Brian in South Africa

Brian Fennig, a lecturer in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, is traveling to South Africa in summer 2010: “Robben Island, Table Mountain, vineyards, car-jacking baboons, beauty, poverty, racial division and unity; not to mention the multitude of nations coming for the 2010 World Cup Soccer Finals. This is Cape Town, South Africa, and I’ll be sharing my travel experiences with you this summer.”

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On top of Table Mountain

mountain%20street%20view.jpg Table Mountain is approximately six kilometers from our apartment and is illuminated at night by huge floodlights that span its base. If you simply look up from any part of the city, the entire mountain chain is hard to ignore. It’s called Table Mountain because it is long and flat, like a table. Also, the clouds that often cover it seem to slip off its expansive, flat top like a gigantic tablecloth.

cable%20car.jpg It had always been a part of our plans to visit and enjoy the views from the top and maybe even hike the trails to the 1,088 meter summit, but the local newspaper wasn’t wetting our appetites. Since we’ve been here, two people (tourists) have fallen to their deaths, and one was lifted by helicopter and taken to the hospital for injuries suffered while climbing. I read that more people have died on this mountain than on Mount Everest. We opted to take the cable car.

cape%20town%20below%202.jpg The cable car held 20-30 people and had a rotating floor that enabled everyone to get a quick peek of the view while ascending. I got a little shove from the winds upon exiting, and I began my walk. As usual, pictures can never deliver the perception of height or beauty that you see when you’re actually at a location, but the image from more than half a mile up was astonishing.

From the top of the mountain I could clearly see Robben Island, and the massive Green Point Stadium seemed no bigger than a spare tire. The recent cold front pushed most of the clouds away rock%20dassie.jpg and I could see the expanse of the ocean and coastline. It seems flat from below, but of course the terrain is very rocky.

I did find brush and flowers, but the highlight of living things was a little furry animal called a Rock Dassie. According to the signs at the top, the creature is the African Elephant’s closest living relative – go figure. They look like giant guinea pigs and they expertly traverse the rocks and crevices. Plenty of plant life is available for their food, and I can’t really imagine what predators might pursue them at these heights.

I completed a couple of “laps” around the top and spent at least two hours snapping pictures and clumsily stumbling into rocks and gaps that I probably shouldn’t have been exploring in the first place. It’s easy to see why people get hurt. The breathtaking view tempts you to get just one more shot from that perfect rock or ledge. I happily descended at the speed of a cable car, rather than the terminal velocity of a falling object.

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