What is it about seeing the ultimate – highest, longest, deepest, farthest, etc. – that makes some people giddy?
When we decided to add Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope to our list, I was excited. In fact, I was more excited about that than anything else. Well, almost. I was really, very excited about having a drink in the highest pub in Africa – but that’s for a later post.
So after lunch at Simon’s Town and penguin watching at Boulders Beach, we were on our way to the Cape of Good Hope, the most south western point of the continent. Why is it called Good Hope anyway? That’s not a very common expression. Hope equals good, right? There isn’t such a thing as bad hope.
Did a drunken sailor come up with that name? As it turns out, a king, John II of Portugal did when he changed the name from Cape of Storms.
And why was a Portuguese king naming territory in South Africa? Well, it was simple really. The Portuguese were interested in establishing trade relations with countries in the Far East and the Cape offered an easier way for them to get there.
I’d been hearing about the Cape of Good Hope since high school and always wondered what it was like for sailors who had to sail around it (and Cape Horn – the southern tip of South America). How did they survive days at sea without hallucinating about land? Driving around Hwange National Park looking for game, there were many times when I was sure I saw buildings in the distance – but they were only in my mind.
Thanks to Ian Reinders, our tour guide in Cape Town, we kept to our schedule, somewhat. Ian had our whole day laid out for us. Early start down the coast, lunch in Simon’s Town, see the penguins and head to Cape Point.
But you know about the best laid plans, right? When they coined that phrase, they had us – three women with very Jamaican sensibilities — in mind. I mean, we are on holiday, yah? So no need to rush, man!
And there was something to see around almost every bend. Ian was a good sport, though, he’d nudge, he’d cajole but there were three of us against one of him – no contest. It was hardest for him to get us away from vendors. Especially Judith, the shopper, who in true Libra fashion, would get so dazzled by everything she saw, could not make up her mind about anything.
We arrived in Simon’s Town just at the time we would have had lunch – if we had kept our original schedule. A quaint town, it reminded me of English seaside towns I’ve seen in pictures. The buildings look like those I used to see lining the square in small towns in Jamaica when I was growing up. (That one in the middle reminds me of the old Doric Theatre in my town.)
Ian was right. Under a dazzling sunshine and with hardly a cloud in the sky when we arrived, Table Mountain was spectacularly alluring.
It seemed to rise straight up out of the ground, then stop abruptly as if something, or someone, had blunted its ascent.
We got our tickets and boarded the funicular that would take us the nearly 3,600 feet to the top of the mountain. Watching the buildings and cars below as they got smaller and smaller, I felt my ears pop in reaction to the change in altitude.
I spoke with my Aunt Connie, before I left for South Africa. It had been her dream, she told me, to visit Table Mountain. She was so thrilled I was going, she asked that I kiss it for her. After I laid this stone, I remembered the promise I made Aunt Connie. I’m glad I was able to “kiss the mountain” for her. It was a great way to end our first day in Cape Town.