September 17, 2008

Huguenot Tunnel, Du Toitskloof Mtns, Taal Language Monument, Paarl Bretagne

We passed through the 3.9 km Hugenot tunnel to reach our trailhead in the Du Toitskloof mountains. The surrounding rock faces were cracked and silver, with some faces broken away to reveal soft orange bands and blotches. We parked near the exit of the tunnel and proceeded to the Krom River Trail in the Cape Nature Reserve. Elizabeth brought garbage bags and cajoled us into picking up litter for the good of the planet. When we began our hike in earnest, I discovered that although I can walk 15 miles over hill and dale on a trail, I am unsuited to "scrambling". I found the loose rocks, toe holds, and long jumps unmanageable. Elizabeth admitted the trail was even more washed out than when she checked it out one week earlier and a bit slippery. Thinking about how difficult living in London with a broken leg would be, I had to turn back. The others waited while Elizabeth escorted Kris and me back to the bridge. Kris and I read in the van and chatted with Goodman.

We ate a picnic lunch of bread, crackers, varied cheeses and dried meats, fruit and salad ($20 for 2) under the shadow of the Afrikaans Taal Language Monument. I loved the simplicity of this monument and the manicured lawns and gardens. Afrikaans (1 of 11 official languages in South Africa and the world's newest language) was influenced by Dutch, German, English, many African languages, and even Malay.

We then “scaled” Bretagne, one of the three domes which are the 2nd largest granite domes in the world (the largest is Ayers rock in Australia). Miraculously, my boots held and I was able to reach the top without slipping to my death. One woman did lose control, coming down faster and faster until she fell over. Some sections of the chain link railing had broken, which rendered it useless in places. I was grateful to have conquered this boulder.

We reached Mabaruli Lodge in a suburb on the Peninsula later that evening. Our room had a double and a single bed, beautiful bathroom with shower, was very roomy and included free wi fi access. Elizabeth worked in IT in a former life and used these skills to put the finishing touches needed to make my wireless work. We drank and chatted with the manager / bartender in the outside bar. He claimed to always feel safe out on the Peninsula. Again, we used the laundry service for the reasonable fee of $5 per large bag.

We drove to a nearby mall for a seafood dinner ($30 for 2). We started with a huge greek salad, beer, and wine. Kris had 6 pieces of sushi and I had a platter of grilled line fish, calamari, and shrimp.

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