Sunday, July 12, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009 “Just pass your brains right over here!”

Our last full day in South Africa was not without its excitement and breath-taking vistas.... or without someone wandering off. Ken saw the police cars parked on the road and had to say hello. This made our guide just a bit nervous!

We started out the day headed for our boat trip to Duiker Island to see the seals. We got our tickets and with some time to explore, we found the old man who has lured a huge seal from the sea and has been feeding him for the past 27 years. This seal stays in a very small area of the wharf free from any restrictions but getting fed fish by tourists is the attraction for him. Why should he want to go anyplace? So we played the tourist game, took lots of photos, and touched and fed him. We straddled the seal and put our hands on the sides of his neck and found that the thickness of his skin and the fat layer seem to be impenetrable. Then the man offered some fish for us to hold to feed the seal! Very cool! BTW - this man feeds the seal with the fish between his teeth. None of us did that, though!

We boarded the boat for the trip to the island and arrived to find rocks covered with these sleek creatures. It was a bit cold and a little rainy on our trip out there but the scenery and experience superseded any discomfort! If the seals didn’t move, they would have looked like a soft, wet blanket covering huge rocks in the middle of the sea! But move they did! The seals were joined by lots of cormorants and other birds and our cameras were snapping away! We are up to @15,000 photographs among us!

Our driver, Julian, was always very accommodating, even when we insisted he stop the bus on the side of the road for us to see the baboons. They were everywhere! Again, we took lots of pictures!

Following a bit of shopping at the blankets of the local vendors, we were off again to the Cape of Good Hope, the place that marks the most southwestern point in Africa where Vasco DaGama first landed on the continent. There is kelp everywhere in the ocean here, huge kelp that is twice as thick as a standard watering hose you may have at home. On the end of that hose are mop-like tentacles that are between 2 and 6inches wide. It is a slimy, dark brownish green and is used in the production of cosmetics and is even eaten by the locals. The Cape of Good Hope is located along False Bay, so named because the misty fog prevented the explorers from correctly guessing the location of Cape Town, We took the funicular up to the top of the hill and hiked the rest of the steps to the old lighthouse. As the waves crashed onto the beach and rocks beneath us, the clear green-blue of the water and the white of the water’s foam once again reminded of nature‘s powerful beauty.

We were treated to a delicious lunch at the Two Oceans Restaurant. We had blue nose fish and prawns. The waiter told us how to extract the most meat from the prawn, which contained its brains. Jen decided that she would take as many brains as she could get from the group and proceeded to suck out the brains of about 10 of our prawns! The fun never ends!

Then, off we went to Simon’s Town to see the penguins! Simons Town is another one of those unique South African towns with little surprises. It is located on the coast of the False Bay and is a naval base.

We hiked down a steep roadway to get to the beach where the penguins could be seen and it was, of course, worth the effort. There is a beach where you can swim with the penguins, if they choose to accompany you, of course. Then there is another beach where you can observe them. After walking some distance along a board walk we got to the second beach. Along the way were plenty of penguins to see in the brush. Some were resting, others waddling around, and some tending to their young. The park has set up domed containers in the brush along the beach to provide the penguins with a safe nesting place. There were hundreds of these safe havens along the boardwalk and we even saw an egg. The babies are grey and fluffy with their new down and were determined to stay close to their moms. You could hear them constantly calling to each other in what can best be described as a guttural chittering…or the same sound you hear when you watch March of the Penguins! Either way, they were entertaining and we were pleased to have met them!

Joyce decided she was going to start back to the bus…a..l..l the way back up that steep, never ending, unrelenting hill. Of course, what she did not realize was that the bus was picking us up a short distance from the penguins! Poor Andre was all a dither with this development as he thought he had lost her, as we just adopted the “Hakuna matata” philosophy, and sent Bill and Casey to retrieve her. Meanwhile, Joyce did some research on her own and was on her way back down the trail where she ran into our scouts! All ended well and even Andre seemed to recover!

We stopped at a statue of a dog…yes…a dog. His name was “Just Nuisance” and was eventually given the title “Able Seamen Just Nuisance” through a series of important duties. It seems that he was the “designated driver/guide” for all of the human seamen when they became inebriated and could not find their way back to the ship. He obviously was an important part of their crew and he was treated with much respect and regard for the duties he performed. He was even given a full blown military funeral when he passed away and now has a statue in his honor. It’s a dog’s life!

Our last nights’ dinner was at the Quay Four at the Victoria Alfred Waterway. Another delicious meal together and a fine way to end our adventure. We did a little last minute shopping, as well…of course. Tomorrow, we pack up in preparation for our return flights, leave the hotel and are on our way for a wine tour!

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