Prohibition in the time of Corona

Minus 2 days to country-wide lockdown in the Republic of South Africa, wherein people are confused as to the meaning of ‘midnight’ and prohibition is the new norm.

Stats: Officially, 709 positive cases of Covid-19, 12 recovered, 2 critical, and still not one single death.  We have been compared to Germany for the exceptional handling of this virus – a very high compliment indeed. Also, it’s believed that Americans want to borrow our President for a few months.  Sorry, no, we need him.

My day has been less than productive. I volunteered my services to assist with local Meals on Wheels food distribution but was talked out of it by my little household.

I had a midday nap and woke up feeling rotten. I guess I won’t be the only one experiencing psychosomatic flu symptoms.

I’ve just watched all our sSecurity cluster ministers present details of how this lockdown will work. (A rare instance of actually watching government in action when it works well, quite satisfying in a way). I hate this feeling of impending doom. It’s as if something’s about to happen, except it’s already begun.  The planned mass roll out of testing will result in a massive surge in numbers. It’ll frighten people who don’t realise that we are not testing enough and not gathering enough data on who and where the infections are.

Stockpiling continued frantically today throughout the country, or so I heard. This little peninsula can’t deal with traffic jams at the best of times and apparently today was worse than pre-Christmas. Our leading supermarket chain, Pick n Pay, arranged an online collaboration of some of our best local artists to produce this.

If not for Covid-19 I might be at the Cape of Good Hope today. It’s one of my favourite places to visit and to showcase to tourists. Oh blimey, tourists … my last tour was almost two weeks ago. My clients went straight into 14-day quarantine when they landed back home in Montreal and that’s almost over now. I will email them this weekend to get an update.

14 baboon

The most common animal to see at Cape Point – the Chacma Baboon. Naughty, greedy and completely out of hand now that they associate man with food.

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At the precise spot known as the Cape of Good Hope, the most south-western spot of the African continent, there is a strip of beach covered in stones of all shapes and sizes. People can’t resist making cairns. The sea and the park rangers come along and knock them all down and the next day it starts again.

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One of the best things to do down there is a short and not strenuous hike along the cliffs. It allows the visitor to enjoy views not visible from the road.

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Pristine beaches, cliffs eroded over millions of years, views to die for!

 

 

 

 

Pinotage and a white mini-dress

CapePoint

The story starts here, at the Cape Point parking lot.

Yesterday I sent my two lovely Russian clients off on the walk that I always recommend to people visiting Cape Point. I told them it was an easy walk, shouldn’t take more than 30-40 minutes, and advised them to not go down to the beach because the walk back up the cliff is exhausting – it’s quite do-able and they’re young enough but I didn’t want them to regret that climb back up, just in case they’re not very fit 🙂

Off I went to drive around and fetch them at the end. 45 minutes later,  no sign of them on the peak. I walked around, chatted to other guides and drivers, took photos of tourists, all the time glancing up at the peak waiting for sign of my clients. They’d be easy to spot because one of them was wearing a white dress.

At some point I did a double take because this awesome car was parked next to me and the driver was standing next to the car. Nosy as I am, I asked the question: why that word on the plate? It turned out that he is the grandson of Abraham Perold, the man who cultivated (invented?) pinotage – South Africa’s very own wine cultivar, and which I am rather fond of. Okay, very fond of. We had a lovely chat about pinotage and the wonders of the grape.

Pinotage

Tours du Cap keeping good company at the Cape of Good Hope.

So, it’s not a doucheplate at all. I approve, I love. The story of pinotage can be read here.

Back to the missing clients. 90 minutes later and still no sign of the white mini-dress. Panic. They fell, they turned back, they can’t call me as I have no signal here, a baboon attacked them, a dassie lured them away. This always happens when people dawdle on this walk while I wait at the bottom – I panic. At the very least I’m going to have to climb up and look for them, at the very worst my clients are injured on a clifftop, or at the bottom thereof.

no client in sight

No sign of clients. They should be visible on the rocky bits to the right or at the top taking selfies.

Eventually they appeared – much relief. Except they weren’t on the path. They went bundu-bashing because they had dawdled and strayed off the path so couldn’t find it again. They were thrilled with their ‘adventure‘ so I didn’t have the heart to tell them that we frown upon bundu-bashing in fynbos. I taught them the word and told them they are free to brag to all their friends.

spot the white dress

Spot the white mini! They came down from the top-left side instead of zig-zagging from the right.

It was a great day all around and here’s a bonus – my client and her gorgeous sunglasses that get tongues wagging. She told me that in London and Moscow no-one gives her a second look but in Cape Town they’re a head-turner. Clearly, we’re more conservative than we like to think.

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Jana at Boulders Beach

 

Beware of the snake!

 

snake sign at cape point

This is my chill spot at Cape Point. If I have a few minutes alone I park myself in the shade to do some people-watching. I especially like to watch the reaction of tourists walking by who notice the sign. Invariably they look at me strangely, wondering why I am sitting so casually where I am clearly surrounded by dangerous snakes.

What they don’t realise is that the sign tells you to not go wandering into the bushes, that’s all. Snakes are not likely to come out of the bushes where there are many people and noisy vehicles. Snakes are more scared of us than we are of them. Snakes will not come and attack a human for no reason (they’re snakes, not mosquitoes). Snakes will only harm you if you bother them, like for example standing on them when walking. If you walk in the bush or mountains you need to stay on the path and not tread gently – this is one time when you must walk firmly so that the vibrations warn snakes to stay away. Most snake bites happen to dogs because they don’t read blogs or snake advice and are inquisitive.

Now you know where to find me at Cape Point and you can stop worrying about snakes.

This snake story is also worth a read.

 

Walking to the Cape of Good Hope

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When I take clients to the Cape Point Nature Reserve I sometimes suggest they might want to walk from Cape Point down to the Cape of Good Hope where I will meet them in the car. They never regret doing it as it’s a fabulous walk with spectacular views. I’m always jealous because I can’t do it with them, needing to drive around to the end. Doing it both ways would take too long. So I was thrilled to be able to do it the other day with our bus driver doing the driving around and waiting. Just my luck there was no wind but it was excessively hot.

It’s a really really nice walk. Only about 40 minutes if you don’t dawdle, not difficult at all except for the last section down to the Cape of Good Hope where there’s a bit of rock scrambling but nothing major. The views are marvelous and there’s no other way to see them; there are lots of dassies on the rocks and you often see antelope.

teacher

This is the one teacher who was supposed to bring up the rear and make sure no-one strayed off the path. Note how many students are behind him and where he is standing.

steps 2

The steep steps down to Dias Beach. Students were not permitted to go down there because the swimming is dangerous. They obeyed but it was tough after they saw a woman sunbathing, all alone on the beach.

cliffs

The reserve is full of stunning cliff views like this but you have to leave the road to see any of them. Even the ones at the very end, where the lighthouse is, are often missed because people don’t know where to look. Of course, I know where to look.

close to edge

The boarded walk is very close to the edge in certain parts. It’s not a good idea to do this walk in strong winds.

now to walk down

Starting the descent and there are all the cars and buses, including ours.

walking

I want to do this walk in Spring!

stones

Lovely stones

rockface

Do you also see a face?

board becomes stones at times

The boarded walk sometimes gives way to flat-ish stones.

good shoes needed

Although much of the walk is this board, you need to wear good walking shoes because of the descent and because these planks are a bit loose in sections.

finally there

The whole point of going to the Cape of Good Hope part of the reserve is to take this iconic photo behind the sign.

Car garden

I haven’t had time to blog for ages – it’s been a busy month!

I’ve just returned from an intensive trip down the Garden Route and along Route 62 and have a lot of admin work to catch up on, plus more tours later this week – tourist season has arrived a tad early but no-one is complaining! I have a few pics from this trip for several blog entries but in the meantime here’s the weirdest thing I’ve seen in a while.

This car was parked just inside the entrance at Cape Point Nature Reserve. I wish I’d had time to leave the owner a note asking what this is all about .. the plants are all the same, a very common and easily grown succulent whose name escapes me. There’s a thick layer of soil along the back and the plants are trailing down the back seat. The window was not fully closed, as I imagine it never is. The car was parked where hikers leave their cars so we can safely assume we’re dealing with a nature lover of note.

plants in car

plants in car 2

A new toy, sunset and a chance meeting

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There’s this couple, Cathy and Terry,  with whom I’ve been interacting online for some time. They live in Simon’s Town and are what is known as ‘Friends of Cape Point’. This means they spend a lot of time in the Cape Point Nature Reserve helping with various tasks such as repainting signboards and generally keeping the reserve clean.  A huge number of Capetonians don’t appreciate the natural beauty of Cape Point and there are many who can’t get there often due to its somewhat isolated location at the tip of the peninsula. For Cathy and Terry it’s so close by and they love it so much that it’s virtually their backyard.

They have a website devoted to the reserve (check it out, loads of interesting info) and they maintain one of my favourite Facebook pages – What’s The Point? – which is regularly updated with photos to make anyone jealous of their proximity to this lovely place. They hike there a lot and know where to go to see the various animals and birds and flowers that most visitors miss as they rush through. We share a common opinion that it’s a great pity most visitors don’t spend enough time there. I wrote about that just this past week in a blog post here, for which they kindly allowed me to use some of their photos.

This afternoon I went down to Kommetjie with Vida and Vangie for a sunset walk and to try out the new camera. Sitting on a bench watching surfers and the sunset I began chatting with a lady taking photos nearby.. and within a few minutes I realised I was chatting with Cathy! It’s always pleasant to finally meet someone you’ve met and appreciated online and the chance of it happening in the same week we’ve been chatting back and forth about my blog post felt rather serendipitous. They say Cape Town is like a village sometimes, but still..

That chance meeting sure made up for the fact that my first efforts with this camera were a dismal failure! Caroline, hurry back from your roadtrip and help me figure out all these settings, please, not a moment to be lost here!!!

bird

I was really chuffed to ‘get the bird’ but not much merit to this pic.

slangkop

For some reason I had an urge to take a photo of Slangkop lighthouse through the bars of the gate. So I did.

Snow in spring

My dismal failure at snow peaked mountains from Silvermine.
Yes, the zoom is fabulous, but yes I need to work out how to not distort everything else in the process.

sunset

surfers

Table Mt from Kommetjie

Very very bad shot but illustrates the power of the zoom, which is not even used fully here – that’s the cable car station and restaurant at the top of Table Mountain – 40kms away!

New toy!

Look at these colours

So, I finally made my choice and upgraded my cell phone.

I wanted all the functions of a smartphone and I have them, or will have them once I figure out how to use everything properly and customise it. What I hadn’t thought of was the camera aspect and it’s quite a pleasant surprise.  The quality is much better than what I get with my point and snap camera and once I figure out a few settings and I stop pressing the wrong buttons it’ll be great.

So far I’ve managed to accidentally take photos of my own face because it has a self-portrait function; I’ve filmed my own feet tapping in impatience and my index finger has featured a lot, and of course the usual skew horizons which kill photos that could have been a great success. Although I can’t see what I’m doing when outdoors, I did briefly notice a function that can help with that, perhaps I can find it again and activate it.

Why do dead fish heads look prehistoric?

Usually when I try to take photos just before sunset they come out blurred but I managed this from the top of Table Mountain yesterday. I can’t wait to see what it does with sunsets and night lights.

A vast improvement on previous attempts!

In the middle of writing this I went outside to experiment with a few close-ups of flowers and caterpillars and it would appear that this phone camera might solve my macro challenges – a walk on the mountain is in order before the end of spring. A planned photo project is to go to the centre of town on a Sunday, when it’s a bit less crowded, to take photos of old buildings for my Tours du Cap website so I’d better start looking at those settings.

Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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