Thursday, April 10, 2014

Last Epic Day In South Africa

Pictures have not held up well to all the experiences we have had. Sunsets paint the best conclusions to days of gardens, art, culture, people, and a great travel experience (when was the last time you caught an albino squirrel Peter?). Today we spent the morning in some Cape Town sights. The slave lodge, and the Company Garden. The Company Garden is in the center of original Cape Town. It was the place the Dutch East India Company settled. It is a history of slave trade, hardship, and modernization. It all starts in the 1600's, about the same time america was discovered. The Slave Lodge was the place slaves went every night after work. A filthy, inhumane, marker to the way people were treated......  Dutch East India Company was the law.......
  The afternoon was a foodie fest with chef Bruce Robertson. He put on a 5 course lunch that was fabulous! I think we ate snails three ways and never encountered a garden snail. They were all of the sea shore the chefs private residence overlooking Simon's Bay it was perfect.
Chef Robertson is reknowned. He keeps a B & B in Simon's Town.
  We stopped on the way home to photograph a young man that is part of the baboon patrol. The idea is to keep them out of his neighborhood and in the national park. So, they use high powered paintball guns. These guys stand guard 24-7.... It seems to work, we haven't seen any baboons until today.....
  Tomorow we head home....sad for us. It has been an awesome adventure. We do have some trepidation about the long flights home....see you all very soon. Thanks for keeping an eye on the blog....Northwest sunsets are the best, but, I have to say, Africa is consistent, every night, great sunsets........

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Table Mountain and Dowtown Cape Town

Up early (6:00 am), and off to Table Mountain. Table Mountain is the backdrop for all of Cape Town. From the edges of town is the national park entry. We purchased tickets in advance and entered right onto the cable car. It is a great ride reminicient of Chamonix in France. Great views from on top. We stopped for a coffee, before trekking the rim of the mountain.
  The afternoon we spent in the original area of Cape Town. This is still the business district and heart of the city. It intermingles well with markets, vendors, historical venues, modernism, and humanity. Kris didn't notice the "girls" winking at me......they know a good thing......
Bo Kaap is the oldest muslim community in Africa. The mosque was built in 1789. This is one of the districts that was renovated during apartheid. Interesting that the muslim communty was left intact while the black community was not. There are some interesting, small, community driven museums that are in place to preserve the impact of the apartheid regime. We visited several......
  Tonights photos, a great sunset, the Leopard Statue (guarding the harbor), Kris journaling, Table Mountain, and Cape Town historical district.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Gansbaai, and Cultural Tour

  We just keep checking things off the list, "Do something every day that scares you", has been quite easy to accomplish. So, after all the fear and trepidation about shark cage diving, guess who was the first one in the cage? Yep, that's my Sweetie! The shark cage dive was very professional, well run, and educational. They are big, beautiful, wild creatures. We had a marine biologist on board to talk about the sharks, habitat, environment, etc. It was a great experience. "She who swims with sharks" maybe had the best time..... Part of our angst was the 30+ mph winds. The boat was very capable with 1000 hp of outboard motors (4, 250hp Suzuki's). With about 30 folks on board we had no trouble with the rough seas. After anchoring with the wind at our backs the wind was hardly noticable. Groups of 6 went into the cage. When the crews see a shark they tell you to go under water. This big shadow comes out of nowhere and you are eye to eye with a great white shark.....incredible......
They served a nice breakfast, fitted us with good wet suits, and did a great job. We were on the water about 4 hours.
  No matter which way you travel here there is always a good place to stop for refreshements and watch the sunset....
  Today was a cultural tour we arranged quite some time back. Uthando is an organization that works a variety of projects oriented towards betterment of society through education, health and well being.
Our guide took us to four projects in the townships. A craft shop, community garden, retirement center, and a preschool.
It was very enlightening, and exciting to experience this vibrant, engaged, and caring community.
I can't wait to share the video of the retiree's singing to us.
It is a sobering thought to realize these are South Africas greatest generation.
They lived, fought, and survived apartheid.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wine Country, Scarborough, and Table Mountain

Today was another full day of sightseeing. We had a lazy morning ending with a walk on Scarborough Beach. This is the first time we ventured the short walk down to the beach. The wind was howling, 30+ mph. It was easy to deal with because it is warm out. The wind also attracted a large number of wind surfers. Scarborough is very small. If it had a business center it would feel very much like Cannon Beach. Nice to be so remote yet have very easy access to Cape Town central. The difficulty with driving is the water, mountains, and narrow roads. Our garmin (loaded with S. Africa maps) has been golden for getting us around.
We took a road trip into Cape Town that is the lesser traveled (more scenic) Atlantic Ocean side of the Cape.
We stopped for a snack and drink for sunset before heading back to Scarborough.
I seem to be having trouble captioning pictures, so, I'll list them here:
End of wine country, Stellenbosch
Scarborough Beach, Camel rides in town
Signal Hill, with views of Table Mountain (Table Mountain was closed due to wind today)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fabulous Time in Cape Town

Yesterday was a gorgeous drive out to The Cape of Good Hope (Cape Point National Park). Table Mountain National Park is broken up into pieces. Cape Point is one. We hiked about 4 miles along the bluff. It is a sharp point where you can see the ocean on both sides. This is not where the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet. That would be Cape Aguilhas, about 30 miles south. We will visit there later.... Today we are out to do wine country. Believe me this area leaves nothing to Sonoma, Willamette, or even Tuscany. Absolutely beautiful, very
Eu ropean and we are benefitting nicely from the exchange rate... We decided to spend the night out here as opposed to driving back to Scarborough. We have a guest room in Stellenbosch for the night. This city is full of art, old buildings, restaurants, and activities. It is central to the best wineries in S Africa. The first we visited was very much like a French Chateau. Very old Dutch buildings, gardens, and vineyards. Just got back from a lovely dinner in the art center of Stellenbosch. Surrounded by galleries and fine art, bronze is a very popular medium..... Don't want to forget frollicking with the South African Penquins....a very endangered species and the only colony that exists is in Simons Town. A short drive from our home base.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Safely Landed in Cape Town

We had a pretty lumpy flight in the Cessna 210 back to Windhoek. Glad it was only 1 1/2 hours long. A short wait and we board the Air Namibia A-319 for a two hour flight to Cape Town. Checked through customs, picked up a local rental phone, and off to the rental car stand. This is all very nice, modern, and well run. Just like Seatac.......sort of......the rest of the story....Back in February I celebrated the most wonderful birthday, so wonderful in fact I neglected to notice my drivers license experation date wiz by. So why is this important now? Guess who has total responsibility for the rental car and driving on the left hand side? Yep, I know how to score points.......
Good thing Kris is the good sport she is.

Namib desert from 2500 ft.

Cape Town waterfront

Robben Island

Our guide was a prisoner here for seven years. Political prisoners recieved harsher treatment than all others.

Pictures include Nelson Mandelas's cell