.  We were on a surfer’s beach, with bright azure water rippled with white crests and only a few businesses.  The sun was bright and the wind was bold in our faces.  Beautiful!  
Michael's Kitchen

 We stopped for a sandwich and coffee in a very loud and disorganized place then made our way to Michael’s place.  It’s a gorgeous high-ceilinged place that looks at first like all the plaster is coming off the walls; but no, there is a variety of various painting techniques, Oceanside blues and greens in brushed blocks or sponged widely.  I love the look of it, as it has no solid linear forms, and expects an onlooker to examine it more closely.  It’s a nice place only 3 blocks from the beach.  Score!  Michael seems very friendly and seems to know everyone on this side of the cape.    

Les napped, I read, then we hauled out the tamale pie that Louise had put together for us to eat, and we jumped into the car to a spot on the coast where a 3 piece jazz ensemble plays on Sunday nights.   
The big draw for me was watching the sea come closer and crash with more drama.  People danced and the huge seal came up the stairs from the sea for a nibble.  Pretty cool!  The bed is so comfy; it reminds me of camp days.
First class local train

December 5—Slept in and got coffee at Kitch-Kombuis (kitchen in Afrikaans), went to the tourist info and got tickets to Robbin Island for the future, and asked lots of questions.   
Off we went on the train to Simonstown to look around, have fresh fish and chips, see street singers and learn a little of the history of the place.  It’s a cute town with nice people.   
We came back through the grocery store and the internet place before heading home to make a big chef salad.  The moon rose, and we saw the tall mountains fade into the darkness.
December 6—We woke relatively early, and Michael loaned us his car!!  We drove along the curvy coastal road ALLLLL the way out to Cape Point where the end of the continent is!   
Look at the EGG!
On the way we stopped to see the African Penguins—formerly known as “Jackass Penguins” because of the way they bray when they call.  Some were sitting on eggs, some pour souls were molting (can’t eat or swim for 21 days), some were running, swimming, flapping, mating and waddling, and some were digging deep nests.   

Back in the car, we passed a big group of baboons!  There were little ones and running ones and humping ones, and staring ones.  Fun!   
See where the line is?  Indian Ocean meets Atlantic
Home, sweet, home

We saw how thin the land is between the waters.  At the end, we climbed the stairs to the lighthouse for the amazing views of where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean.  There is actually a line (a foamy line of merging currents) there.  We watched boats cross easily, read about the big crashes of history, saw surfers and then a seal play in the surf below, received looks from a marmot, some starlings and a lizard, and enjoyed the hot sun and cold wind. 
On our way home, we took a turn and there were ostriches with tiny chicks!  They didn’t seem to mind that we got out of the car to take photos.   

We drove down to the Cape of Good Hope and watched the big waves splash against the rocks as the tide came in. 

The landscape was rocky and vast, with little succulents in bloom.  Gorgeous!  After getting petrol, we stopped at Fish Hoek beach.  
A "tidal pool" built to let the water change in high tide

 It was a little miserable in the fine sand because the wind made us little sand statues with our moist creamed skin.   
Water and wind were cold; we went to have soft serve and headed back to thank Michael for such a nice day.  There was one time when the car wouldn’t start.  He has an anti-hijaking device on his car that stops working after a few kilometers after the door has been opened.  You must push a button to cancel this action.  Apparently, the car’s battery disconnected for a moment, and we couldn’t start it.  Michael got a call from his car security company wondering if the car was ok, because when the battery is disconnected they get a signal to call and they can find the car through a homing device.  It ended up starting and we were on our way in no time.  
 Michael said that a neighbor had a car she couldn’t get to go parked on the street and someone towed it away, stealing the car!  It’s a different world.  We all had salad and delicious pineapple and watermelon for dinner.  A mellow evening of writing and reading about Turkey…

December 7—A much needed catch up day to work on the computer: blog, plan for Turkey, check accounts and email.  We frequented the local’s places for Wi-Fi, and the Gaslight for lamb curry with homemade poppadum for dinner.  We brought home the best-toasted coconut ice cream, and les spent the night with his fantasy baseball stats.
December 8—We got up and dawned our bathing suits so we could go play in the waves.  Michael hauled out a couple of wet suits that we stretched over our bodies!  Hero!  We waddled to the shore and jumped about in the waves until our inner ears and hands were numb.  Wind chill!  Then we took Michael to our favorite breakfast spot where we met locals and ate muffins.   
SVEA with the smile of Meryl Streep
Svea's home with Bear and his cub "St.John"
Soon we were on the train to Rosebank to be picked up by an animated, smart woman named Svea, who has been supporting those (kids and adults) in their healing after apartheid. 
Svea's front door
She was teaching at a time when there were road blockades and tear gas around her school.  She counseled both the police officer who killed a boy, and the mother of that boy in her private practice.  Svea’s stories were riveting.  
 We wandered around the neighborhood, toured through the university’s Baxter Theater, and came home in time to go through the very windy streets to Artscape Theater to see a wonderful dance performance.  The pieces were novel, textured, VERY well lit and diverse.  …Excellent dancers—both technical and expressive.   

Svea picked us up and we took her out at a fancy hotel bar for a celebratory beverage.  I couldn’t believe how late it got, as we had a fabulous time. 
December 9—After a nice cup of coffee, we caught a ride into town to see a doctor about refilling a prescription.  It was easy but expensive.   
Les is seeing EYE to eye

The waterfront was a tourist magnet with a fancy mall, a large Christmas tree, acrobats performing and our departure point for Robben Island, where political prisoners (incl. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela) were held.   
Cell for 60 men
We saw the cells that contained 60 prisoners without running water 4 days a week, no heat or windows to keep out rain and cold, and only short pants, socks and short-sleeved shirts.  The colored people and Asians got long sleeved pants, jackets, shoes and much more food than the black Bantu people.   
We saw the cave where the prisoners took a break from mining limestone.  The whites wouldn’t go in there, as it was segregated, so it served as: 1. A toilet for blacks, 2. A lunch room, 3. The place where the new constitution was born, as this was the only place where the prisoners could talk about what they would like for the future of South Africa.  They made a policy of “each one, teach one,” where they taught illiterates how to read and write, and people taught what they knew.  What a humble beginning to the end of apartheid!  
Mandela buried his book in this corner

  We saw the corner of the garden where Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela hid the book he wrote, “A Long Walk To Freedom,” and suffered for when they found it. 
Mandela's Cell

We also saw the exhibit where prisoners had placed something in one of the cells and told a story about that thing in relationship to their experience in that prison.     

Our Bus Guide
The best part for me was that our guide WAS a prisoner there and could speak from his memory about the place.  The bus guide’s father was a prisoner there, and he spoke about how getting this job at the prison helped to heal his father.   

Capetown Center

Set for "London Street"
After this, we walked to the center of town, through some dodgy areas before arriving at the Fugard Theater.  It was made inside an old church and was a FABulous venue.      

 We saw “London Street,” about two women from a neighborhood in Cape Town who grow to be friends.  One plays a young Nigerian illegal immigrant making the best of her life without her unfaithful husband who passed along AIDS to her, and the other is an old Jewish woman who’s children have immigrated away and is left friendless.  The actresses did a lovely job with the script.  I enjoyed it immensely.  

December 10—We met Svea’s ex-husband and his son and went to a market where we bought a corn fritter and healthy juice, crepe and fish pate for later.  Then we went way out to the wine area (Wow! There are tons and tons of vineyards).    

We did some tasting of wines and cheeses at a place that had a goat tower!  They were fabulous (the wines and cheeses), and with a little buzz we shared a tasting at the next place. 

I had never tried an amber port.  It was delicious.  I especially enjoyed the Pinotage blend quite a bit.  The grape is only grown here.  The land is gorgeous, with views of the mountains on every side.  


While one vineyard had a goat tower, another had a spider web collection on one wall of windows.  As Svea, Bear and St. John went to a Christmas party—fruitcake and all—Les and I did some computer catch up.  I discovered that some of my round the world ticket isn’t on the itinerary, so we tried to deal with that a little, but to no avail.  When we go to the international airport next, we’ll figure it out.
Cute Kitty "Jigsaw"
December 11—Bear told us stories about hunting and teaching boys and their dads survival skills.  He hunts with a relatively simple bow and only takes what he can eat or preserve in two days.  We departed the airport and are resting one day in Johannesburg before returning to Jordan!
the "Flats" current Township in Cape Town

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