Dearest Reader:
During the “big” trips I keep a diary for the entire group – what we did, what we saw, the jokes, the things that went wrong, the things that went right. I refuse to pretend that everything always goes smoothly on all of my trips, but we always learn and we always have a good time. Skim through this synopsis – blemishes and all – it isn’t sanitized but I think it will give you a flavor of my trips and the wonderful people who go on them.
Michael Ellis

Friday, September 21 to 28, 2007

Michael Ellis, Andrew and Mario

Friday, September 21, 2007.
Whoa what a time getting from Zimbabwe to Cape Town. Two hour delayed flight rebooked on BA, long luggage delay at Joberg, frantic rush to BA counter, hassle hassle hassle. All but Bill, Jenny and me make the 700 pm plane. There are however three seats for us that remain unclaimed. Some folks have been waiting since 10 am for a flight to CT! Andrew Brink and Mario take you to the guest house. And then Andrew comes back to get me. I met him 9 yrs ago on my first visit here and he now has a 7 yr. old, Alexander. We also meet our driver Mario and drive the 25′ to our home for the next three nights – the Wegelegen Guest House, 6 Stephen St, Gardens… Nice place right off Kloof Street. Only one American has been known to properly pronounce this name and her mother was Dutch. We area at the same latitude as Atlanta and LA — 34 degrees.

Saturday, September 22, 2007.
Hadada ibises our wake up call. Surprise!!! Cathy and Bob are here and can join us for the day. Marcia and Neil have also joined our group and fit right in immediately. The other Americans from the plane from Vic Falls are here as well. Table Mountain is cloaked in clouds. Signal hill is above us where we head off to at 9. Lions Head sandstone. Table Mt rises 1800 meters and is in the cloud this day so to plan B…

Cape Town (Kaapstad) was the refueling stop between Holland and the East Indies. Castle of Good Hope. 4.5 million in greater Cape area and growing. Perfect perfect perfect. 2600 sp. of plants just on Table Mt. Rock hyrax, rock kestrel, At least 5 endemic families found only in the fynbos (fine bush). Many proteas and heather and composites in flower. . Diaz here in 1488, just went a bit past the Cape and turned around and went home. About 10 yrs later Vasco de Gama came and made it to India. Khoisan here and attached de Gama. 150 yrs later the Dutch came in 1652. Jan van Reibeck. Company Garden. 1806 English took over.

WE cross over to the rich section of town- Camps Bay and see Hartlaubs and Kelp gulls, Egy geese, swift terns, eur starlings, red winged starlings, crowned plover, Cape Cormorants, mouse birds, Afr oystercatchers. Easy to see the granite at the base of the 12 Apostles (actually 18 buttresses visible). 400-600 my old. Sea is 48, which explains lack of swimmers. Constantia is the first settlement outside of Cape Town, vineyards. This is the town Princess Diana’s brother lives in. Our first right whale seen blowing! 1938 South Africa was the first nation to ban whaling!!
Then back to the middle of town and a walk through the Company Gardens into the South African Nat Histo Museum for a toilet stop past the Presidents house and Parliament. Legislative capital here and executive in Pretoria. Eastern Gray squirrels from the USA brought by Rhodes. Bishop Desmond Tutu church. At Greenmarket we get to witness a wedding. That was way cool and colorful. Big rugby games going on right now. All over the SSA planes are springboks. They look like Thomson’s gazelles and are the National animal of SA and the name of the national team.

Around to the back side of Table Mountain and stop at the Rhodes Monument. 49 steps, he died at age 49. Tremendous influence on this part of Africa. Boers founded 2 republics to escape the British – Transvaal and the Orange Free State. But gold discovered and Cecil Rhodes and others instituted the Anglo-Boer War and in 1910 the Union of South Africa was formed. 4 states- the two Boer, Cape and Natal. In 1948 the Nationalist Party took power and formalized apartheid. 1994 were the first free elections and Nelson Mandela became the President. Then to Kirstenbosch Gardens for a very nice lunch followed by a tour led by Ian. Delightful!! Three things that define the fynbos – Ericas, Restios, and Proteas. Birds: red-winged starlings, red eyed pigeon, hadada ibises, Egy geese, H. guinea fowl, white necked raven, Malachite sunbird, Lesser double-collared sunbird, cape Robin, dark eyed bulbul, spotted prinia. We run into to our old friends – the Garretts and Fains. You would have thought we had not seen them in years. We missed them already!! National tree is Yellowwood – podocarpus.
Back to Guest House by 5 and rest until 630. We leave the Guest House at 630 by 650 we are in the huge Mall – the V and A waterfront — and doing a bit of shopping. Then to a mighty fine seafood dinner at Paia. Our waiter had an impressive voice.

Sunday, September 23, 2007.
At breakfast I take an orange and give you a talk on the Tropics, solstice, equinox etc. Goodbye to Cathy and Bob and we are off at 815. We decide to head right south and do Table Mt. later we are off on time we get to Hout Bay bounded by Sentinel Peak at 331 m and board the Drumbeat II for a quick trip around the corner to Duiker Island. Named “darter” for the local name for cormorants. Full of French tourists. The rain really pounds us just as we are boarding. The swells are pretty big but at least the rain does stop. Good views of the Cape Fur seal bachelor herd. No breeding here. Birds- Hartlaub and black-backed (Kelp) gulls, mostly Cape but a few White-breasted cormorants, swift terns. Back and then we drive a bit on Chapmans highway for a view (the road is recently closed)
We have to drive around and into the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve (1800 sp. of plants). Port Jackson is the yellow flowering acacia. It is from Aust and quite a weed. We have a brief stop to look at some Shona sculpture like we saw in VF. A bontebok (colorful buck) is seen on the way, endemic to the Cape and very nearly went extinct. We turn right and go to the real Cape of Good Hope for photos. Geez what a crowd. Cape Gannets and a right whale right offshore. Then to Cape Point (#1 tourist attraction) we take the Funicular and to very fine views on a perfectly clearing day. Really good looks at a whale right below the light. Many flowers in bloom. Here is where the 2 oceans are supposed to meet but the actual southern most point is far far away, Pt. Argüelles. We walk out the lower trail all the way to the end overlooking the lighthouse. Rock kestrel. The first lighthouse was built too high, just like our very own Ft. Point.
Cape of Good Hope Preserve: In the fynbos is the greatest species diversity per hectare in world. 8k higher plants, 68% are endemic.
There was a recent controlled burn that got out of hand. Other birds that we have seen and not mentioned are – red-winged starlings, red eyed pigeon, spotted prinia, Cape wagtail, yellow billed kite, pied crow. To Simon’s Town at False Bay. Strong NWerstelies drove the boats into shore. Whoops wrong bay. SA Navytown. Was the largest Naval Station for the Royal Navy outside GB. It is 230 and we are HUNGRY!! To the Seaforth for our late lunch. First pair of penguins spotted on the beach. There will be more, I promise. A very large fat man with butt cleavage and tattoos in his nether regions (no Pat I am NOT going to get my binoculars to look) is swimming right below us. Some of us therefore decide to forgo dessert. Not me, it was real good!
All of these bird names begin with the word Cape – petrel, bunting, siskin, sparrow, weaver, francolin, bulbul, and gannet!

Quick walk from the restaurant over to Boulders African (Jackass) penguin colony. Started in 1984 and has been expanding ever since. 9.8 on the cute scale. One of 4 colonies in the Region. Population was 1.5 millions in 1900, now 150,000 and threatened. There was a big oil spill in 2000. It is very crowded with mostly European tourists and they have built a boardwalk and a visitor center since I was here last. We watch an oiled penguin get captured by the park staff. We also get to watch some mating activities (of penguins). We keep running into the Fains and Garretts…are they following us? I suspect they stole my itinerary!

Off to Table Mountain== it looks like we can make it. We all take a little nappy poo on the drive around, up, over and up. We fly right up in 4 minutes to the top. Colder up there but not too bad. Great views and clouds and rain in the ocean. Guess who is also here?? We walk around clockwise for the views. No dassies (hyrax) today, too cold. Decide to go down soon but alas the cable car was not going anywhere for a while. They finally fixed it after a long wait (Kay is getting real nervous –she is our designated worrier) and down we went. Back to the Guest House and many drank port, ate peanuts and listened to Mark tell jokes. He is a good storyteller (long) but what do you expect from an Irish man???? There were many good laughs.

Monday, September 24, 2007
Off right on time whatta group!! First stop is the Cape Malay section of town, right near us. Delightfully brightly colored houses. Those folks are the descendents of slaves brought from Indonesia. The original coloreds. Then we go north up the coast heading for the West Coast National Park. Photo stop looking back at Table Mt from Blue Mountain Strand. We pass the only Nuclear Power plant in the country but they are planning on building some more. Today is Heritage Day and a holiday for many folks. Traffic is light. Turn left to The WCNP – this park is situated around the Langebaan Lagoon. The flowers are really blooming in the sandveld. We enter a private area called Postberg where some animals have been repatriated like Ostrich, bonebok, eland, and the Cape Mt. Zebra. Road stop for an angulated tortoise. This was the place where a very old footprint of a hominoid was found recently. We stop at the end of the road to take in the wildflowers, walk on the beach and just enjoy the world. It is gorgeous. Andrew tells us about the Alabama. Confederate ship Alabama chased by the Yanks to Cape Town. Some folk songs in South African culture about the ship, especially sung by minstrels (Coon Carnival players).

CSS Alabama was a screw sloop-of-war built for the Confederacy in 1862 by John Laird Sons and Company, Liverpool, England. Launched as Enrica, it was fitted out as a cruiser and commissioned 24 August 1862 as CSS Alabama. Under Captain Raphael Semmes, Alabama spent the next two months capturing and burning ships in the North Atlantic and intercepting American grain ships bound for Europe. Continuing the path of destruction through the West Indies, Alabama sank USS Hatteras along the Texas coast and captured her crew. After a visit to Cape Town, South Africa, Alabama sailed for the East Indies where the ship spent six months cruising, destroying seven more ships before redoubling the Cape en route to Europe
On 11 June 1864, Alabama arrived in Cherbourg, France and Captain Semmes requested permission to dock and overhaul his ship. Pursuing the raider, the American sloop-of-war USS Kearsarge arrived three days later and took up a patrol just outside the harbor. On 19 June, Alabama sailed out to meet Kearsarge. As Kearsarge turned to meet its opponent, Alabama opened fire. Kearsarge waited patiently until the range had closed to less than 1,000 yards. According to survivors, the two ships steamed on opposite courses moving around in circles as each commander tried to cross the bow of his opponent to deliver a heavy raking fire. The battle quickly turned against Alabama because of the poor quality of its powder and shells, while Kearsarge benefited from the additional protection of chain cables along its sides. A little more than an hour after the first shot was fired, Alabama was reduced to a sinking wreck, causing Semmes to strike his colors and send a boat to surrender. According to witnesses, Alabama fired 150 rounds at its adversary, while Kearsarge fired 100. When a shell fired by Kearsarge tore open a section at Alabama’s waterline, the water quickly rushed through the cruiser, forcing it to the bottom. While Kearsarge rescued most of Alabama’s survivors, Semmes and 41 others were picked up by the British yacht Deerhound and escaped to England. During its two-year career as a commerce raider, Alabama caused disorder and devastation across the globe for United States merchant shipping. The Confederate cruiser claimed more than 60 prizes valued at nearly $6,000,000At about 1pm on 5th August 1863, as thousands of locals gathered to witness her arrival, the Alabama met and captured a Federal barque, the Sea Bride, just off Green Point. This caused great excitement in a town, which at the time was described as being dull and dismal
If songs composed during the American civil war were soon incorporated in Cape Town singers’ repertoire, it is quite unlikely that members of the crew on board the notorious Confederate raider The Alabama could have brought them to South Africa, since a majority of these sailors had been recruited at Liverpool. The popular song “Daar Kom Die Alabama” (Here Comes The Alabama), with its peculiar structure, is definitely a Cape invention (Rosenthal 1938:133-139; Winberg 1992).

Sleepy time for most of us as we drive north. I spy a pond with the National Bird of South Africa – BLUE CRANE. And there are avocets, bs plover, Egy geese, cattle egret. We also see a few flamingoes and white pelicans. Past much cultivated land – alfalfa, cows, rape (mustard), sheep, and wheat. This really doesn’t look like the imagined Africa but more like Illinois with distant mountains. Our packed Lunch is had by the side of the road in Elandsbraii. Right whale comes by, great flowers in the strand. Bright blue sunny and windy. Little swifts, Drankwinkel – liquor store. Police Station is guarded by private security company! Next Lamberts Bay but first a major washboard road. Katie gets lunch on her head.

The Cape Gannett colony is mind-blowing WOWOWOWOWOOWOWOW. Walking out the breakwater to the viewing area for some sky pointed, bill clacking and nape biting while copulating. Gannets are in the same group as pelicans, boobies and cormorants with 4 webbed toes. We missed Potato World (sorry Kay) but there is a processing plant for both taters and fish. Fish n Chips. There are not many places along the coast but Lambert Bay where the fisherman can bring in their catch. Also there are some diamond collecting boats that go out and “fish” for diamonds with huge vacuums where the Orange River has been dumping them in the sea for millions of years. Andrew worked on one when he was younger.

But time is passing. We head due east and cross the Oliphant (elephant) river valley, We have a brief pee stop in Clanwilliam, of citrus growing fame and then we enter the Cederberg Mts. More rough road over Pakhuis pass. Sandstone (same as Table MT) sculptures everywhere; it looks like the American West. The light is perfect. Turn right and still have to go to 6 Ks to Bushmanskloof. “This is a superb lodge built in the foothills of the spectacular Cedarberg Mountains on the edge of the Great Karoo. It is an area of striking natural beauty and a diversity of fauna and flora of the Cedarberg Wilderness area.” YEP! At 5 we arrive and get into our puny and very austere rooms and then we meet for a game drive. Guides are Zettie and Seppie. Yes, that is their names. Cape weavers doing their magic on the Euke tree; a spotted eagle owl (not seen)… Malachite sunbirds. A huge Natal fig tree planted 130 yrs ago. Highlights – Cape Mountain Zebra, Springboks, ostriches, bonteboks, banded swallows, shelducks, fiscal shrike, red knobbed coots, red eyed doves, Cape turtle doves, yellow billed ducks, diggings from the Golden Mole. Getting colder as the sun sets; so back to the Lodge for our sundowners. Nice dinner and the moon is getting pretty darn big now!

September 25, 2007 Tuesday.
I get up early for a bike ride, Andrew catches up with me and off we go. We do not actually get lost on our way back, just misplaced for awhile. We are off at 8 for a short drive. We have our light breakfast overlooking the small lake. Visited by very cute round eared elephant shrews, Cape Buntings, Mountain chat, little swifts, Cape bulbul, and Karoo prinia. Then we begin our walk to the San paintings. Flowers everywhere. many geophytes = earth plants bulbs like iris, Lilly, gladiolas, hyacinth, euphorbias, bright magenta pelargonium. Kay and Marks anniversary – Pat wants to see tongue on that kiss under the mistletoe. Jewell beetle. Leopard spoor. Same rocks as Table Mountain here and covered with colorful lichens. Creek stops flowing in the dry season but plenty of subsurface water. snouted harvester termite mounds. Butter tree is large succulent crassula. Porcupine and water mongoose tracks, baboon cabbage, much iris family. It is beautiful = the eroded sandstone, the colorful lichens, pelargonium. We are in heaven as we head toward our first bushman painting. Nice Smiths red rock rabbit middens (means dung heap) – a rare species. Pat gets yet another poop photo for her collection. We learn what copraphage means. Good recycling for those hind gut digesters. To the paintings at Fallen Rock. One of the largest of the sacred sites (135 in all here).

Here is Seppies talk combined with some other notes I took from the last two times I was here. There are some additions and some differences between the guides from different years.

Bushman considered wild animals by Europeans therefore couldn’t have “art”. Hunters received permits to hunt bushman, weren’t considered people. from 1739 and by 1904 basically extinct as a people and culture. Paintings hard to date but between 2-6K yrs. Ago.

Sickle shaped heads bec. the white and yellow pigment of the faces came off through time. Four colors – Red and Yellow from hematite. White from feces or egg shells. Black from manganese oxide. All from out of the area. Didn’t draw the face details because that would be capturing the essence of that person. Male and female rites of passage, healing areas. Quivers are painted above their heads. Keep high so children did not get into them. Evil spirit repr by the lion (people of the west where the darkness starts). Word for trance = word for death. Shaman would bite the sick one and take the lion out, then sniff buchu (Agathosma crenulata- a Rutaceae- citrus family) and sneeze out the evil. Lions are shamans who failed to return. Most of the information comes from work done in the 1880’s on three bushman released to some anthropologist from the Breakwater prison- studied them for 10 yrs.
Figure show hunting elephant- no way in their dreams. Bushman ladies = elephants. Elands are the totem animals. People were people but not yet people. Caracal dating the springbok but Aardvark laid down the law. Aardvark Laws. The newly initiated young men are drawn with exaggerated genitalia.
! Xan bushmen didn’t bath but rubbed themselves with animal fat and blood to “become” more with the animals. This group followed plants not game. Females gathered, males hunted (hyraxes, small antelope not big things). They compared themselves to the eland, which also broke into small family groups when the food got scarce and came together in bigger groups in time of plenty. Their god was MANTIS- a trickster who also took other animal forms- name was Kaggan. Humans were first a small animal, then human and will become eland. 4’10”. The cushion of hair on the forehead of the eland was where Kaggan sometimes sat. Koi people = Hottentots (a derag name). Shamans in this group reached the high state by physically means, not ingesting a plant. These guys spun in circles for 9 hours. The Kung took drugs to get to the same place. 1st stage was flashing lights and hemorrhaging nose 2nd to connect to elands repres by zigzag lines in paintings. 3rd. gains the power of the animal, often in an unconscious state repres by half human/animal figures. Used hematite in these priceless pristine rock paintings of the San that lived here some 6000 years ago. Fixed with hyrax urine, other pigments have faded. Male initiation rite had to get Eland first (shoot it and then track it for 3-4 days until it fell) or settle for smaller animal. Under played size of it when reporting back to the other men. Laid in the skin. The rock is a thin veil that separates one world from the next. Females have large brown fat deposits in buttocks and thigh. Indicate good breeder. Shamans left their body and their soul traveled to lead elephant, slit its throat and when the blood drips down it would rain. Dated at 2800 and 640 yrs ago (previous guide said this). Wall is the boundary between the spiritual and the material world.

Wow all of this makes my own perception of the natural world seem infantile and feebly unimaginative. A helicopter flies over; they are capturing some Cape Mt. Zebras which they will trade for stallions from Cape Mountain National Park. There were only 8-10 left in the world so they are highly inbred. We have our ten minutes of silence. Listening to the creek run and Cape buntings sing. The same exact sounds that were heard by our fellow humans who drew these paintings thousands of years ago.

We walk back and see a great fat grasshopper, Southern rock agama, rock martin, yellow rumped widow, pied crow. To the lodge for Brunch. Very good. Friendly yellow billed ducks and a common moorhen seen with a bunch of babies. R and R or hikes or spa treatments. Pat and Jeff add to our species list – rock hyrax (dassie).

Tea at 330 and around 4ish I give a brief talk on human origins. And we are off at 430 for our final (sniff, sniff) game drive. Red hartebeest, gray rhebok, bontebok babies, three banded plover, rock kestrel. Sundowners and we are all celebrating the 27 years of total matrimonial bliss of Kay and Mark. That might actually be true. It is also Andrews’s birthday but he has sworn me to secrecy. The moon is nearly full now and I begin a long winded “moon talk” but realize we are late for the lecture. Off we go.

Talk by the resident archeologist, PhD candidate named Siyakha. Very informative but a little challenging to understand and it goes on a bit long.

“They were men who had died and now lived in rivers and were spoilt at the same time as the elands and by the dancers of which you have seen paintings……..” this by the San guide named Qing.

The San people had an incredible world view that we can only imagine. There are many ways to experience this world. Just as long as you fully live in YOUR moments.

Champaign at dinner for the happy couple and another fine meal. Tomorrow the wine country!! Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday (Andrew relents and admits that it is his birthday as I toast him; 52 years today).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007.
Venus still in the East and another beautiful day, though it will get a bit cloudy. Off right on time at 930. What a timely group. 550 meters here. Potatoes were grown on this farm until 1992, land is still recovering. Back on that rough road. First stop is gravesite of Louis Leopoldt, a famous Africaan writer who lived in Clanwilliam. He wrote poetry especially emphasizing his hatred of the British. Remember 30k women and children died in their concentration camps during the Boer War. They invented that atrocity..hmm our allies in everything. We pass Roosibos tea fields and do a u turn to see some elands. Back to Clanwilliams. Founded by some English settlers who shipwrecked before making it to Cape Town in 1808 and they all said “This will do.” We turn south and travel on N (National) Rd #7. The yellow rapeseed and wheat and stark mountains. There is no rural sprawl, each town is well contained surrounded by productive farmland and tethered by a church to the earth. Many Cape Colored working in the fields and packing houses. The whole area seems prosperous. Is it for everyone?
We stop for gas and toilet stop at Peiterberg and then continue to Malmesbury, the center of wheat country, where we turn left. Swartzland means black land – the soil is fertile. We see some blue cranes, African white pelicans. We can see Table Mt. all the way to the SSW. Ostriches- their brains are smaller than their eyeballs! Why am I thinking of George Bush? The area is so reminiscent of many places, so cultivated. Imagine this world of 500 years ago, nearly every large mammal and more and all the birds we saw in Botswana would be thriving here. I felt the ghosts of those elephants as we came down the Oliphant Valley.

Wine #1 industry and then tourism. We turn inland to explore the Cape’s wine route towns. There are 12 wine appellations in SA. We will visit four of them – Swatzland, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Hermanus. Before Paarl we stop at our first winery – Fairview Winery or Goatshed. There are some goats in a small tower and nice gardens. Lunch is fun. Then 6 glasses and mixed with excellent cheese tasting. Katie and Mike upgrade. Neal and I pretend we can read the subtle flavors of each glass – barnyard, dirt, peach, tannins, overlay, spring time, tobacco, urinal etc. European oaks planted for the wine barrels but they grow too fast here and leak. Entering Paarl (Pearl) named for the granite monoliths (second in size to Ayers Rock in Aust) that reminded the early Dutch of pearls glittering in the sun. Our next winery is Plasir de Merle – the Pleasure of the Blackbirds. Named because when the black birds start eating the grapes, they are full of sugar and it is time to pick them. It is the name of the original town of the Huguenots. Helmet, the young fast talker gives us the low down on the wine. He instructs Roger that he CAN have more than two glasses of the Cab. Mr. Poore is thrilled!!
We next drive up the Afrikaners language monument on top of the hill for a grand view. Really a nice monument, too bad about what it represents. Paarl was the center of the language and the place it was first written down in 1924. We next head straight for Roggeland – an Old Dutch Manor converted to a guesthouse. Once again we suffer our rooms. Only one night!!! How very very cruel! 4 course dinner tonight with wine at every course. We had to eat it. Wine producing nations France, Spain, Italy, US in that order. But Andrew says SA is fourth.

Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre
Political rivalry between Roman Catholics and French Protestants (known as Huguenots) led to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day in 1572, depicted here in a 16th-century engraving. King Charles IX of France and his mother, Catherine de Médicis, feared the growing power of the Huguenots. In late August they arranged to have a number of Huguenot leaders murdered. The massacre began on August 24 in Paris—where many Huguenots had gathered for the wedding of their leader, Henry of Navarre, to Catherine’s daughter Margaret of Valois. It then spread to the French provinces.

Thursday, September 26, 2007.
Foggy when we awake, just like home. It will burn off. Up for a nice breakfast and then off to the first of three wineries today. Ernie Els, the famous SA Golfer. I never heard of him but Mike tells me he is known as the Big Easy because of his easy going ways and the Americans love him. Great view and OK wines but I get the impression no one in our group is extremely impressed. We drink a wine early like “killing a baby”. Photo op on the way out for scare crows in a strawberry patch. Then to the University town of Stellenbosch; the second oldest town in the country- founded only 40 yrs after Cape Town along the first river the Boers came to. Driving along Dorp Street with its beautiful Cape Dutch houses to visit the Oom Samie Se Winkel. (Uncle Sam’s Shop). Come on I do take you to some pretty cool stores. Nearly everyone buys something – books, Roisbos. Andrew hates this stop. Next up on the hill overlooking the Franschoek Valley; we pull into the Thelema Winery. At 1230 we finally leave and head into the Franschoek (French Corner) nestled in the “Valley of the Huguenots” where the French first settled in 1688. They were required by the Dutch not to all settle in one area and to learn Dutch in one year. Totally assimilated, it worked. No evidence of the French language at all except for last names.
To lovely Le Petite Ferme overlooking the other side of the valley. Lunch is good but takes a long long time. Then we head more or less due south. Passing some groups of Blue Cranes and intensely cultivated land- much wheat and sheep. The roads are very high quality and well marked. Just before we get to picturesque village of Hermanus, we turn inland to the Hamilton-Russell winery. Now this wine is very good. Several folks buy some for tonight’s dinner. I want to go see some whales.

Into Hermanus the little town that has really grown and gotten very busy since I was last here. We are here during the whale festival. Off for a stroll along the cliff looking for close right whales. I give you a brief talk on the evolution and physiology of them. Sperm competition with each testicle weighing one half ton. We see some whales breach, blow, fluke etc. Rock hyraxes on the rocks- fat and habituated ones. The wind is blowing a bit. There is a Whale Crier who blows a kelp horn when whales are spotted. I guess he is off duty today. We walk to our rooms at the Auberge Burgundy Guest House. WIfi available! Times have changed.
Free time until we meet at 745 for a short drive over to Rock Harbor Restaurant. This place is hopping and loud and good and the service is pretty slow. Oh well what else do we have to do? More laughs at our last dinner together.. a great group we are. The moon is full; shinning on the sea. Very pretty and we are waiting for whales to breach in the moonlight.

Friday, September 28, 2007
Another blue day on our last day in the African paradise and this is the beginning of a very long day for everyone but me. I am staying on for another week to explore and play and drive on the wrong side of the road. The early morning is spent looking very closely at the whales and the friendly rock hyrax. Off at 10 even earlier. The wind is blowing from the northwest; this one can bring rain. We have a nice overview of Hermanus from the top of a fynbos covered hillside. We finish our species list.. I am now down to 3 who are keeping score.

Kay is getting worried about missing the planes so we head directly to the airport. Passing the shanty town called Khayelitsha”- our town. It stretches for miles and miles. To the airport and you say goodbye to Mario, Andrew, Neal, Marcia and me. Long way to SFO via Dakar and NYC. Well those Montana people go a different way. I miss you already. I do manage to drive right back to the W Guest House on the wrong side of the road. It is not that hard.

See you later………….



Posted on

August 6, 2009