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Old October 12th, 2008, 07:48 PM
AR AR is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 2,597
Default The South Africa Chronicles, Part 2

Sorry for the delay in posting the next chapter from my South Africa diary. We've been running around again. . .this time to a weekend high school reunion in New Jersey. Just back. If you haven't seen Part 1 yet, it's a little way down the list.

As you remember, that first exciting chapter from South Africa concluded with our adventures at Shamwari Game Reserve. We're about to return "home" to Cape Town. . .

Thursday, September 18

The trip back to Cape Town was the reverse of Monday’s: Leon to Port Elizabeth, South African Airways from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, and Kurt to Tyrena’s waterfront home. Tyrena was at work, of course, so Terry set about chopping mushrooms as she got ready to do a big batch of her infamous poulet moutard for dinner.

The book that was eventually made into "Casablanca" was called "Everybody Comes to Rick’s." I was reminded of that title as friends started arriving for dinner, because in Cape Town, everybody comes to Tyrena’s. She’s held parties for 70 in this place, and the walls must have been ringing. This night there were only eight of us, but what fun we had. Anne showed up with her special reserve cognac, orange juice and a tray of dessert tarts. After digging out a bottle of her namesake Cointreau from Tyrena’s liquor cabinet, she went to work with the liquor and the OJ, mixing up pitchers of her special cocktail. Rhadaka arrived with a huge tray of starters, including some outstanding pear halves stuffed with bleu cheese. John and Yoli arrived with more goodies, followed closely by someone we hadn’t met yet, Tony, the only US FBI agent stationed in Casablanca, er, Cape Town. Why? I have no idea. Actually, Tony told us that a reasonable number of fugitives fleeing US justice make their way here without letters of transit, and his job is to track them down and put them on the plane.

Everything was great: Terry’s chicken was a hit, the wine (Morgenhof, of course) was outstanding, dessert was great, and afterward, Anne poured the cognac–no OJ, just the cognac. Even though we didn’t have a crooked roulette wheel, the conversation flowed in French, English and Spanish, and a good time was had by all, followed by another sound sleep.

Friday, September 19

Tyrena went to work, and we walked into the center of Cape Town, where we simply spent the day looking around the waterfront, doing a little window shopping, and having a pleasant time. For the Photoshoppers out there, a little note that the photo below was done with the Photomerge Panorama feature in Photoshop. When you don't have a short enough lens, or when using one would introduce unacceptable spherical aberration, you simply make two shots with some overlap. Then you tell the program to do its thing, and it stitches them together to give you a result like this, of Cape Town's pretty harbor.

On the short walk home from the waterfront, we stopped at the Pick’n’Pay, picked some pasta and sauce, and came home for a simple, quiet dinner. Tyrena had an official dinner to attend, so we didn’t see her until late. She told us that her favorite masseuse would be arriving the next morning at 9, and after the ladies had massages, we’d be heading down to the Cape of Good Hope to spend the day and see the sights.

Saturday, September 20

The drive to the Cape is very picturesque, through little seaside towns that remind you variously of New England and the Caribbean. We stopped along the way to see the famous penguins that inhabit the shoreline.

Before long we were at the Cape itself. A funicular took us to the highest spot overlooking Africa’s most southwesterly point. On this postcard-perfect day, the blue sea crashed violently against the last boulders of this vast continent, and you couldn’t help remembering the legends of all the ships that didn’t make it around these rocks, despite the lighthouse high above that signaled the danger. Just a few miles to the East, the Atlantic joins the Indian Ocean, and if the sailors made it that far, they were entitled to wear a ring in one ear to mark the accomplishment.

At the Cape you're always being watched by the local apes, and visitors are advised never to have food with them as they walk around. Naturally, some don't heed the warnings, and a few pay the price. They have watchmen that try to keep the critters up on the rocks, but they're always up there looking for a meal.

On the way home we had an early dinner at Snookey’s, a tremendous, no-nonsense fish house, where the fish is fresh off the boat, served in styrofoam containers that you pick up at the counter and take to wooden tables to eat. Ridiculously good.

Sunday, September 21

The post-swim breakfast was at another restaurant, and it was sobering to think we’d been here more than a week already, and had actually established something of a routine.

This afternoon it was back to Stellenbosch for more wine. This time it was another of Tyrena’s official functions, but we were invited along. It was a reception and dinner being thrown jointly by three of the newer Cape wineries, all owned and operated by women. The event was called "Women in Wine," and it was very pleasant. Nobody seems to make bad wine around here. All the labels represented here tonight are exported, some to the US.

Keep watching for Part 3, where we get to the top of Table Mountain.
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