One morning in Cape Town Jo read about taking the local Metrorail out to its last stop on the Simon’s Town line. It is supposed to be a very scenic run. What about all the violence, we thought? What could be worse than being stuck on a moving train with a violent criminal, we wondered?
So a bit later our Uber driver dropped us off at Cape Town station. The Cape Town marathon was just about winding up and the participants were running by the front of the train station. We climbed aboard our train and tried to blend in as nonchalantly as we could. The tickets were ridiculously cheap. Vendors walked by hawking inexpensive food like bananas and hard candy. The train slowly chugged it’s way through endless stations. We heard a commotion and saw the conductor (supported by a couple of burly security people) eject a group of four people off the train for ticketless travel. They must have climbed back in to a different carriage because a few stations later the conductor had to throw them off again – this time she wasn’t half as nice about it.
After Muizenberg the tracks ran by the very edge of the bay. The scenery was striking – the deep blue waters of False Bay with sandy beaches interspersed with rocky shores on one side, and steep hills rising up on the other. Small fishing towns were precariously perched between the hills and the ocean. We saw a couple of whales from the train!
The train terminated at Simon’s Town and we walked into town for lunch and then to Boulders Beach to see the penguins. Hundreds of penguins waddling in and out of the water. Guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face. There were a lot of people out there to look at the penguins. Everybody was smiling.
At one point I told Evan that Vanessa had given a children’s book to Vivian nine years ago about the oil slick that endangered the lives of these penguins. An oil tanker had run aground near the cape and was leaking oil. Penguins and other marine animals were affected. Capetonians could volunteer to come in during work breaks and wash and take care of the animals. Once they had recovered, the clean penguins were returned to the ocean many miles away. The biologists soon noticed that the same penguins were back in the oil slick a few days later. They started tagging the penguins and learned where and how to reintroduce them back into the wild so they wouldn’t get back into the spill right away.
When I finished retelling Evan this story, a lady in a tour guide’s uniform standing next to Evan and me patted me on my back and said “That’s exactly correct. I’m glad you are sharing this story with your granddaughter.”
Evan and I giggled and then burst into laughter. Which left me with two options – explain, or be thought of as a boor.
“That a boy, and he’s my son” I said as politely as I could. The lady got it together and said “Oh my gosh. I’ve offended you both!”
Here’s a family photo with my granddaughter and a couple of other random people.
By the time we were done with our penguin watching it was late in the afternoon. Not wanting to push our luck on a return train trip, I hailed an Uber. On the drive back, our driver concurred. “It’s late. There’s a couple of dodgy stations between Simon’s Town and Muizenberg. At this time of the day it could be tricky”. We sighed with relief and the words dodgy and tricky are now a part of the family travel lexicon.