Into the Wind

It’s calmer today. The wind that whipped us up and down the Cape Peninsula yesterday – from Kalk Bay to Boulders Beach, all the way to Cape Point and back to Noordhoek and Cape Town – is just a pleasant breeze now. At times it’s barely noticeable, but the fresh sea air it carries is so clean, so subtly salty, so perfect, I find myself constantly wishing for another gust.

The sun, paying no heed to the weatherman’s forecast of cool temps, is its strong, African self. Its warmth is matched only by its brightness.

It’s a beautiful day in the Mother City.

It’s also overwhelmingly blue. In the mid-afternoon light, I am surrounded on almost all sides by vast blueness: the shimmering, marine blue of the ocean; the shadowy, gray-blue of the mountains beyond; and the sharp, infinite blue of the sky above. Only a scattering of wispy clouds, now tinted pale orange in the west, offers a counter-chromatic.

If Cape Town was a house, I would be out on the front porch. Behind me, Table Mountain serves as a majestic living room wall, a feature in and of itself, upon which no piece of art is worthy to be hung. The family room, at the V&A Waterfront, is like no other: it has a Ferris wheel. Adjacent, the home office has shelves full of skyscrapers. Tucked away quaintly in the back is the wine cellar of Constantia. The curb appeal here is high.

Table Mountain from the V&A Waterfront

As I sit, sipping a cappuccino, watching dolphins and seals frolic in the bay, I realize, more clearly than ever, that I am ruined for real life. I remember 9-to-5 jobs, draconian vacation policies, gapers’ delays on the Ike, real winters. These memories loom. What happens when they once again become reality?

Better question: How can I shape my new reality? What options will I have? What opportunities will exist? What traditional boundaries will confine me?

I’d like to say that this year (will have) taught me to think differently, to define life unconventionally, to choose my own adventures. But, until the true test comes, I can only aver.

In the meantime, we will enjoy our final weeks in fantasy land, a place not perfect – particularly for those whose eighteen years of political freedom has yet to yield any significant economic freedom – but certainly out of our ordinary. A place where a fresh, fall day feels like a sunny, Chicago summer. A place where I can be a full-time volunteer. A place where Jenny can have straight hair and Indie can live her dog life.

Today, it’s calm. The winds will pick up again soon, though, and carry us in a new direction. We should, I suppose, welcome another gust.

Guest Post: A Visit to the Cape

The following text is a guest post from my mother, Beverly Kilpatrick, following our recent visit to Cape Town and surrounds. Please welcome her to

The Cape of Good Hope and the tales of treacherous seas, of sailors lost, and of new worlds discovered upon successful navigation were a subject of 6th grade Social Studies that always fascinated me. NEVER, did I imagine that one day I would visit the Cape, nor was I in the least bit prepared for the experience.

Upon our arrival on Thursday, friends of Ryan and Jenny graciously invited us for the most incredible lunch at their home overlooking False Bay in Simon’s Town. Yvonne and Danie were warm and wonderful hosts whose generosity and welcome got us off to a great start.

The view from Danie & Yvonne's home in Simon's Town

Our home away from home was in Noordhoek at a lovely guesthouse, with a young German couple, Thomas and Antje (and their dog and cat), as our hosts. A five-minute walk to the beach and we were enjoying beautiful sunsets, frolicking dogs, and the intoxicating sound of the sea. Aaah, the beauty of it all.

Interior of our guesthouse in Noordhoek

Sunset at Noordhoek Beach

But, it was on Friday that our venture took us to Robben Island, where the inescapable beauty of the land and sea was overcome by the ugliness of the inhumane treatment of those formerly incarcerated or detained there. I, of course, knew of the story of Nelson Mandela, but could not and cannot comprehend the dehumanization that took place there. To say that it was emotionally overwhelming is an understatement.

Nelson Mandela's cell at Robben Island

Hallway at Robben Island

Across the bay from Robben Island lies Table Mountain. After much thought and an internal pep talk, I was able to join my fellow crusaders as they traversed the mountain via rotating (help!) cable car. Low clouds and a bit of fog did affect the visibility, but still the views of the city and cape below were incredible.

Cape Town city bowl from Table Mountain Cableway

Saturday’s visit to Cape Point was like nothing I ever imagined. I fully expected we would have our picture taken at the sign proclaiming the Cape of Good Hope and the South-western most point on the African continent. I was however, unprepared for the sheer beauty. Magnificent beaches with mountainous cliffs overhanging, wandering ostriches and eland, along with signs warning us not to feed the baboons, were surely indications that we were a long, long, way from Illinois. I thought of the ships that had passed by (or not) and of my own good fortune to have had this opportunity. All in all, another moving experience.

Bev & Mike at Cape of Good Hope

Ostrich at Cape of Good Hope

Lunch at Two Oceans Restaurant (a possible misnomer, as it seems the Atlantic and Indian Oceans do NOT converge at Cape Point) was a fitting end to our visit to the Cape.

Lunch at Two Oceans

On Sunday, we travelled to Stellenbosch, home to some wonderful South African wine. Mike and I, along with Ryan, enjoyed tastings at Delheim and Muratie vineyards. Lunch at Delheim included springbok carpaccio for Mike, who proclaimed it a wonderful dish.

Springbok carpaccio & bratwurst at Delheim

Bottles behind the (intentional) cobwebs at Muratie

Lastly, though surely not least, on Monday prior to our return flight to Pretoria, we experienced a gastronomical delight at La Colombe in Constantia. Our three-hour lunch was of the finest quality, beautifully presented and served. It was a dining experience I will never forget.

Waiter pours a "mushroom cafe au lait" jus on Mom's ribeye

Mike watches as his ribeye is prepared at the table at La Colombe

Our visit to the Cape Town area and all that accompanied it left a lasting impression. The beauty of the landscape, the graciousness of those who hosted us and those we met along the way, the part of the South African story told so painfully here, newly acquired food and wine tastes, along with time spent with family, made this portion of our South African journey “the trip of a lifetime.”

See more photos from our visit to Cape Town.