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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

He Promised Me Africa - Part 6 - Table Mountain, Capetown, South Africa

After we spent time in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, we traveled down to Capetown, South Africa. This was in 1999, only five years after apartheid was abolished. The country was still making adjustments and there was still a lot of poverty. We were warned to be careful lest we become victims of crime. However, we were treated with the utmost courtesy and kindness wherever we went in South Africa.

We spent the better part of a day exploring Table Mountain which is at the tip of the African Continent. We came up a winding road to the base of the mountain where we boarded a huge round cable cart to get to the top. 

The cable car goes at an upward sloping angle for a good part of the climb, and then as we approached the top of the mountain, it rises vertically. 

The cable car turns as it rises allowing us to see Capetown below us as well as the ocean and the mountain before us.

Johnny on top of Table Mountain, Capetown, South Africa, 1999. We were at the very tip of the continent of Africa. You turn one way and you feel the cool breezes off the Atlantic Ocean, the other and the warm wind from the Indian ocean hits you. As we went from overlook to overlook, a feeling of euphoria came over me. It felt like we were in a misty, mystical wonderland.

 These folks were far more adventurous than we were. Apparently, they decided to climb the mountain. We stood at the summit looking down on them, appreciating a smaller peak called Signal Hill and all the cruise ships in the water preparing to round the Cape of Good Hope where they turn to go up the eastern coast of Africa. 

The little critter on the rock is called a Hyrax. They live up there and they are about the only animal you see besides tourists and birds, although they say snakes live up there as well. Like in other places in Africa that we visited, the snakes chose not to make an appearance while we were there.

A great story that our guide told us was that at the bottom of the mountain...before you wind your way up to the base...there was a bakery. Folks quickly learned to lock their cars if there were baked goods inside because the local baboon troop loved donuts AND they have opposable thumbs...meaning that they can open just about anything...including unlocked car and hotel doors. Anyway, as folks learned to lock up, the baboons had to come up with an alternative strategy to score their treats. Seems that every day, the bakery would load up their van and drive to winding road to the base of Table Mountain where businesses had popped up around the cable car. One day, as the van started up the mountain, a bunch of baboons attacked the truck with rocks....until, the driver gave up, jumped out of the van and ran...leaving the goodies for the horde of baboons with a taste for sweets. We loved that story and I've told it for years now.

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