Monday, October 4, 2010

Grand finale

The Cape of Good Hope
Originally uploaded by brisegalets
Manuel had finally made his way back to Cape Town from Portugal, and it is hard to find the right words to explain the way he treated us.
For three days, although he certainly had a lot of things to do in his business and at home after being away for several weeks, Manuel gave us all his time and took us around the whole area. The first day, what started like a short drive throughout the city, ended up with finally a trip up the Table Mountain with the cable car. Strangely enough, although it was a beautiful day with a good visibility, the crowd was very think and we were able to have a quiet walk on top of the mountain and see Capetown and Camps Bay down below with all the other suburbs as well. Manuel took us also up Signal Hill and the tour also included an impromptu visit at a small local mosque.
The drive up to mountain was going past a Chocolate Factory and Manuel stopped there for what amounted to an ambush. I walked out of that shop with a lot of calories in three nice little bags. Wonderful chocolate !
On Saturday, we were in for a real treat. First, we went south to Hout Bay and continued by way of the Chapmans Peak's Drive, with a wonderful view of the coast, starting by the view over Hout Bay. Then we went on to Cape Point, which is the real Cape, as opposed to the Cape of Good Hope, much lower but I am told also more treacherous than Cape Point. There was a strong 35 to 40 knots wind up there which was very fitting.
To get to the Cape and back, you drive through a park where baboons and oistriches are wandering, as well as other wildlife that we haven't seen.
For me, as a sailor, it was a very emotional visit. Cape of Good Hope, despite the fact that it is not the most southern point of the african continent, is one of the three great capes, with Cape Leuwin on the south west corner of Australia and Cape Horn on the southern tip of south America. And the surrounding are extremely impressive, yielding an atmosphere of power, greatness, showing how forceful nature can be.
After that, we drove to Simonstown, which is the naval base for South Africa inside False Bay. At the naval base, Manuel showed us the sailing school that he is running for the young boys of the townships. Very, very impressive. The school teaches them how to build a sailboat, how to sail it, provides some academic schooling with the help of computers donated to the school, feed them and transport them back and forth to the Township. It is really a great project and I wish I could help publicize it to the outside world.
After the school, we went looking at a beach where a very large colony of penguins live, before stopping in a nearby fishing village for lunch of seafood tapas in an ideal surrounding. Almost as if we were in an aquarium, with the sea and the waves breaking on the rocks next to where we were sitting, with only a window to protect us.
We then drove back to Cape Town and to the boat, exhausted but extremely happy to have had the opportunity to see Cape Town from a sailor's eyes. And what sailor ! Thank you so much Manuel for that visit and all the help that you gave us.

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