21 February 2013
“We want to show you the famous skyline of Cape Town, the one you can see on so many postcards,” declared Reggie, adding, “There’s a couple of beaches from where you can get a really nice view of that semi-circle of mountains, which look like they embrace the old inner city of Cape Town.”
She was referring to the pyramid shape of Devil’s Peak, the flat table top of Table Mountain, the small rounded peak of Lion’s Head, and the long, gradual arching slope of Signal Hill.
I didn’t have my first glimpse of these instantly recognisable mountains on the aeroplane arriving at Cape Town International Airport, like normal travellers to this part of the world do – and that is because I had been unceremoniously stuffed in an envelope and mailed across the ocean in a jam-packed mailbag in cargo instead of travelling as a passenger with a seat of my own. Sob! Sniff! I’m sorry… I still get a little upset and emotional when I remember that awful experience… Anyway. Let us not dwell on the past!
Instead, I had seen a glimpse of that famous Cape Town skyline for the first time during our visit to the Castle of Good Hope. As you can imagine, I was eagerly looking forward to seeing it from one of Cape Town’s much-loved sandy beaches. Ohhh, and I really wanted to dip my toe into the sea!
For some reason or other, though, every time we wanted to go down to the beach, we couldn’t: either the wind was howling, or it was raining, or it was too overcast, or there were traffic jams caused by the annual Opening of Parliament, or we had something else on in the evening… Tonight, at long last, we were in luck: It was perfect weather, the wind had settled down slightly, and all three of us had time to go.
When we arrived at the beach, I was amazed at how empty it was.
Even though the weather could hardly have been nicer, there were only a handful of people on the beach: A small group of joggers was running slowly along the edge of the water, their feet occasionally sending up a slight spray of water and sand. One or two people were striding along with a sense of purpose, keeping an eye on their dogs, which were sprinting hither and thither, sniffing at everything, and chasing the occasional seagull. A few solitary individuals were ambling about, gazing at the scenery, watching the seagulls, picking up sea-smoothed pebbles and skip-hopping them across the water, or just staring at the endless horizon.
A windsurfer was skimming across the breakers, trying to reach the calmer water beyond. Another windsurfer had dismounted from his board in knee-deep water, and was trudging back to the beach, dragging his sail in a horizontal position, to prevent the wind lifting it up again.
Further up the beach, a kitesurfer was walking into the water, while his friend on the beach was keeping the strings straight and taut, while waiting for the wind to lift the kite into the air. I’ve never seen kitesurfers or windsurfers before – it looked very difficult! They kept falling over and losing their balance, and landing in the water with a big SPLASH! But it looked like it was fun too!
“How cold is the water?” I asked.
“Why don’t you try it?” suggested Richard, holding onto me very tightly, while I dipped my feet in the cold sea – shiver! It was cold.
“This is the Atlantic Ocean, Flat Kathy,” explained Reggie. “Your home in Nova Scotia lies on the opposite side of the Atlantic.”
I confess that I felt a bit melancholic and home-sick, when I heard that. I stood on the edge of the ocean, and looked to the northwest, and imagined that I could juuuuust about see my friends, Amy-Lynn and Sybil and Lynne, waving to me. I wondered if they would be able to see me, if they happened to be looking this way – and if they had a really, reallllly strong telescope. That thought made me feel just a little less homesick.
“How about we write your name in the sand?” suggested Reggie, trying to cheer me up. So we did.
As we watched the sun setting on far horizon, faaar beyond the oil tankers and container ships that were lying at anchor in Table Bay, I wondered how long it would take before my name would be washed away by the tide.
“Even when the ocean washes away your name, Flat Kathy,” said Reggie, seeming to read my mind, “you’ve left your mark in our hearts. We’re not going to forget you.”
She put her arm around me and gave me a big hug.
P.S. If you click on any of the photos in the gallery below, it will take you to the picture caroussel, where you can read all the captions too.