Cape of Good Times!
Our time in London is drawing to a close (yes, it’s already been 14 months out of our planned 18 months overseas). So, we’re getting a bit panicky about all the places we have left to see and things we want to do.
Sometime in January, we decided to go big, and plan a trip to South Africa over Kevin’s school term break. Our upstairs neighbour went to college there and was quite helpful in the planning process and gave us quite a long list of things that would be “kid-appropriate” to see.
So, on the evening of Feb 11, we left the snow in London and took an 11.5 hour flight to Cape Town. Kevin threw up all over himself right as we got out of the taxi at the Heathrow airport, so things started rough. But he seemed to recover quickly. Apparently, he is just a car-sick kid! The flight was long, but the boys slept for a few hours. I never really fell asleep, which doesn’t surprise anyone. With Ryan tossing and turning over part of my lap, there wasn’t a chance for that.
We arrived in Camps Bay, Cape Town at 8am the morning of the 12th, quite tired but excited for the warm weather and sunshine.
(The boys were excited to be off the plane and at our accommodations in Camps Bay.)
(The view of our accommodations — we were in the upper two left windows — and Table Mountain in the background)
Our 2-bedroom apartment overlooked the beach and kids’ playground to the front and Table Mountain to the back. After a solid 2 hour nap, our adventure began. We’d been told numerous times “you have to go to the top of Table Mountain when it’s clear!” So, that first afternoon, we headed up. By the time we rode the cable car to the top, it was cold and the dark clouds had rolled in. We were dressed in shorts and t-shirts, so we waited indoors near the gift shop. We then learned the cable car was “broken” and we waited in the lounge. Four hours later, Kevin was high on warm milk and sugar packets (coffee was the only other option), Ryan couldn’t decide if he wanted to flirt with the ladies or scream and Dave and I were pretty raw by then. Finally, we were tapped to go down in the single functioning cable car, since we had small children. Funny how the media skewed the evening to be so positive. Other than coffee, we were not offered food and drinks. I had to arm wrestle some old lady to get 3 pieces of cheese pizza for Dave and boys to eat at hour five. We were relieved when we finally got home just before midnight.
We spent a lot of each day on the beach. Kevin and Ryan love to play in the sand – they are the happiest creatures in those moments. We got our $5 worth buying cheap plastic buckets and shovels. We never went anywhere without them. We also climbed a lot of rocks. Kevin thinks he’s Spiderman, and he’s quite agile leaping from rock to rock to rock.
World of Birds was a huge hit for the kids. It was so good, in fact, we went twice. The place was founded on the premise of helping all kinds of animals (not just endangered or unique ones) in need. Thus, they have quite an eclectic mix of birds and small animals. We caught the penguin feeding hour and watched the penguins eat whole fish in one swallow. The best part of the park was Monkey Jungle – a 100 square yard fenced off area full of squirrel monkeys The monkeys jumped on your head, sat on your lap, ate from your hand, etc. The staff would put sunflower seeds in your hair to lure the monkeys to sit on your head. Of course Ryan and Kevin were giddy with excitement. The boys oscillated between loving the touchy feely monkeys and hating them, but talked about it for days afterwards. Ryan particularly liked teasing the monkeys with sticks and rocks and watching them snatch them from his hands. Of course, he got in trouble for doing this!
Continuing on the monkey and penguin theme, we rented a car and drove just over an hour to the other side of the peninsular to Boulders Beach. Wild baboons roamed the highways and wild penguins occupied part of the beach.
A duck ate most of Ryan’s sandwich (and he likes his food!), so that was a downer. But the water was warmer.
After our daily beach fix, we drove to the southern most points – Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope. Dave climbed to the top of Cape Point while the boys and I drove to Cape of Good Hope. We saw wild ostriches on the way. Being out on those points felt like the ends of the earth!
The Two Oceans Aquarium was also a hit for the kids. It was down by the V&A Waterfront – a short taxi ride away. It was just like many other good aquariums, but Kevin and Ryan got to “go inside” a huge fish tank. They spent a loooong time in there!
We spent a day on Robben Island – the place where Nelson Mandela was banished. We had a 1-hour bus ride, detailing the political situation in South Africa and the history of the prison. Kevin and Ryan were bored beyond belief, but iPhone games and snacks kept them entertained.
We took one more boat tour during our stay to Seal Island. I suppose it isn’t too different from seeing the seals at Pier 39 in San Francisco, but there they were – prone on the rocks or waddling around trying to get into or out of the water.
We spent our last afternoon on the beach, playing in the sand and digging tunnels. We were all happy to be there – a bit sunburned, sand in every crevice, and very relaxed.
We took an all-day flight home to London which was rough. Ryan went from iPad to iPhone to back-of-the-seat screen to colouring to reading to meandering the airplane. He was completely berserk by the end. Our taxi driver went in several unnecessary circles getting us home. Kevin whined about wanting to throw up the whole ride home. Then, when we got home, our pilot light had gone out and the heat and hot water was absent. The tap water was like ice. So, we boiled water on the stove to wash hands and faces and get the boys ready for bed. We got every blanket out of every closet. Thankfully, the boys were so tired, they fell asleep, not realizing they were actually freezing. We were mighty happy to lie down and close our eyes!