South Africa 2007
My last day in Cape Town was just picture perfect, and one of those completely pleasant days you get to experience every once in a blue moon. One of those days where everything just goes right and it makes all the usual travel hassles seem worthwhile.
It started with a delightful walk through the Company's Gardens, and because there was a film crew shooting there (evidently the police had cleared out all the junkies and glue sniffers) I was able to walk completely undisturbed. As a matter of fact, I don't think I was approached for money for the entire day from start to finish.
I saw piles of pigeons laying is the lawns, each with one wing up in the air. At first I thought it looked peculiar... as if they were all dead. Then, after watching them a few minutes, I noticed they were all just chilling out on the soft wet grass in the sun. When the lawn sprinkler passed by, they'd all lift one wing up in the air in order to get a nice cool blast of water under their wings. It was really funny to watch.
Then it was off to find a bit of breakfast on Long Street. The place I happened to pick turned out to be the best breakfast I had while in Cape Town with probably the best coffee I've had in South Africa so far. The place is called Mojitos and has a revolutionary Cuban theme. If you pass by that way, definitely check it out.
Off for a walk to explore the half a dozen square blocks around Long Street that I hadn't covered yet for a few more happy snaps. Then, it was off for a nice drive to the Clifton beach area and onto the spectacular Chapman's Peak drive and around Hout's Bay. Then on toward Cape Point for a stop around the Muizenberg beach area where they have these little colorful changing rooms lined up along the beach like toy boxes. I can't remember seeing any other white folks in that area of the beach, so I wondered if I'd again wandered into an area I might not be so welcome (something you still unfortunately need to be aware of here in the post-Apartheid S. Africa. Or, so I've been warned).
Everyone was very friendly, personable, and helpful. Just a bunch of good folks enjoying the wonderful day along with me.
A little boy came running up to me and asked if I'd take his picture. I did so but he just stood there squinting and shivering form the cold ocean. I suggested he flex his muscles or something like He-Man, so he did his best impression while shivering and gritting his teeth. I wish I'd shot a few more of him with those colorful changing rooms, but I got a couple snaps off before his little sister wanted her picture taken as well. She too was shivering from the cold water, and I got a couple nice closeup snaps of her as well. Only after closer inspection of her nose area that was caked with sand and.. well, I'll just spare you the details. ;-)
I continued along a great stone pathway that wrapped along the beach toward where I had the "backy" (truck) parked and just enjoyed all the crisp colors reflecting off the late afternoon surf and boulders along the coast. Watched the fishermen along the way as I stolled along without a care in the world.
At that point I thought, "wow! what a splendid day! I just wish I'd been able to fit in the Kistenbosch Botanical gardens as well." So, I made my way back toward Cape Town and on a whim, took the turn off for the Kirstenbosch Gardens. I still had an hour before they closed and was told I didn't have to leave right as closing. I was just trying to squeeze in one last tourist attraction before I left, but really wasn't all that excited about wondering around some gardens for an hour or so. But, oh man! am I glad I did. Probably THE most magnificient gardens I've ever visited right at the foot of Table Mountain. All indigenous plants with abstract sculptures, South African ginea fowl, peacocks, etc. It was a truly magical time of day to be strolling through the gardens.
Well all good days must come to an end so I made my way toward the exit and parking lot. I took another fortunate wrong turn and ended up at this great restaurant called The Silver Tree and decided that maybe I'd just relax for a bit and top off the day with a nice glass of South African wine. I was the only one there since it was the inbetween time when all the tourists have left the park, and the diner crowd hasn't started arriving yet. So, I had the whole place to myself in peace. Ordered a starter to go with the wine that were only calamari rings., but likely the best calamari rings and buttered bread I think I've ever had!
As I passed through Simonstown, I spotted this woman just sitting there in this amazing green scarf in front of a wall that just happened to match. I'd pretty much finished making images for the day and wanted to just digest it all so I kept going. That image of her sitting there was nagging at me pretty hard so I slammed on the brakes and whipped back around.
Didn't take long to find a spot to park and luckily she was still there. The other people standing around looked as if she was crazy as she smiled and hummed some unfamiliar tune. I asked her if I could make some photos of her and she giggled, smiled and then nodded with approval. She seemed to proud that I was making images of her and not the others standing around looking down on her. I'm very happy with the images I got, but even more happy that the act of showing this lovely woman some attention and respect brightened her day.
An easy drive back to the backpacker lodge and parked the "backy" at a private office garage around the corner that I'd made a deal with the weekend security guards to pay under the table a few rand to park inside to make sure nothing else disappeared like the old sheets someone had stolen a couple days before. These fellas were from the Congo and were very helpful and friendly. We chatted a bit of politics and info about the Congo in general (will definitely have to go there next time) and then I was back at the hostel to turn in for an early night before my drive to Stellenbosch the next day. Which didn't go so swell, but more on that in the next installment. For now, I was just going to savor the remnants of the perfect day I was so fortunate to experience.