The last 3 weeks + have pretty much been a blur.. I was utterly lost in my work at Oceana... but not so much that I didn't get lulled into the ultra-posh luxury... gorgeous weather... moonlit nights with the sweet serenade of Oceana's beach front... a bed that slept like a cloud.. and late nights fulled by redbull and fine South African wine, etc. When I left Oceana, I was quite sad to leave.. but us Commander Cody Explorers must push on!
Rip, the principal owner, sent me to this other swanky wildlife reserve called Shamwari. Again, you wouldn't believe the level of luxury some people get accustomed to. I'm doing my best not to get too spoiled. ;-) It wasn't quite as swanky as Oceana.. but it's more of wildlife reserve. And they assigned my own personal game ranger! I even watched a pride of lions stalk and kill a wharthog... actually, the females did all the work, then the male took the meat. It was absolutely stunning to sit only about 15feet from these great cats while they litterally tore that poor unfortunate wharthog to pieces. I mean, they ate it alive! I gotta hand it to the wharthog though.. one tough bugger. It was still making horrible noises and trying to break free long after half it's body was gone.
On to Knysna... beach resort town. Very nice, but not that special. Great if you live here I'm sure, but not really that much different from any other beach town. The forests nearby are stunning though. I spent and entire afternoon just wondering around the pathways under giant ferns.
In Cape Town now. Big mistake driving a pickup (they call it a "bucky" here) into a big city, at night, on the opposite side of the road than I'm used to. And, a standard. If that wasn't bad enough.. it was Friday night when I arrived on the Easter holiday weekend, ie. NO ROOMS! I tried 7 different hostels until one told me if I waited until midnight, they had one booking left that hadn't shown up. They made me wait until 1AM.. but I got a room. Now the fun part... lugging ALL my gear up 5 flights of stairs with many of them broken. This place is an old Victorian building that would have been condemned in the U.S. years ago. But here, it's a "backpacker lodge". Great! The whole place smells of mildew, busted architecture, waiting in line for the shower, and LOUD!!!!.
Hey! What happened to the Oceana bed turndowns, gentle surf lulling you to sleep, chocolates and flowers on the bed, a wine cellar of fine South African wine at your disposal... etc.?! On Saturday, I was beginning to wonder what I ever saw in shoe-string traveling at all. But now that reality has set in.. and the dream of Oceana is nearly faded.. I'm starting to get used to Cape Town. It's definitely a dangerous place in parts. If you're in a 5-star you have nothing to worry about.. but on Long Street where I am.. it's non-stop partying.. noise.. beggars... junkies... thieves.. theives... theives... and a few muggers. ;-)
I was about to blow this town and couldn't figure out how folks can call this one of the most beautiful cities on Earth. THEN, I took a drive in the bucky around Chapman's Peak toward Simonstown and Cape Point. WOW!!! I don't think I've ever had a more beautiful drive in my entire life.. and in 16 different countries to date. Absolutely jaw-dropping.
Had some problems with the bucky's shifting though. Sometimes it just won't go into any of the first 3 gears. Quite shocking to realize this after you've turned up a 70deg incline with traffic behind you. And South African drivers aren't the most patient bunch either. I basically just parked the bucky and was not going to drive until I left.. just to make sure I could get it back to Oceana. Then, I tried one more time and figured out that if I pump the clutch 4-5 times I can usually get her in gear when she's not cooperating. So, I got wheels again. ;-)
I've been making sure I get to the hostel by nightfall. That's when most of the roaming theives seem to hit the streets. Last night this guy showed me a fresh stab wound in the back of his leg because they wanted his last 2 rands. I couldn't believe it! I'd just walked down that same street with my laptop half hour before that. Guess I got lucky this time. ;-)
Then this morning I see this little boy asleep in the park. I'd not given in to his demands for money, but seeming him there asleep in the park made me feel sorry for him. So, I tried to wake him up to give him a few rands. I couldn't wake him up and worried that he might be dead... I shook him pretty hard and he sort of woke up enough for me to hand him some money.. then he kinda passed out again. Another black man told me not to give him money.. that he'd felt sorry for him too and brought him some sandwiches... but he wouldn't take them. Only wanted money to buy more benzine glue. He told me not to give these kids money because they'll just buy more glue with it.
Guess that's why he seemed like a very sound sleeper.
Anyway... here's a few more snaps for your pleasure.