Since the start of construction, I have been commuting between Germany and Cape Town and I am enjoying it. It was the first time I tackled such a big project on my own. Of course, I have Klaus backing me up, but due to his work, he has less time to take care of all the details.
Up until now, I had always managed quite well with my English. In a pinch, Klaus, who is proficient in the language for his work, was always there to take over. But now I had to speak to many craftsmen and suppliers myself. I was quite intimidated by the situation. However, it became evident what many people had told me before: You learn a language so much faster through practice. I did not learn all the construction vocabulary, idioms and everything else you need at school. However, to this day I am eternally grateful to have Jeanette by my side in meetings concerning construction.😉
In January 2022, I flew by myself to Cape Town for the first time in 2 months. It was the first time in 30 years that no children and no Klaus accompanied me. What can I say? I had to get used to it at first, but then it was wonderful to be able to control my daily routine, my activities and my speed all by myself. I enjoyed it so much.
I had enough time, apart from all the appointments concerning the construction, to simply enjoy Cape Town and its surroundings at leisure. As a tourist, you would normally spend a day circling the Cape Peninsula, for example. No doubt that this can be done, but it is so much more enjoyable to be able to take a full day alone for Boulder’s Beach, for example. When most people have left by early afternoon at the latest, you can sit quietly at the back, between the rocks, with the penguins and go swimming with them. A wonderful experience.
Cape of Good Hope National Park
It is the same with the Cape of Good Hope National Park. One usually drives to the famous sign at the Cape of Good Hope, then to Cape Point, up to the lookout point and back along the western side of the Cape Peninsula. I took the time to walk from the car park at the Cape of Good Hope along what is probably the southernmost hiking trail in Africa, past the deserted and fantastically beautiful Diaz Beach to the Cape of Good Hope.
Afterwards, I went to Platboom Beach and watched the surfers surf and some ostriches run over the dunes.
On the way to Olifantsbos, I was able to observe a large troop of baboons. It was difficult for me to continue, but I wanted to walk the Shipwreck Trail. The trail starts at the car park and runs along the coast in a southerly direction. In the past years, we have noticed a large whalebone there. I am no anatomist, but it looks like a big vertebra, you can see the blowhole, so maybe it’s the Atlas vertebra? We have also seen an enormous humpback whale lying there. The side fins were clearly visible. The skin was all dried up and he did not smell unpleasant at all. At first, we thought we were standing on a rock until we realised our mistake full of excitement…
Initially, we walked along the coast, passing many flocks of birds: Sacred Ibis, Cormorants, Black Oystercatcher, Egyptian Goose… After about half an hour we reached the first shipwreck, the Thomas T. Tucker. The ship was an American vessel that sailed too close to the coast in the fog in 1942, loaded with troops and weapons, in an attempt to avoid detection by German U-boats.
The route continues along the coast until the Nolloth, which sank in 1965, comes into view.
There you turn left, walk up to the next ridge and then walk back to the car park at the top parallel to the coast. It is magnificent…
I had seen wildlife from time to time, of course, but not elephants or lions for so long. As I did not have the time to fly up north, I opted for a weekend trip to the Klein Karoo, to Gerry’s privately run White Lion Lodge in the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve.
The journey alone via Worcester, Robertson, and the great Cogmanskloof Pass along the R62 was breath-taking. By the way: Women should never be persuaded that they cannot drive through South Africa on their own. In my experience, especially in rural areas, this is possible without any problems. I always rely on my gut feeling and have never been disappointed.
At the White Lion Lodge, it was simply gorgeous. Gerry has created a fantastic place there and I felt very comfortable. Every morning and evening we went on a game drive and actually saw elephants, white and “tawny” lions, zebras, plenty of antelopes, giraffes and so on. An absolute dream each time. Just like the meals at Gerry’s, the beautifully furnished lodge, the wonderful pool, the friendly staff, the interesting other guests you meet there and at night the breath-taking starry sky…
Since I had to promise my family to always be careful, I joined various groups for some hikes. At the very beginning, I booked a hike with a yoga session with Stefanie Dohrmann. We practically started behind our future garden gate and walked down to the old shipwreck behind Sandy Bay, then over to Llandudno beach where we did yoga. Steffie wanted to improve our English – we were all Swiss or German except for one South African – and did everything in English, no problem. Once again, I was able to meet lovely people in person, some of whom I already “knew” from Facebook groups. Warm regards to Sandra and Stephanie at this point.
I also managed to get a spot at short notice for a hike in the Orange Kloof to a waterfall with a yoga class there – this is a combination that seems to be quite popular in Cape Town. 😉
I went on a hike up the Sentinel with Brent, whose company is called Karbonkelberg Tourism. This is the prominent mountain that separates Hout Bay from the open ocean. We hiked up with a group in the afternoon, marvelled at the sunset and then watched the full moon rise on the other side – magical. Brent is Khoi, which means he belongs to the group of indigenous people who used to earn their living by fishing. He lives in Hangberg, the township in Hout Bay where coloured people live. Next to that, there is Imizamo Yethu, where black people live. Brent is not really well disposed towards whites and blacks. There is a lot of resentment and prejudice here, of course, due to history. I firmly believe that only personal relationships and conversations help to improve the situation and I try to do my part.
Then one day I was sitting around the pool of the Guest House where I was staying, a bit frustrated. The second attempt to drill a well had just been unsuccessfully called off. Monty, the good spirit of the house, saw me and asked what was wrong with me, I looked so sad. I should do something that would clear my head.
After thinking for a moment, I had an idea: I could go to Signal Hill and see if I could do a tandem paragliding jump. We had been there so many times before, but the weather conditions never allowed it. Either there was too much or too little wind or it was coming from the wrong direction. Besides, even if the conditions had been perfect, I am sure I would have let my family fly and driven down to Greenpoint to collect them. But now was my time. So, not giving it a second thought, off I went up Signal Hill. The weather conditions were good, I booked my flight, and I watched a few people. You run down the slope into nothingness and then fly off. I was a bit queasy by the time it was my turn. Nevertheless, I closed my eyes and got through it. Sometimes you just have to switch off your mind! Off we went. What can I say? We were very lucky. In contrast to all those I had observed before, we were caught by a breeze that took us up and up into the air right after take-off. It is absolutely peaceful, with no engine noise when flying, you feel like a bird. At some point, we flew over the open Atlantic and saw dolphins in the kelp and even an ocean sunfish gliding peacefully in the bright sun. It was a magnificent experience and it paid off. My head was clear again and I was able to look ahead cheerfully.
Poor Klaus was sitting in his wintry office in Germany and received the photos of my flight completely unexpectedly. He had not anticipated this at all…