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Durban Cape Town South Africa


Thursday, April 3 2008

A very young looking, Lawrence and Mina in San Francisco circa 1998.

Today is Lawrence's birthday (he turns 50 years young) and my wedding anniversary; strange to find myself hiding in a hotel room in Durban South Africa.

Mina in Tarifa Spain, circa 1998, pointing to Morocco over the Straits of Gibraltar. We spent a sleepless night in a not so nice motel their being menaced by mosquitoes.

If you were to ask me where I would be on this day two years ago Durban would not have even remotely entered my mind. I am not sure how Mina would have felt about being in South Africa we never talked about her impressions of it. Mina liked to travel but her idea of roughing it would not include sleeping in tents so I am sure she wouldn"t have liked our safari experience even without the hold up.

It is at this time of year, every year, that my brother and I are the same age for 13 days. When we were younger I remember Lawrence feeling happy about catching up with me but now I suspect it is more a feeling of remorse. Still, given everything that has just happened it is good to be alive and with someone I love and knowing I have others all around the world that love (or at least like) me.

We all miss you Mina.

Friday, April 4 2008

Our apartment in Cape Town.

We woke up to our last day in the Durban Hotel Royal today. We have been talking about going outside for a walk but I am not sure if we will as we are still feeling a bit timid. We find the pressure to get out of the hotel is strong so who knows perhaps we will build up enough courage today and leave our self imposed imprisonment for a short walk around our cell block.

We finally poked our heads out of the hotel. Like two little prairie dogs peering out of their desert burrows we timidly stepped onto the street. Then with our renewed courage we walked to a shopping mall three whole blocks away. We felt good about our achievement.

Saturday, April 5 2008

Julia with the waterfront and mountains behind her.

It was a good feeling to leave the hotel for the airport this morning. A bright sunny morning greeted us and our spirits were high; we were even looking forward to seeing Cape Town for the first time in a long while.

The flight was the best part of four hours due mainly to a short stop in Port Elizabeth enroute. Once at Cape Town airport we picked up our rental car and with our trusty map in hand launched ourselves towards the city center. Cape Town is a very beautiful city. It is set on the ocean and framed by mountains which seem to jut upwards in a defiant manner. Julia and I had made a pact to put our bad experience behind us, while applying the upmost caution at all times, and to experience Cape Town with our normal tourist fervor.

So once checked into the hotel we drove to the waterfront area for a short walk and tour of the many shops there.

We had a good time drifting about the waterfront enjoying the shops and street entertainers. After this we took our car and scouted out the city center to get a better feel of it. It is a small city and seemed quite benign to me but Julia was still sensing bad vibrations which made her uneasy. We returned to the hotel looking forward to another day of exploring Cape Town ahead of us.

Sunday, April 6 2008

Here I am expressing my feelings about guns in South Africa.

We met with Gail, a friend of a friend, today. Julia and I had lunch with Gail and her friend at the Cape Town Waterfront. We of course shared our horror story with them. However, as has happened with everyone we have spoken to in South Africa, Gail and her friend were able to trump our tale of woe with their own. So we now know, without any doubt, that crime in South Africa is out of control.

On a positive note Gail is a hiker and is going to take Julia and me hiking around Cape Town. We have to take the normal, South African, precautions like leaving anything of value locked up in our hotel room before we head out; I wish we could leave our lives in a safe place. After lunch we all saw the movie "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly". This is a very good movie based on a true story but it is not a movie to see in South Africa, after a traumatic experience, while taking Lariam; Julia and I were very upset after seeing it and did not recover until the next morning.

Monday, April 7 2008

Our rental cars. They replaced the Audi with a Mercedes; not a bad swap from my point of view.

Julia and I left the hotel after breakfast in our rental car to drive from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope; a day trip. We had been on the road only 10 minutes when the rear passenger side tire blew out. We were in a bit of a panic about this initially, as you might imagine. But, it turned out we were not very far from a rental car office and they did assist us. We were also lucky that we broke down close to a coffee shop so we were able to drink cappuccinos while waiting for the rental car guy to arrive. When he arrived he brought with him our exchange car and swapped it for our disabled one putting us on our way again with a minimum of fuss or lost time.

Julia and I stopped at the "World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary" which was a great experience. We saw many of the birds we had seen at a distance on safari up close, and many animals we had not seen.

Bird Sanctuary Video

Julia and her new friend Mr. Crow. He seemed to really bond with Julia and followed her all the way to the exit.

The drive down the Cape Town coast was reminiscent of driving highway 1 on the Northern California coast. Our vistas were of rugged cliffs pounded by massive waves. This was a truly up lifting drive. We stopped for lunch in a lovely little town called Hout Bay. We found a restaurant which was located right next to the bay not unlike Sausalito. In fact Gail yesterday had mentioned to us that locals refer to Cape Town and its outer areas as the San Francisco of South Africa; I can see why now.

Julia, sitting in the restaurant waiting for lunch, looking truly happy for the first time since our horror tour.

We made it to the Cape of Good Hope in good time. One could be forgiven if one mistook it for the Marin Headlands in San Francisco; the same low shrubby plants and magnificent cliffs and beaches.

The veiw from Cape Point.

We decided to walk up the hill to the lighthouse as it seemed safe and we had not walked all day. We completed the walk without a problem. There was an excellent one and a half hour walk from Cape Point to the Cape of Good Hope so Julia and I started on it. We had walked for ten minutes when a very non-tourist looking guy walked up from behind us. We stopped and waited for him to pass which he did while giving us a shifty look. Julia's spider sense was now on fire and she insisted we not continue down the lonely trail.

The wondrous views from the Cape of Good Hope.

I took a look down the path and saw the chap dart off into the bush from the trail. I removed my pocket-knife from my pocket as the sun began to drop lower in the bright blue sky. We turned tail and headed immediately back to the trailhead. Honestly it is just not worth our lives to go for a hike in South Africa. We returned to our car and drove to the Cape of Good Hope which was spectacular.

Cape of Good Hope

Two penguins that seem very much in love.

On our return from the Cape we dropped into Simon's Town a gorgeous little city nestled in the cliffs of the cape. Its claim to fame is its African Penguin rookeries. Yes, South Africa, like Australia and Antarctica, is home to penguins.

Penguins Video


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