Thursday, May 19, 2011


Vacations are great. Probably the best part of going to Cape Town was simply experiencing a new environment. We saw a modern city with sidewalks, curbs and parks; buildings that required you to flex your neck to see their tops; cleanliness, and businesses that showed upkeep and pride in ownership; civic pride and organization; infrastructure that worked; and honest-to-goodness restaurants: Restaurants with varied menus; restaurants of varied cuisines; restaurants that were inviting and where you could eat confidently without thinking of your safety and health; restaurants that weren’t nondescript holes in the wall serving nondescript fat and starch. We saw the things that you take for granted in the states but we have been missing in our lives for the past ten months. One thing we relished that money can’t buy was the water: the sparkle of the sun on the waves; the view of the horizon over the surf; the fresh smell of the sea; and the hustle of the boats in the harbor.

We were at home for one day of work and then had to be back in Mbabane for an overnight meeting of the World Food Bank. Travel by Khumbi is guaranteed to leave me in a foul mood for the next 24 hours.

One thousand ‘Books for Africa’ have arrived (thanks to you who helped) and I’ll be busy (with assistance) getting them ready for shelving. I’m pleased with this shipment because they are in much better shape than last year and a better selection.

I have launched my Map Project and gotten a very good response from both students and staff. Everyone is interested, even impressed, and I’ll update you as we progress.

After coming home, we were without water for a day, we’ve had electricity disruptions, and as I write this (to memory), this is our sixth consecutive day without internet service. We’re obviously back in Swaziland—vacation’s over.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

CAPE TOWN -- conclusion

The next day, we toured wine country--headed east to Stellenbosch under cloudy skies. You still see the influence of the Dutch boers in the architecture and the neat fields and gardens. Stellenbosch is a quaint, little town, but also gives its name to the area of wineries.

Biking through wine country--wondering how I might justify this as a secondary project for the Peace Corps. ...might require more research.
Along side me is Marie, from Finland. The way they pronounce my name, you would have thought we were twins: Marie and Gary'.

This is the entrance to Lanzerac (Florence ahead of me on bike). This was our favorite winery. They grow their own grapes on site and only produce small quantities so they have never exported to the U.S. They presented themselves as most knowledgeable and sincere in their efforts to make a quality product.

After Lanzerac, we went to Franschhoek (where we also enjoyed lunch), then a side trip to Pniel where Nelson Mandela was taken to be released, and finally to Solms Delta, merrily sampling at each stop.

We toured three wineries of the Stellenbosch area and had six generous samplings at each.
After a long day of dedicated research, we slept well that night. Good thing, because next day we walked the whole Central Business District of Cape Town.

Parliament buildings and museums and the slave market, cultural heritage sites, surrounded the Company Gardens.

back to the downtown business district

Bo Kaap is the muslim area of town adjacent the business district. It has been left intact for a couple of hundred years (unlike the black and colored neighborhoods--District 6--which were destroyed during apartheid). Very colorful homes, and because it was Freedom Day, we toured a small museum for free.

Bo Kaap is loosely translated "up the hill". Where do you live? Up the hill.

We had bought good sack lunches, added a bottle of Stellenbosch red, and had our picnic on the beach overlooking Table Bay. The birders added two new gulls to their life lists. (Hoorah!)

Fred & Florence and us with the Cape Town Soccer Stadium in background, built for the World Cup competitions last year.

Beautiful weather, but Table Mtn again under clouds. At one time, it cleared and we caught a cab, said we wanted the lower cable car terminal. Off we went, until cabbie said, "How do we get there?" We had him let us out and when we looked again, this is what we saw, so we never made it to the top of Table Mountain. But we saw lots of other beautiful scenery so we weren't disappointed.

The end of a long day of walking. We had worked up appetites that were assuaged at Den Anker, a Belgian restaurant on the
V & A waterfront.
This concludes my tour and I hope you've enjoyed Cape Town as much as we did. Thanks for your attention.

CAPE TOWN -- part two

Two days of travel; two days of racing; now we move to downtown Cape Town and eventually we meet up with Fred and Florence who fly down to join us. The first picture is from near our hotel.
Hope you can see it is a clean, international, first-world city that looks nothing like Swaziland.
(Click to enlarge)

After moving from Newland, this is our welcoming committee to downtown Cape Town, about a block from our new hotel. A reminder that we're still in Africa: The dress of the girls is traditional African (bare breasts here are not sexual), but the city is definitely not Swazi.

This is Cape Town, beneath and surrounding Table Mountain. The Table rises slightly more than 3000 ft. The Town not only surrounds the Table, but we could see skyscrapers surrounding Table Bay.

A view of Cape Town from Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. We toured here after my race, beginning with about an half-hour catamaran ride. Fortunately, the tour around the island was by bus. We had two good docents (successively), one of them a former prisoner on the island. Returning at dusk, we were well positioned for another good meal on the waterfront. (Runners need to replace calories.)

The limestone mine where Nelson Mandela worked. All suffered problems with sight because of the bright light reflected off the limestone, some even going blind. Being political prisoners, some were well-educated and taught those less educated--even to advanced degrees. The prison became known as the University of Robben Island.
We learned here of the three Ms: Mahatma Ghandi, Mandela, and Martin Luther King, representing non-violent revolution and reconciliation.

Company's Gardens, in downtown Cape Town, about three blocks from our hotel, from the original settlement where fruits and vegetables were grown for the ships to replenish their supply in order to prevent scurvey.

Camphor Avenue in Kirstenbosch Gardens. The four of us hired a taxi for the day. We started our tour here and could have spent all day in this garden at the foot of Table Mountain on the sunrise side. We all commented that this is as beautiful as any garden we have visited anywhere. Leonard: We were thinking you would have enjoyed this. The weather was a little threatening but pleasant and improving.

Erica Garden in Kirstenbosch. Photos didn't do it justice and I had a 'low battery' indicator. The three birders with me added to their life-lists.

African "Jackass" penguins--named for the noise they make. Originally from Antartica, a couple of pair lost their way and have multiplied into thousands on nearby islands. Debbie thought, they sure are cute!

Cape of Good Hope. You see the Atlantic Ocean--behind and to the left of the rock is the Indian Ocean.

Cape Hope 'scenic walk'. We had our driver drop us off here and then we hiked up this trail (see the people on top?) back to the vista point--about an hour.

Florence took this to prove that I was along, also.

Cape of Good Hope.
Site of many, many shipwrecks.

Looking south toward Antartica.
Only about 6000 km.

Beach from Good Hope coastal trail.

Looking across Hout Bay at sunset, Cape Town beyond hills. be continued.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Toto, this can't be Swaziland, anymore!
We left the confines of Swaziland and after two days of travel, we found ourselves not only in civilization, but in the midst of fellow Americans--for the start of the International Friendship Run on Good Friday, and the Old Mutual Two Oceans (half) Marathon on Easter Saturday.
In short, it was a wonderful vacation!

A view of Mouille Point about one-fourth into the Friendship Run which was a flat, fun run.
Seventy-six nations were represented, 196 Americans were registered--most, apparently working in Africa.

The International Friendship Run was along the coast of Granger Bay, then turned in here at Green Point Lighthouse (1842) and Mo is streaking toward the Cape Town Stadium.

This is not the start gun but Debbie admiring some sculpture near the waterfront. After the race we enjoyed a festive, international ambiance in very pleasant weather.

Am I hallucinating? Now this is First World! You better believe we dropped a few rand here--real ice cream.

This looks like a good place for lunch. The race finished at Victoria and Alfred Waterfront after circling one of the World Cup soccer stadia and a walkway along Table Bay. Notice Table Mountain in the background with no cloud cover.

Seafood for lunch after a good race--under an umbrella with a good South African wine.
(Apartheid is a thing of the past in 'the rainbow nation', but notice the faces around us and you'll see it exists de facto.)

Table Mountain above Victoria and Alfred Bay. For our first two days (our racing days) there was never a cloud in the sky.
The red guy on the right is made of Coca Cola packing boxes--compare his size to the people in front of him.

We're a long way from home, but only 6131 km from the South Pole.

The Vineyard Inn in Newlands where we stayed for our races. The style is Dutch Colonial and had beautiful grounds and we had a beautiful, modern room, and delicious meals. Newlands is on the back- or east-side of Table Mountain and very pretty. Over five million people are in the metropolitan area which surrounds Table Mountain and is made up of many suburbs.

Po nearing the finish line with 14,200 others. After running "The World's Most Beautiful Marathon", we finished in the stadium of the University of Cape Town. I was seventh in my class of 54. My time would have been faster if the race had been less dense--I was hemmed in by 14,000 other runners trying to funnel through narrow streets--in the dark for the first hour.

Enjoying the rewards of the finish after the race. Table Mountain still has no clouds, but we have other things to do.
End of race days. From here, we change hotels to be nearer downtown and other attractions.
I took a total of nearly 300 pictures so I'm sampling in two posts. be continued.