From Dairy 5.
23. We now drive west, across the country by the small dirt roads. Over a high pass, and up through the fynbos. We meet a large herd of black-bred dairy cows that (like all other South African cows) look well-fed. A little later, two men come running with a couple of adult ostriches and three chickens, which one man ends up carrying in his arms. They look very cute as long as they are striped.
I feel substantially
better today. Apparently just been through a minor flu or poisoning
of some kind. I was scared because I had grown old ...
We get out on the other side of an area that is becoming a nature reserve. Some of the fence posts are slender stones, that have stood here for a very long time. We find a thorny viper, and I prick it far enough out of its large dense grass pile for us to photograph it. A few more common plants, and then we turn our nose towards Montagu.
We are distributed a bit around town, and then gather for dinner. I choose kudo capachio and springbok. Tastes delicious! Home and work, and make a diary backup of Maddy's memory stick. Provides some kind of security. After all, I have written eleven pages and will never be able to do so well again. Not at all when I have no notes now. Would really also like to have backed up the 7450 photos, but it requires 10 CDs.
24. Weird couple we staying with. Was far from excited about them, when I saw them, but they are astonishingly sweet and nice. We get the troops from the various B & Bs and head west, heading for Cape Town. We make a minor stop among some huge rocks on which some Aloe's cling.
Next stop is the Karoo Desert Botanical Garden. It is quite large and very well kept. Unfortunately, the signs are a bit jarring, but some are there. The greenhouses are closed to the public, but we are able to get hold of the curator, who is coming (it is not only Sunday, it is also public holiday), and shows us around. There are some caudiciforms; Pachypodium, Kedrostis, bulbs and Adeniums.
The main collection is Haworthias, Stapelias and Aloe. Out in the garden there are both brightly coloured beds, collections from different parts of the country, and Namibian plants, including Welwitschia. In between, a turtle comes crashing down. We walk around separately, I am followed by Mary chasing Euphorbias. See a few single caudiciforms, but nothing new.
We have lunch in the parking lot, and say goodbye to the Swiss couple. Then we head straight to Cape Town, where we say goodbye to most of the others. Alex and Sue live at Newlands Guesthouse, while Maddy and I are "banished" to a gay couple's exceptionally delicious giant villa, right up by the world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden.
I get my deposited gear from Garth and spend
some time repacking. Photos, and then it's up to meet with the other
two, to have dinner. Nice restaurant, good food and a whole lot of
talk. Home to the diary and relatively early to bed. It had started
to rain, while we were eating and the whole of the exclusive
neighbourhood frogs were quacking. Remember to turn on the heat
before driving, but it is still a bit cold in the room.
25. I pay 450 kroner for bed and excellent breakfast. We drive to the neighbour. Kirstenbosh Botanical Garden, and starts in the "greenhouse". It's open at both ends, and pretty cold. The hottest part is actually the alpine part! Here are different parts of the desert and some caudiciforms are squeezed in. I get some photos of them, but unfortunately there are no leaves on.
Maddy goes in to check out the bookstore, I walk out into the huge park. Starts in Cycas-Alley, which is truly impressive. Makes a big loop around the park where beautiful flowering meadows, forests, open finely trimmed lawns, large and small streams, rocks and meadows are at the foot of the huge Table Mountain.
It is not above ten degrees, and there is a fresh wind between the trees. Then it start to rain, and I am lucky to find a small traditional hut, built of sticks and cow dung. Getting past the shop dealing with plants. It is large and reasonably well-stocked, just not with the plants I seek. Finds a single tuber I don't know the name of. It costs 8.50, so I better grab it.
One hour has passed in the "greenhouse" and one hour in the park. I'm sure I could have spent more time on a hot summer day. Find Maddy in the bookstore and then we head down towards Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point; the place where the Indian Ocean and the Pacific really meet. It is a wonderfully beautiful drive through wild nature with the mountain on one side and the sea on the other. We take the east side and the Indian Ocean down.
We come through small towns with incredibly idyllic houses and a small business harbour. The landscape is almost exclusively fynbos, like flowers. Fynbos is a mixture of small, fine bushes, under a meter and a half, from different families. They form a fantastic curved rug. The outermost of the peninsula is the national park, and here is a fantastic scenery.
We start by driving up to the old lighthouse. Pick up the cable tram, but must hike the last bit. Wish I had brought the raincoat. Despite the sun shining from an almost cloudless sky, the wind is cold. Walled stairs with really nice vegetation go around to the top. From here you have a great view of the two oceans. I say, "Now we just need tiny little whale."
We've finished photographing one side, and moving on to the other. The sea is fantastic blue and really clear. A few hundred meters vertically beneath us, six humpback whales romp merrily. I'm seriously glad I have digital camera! It costs some photos. It is even better than standing on a rolling boat!
We go down a bit and stop at several of the many viewing platforms. On the other hand, a seal hunts a school of fish. On the rocks sit Morus birds, and a few small striped mice eat of a leftover orange peel. Coal-black spotted lizards suck sun on the rocks, moving only reluctantly. Here are many exciting plants, including some succulent Othonnas with seeds.
Slightly cooled, we get down to the parking lot and restaurant, which I cannot resist. Coffee and a very delicious cake for me. We head down to Cape of Good Hope, and see a small flock of ostriches and a small group of baboons on the way. Out in the sea there are large quantities of kelp; the amazing sea plants, the world's fastest growing plant, with over a meter a day.
We turn north and take the western side of the
mountain home. Getting past a single ostrich farm and a lot of
"parking lot traders" with huge stone figures. They look great, but
a stone figure?
We stop at a few places to photograph it, and watch their play. I'm trying to do a little video, but I need to zoom in a bit. We are not far from the whales, only far up.
We arrive in Cape Town at about six o'clock, and Maddy settles down at my new hotel booked from home. Saved 1300 by taking the first and last hotel with the airline tickets - plus the hotels. Nice hotel, just off the cable car to Table Mountain, there are just too many kids.
Says nice thanks for the trip, and pays 400
kroner for the last 160 kilometres. Travelled just about 8,500
kilometres in one month and have seen the entire coastline of South
Africa and the southern inland. Still missing some of the north
central, which is mainly open forest, but I've seen it in Kenya -
and I'll be back!.
The hotel is cold and I can't find any way to heating it. Don't bother going into town to eat, so I try the hotel. It turns out to be a boring buffet, which I think is cheap, until I get the handwritten bill on checked paper: 110 kroner. Yesterday I paid 65, but it was at a really nice and cosy restaurant where I got calf schnitzel and cappuccino.
26. It's foggy at the top of Table Mountain, so I'll start with their famous Water Front. Getting down the entire main street to get there. Cafes and clothing stores. Here are many beautiful old colonial buildings, but the concrete scraps have kept their entrance. I come to the recommended Green Market, which is exclusively a tourist thing: carved wooden and stone figures, pearls, fabrics, paintings, carved ostrich eggs and metal things. There is just nothing that suits my taste.
Before I get to the port area itself, I pass a dry dock where even large trawlers are driven around on rails. The harbour front is nothing but a big tourist trap. Souvenirs and cafes. It is no more than small ten degrees and a harsh wind. Looking for an internet cafe and looking for warmth. Part of the harbour is still industrial fishermen and there is lively activity.
Carefully traverses the entire area and ends with a cafe latte. Discover a seal in the harbour pool. It seems to live there; just tumbling around and having a good time. It is past twelve, and the fog is still on the top. Walking the four kilometre back to the hotel to pick up my raincoat. It's still damn cold in the shade and it's guaranteed to blow on top.
Get the hotel to call for a taxi, as they claim it is a tough ride up to the cable car. They are probably right; we drive very upwards. It costs 110 kroner for a return to the top, 1000 meters above sea level. Nice new carts that are round. The floor rotates so that everyone (along the windows) gets a 360 degree view. We are 65 people and I do not hold back from the window.
There are great views until we are a few meters from the top. Then we get into the clouds and it gets significantly colder. There is a cafeteria and souvenir shop on top, and some cemented paths to stick to. It is a national park, with the world's most versatile plant species: 2285 species. It keeps me from photographing them!
In between, there finally comes a touch of sun. There is a path along the entire edge of the mountain peak, and I follow it. The rocks themselves are very light and very hard sandstone. They have been worn by rain and wind for many millennia, and have become beautiful figures. It's been raining yesterday, so there are countless puddles all around.
The plants are somewhat reminiscent of moorland: There are various large-flowering heather, small low bushes that resemble juniper and the famous Protea's that have begun to bloom. I also find some Crassula's and a few other well-known families. It’s a cold ride around the top and I grab a burger and latte as I get back.
It doesn't seem like the fog will lighten, but gaps in it. The view is wild! You can see Robbin Island, the whole city (and it's big) and the surrounding mountains. Get some photos shot between the clouds, and take a little walk more in nature. It is three o'clock and the sun down the coast is luring.
Walking down from the cable car, time has to go with something. Had expected to make a shortcut between the turns of the serpentine road, but the bushes are too dense. The scenery is fantastic all the way to the city limits. Masses of flowering herbs and shrubs and some oddly shaped conifers. Swings into the store of the rich's neighbourhood. All the high walls have electric fences. Remote controlled gates and grilles, but a relaxed atmosphere.
The rain jacket lies back in the hotel, and it pours down in the city again. Just have to suffocate five hours. Looking for something for Rikke, as the shops suddenly close at five. Sniffing a little desperately, giving up. Then it must be a cafe - apart from that, they also close. Finds someone who will serve latte while doing accounting.
Round the waterfront and head home again. Closed cities are not very exciting! Swings into a restaurant that has zebra on the menu. 300 grams of tender meat, a water and a coffee for 90 kroner. Takes time off, but returns to the hotel at eight o'clock. Will pay my bill, but they can't find it. Then I have no qualms about NOT paying for the poor buffet yesterday!
Get photos looked through, and a diary written before the taxi arrives. It turned into 7700 photos in one month. Have to rush for the taxi, and when it finally arrives, he "just" have to refuel. That means I'm coming so late, I can't get a seat with extra legroom. I get the next best thing: the code "bold". Then the seat next to me is empty. Can actually sleep well on two seats.
Find some gifts at the airport, actually more than I can afford. We fly with a Bowing 777, which has personal television screens with movies, games and TV. I find ten movies I haven't seen before and would like to see, before the fool in front of me flips his seat down. Then my screen becomes useless because of the angle. Well, I need my night's sleep anyway.
Waking up to twice for food and as we hit the runway. Three and a half hours in Amsterdam, which is one of the more comfortable airports.
Airline ticket: 8993 Kroner