The kelp anchors looked like something from a Sci-Fi movie.
Ah, Cape Town. Existing below the equator, this South African city is renowned for its unique coastline and urban-meets-nature feel. I was bracing for chilly winter weather, but this metropolis (found at the edge of the continent) was rain-free and replete with sunshine! Having recently come from Mozambique, I was excited about the change in scenery, as well as some longed-for creature comforts (mainly hot showers and veggies).
Of course, I had to go to Table Mountain National Park, a protected space that stretches much more extensively than I had originally anticipated. Yes, it includes the iconic Table Mountain, but this natural place also encompasses an assortment of gorgeous hikes and impeccable coast land around the city and throughout the peninsula.
It was a beautiful drive down to Cape of Good Hope – the southwestern most part of the continent. Sure, the place was riddled with tourists, but I was able to pull away from the crowds to enjoy the crashing waves, unique cliffs, and sea-salt-infused air.
But mostly I enjoyed the sights.
You’ll recall that Channel Islands National Park was one of my favorites. The combination of rock, ocean, and greenery was the perfect recipe (in my opinion) for an outdoor setting. Well, picture this same assortment all around. It seemed that whenever the car turned a corner or whichever direction I faced, there were impeccable vistas that absolutely captivated me.
The ocean(s), in and of itself, was sublime – this is where the Indian and Atlantic meet. The shrub-covered ground was teeming with interesting plants while the mountains served as an amazing backdrop. There were wild ostriches flocking about and some odd-looking antelope (apparently called an eland). Warning signs about mischievous baboons made me anticipate seeing one, but they must have decided to stay hidden.
Yes, the area around Cape Town is so pretty! It was a delightful place to spend time out-of-doors.
The sea was an alarming cobalt blue, hinting at shades of azure and turquoise when the sun hit it just right. In all its glory, the sky looked like a drawing from my childhood, with fluffy innocent clouds and careful shading. Yes, the blue-hued background of Pemba, Mozambique was a natural wonder, drawing my eyes, but only for a moment.
“Salaama!” The singsongy voice of children brought my focus back to the foreground. Heaps of trash swelled at the edge of the path and large black flies buzzed lazily about. A thin layer of dust seemed to cover everything within this small community, located at the very edge of a garbage dump within the city. The precious little ones flocked about, eager to hold my hand or play with my hair. The adults were welcoming, but weary, a tiredness evident within their countenance.
I was here, in Africa, to love people. I was here to bring hope, sustainable aid, and lots of hugs. On this bright day full of sunshine, I marveled at the juxtaposition of beauty and suffering. The Indian Ocean was a sight to behold, contrasted by the poverty surrounding me.
I was struck with gratitude. My adventures to natural places are such a gift, one that I am able to enjoy because my immediate needs are not in danger of going unmet. These children bear the marks of malnutrition – swollen bellies, skin blemishes, and tiny frames. They live day-to-day, finding appreciation in a warm, starchy meal or discovering a piece of trash they can turn into treasure. My heart broke for this country and these people.
So I wholeheartedly chose to look at the beautiful faces of those around me. The landscape was awe-inspiring, but I found an even greater wonder within the resourcefulness and kindness of a community that faces challenges I’ll never have to worry about.
I looked down at the kids clinging to my arms. Carefully cupping a small boy’s chin in my hand, I gazed into his eyes. They were an astonishing chestnut brown, hinting at shades of gold when the sun hit them just right.