Africa

Geography Lesson

Living in this part of Cape Town has been a true mind game for me since day one. I found it a bit weird since I didn’t have such a hard time getting around the last time I was here but I just chalked it up to advanced age.

But I finally figured it out today. Let’s take it step by step.

Here we have South Africa in relation to the rest of the world.

south-africa-location-map

Easy peasy…let’s go on. Let’s zoom in on South Africa alone.

sout-MMAP-md

You’ll see it’s bordered by several countries: Namibia (tee hee), Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. But you’ll also notice it has a chocolate chip cookie type situation with Lesotho and Swaziland. That’s for another time though. Let’s move on to Cape Town now…

screen-shot-2011-09-08-at-9-58-58-pm

Alright, we have this claw like thing going on. You might be asking yourself where this claw came from. Well if you scroll up to the previous map – it’s covered by the dot. That was deceptive, I’m sorry.

Now this is where things get interesting.

Lesson #1:

In this map you’ll see that at the tip of the claw is the Cape of Good Hope. I’ve always heard of the Cape of Good Hope as the southernmost tip of Africa, however:

“A common misconception is that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa. This misconception was based on the misbelief that the Cape was the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Contemporary scientific knowledge instead states the southernmost point of Africa is Cape Agulhas about 150 kilometres (90 mi) to the east-southeast.The currents of the two oceans meet at the point where the warm-water Agulhas current meets the cold water Benguela current and turns back on itself. That oceanic meeting point fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point.” via Wikipedia

So, my bad. That’s why you research before you add ‘most’ to anything.

Lesson #2:

This place is truly unique.

“South Africa carried the dubious title of being home to the world’s hottest hotspot, the Cape Floral Region. Situated at the tip of Africa, this majestic floral kingdom is the only to be fully contained within a single country. Incredibly it has the highest known concentration of plant species in the world, its nearest rival, the South American rain forest, has only one third the number of species. Even more remarkable is that 70 percent of the Cape’s impressive 9,600 plant species grow nowhere else on Earth.” via Conservation.org

One-third??! For reference, the Amazon rain forest is 5.5 million km² while the Cape Floral region is only 78,555 km2. And yet, no allergies here.

Lesson #3:

I’ve been using False Bay as my compass for the last two weeks. Problem is:

“The false bay owes its name to the erroneous beliefs of sailors at the time of the first circumnavigation of Africa, whose disappointment was great when they realized they had not yet circumnavigated the Cape.”

So it’s like when you enter the parking lot of the shopping center right before the one you’re actually heading to. It’s like ‘Yay we made it. Oh damn, it’s in that other lot. Is there a way to cross over…no? So, we need an SUV.” Except they didn’t realize they were in the wrong lot for a loooong time. [Note: If this hasn’t happened to you I’d like to introduce you to route 10 in NJ.]

I got my bearings now but man was that disorienting.

Some pics around False Bay for the curious.

First 8 or so pictures are from a walk down to Kalk Bay (home of Kalky’s famous fish) and a really awesome bookstore while the last 2 were from a hike up to Muizenberg Peak.

 


Also published on Medium.

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