Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Where I live in Cape Town

The Sunbird Resource Center with a huge cypress tree that I love.

View of the Silvermine River Valley from my home; that is the sea of the False Bay in the center background.


Table Mountain National Park is HUGE. The park surrounds the city of Cape Town and runs the length of the Cape Hope Peninsula from Table Mountain all the way down to Cape Point. I’m staying in an area of the park somewhat in the middle of the peninsula, in an area called Silvermine. My “house” sits in the Silvermine River Valley and in the distance I can see the lovely town of Fish Hoek and the Atlantic ocean of False Bay. It’s a lovely, lovely area full of fynbos vegetation, wetlands areas, and birds.

It’s taken me no time at all to fall in love here.

I live in the student’s accommodation near the Sunbird Resource Center. I’ll be working for the Sunbird Resource Center, but the “resource center” here is more in line of what we’d think of in the States as a lodge: there is not much in the way of resources (inside), but the building rather accommodates a kitchen, rooms of bunk beds, shower stalls to bathe many, and a kitchen. Groups book the center and come and stay and hike and learn about the area. I had hopes of perhaps leading as a guide for these groups, but groups usually come with their own “leader” or are arranged through the park. And granted three weeks isn’t enough time to bring me up to speed to lead hikes! But perhaps this visit will be for me a general introduction to the park and I can come again.

In the student’s building, I have a private room and shared kitchen/bath space. Right now, there are only two of us, Raquel and I, but I’m told a student will be joining us shortly. Students studying conservation, parks, and natural areas work for the park as interns and reside in the student housing. I have hot and cold water in the kitchen and bathroom; I have a working flush toilet; I have a refrigerator; and I have a gas stove: all feel luxurious in comparison to my village home. The house is powered by solar energy and our electricity is dependent upon sunny days. (The stove and fridge are powered by gas.) Indeed, for the first time in South Africa, I’m finding it challenging to keep my phone and computer charged.

General first impressions of Cape Town:

• The people are very lovely here and are very comfortable conversing with English. The three main languages spoken here are English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa.

• Cape Town is one of the loveliest cities in the world, and indeed, many of the “rich and famous” from all over the world own homes in Cape Town. (So visiting here is a remarkable contrast to my village home.)

• If I were to relocate my home, I could do so in Cape Town; I could relocate particularly to the lovely little town of Fish Hoek. There is no razor wire there and walking the streets there I’ve felt the safest I’ve felt in South Africa. Other than the architecture and exotic vegetation, I could be walking along Cherokee Road in Louisville.

• My friend Joe M would love it here: the gardenias and hibiscus grow as large as dogwood trees, the jade plant and lantana are used as hedges, and the rosemary grows as large as yew.  Another thing I enjoy very much is hiking about the Silvermine River Valley and seeing carpets and carpets of thick patches of ice plant.  We sold it at Bunton’s but it grows like crazy in the wild here with very thick and succulent stems and huge delicious flowers.  I like too, finding geraniums very much like the ones we plant for summer at home, but these too, thrive out in the wild and my heart fills with joy at seeing them.



Sleepy town of Fish Hoek, which I've come to love.

carpets of ice plant grow in the wild

Bullrush and wild geraniums growing by Silvermine River

1 comment:

  1. If you travel a short distance down the mountain you may fall in love with the coastal village of Noordhoek; which is quite different from Fish Hoek. It is the last bit of countryside near the city of Cape Town where properties are large enough to keep horses and one can experience a village atmosphere. Nature conservation takes priority here and we have crossings in the road not for pedestrians but for horse riders. Leafy lanes and shady nooks will enchant you and a visit to the Noordhoek farm village will leave you determined to return.