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June 16-July 3, 2010

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January 29 - February 5, 2011

Cape Town – This Time for Africa

Another reason that I like Africa?  Our flight out of Botswana and back to South Africa served beef jerky as the in-flight snack.  I’m not sure what kind of meat it was, the bag didn’t say, probably human meat, but I think it was delicious.  On this beef high we landed in Cape Town, South Africa.  We arrived early enough to watch Spain beat up Portugal, a game happening in our fair city, but viewed on the TV.

The next morning we got up early, taxied into town and prepared to drink some wine.  The Stellenbosch region of South Africa produces the vast majority of South Africa’s wine and is located about 45 minutes from downtown Cape Town. Our drive out included some SA history and sites such as the location of the first heart transplant, District Six (if you’ve seen the movie “District Nine”, it was loosely based on the SA government moving out black residents in slums from desirable real estate in the 70’s), and a crap load of townships.  Stellenbosch itself was beautiful and hilly, with mist pouring into the crevices between hills and vineyards and strawberry fields as far as you could see.

We started the wine tour by visiting Ernie Els’ winery.  It was super fancy on a hill top and mostly forgettable, like Els’ golf career.  After we were done drinking expensive wine there, we decided we hadn’t had enough cheetah fun and decided that we should go pet some.  I’m very allergic to cats so I was very excited to see if I’d be allergic to a cheetah.  After petting one that was very content to just lay there like a wet towel, I took my petting hand and molested my right eye.  This was in the name of science after all (and my secret black-market desire to ride a cheetah to work each day (more economical than using gas)).  No reaction!  My dream lives on.

After lunch brought some champagne tasting (although I guess that term is technically patented and so they call the booze MCC) into the picture.  We got to drink four or five nearly full glasses.  Excellent choice by our guide.  I even spilled some while talking to some Kiwis about American sports using some overly (thanks champagne makers) animated hand gestures.  Our last stop was to a place that was run by a guy who has created wine and chocolate pairing and that our guide called “the Rock Star of South African wine” – Kevin Arnold.  This did two things for me made me think of The Wonder Years (the lead charcter was Kevin Arnold) and how I love movies/shows much better when they have a narrator and a funny older brother, and it got me singing classic rock tunes in my head the whole bus ride home while everyone else slept.  Our guide also claimed, while we were tasting, that the tourists don’t know how to properly blow a vuvuzela and they he was “really good at blowing them”.  I didn’t think a plastic horn required much talent but I may need to work on my skills and then start Austin’s first vuvu free jazz experimental plastic instrumental band.

The next morning we got up ready to explore the city.  Cape Town is nestled between a big bay and Table Mountain, a huge table shaped mountain to the West.  There’s a funicular running up to the mountain, trouble is that it’s not always open because it’s rainy and/or really windy often in CT.  Locals say that if you’re in town and see the cable cars running that you should hurry to the mountain so you can see the top while it’s open.  Fortunately for us, after breakfast, we saw movement and made our way up.  The car that takes you up is an engineering marvel, as the floor does a full 360 rotation as you move up the cable so that everyone gets the same view.  It was a sunny day at the top and you could see all of Cape Town and halfway to the tip of Africa.

After Table Mountain, we took a bus tour of the coast, saw Green Pointe Soccer Stadium, walked the waterfront, explored the Bo Kaap – CT’s traditional muslim area and heard the call for prayer coming from a nearby mosque, searched for beers I hadn’t tried yet, and bartered for Africa trinkets.  While my bartering technique has changed a bit from my first Mexican experience, my general core techniques of starting really low and fake walking away served me well in picking up even more clutter for our house and friends.

The beginning of our last day in town, we had the bright idea of renting moped to drive from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope (the Southwestern most point of the continent).  We did this without really having any idea of the distance to the tip, an idea of speed limits, the joy of driving on the left hand side of the road, and with a looming 5pm flight back to the States (via Europe).  This presented many dangers, and since Tiff is definitely one for danger, we got some crude directions and set off.  After maneuvering up and around Table Mountain to the Western coast we both had a hang of our mopeds, we rented two, and had escaped most of the traffic.  We stopped a few times for pictures or to stretch our legs.  A few of these times, Tiff’s scooter didn’t want to start, and as we contemplated how we’d make do with no phone and a broken bike, we were always able to start it with the kick start.

I have to say that once the sun made its way over the mountains to warm us up, this was one of my favorite experiences of any of our foreign trips.  We were cranking along at 70 km per hour and I’m giggling at signs (“Baboons!”, “Robots in 250m”) and screaming along to lyrics from that Killers song “HE DOESN’T LOOK A THING LIKE JESUS / BUT HE TALKS JUST LIKE A GENTLEMAN” over and over mainly because there was no radio and that’s a good song when wind is plowing across your body.

Our scooter luck soured a bit when we noticed that my bike’s gas gauge was past the ‘E’ and into the red and we were in the middle of nowhere.  So we ditched my bike at a restaurant at a road junction and rode on Tiff’s to the Cape.  It was pretty amazing to be at the edge of a continent and we had a nice walk up to a lighthouse on a hill protecting the Cape and down to the beach at the southern most point.  I debated swimming but the water was in the 50s and I think it would have been a cold ride back in a wet jacket.  We were still relatively on time heading back but Tiff was starting to sweat the time just a bit.  On the ride back to get my moped, we noticed a clanging metal sound on Tiff’s scooter.  When we pulled into the restaurant, we noticed that the muffler brace was dangling, just barely on.  I took the brace off and left Tiff to contend with a moped that didn’t start all the time and had a clinky muffler.  The best part is that this was our better bike, only 400km old and didn’t rattle like mine.  Back to two bikes, we rode on looking for gas.  Fortunately we found a station and I filled up.  This is where trouble began though.  As Tiff went to open the seat access to her wallet and the gas tank, she inserted her key into the lock for the seat latch, turned to the right, and had the key snap off in the lock.

We freaked out a bit here.  We were in a Dutch town that neither of us could pronounce, we were three hours from leaving Africa and one hour from our hotel and bags, we had most of Tiff’s key stuck in the lock, had no access to her wallet or camera, and no way to start the bike.  Hmmmm.  We called the scooter company and they didn’t answer.  We then made an executive decision to abandon the bike at the gas station in the town we couldn’t pronounce in the continent where it’s not a good idea to even park your moto on the street at night.  Before leaving, we fiddled with the lock and decided we’d break the latch so we could get Tiff’s stuff.  For a bike that kept breaking, this would just be another step in the moped’s maturation process.  After a lot of pulling, we got the stuff out and didn’t have to smash up everything.  Tiff jumped on the back of my bike and, amazingly, we made it back without running off the road, breaking down, or wrecking.  We never got a hold of the moped rental place though.  We just hightailed it the hell out of Dodge.

And with that our African journey ended.  I’m already getting ready for Brazil in 2014.  Who’s in?

Quick hits:

  • In my quest for the world’s best cheeseburger, I had a “breakfast burger” with hashbrowns, Canadian bacon, cheese, grilled onion, and some weird red sauce.
  • Shakira’s song “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” is very good and I’ve been practicing the dance for Adam Boedeker’s bachelor party when we watch the World Cup finale where she’s going to play it live.
  • At the Cape of Good Hope, we were briefly chased on our bike by an ostrich.  I hate ostriches and was very freaked out while I contemplated jump kick moves to destroy the ostrich and save Tiffy.
  • “Mr. Big” (aka Christopher North) from Sex & the City was on our flight from Madrid.  I noticed him leaving the men’s room in Madrid because he didn’t wash his hands.  Then I noticed who he was.
  • Traffic lights in South Africa are called robots.  This is amazing.


  1. Adam Boedeker Said,

    I can’t wait to see the dance. The best part about this entire trip has been “Robots”. I confidently say that. Congrats on your trip. And I’ve already been tossing around the Brazil idea. We can stay in Wes’ parents’ beach villas. Boo-yah.

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