Leaving our exotic paradise behind, we were on to bigger and better things in Cape Town. Since it is the off-season, we were able to procure an incredible apartment in the waterfront district, right on a canal, for a fraction of the price. We were living in luxury, directly next to the One and Only hotel, which has hosted a plethora of famous celebrities. The best part of the apartment was the short walk to the Victoria and Alfred waterfront, which is a working harbor that has been redesigned to include shopping, fine dining and entertainment. Arriving late, we grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant Karribu, featuring African food and game. We ordered a game meat platter to try all of our new friends that we had met on Safari—and they were incredible. Kudu being the all around favorite, we also sampled ostrich, wildebeest, beef, lamb, warthog, impala and springbok. During the dinner we were pleasantly serenaded by an African a cappella group.
As it turns out, we had left all of our good weather luck behind at Amakhala. Our time in Cape Town was spent trying to figure out the unlikely weather patterns, and hoping for the best. Since it is winter in Cape Town, not only is it cold, but it is the wet, windy season as well. Not ever expecting that our fantasy vacation would be marred by the turn of the clouds, we didn’t have much of a back up plan when the heavens opened up on our first full day in the city. We spent the day exploring the waterfront in between spurs of torrential downpour, visiting a small Robben Island exhibit, and enjoying the Penguins at Africa’s largest aquarium. For dinner we met up with a good friend of mine, Kirsten Grooms who is also interning in Cape Town, although through a different program. We ate seafood at the Harbor House and enjoyed the waterfront ambiance.
Our prayers for good weather were amply answered the next day, as we took a tour of the Cape Peninsula. This was undoubtedly the most remarkable day of the trip. Driving through one of the most beautiful paths in the world, every new vista was more remarkable than the last. We ventured through Camps Bay to a small market where the seals entertained us by jumping out of the water. We continued onto False Bay, an enormous bay that has the highest concentration of great white sharks in the world—other than that, it’s a surfer’s paradise. Continuing along with our guide, we stopped for a quick muffin and coffee at Simons Town, a small area along False Bay. Simons Town is the end of the railway that runs from the city, and also contains bolder beach, named appropriately it is home to a natural penguin colony, which we were able to stop and observe.
Afterwards we headed directly to Cape Point, considered the unofficial most southern tip of Africa. Here we climbed up to an old lighthouse, which was actually never used because the cloud cover fell too low and there were many wrecks (whoops). The views from Cape Point were absolutely incredible. We could see the water break over the reef far into the ocean. The combination of that, the neurotic weather patterns and the changing currents have made Cape Point a historically a sailors worst nightmare. Hundreds of ships have gone down over these waters. The first person to actually round the tip of Africa was Bartholomew Diaz. Upon this realization, he figured he would be lavishly rich because he and his crew could easily continue on to the East Indies and the Spice Islands. His crew had other plans. Having been at sea for months, they contributed to a small mutiny and forced Diaz to turn back. For this reason, nobody remembers poor Bartholomew Diaz, the true discoverer of the end of Africa, and instead remember Vasco de Gama. Rounding the tip of Africa, past the Cape of Good Hope is still revered as a highlight of maritime expedition.
After a full day we were all exhausted and content. We had accepted that due to cloud cover and the time that we would not make it up to see the famous sights from Table Mountain, but we had done enough. Wrong. We sped back into the city and made it up with seconds to spare before the last cable car left the station. We were whisked up thousands of feet to the top of Table Mountain as the sun was setting. Minutes after we saw all we wanted to see, the clouds swept in and covered our view, leaving us feeling absolutely on top of the world.
We really did have ideal luck, because the rest of our time was spent at the apartment, listening to the wind howl and the rain pour. We found an interesting small Portuguese bakery at the waterfront where we spent hours drinking lattes, eating muffins and sipping on sweet butternut soup. John and Karen being, well, John and Karen befriended our waiter Jacques. We quickly became regulars after exchanging business cards, phone numbers, and inviting him to Bollman family Christmas. Needless to say I will be back.
After dropping off my bags and groceries, and giving a million hugs, my parents drove away to begin their journey home, and to start their lives in America again. But me, I’ve just begun.