Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 16: The Last Day in Cape Town...Until Next Time!

We had tentatively planned to leave the apartment at 8:15 this morning. Or, at least, I was told that’s when ‘we’ wanted to leave. I later discovered that the actual plan was to leave at 8:30, but Shaun and Jessica were sick of my laissez-faire attitude on vacation. 8:15…8:30…it’s all the same! ;) So, we were on time this morning as we headed out to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

The V&A Waterfront is part of a massive redevelopment of Cape Town’s (you guessed it) waterfront and harbour area. To be honest, the rest of the harbour area isn’t so hot, but the V&A section is really picturesque

and the harbour even boasts a resident Cape Seal population!

We wandered through another market, and made our way to the Two Oceans Aquarium. What an incredible aquarium!!

A tank of Nemo fish!

A massive eel:

Young sharks:

All kinds of other cool things:

including a blind, tongue-less toad!  Ok, this needs a little more context. A poor toad was run over by a car. Somebody found the injured toad, and it was nursed back to health – sort of – at the aquarium. The toad can’t be released back into the wild, because it’s blind in one eye, nearly blind in the other, and missing its tongue. Amazingly, though, it’s a fat, healthy-looking toad (to my eyes, anyway). It shares a tank with another toad who isn’t blind but has very poor aim with her tongue. I’m guessing the crickets that go in that tank as toad food figure they have the best of a bad situation….

Continuing along – the biggest crabs I have ever seen!


Finally, my personal favourite:

After the aquarium, we slowly made our way back to the hotel to prepare for our departure. Amier, our taxi driver from day one, came to pick us up as we repeated the first day in Cape Town, but in reverse.

All told, we spent roughly four days in Cape Town, and three of them had beautiful sunshine and cloudless skies (for part of the day). Not bad, based on the local appraisal of the weather! We also spent fourteen days in South Africa without getting mugged, threatened, attacked by rabid animals (the key risk my travel doctor warned me of) or raped (the key concern of Shaun’s travel doctor).

As I leave South Africa, there are a number of things that still don’t make sense to me:

1. Many bathrooms, including showers guest houses, provide bars of soap. Not liquid, single-serving soap, but shared bars of soap.

2. Many bathrooms have cloth towels to dry your hands. No paper. No air dryer.

3. South African highways have frequent ‘picnic’ areas along the highway. Sometimes these are no more scenic than a bridge underpass…

4. South African highway speeds are not consistent. Sometimes the left lane (the slow lane when driving on the left) has a faster speed limit than the right.

5. The main highways have signs warning drivers to yield to pedestrians crossing ahead. The speed limit is 120kph!

6. ‘Children crossing’ zones have a reduced speed limit – 90kph. These are school zones!

7. Posted recommendations suggest reducing fuel consumption by driving at 100kph, but the speed limit is still 120.

8. Highway ‘accident zones’ are posted – including ‘high accident zones’ …..where they really want you to have a collision...?

9. Highways suddenly change direction at an intersection. Sometimes these changes are not posted, even though the original road continues straight.

10. Rangers, tour guides, etc become ‘friends for the day’ and spend all time with their clients, including meal times (when their North American counterparts would give them time to themselves…)

Maybe I'll be able to solve these conundrums next time I'm here? :)

One last amusement for any healthcare-working friends...for that matter, anyone in Toronto who is reading this.  I saw this sign as we went through the Cape Town airport on our way out:

I guess their approach to SARS is just a little different than ours... :)

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