Hermanus, small town in South Africa, known for Whale Watching.
Yesterday was travel day….we left Botswana at 10a.m. and did the border crossings again into Zimbabwe and to the Victoria Falls airport. From there we flew to Johannesburg, then caught another flight into Cape Town. I think when it comes to Africa, every flight has to go through Joburg! Our flight was VERY interesting heading into Cape Town. As you may or may not know, the cape is known as the Cape of Storms, because storms form with no warning … as we began our descent a line of squalls quickly came up. The pilot came on the PA system and announced that we might have to do a “go around”, a common maneuver at the Cape Town airport. The plane tries to land, but if the squall comes in at a certain speed, the plane must pull up suddenly (no matter how close to landing) and then “go around” before taking another “bash” at landing! I’m not sure “bash” was the right word to use in this case….Yes, we experienced a go around….wow! The landing gear is deployed, you are almost touching down and boom…the plane suddenly pitches up and accelerates and you are pushed back in your seat! Kind of like the plane in the movie AIR FORCE ONE. It took us 45 minutes to land. Most exciting! We then rented a car and drove to Hermanus (Randy is the MAN, cannot believe he can drive on the left and shift with his left!). We expected a charming hotel on the coast….we arrived late and were a bit surprised at the tiredness of the hotel…our rooms had no heat and there were towels under the windows to keep out the howling wind and rain. We were so tired we didn’t protest, just slept. We didn’t arrive at the hotel until midnight. Things always look brighter in the morning… the hotel has a long ago charm to it (a little “longer ago” than anticipated), and we were shown to better rooms with sitting areas and balconies as the view is quite magnificent even in the rain (cliffs, pounding ocean, mountains barely visible through the mist). We are taking a day to have our laundry done, catch up on sleep and reading and Internet, and watching the weather change every 15 minutes. We are hoping to see the whales out there, but it is very rough and we have not seen any yet. As I write Wes is reading, Ran is working, Ally is sleeping, and I am journaling. The ocean is feral as the South Africans would say!
Chillin’ in Cape Town
The hotel in Hermanus was so cold and miserable that we came to Cape Town a day early. What a beautiful city, surrounded by ocean and mountains and islands. We are staying in Bantry Bay (what was known as Botany Bay in history), at the Protea President (which was opened by Nelson Mandela) with an incredible view of the ocean. What is a Protea? Well, Protea is a botanical name and the English common name of a genus of South African flowering plants, sometimes also called sugarbushes. Remember, Protea President Hotel is on what used to be Botany Bay.
Ran has been ill and unable to enjoy Cape Town today, but we are hoping he will be able to join us for dinner tonight on the waterfront. The kids and I explored Cape Town, going to the aquarium where I had a bit of fun, Nobel Square where Nobel Peace Prize Winners are immortalized: Albert Luthuli, former president of the African National Congress, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, last president of the ‘old South Africa’ FW de Klerk and the legendary Nelson Mandela, affectionately called by his clan name, Madiba, by many South Africans. We explored the V & A waterfront and shopping areas. Cape Town is quite cold, winter in Africa is just starting.
Ah, Randy did feel better and was able to join us for a lovely dinner at Quay Four, a fabulous restaurant on the waterfront. I can heartily recommend it! Also, at the Haagen Daaz (of course, South Africa has heavy Dutch influence) they have a wonderful concoction: Midnight Cookies and Cream! Chocolate Ice Cream and Oreos. Heavenly!!!!
A gorgeous city, reminiscent of San Francisco, but Cape Town is marred by the abject poverty of the shanty towns that ring it. I have never seen anything like it….miles of “homes” and “townships” made of scrap metal. It is horrifying. It has been 15 years since the end of apartheid, but there is a very long way to go for true equality. A failing economy is not helping. Our country didn’t have true universal suffrage until 1965, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act, so it is understandable that in 15 years things in South Africa are not perfect….but the sight of the miles of shantytowns will stay with us.