Friday, March 31, 2006

Floral kingdom, south of south, penguins and farewell.

1. Fynbos. This is the sixth and smallest floral kingdom. Plants grow on the Cape of Good Hope that don’t grow anywhere else. From a distance it looks like a bit of British moorland with springy, heatherish vegetation. But get close in and a whole lot more variety shows up. There are 2,250 species (this is more than in the whole of the British Isles). One day I am coming back on a special looking-at-plants holiday, and it's going to be in the spring when the peninsula flowers.

2. Standing on the Cape of Good Hope. This is the southernmost point of South Africa. It was strange looking across the thundering sea and thinking, next stop Antarctica. At school I learnt to mark it on the map, along with Cape Horn and the Equator and the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. At home we were told that you could put your elbows on the table once you had been to both capes -- now I’m halfway there. The cape is, I suppose, my journey’s end -- I have come as far as I can, and now I must really accept that it’s home time. It’s sad in a way, but there’s so much to look forward to.

2. Penguins -- we went to Boulder Beach, Simonstown to watch them from a boardwalk. They were lying panting on the white sand and waddling about as if they couldn’t pull their trousers up enough. In the water they were just as silly -- they have to lie right down, heads thrown back, because they paddle with their wings. As if that isn’t enough, they make a braying noise -- apparently mostly at night, which makes the residents just love them. Also people complain that the penguins build nest burrows in their gardens. I ask you! What a thing to complain about. ‘Those bloody penguins have dug up my agapanthuses again.’

3. Rosey dropped her purse in a minibus taxi and the driver came and found our friends at the jazz concert to give it back.

Cape Town, South Africa