Sunday, November 11, 2012

South African Road Trip

We went stir crazy in Johannesburg without cars.  It was time to get out and see more than malls and restaurants. In a quick decision, we picked up the only rental cars we could find; the result was a hilarious three car caravan of identical gray Grand Levinas that had people doing double takes whenever we drove by. 


We set off for an 18 hour drive to Cape Town with an exhausted three year old, a wonderful navigator/traveling buddy named Ryan, whose family did not have room in their car, and all of our luggage from our move to Africa three months earlier.

 Flat farmlands surround Johannesburg for hours.

Things started to get hillier after about three hours... we think.  The sun went down, and our great tour of SA became a race to our hotel, located a little less than half-way to the cape in a town called Colesburg.

 We awoke among mountains.  For hours there were open fields with sheep and windmills in front, and mountain/plateau landscapes behind. Hours.

 Kurt and Jonas are at a rest stop.  Rest stops in SA are a small side area you can pull into from off the road.  Some have picnic tables for tea.  Some merely have trees. But none have bathrooms.

There are few towns in the Johannesburg to Cape Town drive. In a style that reminds me of the American West,( or the movie Cars if you want a pop culture reference) towns have their names written above them on mountain slopes in well-placed white rocks.

 Pictures do no justice.  Nestled in among larger and larger mountains sit valleys full of grape plantations and wineries.  This is just a few hours outside of Cape Town. 

 Our Jonas keeps giggling about the time a mountain was so high it touched the sky! He loved seeing the clouds get low enough to sit on top of the mountains.  Again, pictures do no justice, but here sunbeams highlighted a mountain on one side while the other received a thunderstorm. The roads were a new experience- though there were only two lanes, the shoulders are smooth and wide.  Semis, continuing their speed, often pull off to the left to allow cars to pass on the right.

The roads on this route were extremely well kept and smooth- a huge contrast to our previous African country.  There this trip would have taken a week! However, not all towns are so well maintained.  Here a shanty town sits in the middle of wine country, housing (we assume) the grape pickers that are the lifeblood of the wine industry.

 The view from our Cape Town apartment. Beyond the beach lies Table Bay (hard to see in this picture) and Robben Island sits just across the water.  This island is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years during the Apartheid Era.

 Cape  Town extends all along the shoreline.  I am standing in Cape Town to take this picture, but if you follow the land all along my left, you eventually reach the old down town of Cape Town, nestled below Table Mountain (pictured).

 The shorelines are well attended in Cape Town.  This green area just before the sand has built-in sprinklers going for hours at a time to keep it lush.  The sand was beautiful, large blueish-purple shells littered the coast, and the sea breeze that usually gags this land-lover was clean and fresh, just in from Antarctica. In the distance kites can be seen flying in the bay, where kite surfing is a huge sport.  Cape Town is almost always breezy, and we've been told, can go through five seasons in one day.

Home in Cape Town.