Penguins, Plants and Gnocchi… Oh My!

December 30, Day 517
Spent all night throwing up. I guess I’m not going on that wine tour today. If I can’t hold down water, I can’t hold down wine. Jesus would be so disappointed by my water and wine intake.

Send an email to the wine tour company and cancel with many, many apologies. Wine tours are literally the reason I came to Cape Town. Oh well!

Get up around 6 am and force myself to throw on something semi-decent. I don’t even brush my teeth, I just walk out the door with some crackers and water packed in my purse.

I’m determined to see the penguins! Food poisoning won’t stop me from having a good time, wine tour or not.

Hop in the car and start driving. It’s still dark out and the streets are empty. This is perfect.

View of the block where my apartment is

When I reach the point where there was traffic yesterday, it is smooth sailing right through the village.

The view is even MORE stunning watching the sunrise with the ocean on my left and mountains on the right. How is this life?! I’m so lucky to be experiencing this.

Eventually, my GPS routes me to a little village called Simon’s Town and I follow signs to the bottom of the hill. The signs are in Afrikaans so I don’t know what they say, but there’s little penguins on them, so I must be on the right track. Eventually I hit a dead end.

Okay, I guess I need to turn around.

Find a parking spot at the top of a big hill, and then walk back down. Find the park, pay the entry fee, walk down a long boardwalk on the coastline and what do you know, there’s PENGUIIINSSS!!!!!

PENGUIINSSSS! In the wild!!!

Oh my gosh, they’re so freakin’ cute. I can’t handle this.

I take a few pictures, and watch them do their thing. They’re so cute! A nice tourist from Sweden takes my picture, and then I keep walking down the boardwalk. I find a swimming area in the ocean where you can swim with the penguins. I didn’t bring my bathing suit, so that one is out of the question. But I stand and watch the beautiful ocean for a bit.

Start to walk back to my car, and now that it’s about 8 am, things are starting to open up and life is forming around the area. I see vendors setting up tables of nick nacks to sell and notice that a coffee shop is open on the corner at the bottom of the hill where I am parked.

Go inside the coffee shop and stand in line to buy an iced coffee. The man behind the cash register is moving very slow and I’m standing in a line of Americans who are clearly not used to the slower pace of things here.

The guy behind the counter does his best to stay organized, but I can sense the Americans are losing patience when I hear them say things like “Susan, why don’t you go get us a table to sit at after all” and “well I guess I’ll get this bag of nuts to eat while I’m waiting.”

The man behind me tries to pay with a large note and seems surprised when the man at the cash register doesn’t have change. Again, small differences of things you don’t usually worry about in the US that seems like common sense here.

While I’m waiting for the coffee, I buy a bag of “American Barbecue” Lays potato chips. How American are they really? I will find out!

Walk back to my car and give a taste test to the potato chips. They’re decent! And yes, they do taste like American barbecue.

Start the car up and decide that I’m actually feeling better for once, so I decide to drive onward and check out the Cape of Good Hope. Drive through winding, narrow roads on the edge of the mountain over the ocean and take in the breathtaking view as I move along.

This is spectacular!

Within about a mile of the gate to Good Hope National Park, the traffic is at a dead stop. I wait, and wait, and wait.

This is NOT worth it.

Turn the car around and drive back down the mountain.

Guess I’ll just go back and rest.

Once again I drive through all of these adorable towns lined up on the water and decide to pull over and put my feet in the ocean. Park the car near a beach that has dogs running free with their owners and of course as soon as I get out of the car, a woman’s dogs run right up to me to say hello. I pet them and then walk to the beach.

There are train tracks running right along the ocean and a gorgeous beach with a view of the houses built on the side of the hill. I take my shoes off and walk in the ocean for a bit. It’s cold! But feels great.

Walk back to the car and head back.

As I’m approaching back to the city of Cape Town, I think to myself “Hey, I should check out where those botanical gardens are that the Airbnb woman told me about back in Gabs.” So, while I’m waiting at a stoplight, I Google the location.

Turns out it is within a mile of where I am sitting, and the turn to the road leading to the botanical garden is directly to my left. What a coincidence!

Immediately turn left and drive to the botanical gardens.

Pay the entry fee and go inside. Suddenly, I become very hungry and it has become pretty cold outside. I see a café nearby and go to sit down outside and order a salad and a diet coke.

Eat lunch and then walk around the gardens for a while.

This place is heaven on earth! So many spectacular flowers and plants right on the edge of the mountain. There is a great lawn that opens up to the base of the mountain and there are families having picnics in the lawn.

I walk to the canopy bridge, and it’s a suspension walking bridge right over all of the plants that takes you to a cascading view of Cape Town, the mountains and the ocean. It’s absolutely wonderful.

I’m feeling tired and sick again, so I walk back to my car and stop in the gift shop on the way.

Just as I enter the gift shop I hear angels singing as my eyes spot the most beautiful pottery I have ever seen.

Taaaa daaaaa! I see a mug that is the perfect depiction of how I see my spirit. Orange mixed with yellows and blues, painted colorful, playful and beautiful.

I. MUST. HAVE. THIS. MUG.

I don’t care much about possessions usually, but this mug is so beautiful that I buy it right there on the spot because it’s something I’ll definitely take back with me to the US.

Okay, now I’m definitely getting sick again.

Get back in the car and drive back to my apartment. As I get out of the car, I see Angelo.

“Heeeey, Botswaneee! How are you?” he asks.

“Hi Angelo! I’m good today. Saw the penguins. Did you get a haircut?” I respond.

“Yes! But my legs are hurting very badly,” he says, raising his pant leg to show me an infection on his shins.

“Looking sharp, buddy, but that infection looks bad! Don’t you guys have national healthcare? You should get that checked out for sure,” I say.

He says he will, we high five, I walk back to the apartment and lay down. I feel bad about how hard I emphasized to Angelo that I’m just a volunteer because I could have given him a few rand today, but I know he didn’t ask because he knows I’m a volunteer. I should have given it to him.

Rest for a little bit, and then get dressed to go meet my friend Linda. She is a lovely Peace Corps volunteer who just finished her service in Botswana and now lives in Cape Town.

Drive to Linda’s place and she shows me her beautiful new apartment and her cat. We hop in the car and drive to the restaurant that we have reservations at. This little strip of town we are in feels like Miami. There are posh restaurants and condos lined up on the street facing the ocean with palm trees.

We get out of the car and pay a woman to be the car guard while we are in the restaurant (it’s a thing here) and walk across the street to the ocean to watch the sun set for a moment.

The wind is out of control at night in Cape Town! When I sleep at night I can usually hear the wind whipping against the windows. I think this could be the windiest place on the planet.

Head to the restaurant and I eat some fresh fish and gnocchi while Linda and I have some much-needed conversation.

Drive Linda back to her place and then drive back to mine. I need to be in bed early today because I’m supposed to get up and hike Table Mountain with a group tomorrow morning at 5 am.

Talk to Colden, go to bed,

Boroko 🌙

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