Hello from Cape Town! I just arrived today and I have been ever so lazy since leaving Lajuma. I spent my last days there catching up on all the stuff I hadn’t got around to in the last five months. I took pictures of the baboons and finally got some good ones, and Pete made me a DVD of some of his baboon videos. The videos are supposed to be for identification of individuals, but sometimes they are quite cute and funny too.
Saturday I was going to follow the baboons for the last time but they went somewhere we couldn’t go, so I climbed Mt Lajuma, the highest peak in the Soutpansberg Mountains. Actually it is not that high, somewhat over 1400m I think. It took less than two hours to get up and down, and that included hanging around to enjoy the view. There were pink proteas blooming at the top, very pretty alien-looking flowers. People say you can see Zimbabwe from up there, but it is so far that the details get lost in the haze. I never did get to Zimbabwe because nobody wanted to come with me and it’s not the kind of place you want to go by yourself. I have seen money from there, including a hundred trillion dollar bill that probably wasn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
Saturday afternoon we had the scavenger hunt. I deliberately hid the prizes in places that I thought would be easy to find, but people still had trouble. Most people stay on the roads and the official trails so they don’t know the place like I do. The baboon people have to know the secret trails and the places where you can cut across country without facing a sheer cliff or an impenetrable thicket. All the teams ended up joining together to keep from getting lost in the wilderness that I navigated every day, but everyone had fun and that was the point. Many of the prizes were water pistols so naturally there was a water fight afterwards.
We had a braii for my going away party. I made the fire and it was the best one I ever did. That’s one thing I have learned in Africa: how to make fire. The secret is to make a structure that has as much air in it as wood, and to not keep poking at it every minute or two. We didn’t have an axe so I built it out of logs six inches thick and stuffed the inside with sticks and cardboard and these magic fire lighting chemical cubes they have here. We sat around it half the night, talking and watching the fire and listening to the bushbabies and the bats and the sexy owls (I don’t know what kind of owls they really are but everyone who hears it agrees that their “who-HOO” call has kind of a sexy sound to it). I was drinking Amarula most of the night, and if you’re going to have too much to drink, I would recommend something other than a cream liqueur. It does taste lovely though, kind of like Baileys but a bit fruity too.
The trip from Lajuma to Pretoria was uneventful. Limpopo province is mostly bushveld, which sounds exotic but it all looks the same when you see it for six straight hours. The land was mostly flat, flatter than the prairies, flatter than anything I have ever seen. Much of the time nothing obstructs your view but the curvature of the earth. Occasionally there are small mountains that seem dropped on the landscape; they rise abruptly out of the plain with no intervening foothills like the Rockies.
The brochures say there is lots to do in Pretoria and Johannesburg, but I was only there for a day and did nothing but lounge around. The hostel was great, with a nice garden and a pool and a sad-eyed spaniel called Sherlock Bones. That was yesterday, and I flew to Cape Town today and did nothing much here either. I want to go to the waterfront tomorrow and see the ocean, and I have booked a great white shark tour on Friday. The water is not as clear this time of year but you can still see the sharks. I will let you know how that goes, and hopefully find a better computer to upload pictures!