06 January 2014

31. - 6 Jan.: Mossel Bay to Hermanus

In the morning I realize that yesterday I forgot my kangaroo leather hat at the Bartolomeu Dias museum. It would sadden me highly to lose it, I have grown very accustomed to it, it fits my head perfectly, it folds easily in any backpack and it contributes considerably to building up my image of an Indiana Jones lookalike. However the museum is in town, going east from out hotel, and today we have to drive to Cape Town, to the west. I am not sure I can reasonably expect everyone to delay the day's program for a hat. Luckily, Paola suggests I would be very sad to lose the hat, as it is a gift from my girlfriend. It is not, and I am not sure where she got the idea, maybe he made it up to help. But I don't contradict her as this strengthen my negotiation powers considerably, at least with the ladies, and it is swiftly agreed that we will go and pick it up, assuming it's still there. Stefano laughs and says surely some cleaner found it and took it home. Or found it and gave it to the ticket lady at the entrance, who surely took it to her home for her husband, her son, her brother, whoever. Well,quite to the contrary,  as soon as we get there it looked as if the museum staff were waiting for me: the hat is there! Some cleaner did find it and did leave it at the ticket office for me. But the lady there shoved it under the counter. Phew...! My Indiana Jones look is saved. My sense of guilt for making everyone waste at least half an hour is for all this is alleviated when everyone decides to visit the museum after all. 

It's still grey and drizzling when we finally move west at around 11:00 am. Our next stop is Cape Agulhas the tip of Africa, where the Indian ocean we have seen so far meets the Atlantic. It's nothing much really, but one does feel the mightiness of the two great masses of water clashing in what has been a nightmare for mariners ever since Bartolomeu Dias got here.
Between two oceans

At our hotel the view is somber: dark grey clouds merge at the horizon with big foamy waves of the same color. The hotel's walls are crowded with paitings and photographs of whales: from May through December, the humpbacks come right here in good numbers and the hotel is a prime position from which to spot them. We are late, by several weeks.

I ask the young bell boy for a recommendation for a good restaurant. He has no hesitation: "Lapeentoula! Good food, especially fresh fish." So come evening we'll have dinner at "La Pentola" a fusion Italian restaurant about a kilometer away. The owner's wife is of Italian descent which explains the origins of the establishment's name but the food is not really Italian. I tried the springbok carpaccio and fillet of ostrich flambé, either of which you would be hard pressed to find in an Italian restaurant. Both very good though!

Springbok carpaccio
 It's pitch black tonight, windy and raining after dinner. The walk back to the hotel is an opportunity to lit up one of my cigars. A small one tonight, a Toscanello, but it's enough to create the illusion of being a sea-wolf in port, waiting for the ship to be resupplied of fresh water before setting sail again looking for India to the east, around Cape Agulhas, into the unknown.

I am thinking that Dias did not have cigars on his ship, tobacco had not yet been imported from the Americas. I find myself feeling sorry for him, having to fight nature and a reluctant crew with no cigars. Or maybe I just had one glass of South African Chardonnay too many.

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