Sunday, October 14 - Monday, October 16, 1995
Ernest Hemingway - Green Hills of Africa
(and San Francisco)
Well, old Ernie’s comments notwithstanding, I’m ready to go home. Home to San Francisco. I wasn’t born in San Francisco, but I've lived there for the last dozen years, and San Francisco is where I feel at home. So, according to Ernie, that's where I'm meant to go. It has been a great trip, maybe our best ever, but now I'm homesick and there are still five more fun-filled days in Herr Travelmeister Sigrid’s itinerary. We press on.
The SAA flight is an hour late into Cape Town. We are met by Renata, representing GRS Safaris, who will be our guide for the next two days. We load our bags into the GRS Volkswagen bus, and head to the Bay Hotel. Our room is next to an inviting pool overlooking a beautiful rocky beach. Everything about the Bay Hotel speaks to me in soothing whispers of rest and relaxation. It is exactly what I need. We meet in the cafe to review the agenda and I savor the best cup of java I’ve had since leaving San Francisco.
There is something very likable about Renata. She is a self-styled sixties flower child, an enthusiastic booster of Cape Town, a student of it’s history, and overflowing with ideas of what we must see while we are here. She chides us for not leaving enough time in our trip for the area and laments that there too much to see for the time we have. Because of the late start, she explains, we will not even get to everything listed in Andrea’s itinerary. While I sip my expresso and gaze longingly at the pool, Sigrid and Renata start plotting how to pack as much as possible into the next three days, including starting earlier on Sunday and adding a Monday morning tour. It suddenly strikes me, that after four weeks of bouncing along in the back of various Safari trucks, the notion of three days of bouncing along in the back of a Volkswagen bus is pretty damn close to the very last thing on earth I want to do. I bring the two of them back to reality, and we scale back the tour plans, leaving some significant pool time for me.
Cape Town and San Francisco
Still, over the next two days we cover quite a bit of ground. I feel it necessary to explain my state of mind, because it might be the reason every single thing we did and saw, in and around Cape Town, reminded me of San Francisco. Consider: Cape Town is a modern cosmopolitan city built on a rolling, hilly peninsula between a bay and an ocean, which moderates the temperature year-round - Just like San Francisco. The city center and financial district are concentrated into a relatively small sections of the city - Just like San Francisco. While Cape Town plays second fiddle to Johannesburg in terms of population size and overall economic activity, the residents are quite provincial and smug about their quality of life and wouldn’t move to Johannesburg on a bet - Exactly like San Francisco and Los Angeles. Cape Town’s Waterfront, a historical fishing wharf, has been taken over by restaurants and retail developments that cater to tourists, and are avoided by the locals - Just like San Francisco’s Fisherman's Wharf. Much of the charm and character of the city comes from it’s old Victorian homes, many of which are protected as historical landmarks - Just like San Francisco (although their Victorians look very different than our Victorians - I don’t know why).
Theirs and Ours
Cape Town has a large phallic monument to the Afrikaans language on the top of a hill with breathtaking views of the area. San Francisco has a large phallic monument to San Francisco firemen on the top of a hill with breathtaking views of the area (Theirs is bigger than ours). The coastal highway out of Capetown hangs on the edge of cliffs between breaking surf and towering rocky hills, winding through coastal communities, resorts, and seafood restaurants, all with spectacular vistas of the ocean, kelp filled coves, and wet-suited surfers plying rocky beaches - exactly like San Francisco. The premier wine growing region for the continent is an easy drive from Cape Town, with vineyards covering gently rolling hills and valleys - Just like . . . I think I’ve made my point. Anyway, we had great meals at the Black Marlin, on the coast, and the Grande Roche, in the wine country. Almost as good as you can get in San Francisco. Oh yeah, At The Bay Hotel, I finally get connected to the net and transfer entries back to Harlan. It seems that Cape Town considers itself to be the center of Internet and Multimedia activity for the entire country - just like San Francisco.
There are differences. Cape Town has no cable cars or redwoods, their mountains are bigger than our hills, but then our Wharf is much tackier than their Waterfront. On the other hand...
Penguin at Boulder Beach and Baboon at the Cape of Good Hope
They have penguins and baboons. The only thing that we have to compare with the penguins is the Black and White Ball, and that only happens every other year. And we have nothing to compare with baboons, except... maybe this:
|SF Mayor Frank Jordan|
NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: This is a back-post / cross-post from my first on-line journal/blogging effort - a journal of our Southern Africa Tour in 1995. Originally posted to an abandoned domain (NetSnake.com), the term "blog" had not yet entered the parlance. I am migrating the original posts to this blog. Links to the original journal Date Index or Africa Tour Home Page will likely eventually disappear. The images from the original post were graphics and screen caps from video which I am leaving in it's low-rez glory for historical integrity. My intent is to also add some of Sigrid's higher quality scanned photos to these blog back-posts. The difference in images should be obvious.
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