Cape Town is beautiful! The panorama that greeted us when we looked out from our balcony was just breathtaking. I was up in time to catch the sunrise just hitting the hills, giving everything a little gold glint. It was a good thing, too, because by the time we set out on our tour, the sky had clouded over, and it rained for the duration of our tour.
We saw the Castle, which is really the first Dutch fort. It’s just like every other early fort – big, blocky, stone, lots of cannons.
There were a couple of cool things, though. The first was inside the courtyard – four statues of African kings who had fought the Dutch (and all been arrested). Even though these were clearly statues of the kind that have hollows for eyes, they looked like actual men daubed with clay. I was convinced that any second, they would begin moving and talking.
The second was a section of carriage path that went through a passage into an inner courtyard. Just where it went through the passage, the path was paved with wooden bricks cemented with — resin? tar? — I have no idea. It was put there because the general’s office was just above, and carriages passing over cobbles made too much noise. I’m thinking about how to implement this in the new house.
We also met with one of my editors, Joya Taft-Dick. She’s been with us for almost a year, and I was looking forward to meeting her in person for the first time. I was excited when she said that she and her husband might be brewing earlier in the day, because my husband has also been a home brewer, and it meant that Joya and I wouldn’t be talking literature the whole time and leaving the two men to sit and stare awkwardly around for hours. In fact, we barely talked about literature at all – we just had a really extraordinarily lovely evening with people who felt like they’d been friends of ours for a long time.
Day two in Cape Town was spent with the penguins. In the morning, we drove about forty minutes away to the beach where the penguins live. The penguins aren’t afraid of people, although they’re not exactly friendly. At one point, there were two in the brush and rocks opposite the beach, and people were standing a few feet away taking pictures. The penguins hopped off the rock, threaded their way between the humans, and got into the water. The penguins used to be called Jackass Penguins because they make a braying sound, and there was a lot of that in evidence.
We also saw a little brown animal high up on a rock. Because it was far away, I took a picture at 20x magnification, and then enlarged it on my phone. It was a little pixelated, but in the picture, it looked really angry. We heard a guide say it was a Rock Hyrax, which is the best name ever. The guide told us it was called a “dassie,” and that there was no English name for it. Okay, she’s right – hyrax is probably Latin, but still.
We then went to a little coastal town that looked a lot like Capitola Village – very touristy, right on the beach, tons of coffee places, bars, and tiny restaurants. We didn’t go to any of those. Instead, we found a tiny little art gallery up some stairs above a restaurant. I could have spent an entire day in that place. The art was just wonderful, including mechanical sculptures by Etienne de Kock that I would really, really love to have at our house. They’re completely my jam. We did buy a couple of small prints that will go into the library in the new house.
Later, we met our new dining companions. It turns out, they live very close to that neighborhood and knew exactly where we’d been. They were pleased to hear that we loved South Africa. I feel like it’s the kind of place where everyone who lives there appreciates how beautiful it is.