Day Three: Our Tour of the Cape Peninsula
Cape Town doesn´t occupy the southern most part of Africa. If you look on a map closely, there is a long, skinny peninsula leading from the city to the Cape of Good Hope. The peninsula has very scenic coastline and several cute little seaside towns like Camp´s Bay and Hout Bay. Pepe came to pick us up early in order to maybe squeeze in Table Top Mountain on the way to the peninsula. Unfortunately there was a giant cloud floating atop the mountain all day, making it impossible to go up there, and the wind was out of control. I wouldn´t fancy being suspended in a cable car being hit by those gusts! Cape Town, apparently, sometimes has winds, but every since we have been here, the wind gusts have been constant and up to 40 mph (just shy of hurricane status). The locals say this is not normal weather and that this amount of wind is unfortunate. The town of Hout Bay was being so pummeled by the wind, that the sand from the seashore had basically invaded the town. The city was covered in a sand cloud and small sand dunes had formed on the sidewalks and on the roads. Whoever named Chicago the windy city, apparently hasn´t visited Cape Town!
Anyway, despite the wind, the seaside villages were so picturesque that it made me want to move to Cape Town even more. Seriously, if there were a decent international school here, Jon and I would apply in a heartbeat. This area is so beautiful. Cape Town´s proximity to coastal mountains, vineyards, beautiful beaches, and unimaginable wildlife makes it a prime spot to live. The city has a very modern, cosmopolitan feel to it and the diversity of all the people is absolutely amazing, even though you can see remnants of the racial segregation, especially in all the different neighborhoods and communities. Pepe says that´s because people continue to live in the racially divided neighborhoods because that´s where their people and cultural connections are. The only difference is that it is no longer illegal to move and live wherever you can afford.
Since Table Mountain was out of the questions, we drove up to Signal Hill, next to Table Top where the large cloud had not reached yet and we had an amazing bird´s eye view of the city. It was helpful to orient ourselves and I was glad we had Pepe to explain what all the different sections of the city were.
After braving the winds on Signal Hill we headed down the coast to check out the coastal towns and take pictures of the beautiful scenery. It was stunning, especially Chapman´s Peak, the road along the coast that is closed by the government whenever it rains badly due to the possibility of falling rocks.
When we reached the tip of the peninsula we encountered Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where, on a non-windy day, you can see baboons, zebras, and antelopes roaming the landscape. We were unlucky and saw none of these things, but the drive was very pleasant. We saw a lot of the plants and birds that we had enjoyed so much in Kirstenbosch Gardens. Pepe parked and we took the funicular up to the Cape Point lookout where we had a nice lunch at the Two Oceans restaurant. Pepe is a great conversationalist and we enjoy spending time with her. We found out her last names, Jones, is Welsh, which I should have figured out since many of my Welsh relatives have the same surname. Anyway, the winds were so strong up on the lookout that we were not allowed to sit on the restaurant´s patio because the wind had torn off the restaurant´s outdoor roof. The views were great, nonetheless, and I enjoyed the visit. It was interesting to hear the stories of the Portuguese explorers like Dias and de Gama and their various attempts to make it around the African continent and onwards to India.
After lunch, we drove along the other side of the peninsula. We didn´t really stop too much at any of the coastal towns because the wind was so strong and we wanted to make it back in time to possibly go up Table Mountain. When we returned to the city, the entire mountain-top was socked in by heavy cloud cover. Locals call it the tablecloth, which I found pretty clever. So instead Jon and I rested back at our waterfront hotel and went and did a little souvenir shopping. There were so many cool things to buy that I was a little overwhelmed. We decided on a few items, the prize piece being a carved Zulu headrest made of dark wood. It was a unique artifact that the Zulus actually used, so we were happy with our purchase.
For dinner I had requested South African food, so Andrew and Krystle picked us up on the waterfront and took us to a restaurant on Longstreet called Mama Africa. The restaurant was in a district of downtown where they have lots of restaurants, bars, and clubs. Mama Africa seemed fun since it offered live music. The band was really good, but so loud that my ears are still ringing. We couldn’t hear ourselves talk, so we had no choice to bop along with the band. The worst part was that we sat there for 30 minutes without any wait staff coming to check on us. The manager came over and apologized and told us she would personally be taking care of us for the rest of the night. Well, it was a full hour and fifty minutes before our main meals came. We´re used to slow service from Chile… but this was ridiculous. But we did get to experience some interesting African food. We order a chicken peanut stew from Zimbabwe as well as the Wild Game Platter, consisting of kebabs of crocodile, kudu, springbok, ostrich, venison sausage and wild boar. I didn´t think any of them tasted unlike beef, chicken, or pork- and I enjoyed them all. While chewing the crocodile meat I tried not to think of the animal it came from because that was the only one that really freaked me out. If you are looking for a fun night, experiencing some African music and cuisine, then I would recommend coming here. But you should definitely sit as far away from the band as you can. I am partially deaf in one ear from my last treatment, but now I think I´m partially deaf in the other ear also! Since we couldn´t hear each other in the restaurant we went to a bar afterwards and only had one drink… a much smarter decision than the other night, particularly since we had to finish packing and wake up early for Pepe to take us to the Cape Vineyards.