sea to sky saturday

the alarm went off very early.  good thing i’d loaded my backpack the night before.  i taxied to three anchor bay in sea point and tracked down the small storefront for kaskazi kayaks, where i was gearing up for my first ocean kayaking experience.  i arrived a bit early, so wandered along the promenade, watching the breakers crash along the shore walls, feeling slightly nervous and wondering what i was getting myself into. as it turned out, i was in for an amazing morning on the water.  there were three of us booked for the trip: two local guys went out in one boat, and i paddled with our guide, dirk.  we launched from a small shell beach, paddled hard to get up and over the crest of the first swell, and headed for the horizon… well, not quite, but far enough out to avoid the worst of the breaking waves.  dictated by the winds, we kayaked in the direction of cape point, down past clifton beach and on towards camps bay.  trusting the adage that where there are birds there will be fish, we followed flocks of sea birds – cormorants and gulls and countless others – in the hope of catching site of dolphins, or even whales, but no such luck.  we did have the company of a group of african penguins swimming alongside the boat for a stretch, which was fun.  the views of the hills of table mountain national park were spectacular in the early morning sunshine, and the “winter” light just gave everything a slightly ethereal glow.  we rode swells and tried to kayak-surf a bit.  kayaks are amazingly stable, even when you’re being tossed around by swells, and ocean paddling is certainly a bigger rush than my usual flatwater excursions on the lakes and rivers of eastern ontario.  on the way back, we could see paragliders drifting from the top of signal hill, circling in the air currents down to sea point.  it was a fantastic morning!

i wandered along the sea point promenade for a few minutes before heading back to the hotel to shower off the salt water and change for my afternoon adventure.  i planned to spend a bit of time exploring the city centre before boarding the cable car to the top of table mountain.  on my way into town, i stopped at an atm to get some cash – which is where i got swindled out of my bank card.  it was rather stupid of me, and i should have realized earlier what was happening, but the short of it is that some bloke (or more likely a pair of them) got my card.  i’m fairly certain the security guard watched it all happen and did nothing, but he did approach me afterwards and encouraged me call my bank to cancel my card, which i did.  i then spent the next three hours at the local police precinct to make a statement; i was in a queue behind at least five others who were making the exact same statement, so this is obviously a popular scam.  at least no one was hurt, but lesson learned, and we all moved on. i had a second bank card and a credit card, so i was able to carry on the holiday without further inconvenience.

i had to take advantage of the fact that the sky was still clear and blue, and get to the top of table mountain.  it had been shrouded by cloud most of the week (the locals refer to this as the table cloth), so i didn’t want to miss the opportunity.  i rode the revolving cable car to the top, and set off along the network of walking paths at the summit.  it truly is very flat up there – the table designation is accurate.  the rock is well beaten by millenia of wind and rain, and some of the plant life (“fynbos”) is not dissimilar to some of the arctic vegetation that clings to the rocky north shore of lake superior.  the panoramic vistas were incredible.  there were clear views town to the city bowl and robben island, out to the stellenbosch mountains, and along the mountaintops south to cape point.  i could see the shoreline where i’d paddled that morning, breakers still crashing on to the beaches below.  as it was a perfect weather day, and a saturday, there were a lot of people traipsing around, but i managed to find a quiet spot to sit and stare out along the coast past cape point and contemplate the vast nothingness that lies between there and antarctica.  mind. blown.

i rode back down the mountain, taxied to a hotel to pick up a couple of bottles of wine (an absolutely stunning 2008 marianne cabernet sauvignon from the simonsburg-paarl region, and a 2012 neethlingshof estate cab sauv that i managed to wedge in my suitcase and will save for an occasion) that had been left for me by jane and donna (as thanks for videoing donna’s speech on thurs) and went back to my hotel to meet janice and loren.  we had drinks and snacks in my little apartment, then headed out for dinner at fork on long street, a great tapas place where we sampled a variety of dishes.  janice and loren were heading off for a safari adventure, and i had one more full day at the tip of africa.

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