The Cape of Good Hope: Pleasing, Playful, Passion Gaps.

Day Ten: Aaah! this is the life *happy dance* Our front teeth are still intact, the weather is good, health even better (so much delicious food and…uhm…fermented thirst quenchers) and best of all, the exchange rate is very, very good. You’re probably wondering about the teeth mention. Well, nowhere else in South Africa will you find so many people sporting a front tooth gap like here in the western Cape region. The Passion Gap, also known as the Cape Flats Smile. This is a debatable phenomenon because it’s not clear why the four top front teeth, whether healthy or not, are deliberately removed. There are arguments about it being fashionable, traditional, or for health reasons, or because the fishermen did it, or peer pressure, or just because it is so, but the one reason that seems to stick is: that it’s mainly for sexual reasons. I’ll just leave it right here. These gaps are mostly adorned with gold or pearly white artificial teeth, or left as is. As I have a front tooth covered in gold (it’s just a third of my tooth), many presume that I too have a Passion Gap. Hahahaha! Nooo, the gold bling-bling thing was just me being a rebel at the age of 21 (official coming of age at the time) and also just because I could 👍 All my dental work was also completely sponsored, which made my decision to shine easy. Regrets? Never!

Oh, as this is also our last day in the beautiful city of Cape Town, our chauffeur for the day,  brother dearest, is taking us to one of the “must see” areas in the region. So yabba dabba doo, off we go, to the good old Cape of Good Hope.

Cape Point 

The drive down to Cape Point from where we were staying is very scenic and interesting. After a bit more than 95 minutes, we reached our destination. The attraction here (other than a restaurant and curio shop) is to reach the top of the “new” Cape Point Lighthouse. The old lighthouse was built too high up the cliff which caused problems for the sea farers as it the light could not be seen from the sea below, especially when it was foggy. The new one is a bit lower, and has the brightest light of all the country’s lighthouses. You have to leave your car at a parking lot as it’s not possible to drive up to the top. Only too right! Too much beautiful flora and fauna will be damaged by exhaust fumes and engine noises. You have two options to get up there: take a deep breath and climb those steps as you can see in the photo on the right (it only takes about fifteen minutes…apparently…but some short person did not believe it) OR you can opt for the Princess and the Pea route 👸🏻 (fairytale yes…but still) and use the Flying Dutchman, a funicular, like we did. See, Mister armed-to-the-teeth 📷📷 is still fresh and now ready to start clicking. We used the steps on the way down, which was much better as we could extensively explore the interesting areas we’d seen from the top.

The next few photos depict the Cape of Good Hope (with Diaz beach – left photo) with such an amazing rocky coastline, which also seems to fascinate the little black lizard. Contrary to popular belief, the Cape of Good Hope is NOT where the two oceans, Indian and Atlantic, meet, nor is it the southernmost tip of Africa. It is however the most south-western point of the African continent. Diaz beach is “only” twenty minutes of wooden steps away from the top of the cliff but worth it. Here you will mostly be alone to enjoy thundering waves or the soft beach, or maybe not. A few hungry baboons might also suddenly show up. They’ve been eyeing you on your way down, so will be expecting a picnic party. Seriously, they can be very aggressive and will stop at nothing to get hold of your bags! It is safer not to carry anything and better anyway because climbing back up is strenuous and almost three times longer than going down.

As the whole area is a Nature Reserve, you will find many beautiful and unique flowers and plants. There are also lots of snakes, or why would there be such an ominous warning?! We fortunately did not see any. Blrrrr!

We expected to see baboons but definitely not any ostriches! There were so many roaming on the rocky beach (not the Diaz) and the three of us were alone here, so it sometimes felt a bit scary. An ostrich would suddenly run towards you then stop in mid-trot. After a while animals and humans felt comfortable enough with each other, so much so that they (the animals) started prancing and flaunting in front of the camera! The fun ended for us when three bus-loads full of noisy tourists stopped by. We left immediately.

On the drive back we followed the False Bay coastal route and, near Castle Rock, were so lucky to see fishermen returning from the sea with their catch of the day. The lively exchange between the “givers” and “takers” seemed to be over in no time. Fresh fish needs to be transported in time. We walked between the anchored boats and cooler vans, taking in the smells (not recommended) and wishing we had a cooler bag or something so as to buy a fish or two.

We passed through beautiful and/or attractive towns like Simonstown, Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay then stopped over in Muizenberg. You know you’re in Muizenberg when you see the colourful wooden beach huts on the beach. They are one of the most photographed objects and found in many travel and/or other brochures and advertisements. Muizenberg also has a vast beach which is very popular because it is shallow and most importantly, WARM. One can stroll on the beach, scream on the water slides, take surfing lessons, do the catwalk (a 3km coastal walk) or explore the town and make merry. Why not take the train which runs all along the coast between Simonstown and Muizenberg. The railway line is almost on the water and it’s amazing. Try it!

Last but not least, the tourists! Heehee…

At the Cape of Good Hope - South Africa

 

 

Bo-Kaap, Birds, Braai and an ice-cold Beer

Day nine: We do not know what day it is anymore and that’s okay. Okay, one of us will always know what day, time and…whatever…but he has settled in very nicely to the laid-back and now-now-just-now culture of South Africa. Time? Punctuality? Hmmm…What’s that? Hahaha! As we say in Afrikaans, “môre is nog ‘n dag”. In other words, life goes on, OR tomorrow is another day. Sister-in-law dearest was taking us out and about, and the first stop was the colourful Bo-Kaap.

Bo-Kaap

This is one of the the most picturesque suburbs of Cape Town which lies on the slopes of Signal Hill, is near to the city centre and, depending on where you stand, has amazing views of the very famous Table Mountain. The first thing that hits you while looking for a rare parking space are the brightly painted and quaint little houses. A beautiful sight for inquisitive eyes👀 We walked mainly along the Chiappini Street which to us was the most colourful street. Each house has it’s own little charm and the residents are probably “tourist numb” by now. Imagine having all these camera clicking people day in and day out staring at your cute little house…hee-hee. We were also stopped by an elderly man who warned Mr. Click-Click (he has one of those big fancy ones) to be careful and watch his camera as he had seen too many tourists been robbed in the area. We thanked him graciously but could not get our heads around it as the streets were almost void of people. He meant well though, but our fingers were cramped and our knuckles white from holding on too tightly onto our possessions. Jokes aside, this area is a major tourist attraction not just for their colours, but also for the history of the people. Most residents have ancestors who were slaves brought to the Cape by the Dutch from as early as the 16th century. They hailed from other parts of Africa, as well as Asia, Indonesia, Java and Malaysia. The Bo-Kaap was formely known as the Malay Quarter and the people as Cape Malays (probably now too, but it’s not politically correct anymore). As mentioned before, not all are descendents from Malaysia, but the name stuck. They’re also very famous for presenting one of the best and oldest carnivals in South Africa every year since the mid 1800’s. It’s called the “Kaapse Klopse” or just “Klopse” or once again, the politically incorrect version, the “Coon Carnival”. The Dutch gave their slaves only one day off per year, on the 2nd of January, and allowed them to celebrate however they wished. They would thus dress up as minstrels, sing and dance, always accompanied by drums, whistles, banjos and other instruments. This tradition has survived both slavery and apartheid and is one of the best and biggest highlights in Cape Town. Think Rio de Janeiro, but only think, because it’s better in Cape Town. Yes, someone is biased 😇 They spend most of the year preparing this colourful event and we had a little taste of it while we were sitting and enjoying some delicious roti and curry at one of their traditional restaurants. A marching brass band came to practice in a park opposite to where we were sitting and the music was really enjoyable. With a dripping and sticky sugar syrupy koeksister in one hand and toes that could not stop tapping, we ended off our jaunt in the Bo-Kaap. By the way, a “koeksister” is a lovely South African dessert or just a nibble-at-any-time pastry thingy made from dough plaited and fried in hot oil. It is then dipped into a sugar syrup mixture while still hot, then left to cool. Some roll it in coconut too. For most of us in the family, it was our Sunday breakfast, dessert after lunch, tea and coffee snack and the last bite before bed. After all, the dreaded Monday was looming 😬 Enjoy the pics! Don’t forget, click on them for more information.

 

Green Point

Green Point is a very trendy and hip suburb of Cape Town, with a gay-friendly culture and buzzing nightlife, which is also set at the foot of Signal Hill, quasi around the corner from Bo-Kaap. There’s this big square, red and white striped lighthouse squatting on a green lawn between the busy main road and the ocean. The Green Point Lighthouse, initiated by an English Sir, was built by a German immigrant and started operating in 1824 for the first time. Other than new lighting, the lighthouse has remained in its original form since then. After jay-walking across the main road (zebra crossings are decorations – it’s Africa) we entered a lovely park which seems to be quite popular. The Urban Park is big and includes an outdoor fitness area, play area, adventure area and areas for all sorts of events like art, exhibitions and markets. There’s also a Biodiversity Garden where we saw various birds and swimming thingies in the water. Next to the Urban Park is a golf course and next to that a large stadium. The “new” and famous Cape Town Stadium (with its own jail if you get naughty while in there) was built especially for the Football World Cup 2010 and can also be viewed from the inside. We were too pooped to do a tour, but we had just enough energy to walk along the very long and interesting promenade. Next time, maybe 😉

 

Braai … and the Beer Drinker

It was a very hot and enjoyable day. Someone was also quite thirsty…glug-glug-glug…😋 A braai (barbie or barbeque for the ill-informed 😛)  is what South Africans do. Always!!! Anywhere and everywhere in the world. Weather is irrelevant. It’s the event of all events. It’s the gathering of men around the fire and the women in the kitchen hahaha! It’s a man with a beer in one hand (he throws some over the braai) and a braai-fork in the other sort of thing. The braai boss. Seriously, women are just not allowed to braai! As if we want to, so there! A braai is about food, people and fun! And the right fire lol…There’s always a lot of everything: boerewors (South African sausage), meat (all kinds) and chicken. These are served with freshly cooked hot pap/mieliepap (maize meal stiff porridge), a tomato/onion gravy or relish, salads and other lekker stuff. Drink a refreshing beer, or a glass of wine, before, during and after…YUM! Oh, and to South Africans a barbie is a plastic doll and a barbeque is a spice flavour. Just saying 😜