As a part of the #take12trips challenge in 2015, each month I will post my excursion of choice and also give you some hints as to my plans for the next month. Where did I find myself exploring in the month of March? None other than along the coast of Cape Town.
Merriam Webster Definition
penguin: a black and white bird that cannot fly, that uses its wings for swimming, and that lives in or near the antarctic. any of the various erect short-legged flightless aquatic birds (family Spheniscidae) of the southern hemisphere.
penguin: the maître d’ of the ocean. They patiently await the arrival of guests, politely sunning themselves in their robust and refined built-in tuxedos. Unfortunately, I would carefully consider a visit to the Restaurant L’Ocean, as its waters are speckled with various finned creatures one would wish to avoid. The penguins of course have only good intentions and must not be blamed for any shark related occurrences.
The original plan was to drive along the winding coastal roads but the presence of a rather fierce wildfire deterred us. The alternative option wasn’t a problem as I often prefer train travel. After the initial confusion of sitting on the wrong side of the tracks, we boarded the train bound for Simon’s Town.
There is nothing so wonderful as a coastal train ride on a sunny day. I breathed in the salty air as it flew through the open windows while catching glimpses of tiny seaside towns. The hillside residences boast a perfect view of the ocean and the coastline curves beautifully as if playing a flirtatious game of ‘catch me if you can‘ with the waves.
Boulders Beach is located just outside of Simon’s Town, a place with lovely shops and great seafood. The entrance to the beach is fenced off with a 60 rand admittance fee. Instead of paying we chose to stroll along the boardwalk for free and peek at the penguins guarding their eggs while taking their midday naps.
From the walkway you can catch sight of penguins diving amongst the boulders as a few adventurous visitors join them in the water for a swim.
These little cuties also go by the name Jackass penguins, because of their donkey-like bray. I didn’t hear much braying going on, but perhaps the penguins need a tough name to contend with the more predatory creatures that lurk about the coastal waters.
Several penguins created shelters for their growing family under branches and tucked away alcoves. There were also little “homes” made from what looked like large old-fashioned containers, perhaps for the domestically challenged penguins.
The boardwalk was delightful, but not quite the up close, ocean view of the penguins that I had hoped for. Luckily, I had a Cape Town local with me and she suggested we walk down to the next beach. She thought that it was possible some renegade penguins might not know that Boulders is the touristy spot and would prefer a quieter strip of sand. If I was a penguin this is what I would do, also a few minutes walking never hurt anyone.
The Other Beach
Meet the rebel penguins, who spend their time basking in the rays and bucking the system, while simultaneously saving me six dollars.
Between the penguins and my group jumping between the rocks and a group of visiting seniors lounging in the sun, it was obvious that this was the “cool people” beach. Although I didn’t follow the black and white dress code it is nice to meet new friends that know how to party in style.
During our rock jumping I became acquainted with Steve, an honest penguin with the heart of a champion.
The History of Steve
This is the story of Steve. He is a risk taker. A bit of a loner and perhaps a bit misunderstood by his companions. Steve has a dream, a dream to join the ranks of birds of flight. He dreams of darting between sunbeams and soaring over cloud castles.
Unfortunately, Steve’s eccentric old auntie has an obsession with pebbles. Steve loves his ailing auntie despite her pension for miniature rocks. Our beloved hero must spend his days beneath the boulders, searching long hours to find the perfect offering.
The other penguins frequently laughed at Steve and his aerial dreams but he knew that one day he would soar with the wind currents. However, patience was required as his fairy godmother was always extremely busy during the spring months.
In the meantime, to distract himself from his dreams and a life of pebble hunting Steve decided to take action. He would perform the duties of a temporary Musketeer, filling in for d’Artagnan who was out of commission due to a knee replacement.
While the life of a soldier might not be his ultimate dream, Steve was satisfied to be doing honest work for the benefit of his fellow penguins. A side benefit was his duties often brought many pebbles across his path. I felt free to wish Steve well with all his future endeavors and in return he invited me back to his beach at any time I found convenient.
Side note: a gaggle of geese, a swarm of bees, a herd of cattle; a ________ of penguins?
Did you miss out on my trip from February? If you want to get caught up, take a look at my weekend of wildlife at Marloth Park, South Africa.