We were staying right along the Cape of Good Hope in a suburb of Cape Town called Bantry Bay. South Africa may be expensive to get to, once there the prices are just above a 3rd world country vacation.
We enjoyed coffee on the terrace and then headed out to explore the city. The flat above us was under construction so the noise got us moving a bit quicker than we would have liked. Nothing like a jackhammer on your roof at 8am to start the day.
First, we took a walk to the local store to buy supplies for the rental since we would be here for 4 nights. I vowed not to get back into that car, on those roads, unless absolutely necessary.
The entire area is under construction. With the cheap labor and deflated material costs I feel there are a ton of foreign investors clamouring for this seaside real estate. I will discuss later the discrepancy between rich/poor here, but the entire area had residential security teams on 24 hour alert. I felt like we had our own secret service detail here in Bantry Bay.
After groceries we got back in the death trap and drove to a botanical garden.
We walked the grounds a bit, but my increasing leg/back problems keeps anything over a ½ mile difficult. At one point we came across a Spotted Eagle Owl in a tree. Then, turning a corner I asked a group of people if they, “saw the eagle back there?” I don’t know why we always feel (or maybe just me) the need to share things like that, as if I was some great tracker who had spent months in camouflage to witness this rare bird and now must boast to others. I also don’t know why I said “eagle” instead of owl. I rationalized this to myself by thinking I was just that advanced in my tracking that any ornithologist worth a damn would know I was talking about the spotted eagle owl that frequents this ecosystem vs a true eagle. The people just looked at me. One guy all decked out in his Jack Hannah naturalist outfit responded that yes, they saw it and that the female was 3 ft to my right sitting on the eggs.
He then proceeded to give us the lowdown on every spotted owl in Cape Town and their sexual promiscuity. We couldn’t shake him for 20 minutes. He was retired and spent all his free time at the garden looking after the owls and trying to get a picture of the hatching, which was now on day 30, when she should have given birth 3 days ago. A watched pot never boils, I guess.
We moved on from Garden to the Groot Constantia Winery. It was 1030 am, so it seemed appropriate to start drinking.
We did the classic tour/tasting. Neither of us have a clue about wine, so I found it more interesting to listen to the production process, than the tartness description of the full-bodied merlot.
I always get uncomfortable when someone is pouring a bunch of different wines, describing them and looking to me for a reaction. Do I really have to sniff it? Must I swirl it? Should I taste the aged oak barrels with a hint of jasmine? It tastes like wine. Oh, this one….yes it also tastes like wine.
Needless to say, by the time we walked into the daylight we both felt drunk. We had the equivalent of maybe a glass and a half but with our bodies all out of whack it went straight to our head. We admired the estate for an hour until it was safer to climb back in the car and enter the traffic free-for-all.
We spent an hour driving to a sheltered bay to get a look at some of the warm-weather penguins (Africa Penguins) that call the Cape home. Along the way we passed through some of the poorer sections of town. See, when the whites settled Cape Town they needed cheap labor. So, they “hired” the local black population. The problem was the commute. Afrikaners wanted blacks to help do their bidding but that didn’t mean they wanted them living near them, so they were kind enough to let them build “towns” just outside the city limits. The local Africans did not have any money or resources, so these shanty towns were just scraps from trash the white people threw away and, to be honest, it looks exactly like that today.
These pockets of ghettos cover a square mile for thousands of people. Each house is one room and the walls are made from anything you can get your hands on. It could be some siding, wood, tarps, etc. Each year they try to add a wall or a part of a roof. 10 people live in this dirt floor room and share a hole in the ground bathroom with 5 other families. Now imagine getting up in the morning after sleeping in the dirt and putting on your one clean outfit to catch a van into the 2018 city of Cape Town for work. No one has a car so the highways have a lane specifically for all the vans that come in from the ghettos in the morning and back at night. This van lane was bumper to bumper with broken down 12 person vans. I mean hundreds of them. I could have taken pictures of theses areas. I could have even taken tours through them, but I found that extremely disrespectful. I also wasn’t going to get close to them as crime was an issue for obvious reasons. I had never seen such a sharp contrast, and I have been around.
We eventually got to Betty’s Bay and had a nice lunch and got to see the frolicking penguins up close. One of the most fascinating creatures to walk the earth.
Video of a guy heading home after a long day at the office
Along with penguins, there are these furry little guys
They are Rock Hyrax, locally known as the Dassie. Remind me of woodchucks/groundhogs in Michigan and the Marmots I often see in the Rockies. Also, a large population of what I assumed to be Cormorants
They all seemed to live symbiotically in this dense little corner of the beach
It was another long drive home to our place
After cleaning up we went out to dinner downtown at a very touristy restaurant called “Gold”. It was ok cause I knew that going in. We thought it might be fun because it had traditional dances and a good mix of local food. When the Uber dropped us off there where tour busses all over the place. Uh Oh. But we got a table right away and settled in for the festivities
Here is the menu listing all the offerings we each would sample
A video of one of the dances