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

 

 

Kissing Jackasses and a flying Mercedes…

Day four. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man look outside to see if the weather is nice. There are a few non-truths about Cape Town. One is about the weather. No, it does NOT rain every day, just every other day, and mainly in winter. Yes, it can be windy, and no, you will not be blown over to the other side of Table Mountain. Rooftops, trees and other stuff will fly, but not you. You might have a slight lift-off experience and could be blown over to the other side of the road, but that’ll be all. So if you’re visiting during late spring or early summer, then beware of the Cape Doctor, a strong and determined south-east wind which will blow away everything polluting the city. Grab a pole and hold on tight! Another more talked-about non-truth is…the passion gap. It’s a Cape Town thing and everyone has one. No, no, no, not true! We’ll elaborate on this one later 😁, after telling you about our day. It was a bit cloudy, no rain, and we were chauffeured by the birthday boy for an excursion to the coasts and mountains in and around the city. Our first stop was at the…

Boulders Beach Penguin Colony

On the shores of the False Bay, is Simon’s Town, home of the South African Navy. Not far from here you will find the penguin colony, which is home to the African or Jackass Penguin. It is a very popular tourist attraction where many come here to see the penguins in their natural habitat. Surprisingly though is that this “natural habitat” is right in the middle of a busy residential area. You have to walk down a street, with houses on both sides, to get from the car park to the entrance of the visitors centre from the car park. The adjacent neighbours, the many cars and lots of human traffic poses a threat to these endangered penguins. The amazing bit though is that the penguins only started settling here in the early eighties, despite it being a residential area. So you see, this time the humans were there first. Once you’ve paid your entrance fee at the visitors centre and passed through the turnstiles, do not expect any of these cute little fellas to waddle or sashay towards you in greeting. You have to use the wooden walkways to see the penguins. A tourist at the time: Is this their dance floor? Hmm, no comment! The walkways meander right through the colony and it’s amazing how near they are. We’ve seen some cuddling, kissing, fighting, fishing and also sleeping. We’ve also seen some really mind-boggling people leaning over the railing just to get that one photo or selfie of themselves patting a penguin. Oh please! There are those of us who still remember the time when there were no boardwalks or restrictions. It was fascinating and not many had the guts to touch a penguin. Those who tried were promptly nipped by a razor sharp beak. So please stay on the walkway! It is for the safety of the animals…pun intended…

Chapman’s Peak

Chapman’s Peak is a mountain about fifteen kilometres south of Cape Town and has a very spectacular scenic road running between Hout Bay and Noordhoek called the Chapman’s Peak Drive, or Chappies, as it’s called locally. Chappies took seven years to build and was officially opened in 1922. The road meanders high above the coastline, with breathtaking views, very shear drops, white beaches and sometimes a stubborn baboon or two blocking your way. It is definitely a “must-do”! You should note a few things though. Chappies is now a toll road! This has advantages as there are not many cars about and you can stop to take some photos. Very few opportunities to park your car along the roadside exist, and it could be deliberate as the drive could or could not be quite treacherous. After many rockfalls, (some were fatal), the road was closed for a few years (twice up to now) and measures taken to ensure that the road is safe from falling rocks and other perils. If it is or has been raining and for the few days afterwards, the road will be closed completely. A light drizzle, like when we were there, is not (yet) considered a threat, but even if the sun is shining, and the authorities feel it necessary to do so, it will be closed. It was a bit “spooky” driving there as we were the only ones on this long and curvy stretch of road. Memories of days gone by when we cruised with our open-top cars, bumper to bumper, people everywhere, and with not a worry that anything might fall on your head…those were the days my friend…Did you know: a very famous car brand commercial was filmed on this very drive in early nineties. The car drove too fast round a bend and plunged one hundred metres down a cliff. Mr White, the driver, was not injured, as he was driving one of the safest cars in the world. The one with the star. A classic advert at the time…

Hout Bay

The Republic of Hout Bay. Hahaha, it’s not really a republic, but this is what the locals have been calling it since the eighties. A “republic” was declared to promote the town and some say also as a statement that they had nothing to do with the then apartheid regime. Others say it was because Hout Bay is sort of cut off from the rest of the Cape Peninsula as you can only reach it via three mountain passes, one of them the Chappies. Whatever the reason, this promotion worked. They even issued passports which were very sought after. A close friend even boasts a few immigration entry stamps from various countries of the world. Hout Bay has a boat and yacht marina, a craft market and some of the best fish and chips eateries in the area. You know they are fresh because firstly the air smells very fishy and stinky, and secondly you can see fishermen offloading freshly caught fish. The fish factories are nearby. Another attraction are the many seals that swim here (look between the boats) and the view of the Chapman’s Peak across the harbour. Sit down, eat and enjoy the bustling yet laid-back atmosphere.