Capes, Baboons, Penguins, and Farewells
Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
331Trip End Ongoing
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What I did
Simon's Town Penguins
One thing we'd been putting off was washing the car. We wouldn't normally wash a rental car before taking it back, but we wanted to erase all evidence of our gravel road antics in the hopes that we wouldn't be charged anything extra. We hadn't seen many automated car washes, but assumed we'd be able to find one in Cape Town; sadly, that wasn't the case -- everything was hand wash only, and it seemed that Saturday was the day for Capetonians to get their cars washed.
We drove out of the city down the Cape's east coast and finally found a place that wasn't overflowing with cars waiting to be washed. Despite the fact that there was only one car ahead of us, we ended up waiting an hour for the car to get washed -- something I see as a definite downside to the hand wash.
I spent part of this wasted downtime at the supermarket, collecting spices and sauces that we couldn't get back in Istanbul, dreaming of the day we'd be able to eat such gorgeous foods again. But, by the time I'd done all that and returned to the car, they weren't even on phase two of the ten step car wash. As you can likely imagine, I was grinding my teeth and tearing my hair out and trying (but miserably failing) to be patient. Eventually, I couldn't take it anymore and told them they'd done a sufficient job and that we'd take the car from there.
So back in the car we were, driving south towards Cape Point. Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope are both housed in the same National Park, which is an arm of Table Mountain National Park. They are two of the country's southernmost points, and we wanted to do a little hiking there and get a good look at Antarctica (okay, it wasn't actually that far south...). Because our time was limited, we could only choose one, so we decided to go for Cape Point.
We hopped out of the car, and didn't waste any time milling around -- it was straight to the promontory trail for us! My legs were a bit sore from the day before, but this hike was substantially easier than Table Mountain, and they managed to carry me all the way up to the top of Cape Point and back.
As we exited the park, something in the water caught my eye. I then noticed that there were a large number of people parked along the side of the road, excitedly looking at something. I thought we may have lucked onto a whale (!), and asked Konrad to pull over. As I got out of the car, a group of men yelled at me to get back in, but I couldn't quite figure out why -- yet.... I soon discovered that they were trying to alert me to the impending arrival of a tribe of nasty baboons, which were also the reason so many people were stopped on the side of the road.
I was safe and sound inside the car when I heard the door open. I looked over and Konrad was still sitting in his seat, with the door closed. So what could it be? It was the back door... being opened by a baboon... who then climbed in the backseat and scared the living daylights out of me. I wasn't sure what to do: get out of the car and face the other baboons or stay in the car and hope that the one in the backseat didn't attack? These are the dilemmas South Africans face, it would seem....
Konrad wasn't as frightened as I was. In fact, he was pissed off. His camera was in the backseat, and he wanted to make sure the baboon didn't damage or make off with it, so he opened the other back door and snatched it from the baboon's grasp. Meanwhile, I sat flabbergasted and unsure of what to do. The baboon seemed pretty intent on raiding our little cooler, but when Konrad opened the other door it must have shocked him a bit because he exited the car shortly thereafter (with many munchies in hand, of course).
The cooler was no longer usable; he had just ripped the top right off of it in an effort to get to the cookies, bread, and candy bars. I was fine with him destroying our cheap cooler -- I'd been concerned he was going to wreck havoc on the backseat of the car, which was a much more frightening prospect.
After the baboon left us in peace, some rangers came over and admonished us for not locking our doors. They thought it obvious that when a baboon is around you always lock up! I knew they were dexterous little devils, but I had no idea they had the skill required to open a car door! Lesson learned.
We left the baboons in the dust and drove north towards Simon's Town and Boulders Beach. We'd had a glimpse at the Jackass Penguins on Robben Island, but we wanted to get up close and personal with them, which was something we could do at Boulders Beach.
I somehow managed to tag along with a group of Japanese tourists and got in for free; Konrad wasn't as lucky and needed to pay his entrance fee. Either way, it was worth it to see the cute tuxedoed guys waddling around the beach and lounging in the sun.
Alas, the clock was ticking on our South African adventure, so we stayed a mere 10-15 minutes before jetting back to the gorgeous beach at Simon's Town. We dipped our toes in the water quickly, then hopped back in the car and drove in the direction of the airport.
Once there, we dropped off the car, which turned out to be a relatively painless procedure, and bade farewell to Cape Town. Our plane made a short stopover in Joburg, and then Doha, before dropping us in Istanbul the following morning at 11:30am.
Our arrival in Istanbul brought to a close one of the absolute best trips we've ever taken. Reuniting with kindred spirits from Hanoi, spotting amazing wildlife up close and personal, hiking gorgeous coastlines, and being able to wrap it all up in a 2,000 kilometer road trip made it all absolute perfection. We have no doubt that we'll be visiting South Africa again -- to be sure there's plenty of road left uncovered from our intro visit!