I had been quite busy the past weekend with my new friends, and that wasn’t going to change any time soon. I finished most of the work on the boat and the contractors were all closing for the holidays, so I decided it was time to enjoy Cape Town. My top priority was hiking Table Mountain. The problem was that since my mom was on safari with my dad, I didn’t have a hiking buddy. Fortunately, I exchanged contact info with the Dutch model, Emma, at the Rugby 7s tournament, so I asked her if she was keen for a hike. She was, but when I showed up at her apartment at 6am, she was less enthusiastic, feeling the after effects of a big afternoon at a winery the prior day.
Eventually she was ready to go, and we Ubered to the trailhead. Our mutual friends from the Rugby did one of the more challenging trails, but I thought the classic one was probably ideal, especially with Emma’s hungover state. We hiked through the valley, up what felt like 1,000 steps. There were three other groups that we played leap frog with, passing them, then they passed us. The view was spectacular once we arrived on the summit, with clouds just starting to shroud the mountain. We hiked along the “table” and found a nice rock in the sun, partially sheltered from the strong wind. We rehydrated and snacked on popcorn and nuts while we viewed the city.
After half an hour, we were not motivated to hike down, so we took the cable car, which was also on my Cape Town bucket list. The view was similarly breathtaking, although the ride only lasted a couple minutes. We stopped for lunch at a small but popular café, and I returned to the boat. A little bit later, Emma asked if I wanted to split a rental car with her to explore more and go surfing. It sounded like fun, so I agreed.
The next day, she picked me up with her friend Mélanie. Mélanie had a successful career with Unilever was a brand manager but left the Netherlands for Cape Town to do “something less corporate”. She was enjoying South Africa and not in a big hurry to get back to work when I met her. Since we all had a lot of free time, we decided to spend the next three days together (and split the car three ways!).
We spent all three days at a beach called Muizenberg. It was a beautiful beach and surf town, with many surf shops and restaurants along the boardwalk. We frequented one surf shop where our rentals cost $7 a day and included wetsuits and boards, which sounds inexpensive because it was. The view from the water was equally as incredible, with mountains towering over the town, framed by a dark grey menacing sky. We didn’t mind when it rained, since we were wet anyway. The waves were relatively small, which was ok for me since I hadn’t surfed in two years. I managed to get up on my first wave, which shocked me, but the rest of the first days was more aligned with my low expectations. I caught a couple at the end, but most of the time I was just futilely paddling before realizing I mistimed it.
The other two days my performance was a bit better and the highlight was a small playful seal zooming between the surfers.
Après surf we usually went to one of the many food markets around Cape Town that house many diverse options from Mexican to Ethiopian, Paella to Pad Thai. They were always crowded too, but the sheer number of vendors kept lines short. The food was great and inexpensive, a common theme for South Africa. There was a big emphasis on non GMO, organic, and grass fed ingredients, as well as plenty of vegan food for Emma.
After one surf day, we decided to take the long way home and drove the Chapman’s Peak road, which revealed beautiful sea views and a tight winding road along sheer cliffs. We trusted Emma with our lives because she was the only one on the rental agreement, and fortunately survived with no damage besides my finger nails.
The three days passed in a blur and we returned the car just in time for the weekend, which was also jam packed with activities with the girls and some of my South African friends. It included a music festival, beach days, and many great meals.
I’m sorry I neglected the blog the last month, but nothing gets the writing flowing like 12 days of solitude during a long ocean passage. More to come!