Category Archives: EXPLORING CAPE TOWN

CAPE TOWN CALLING : OFF WE GO IN JANUARY!


 

 

 

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Table Mountain on the left, from the Silo District, V & A Waterfront

 

Despite the blue skies and sunshine, January is generally a gloomy month. Chiefly because our credit card statements were terrifying, and because our purses were scarily empty. We all know we shouldn’t overspend at Christmas, but guess what? We always do. South Africans are not very good at saving, despite campaigns to encourage us and offers from our major banks to open a savings account.
The Road Death Toll for the 2018 Holiday Season figures are released. As usual, they are staggering. In, the Western Cape Province, the total was 169 fatalities, over the December/January period. And still we continue to drive like maniacs and disregard the rules of the road. Statistics reveal that over 50% of road deaths are alcohol-related. And yet we continue to drink & drive. Arrrggggh. You venture forth at your peril!
Schools re-open. The tiny tots start their School careers on Day One with either floods of tears or wild delight . Mums agonise and helicopter around the kids Other parents wake up and realise they should have booked their kid’s place in the local school last year, around June 2018, so now there’s no place for little  Bongi  or Devan except in a school that’s 20 kms from home and not on a bus route. Pandemonium, threats, panic, (and probably bribery) ensues.
No sooner has the furore over school placements subsided, and the annual tsunami of grumbling over the (admittedly high) cost of school uniforms staggered to an exhausted halt, we are galvanised all over again by reports of rural schools in far flung districts that have not received any textbooks for 2019, never mind the promised water-borne sanitation that was promised at the beginning of 2018. Life in S’Affrica!
Fire Season in Cape Town flares up  every summer. Our famous Signal Hill, part of the Atlantic seaboard/CBD, was ablaze – fanned by 40 kph South-Easter winds. Wuppertal a small historic town in the Cedarberg (350 kms away) is demolished by fire. The Overberg region is ravaged by fires for days.  Apparently the initial fire was caused by some bright spark  letting off a flare on Old Year’s Night. Our noble fire fighters battled the blazes for weeks on end. They all deserve medals.

On the brighter side – yes, there is one. A fire crew discovered a traumatised baby duiker in a fire zone, the little buck had badly burnt feet/hooves. They were able to catch it, and take it to a nearby vet in Somerset West, who treated and saved Bambi. Yes: that’s what the fire crew christened the little survivor, and, even better, the vet rehabilitated the animal free, gratis and for nothing! Us Saffers have big hearts when the chips are down.

 

Some much needed comic relief: in a recent development, the proposed new Gatvol Party* is sulking because the Electoral Commission won’t let them register their party name because “ the name might cause offence to some people.”  *Gatvol is a very vulgar Afrikaans expression, indicating complete disgust – I’m not even going to try to translate this one!

 

And the cherry on top: The Independent Electoral Commission announces over 240 parties have registered to contest the election in May. We can only hope this is fake news!
All this and it’s only the end of January – sterkte+, as they say in the Afrikaans classics!
+ strength

Dockside, at the V&A Waterfront

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A CAPE TOWN DECEMBER 2018 SNAPSHOT


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Our world famous Clifton Fourth Beach

 
Me: nobly dog-sitting the neighbour’s Papillion dog. Virtuous dog-walking to off-set the Christmas fare. Dog returned with relief. Little dogs are demanding. Give me a nice self-sufficient cat any day!

 
Different voices on my local radio station while the regular announcers took a well deserved break after a hectic year. Less hard news – more Christmasy items – where to go for the perfect picnic, how to cook the tenderest turkey – which will be the place to celebrate New Year? Does the annual Cape Minstrels Parade (PC-speak for the traditional Coon Carnival) still have any significance? Reminiscences about Christmases Past, when life was simpler and easier: grand family gatherings. Boxing Day beach picnics. Volunteering at Christmas for the less fortunate; plenty of street people in Cape Town in need of festive cheer, blue skies & sunshine notwithstanding.

 

 

And then hard news with hard facts about real life kept intervening: the annual carnage on our roads; I don’t even want to think about the numbers.

 

EMS  crews being attacked and robbed when they enter some of the more dangerous townships. Can you believe it? Robbing Ambulance crews!
And of course – 3 drownings. The Western Cape is a coastal province, and most of the locals have never learnt to swim, so predictably, every holiday season, there are beach fatalities despite lifeguards on the beaches, and PRO exercises by the NSRI.  . So sad when fatalities could be prevented if people only listened and swam where indicated or on beaches with lifeguards. But of course, they don’t. People being people. https://www.nsri.org.za/

 
A Rambo type private security firm illegally chasing people off Clifton’s famous 4th beach and the ensuing uproar, the politicising, the protests, the slaughtering of a sheep on the beach to make a point (poor old sheep, I say) and then the fresh uproar about debasing customary Xhosa ritual animal sacrifice for political gains – it wouldn’t be South Africa if we didn’t have at least one issue in December with inflammatory ingredients.

 
Aforementioned Rambo Security Service arbitrarily closing off roads – ‘coning’ they call it, this is not a typo, it refers to the orange traffic cones used by the Traffic Cops in Cape Town They closed roads in an affluent area thus provoking further outrage and uproar, and and and … sigh, whatever happened to the Season of Goodwill? Just asking.

 
In my own tiny little world, there were gatherings, festive meals, modest gifts, laughter, stories, jokes, Christmas crackers that wouldn’t crack (el cheapos don’t) and more hilarity as we read out the terrible terrible puns and jokes spilling out on tiny paper strips. Now we know what Santa’s elves do post-Christmas during those long Arctic nights. I mean, how elf could they be gainfully employed? A feeble pun I know, but indulge me.

 
We drank toasts to a Happy Christmas, and one week later we did it all again and drank a toast to a Happy New Year. Everybody agreed that 2018 was challenging and difficult, so we’re looking forward to an easier year in 2019. There’s an encouraging start on 2 January when the new monthly petrol price comes in, with a ZAR1.00 price reduction per litre. That’s good news!

 
And so I wish all my readers a peaceful and prosperous year ahead.

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NO MORE READY-MEALS FOR SHARKS!


 

The university of Stellenbosch  has created a department to market some of the incredible scientific advances that their scientists dream up. For example: an eco-friendly shark barrier.

 

South Africa’s Indian ocean coast is subject to shark attacks, and fatalities.https://www.portfoliocollection.com/travel-blog/south-africa-s
Existing shark nets are a mixed blessing, because other marine life gets trapped in the netting and perhaps, on balance, the nets do as much harm as good.

 

But the bright boffins have come up with the brilliant idea of an artificial kelp forest, which emits a small magnetic and electric current. I learn that sharks have very acute sensors located on their faces, and would sense the hostile barrier, and swim no further. Isn’t that clever?

 

Yet again, a kernel of new knowledge via my local radio station, Cape Talk Radio

 

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INVESTEC 2018 ART FAIR


 

20180218_121906.jpgI enjoy visiting the annual Cape Town Art Fair, but I’m   not sure whether the greatest spectacle at these events are the art works, or the audience.

 

 

 

 

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I have no idea what the polar bear, covered in pink and cobalt feathers, was all about; who the artist was, or what the work was titled. It was prominently placed, and surrounded by enchanted children; me being one of them.
This year’s Cape Town Art Fair included work from many African countries, amongst them Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania. There were others, but I didn’t note all the names.

I notice how many artists chose to work with fabric :

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And yet again I have evidence of why I don’t enjoy installations:

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Reminds me of someone’s patio that’s being used as a junk room. And don’t get me started on the wall of household irons, neatly arranged on a wall, pointy front facing downwards, cords and plugs dangling alongside. I didn’t manage to catch a pic of the Irons Wall – too many people standing in front of me. A dazzling array of different irons to be sure, every colour, model and make you can imagine, but … WTF ? sorry, but that was one work I just didn’t get. Not to overlook the pink polar bear of course, but there I enjoyed the whimsy.

 
What I did enjoy was the original and unusual work of Ingrid Bolton, who worked with copper wire to create beautiful and unusual mosaic effect pieces, reminiscent of Moorish tile work:

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My work explores how copper is deconstructed, broken down into individual strands and then reconstructed in various ways. The cable comes together to suggest layers of soil, water or skin. I investigate how the global demand for copper has micro and macro implications for South Africa as well as and the greater global community.

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ps://www.investec.com/en_za/welcome-to-investec/news-and-views/i
http://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/exhibitors/

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TREE THERAPY


 

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Readers of my blog will have seen from recent posts, Cape Town is struggling through the worst drought of 100 years. To add to our woes, we’re experiencing a very hot summer. For example, today’s temp is 36 degrees Celsius. Way too hot for me. I positively drool over blogs from the Northern Hemisphere showing snow pics.
Anyway. On Sunday I managed to spend a wonderful five hours in my favourite place, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. KBG have their own water supply from high up on Table Mountain, so the gardens are watered and present a restful oasis of green. There are benches placed under shady trees and shrubs, little secret leafy bowers, wood-chip paved windy paths leading to yet another cool, green shady spot.

 

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And of course, the trees. Magnificent tall trees, in avenues, clumps, groups, pairs, scattered throughout the grounds of the garden, which is large – ‎528 hectares (1,300 acres). Because I live up the coast in a very windy coastal area, trees do not do well up here. Those that do grow are generally stunted and warped by the wind. Consequently, I suffer from tree deprivation. For me, one of the chief attractions of the Garden are the variety and number of trees.

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After soaking my weary body, mind and spirit in Kirstenbosch’s green balm, I drove home relaxed and smiling, healed from my hectic week. If you’re hot and frazzled, I heartily recommend the Kirstenbosch Cure.

 

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THE RED BOOK ENGINE


Midway through our Open Garden viewing in Elgin, we stopped at Peregrine Farmstall for lunch. Tramping around gardens left us with an urgent need for refuelling and Peregrine was the perfect place. The Farmstall is renowned for its pies and when I’d finished my big Springbok pie, I could quite see why . It was crammed full of spicy meat, the flaky pastry was light and golden , just like you hope it will be, and seldom is! In short: the perfect pie.
After lunch we wandered into the garden for a smoke break, and to my surprise, this is what I found.

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(Thanks to Nina Ganci for the photos)
Burning books? Oh, the horror! My mind immediately zoomed to Ray Bradbury’s classic SF novel Fahrenheit 451. The curious title refers to the temperature at which paper will burn, and the novel is a dystopian fantasy about a world where books are regarded as dangerous. There’s a special police unit which hunts them down and burns them. *

 

I strolled around the big vehicle , which has been retro fitted to serve as a Book Truck , a shop on wheels, stocked with current popular fiction, a large selection of kids’ books, and a small non-fiction section.

 

I looked around for the stallholder and found Christy . There we are in the header pic. We got chatting and I discovered she loves books, particularly literary fiction and historical fiction.
Christy told me that the mobile Burning Books project is an offshoot of her bookstore in Grabouw: Liberty Books.

 

Would you believe she saw an ad in Gumtree for a classic imported 1955 Green Goddess fire engine – which goes to prove you can buy and sell practically anything on Gumtree! Only snag was it was situated in Dannhauser, a former coal mining town in the Northwest of Kwa Zulu Province. A tad under 1500 kms away from Grabouw. But, where there’s a will etc … Luckily Christy’s husband is a classic car fundi/expert and engineer, who was able to do the conversion of the truck from fire engine to bookstore.  After the refit, at the end of June this year, they parked the truck in the Peregrine Farmstall garden. Due to its success, it hasn’t moved since!

 

I asked Christy about her choice of name for her project. Apart from the fact that she enjoys alliteration, hence the name, she said :
“Because a fire truck is a vehicle designed to rescue people and property from burning I thought it was fitting to name my bookstore, housed in a fire truck, “Burning Books”. Repressive regimes throughout history have been “Burning Books” and destroying them to attempt to contain the spread of dangerous ideas. Obviously, this is antithetical to what I’m doing: buying books from charity shops (thereby saving them from the destruction of pulping), in order to release second hand books back into the world, giving them another chance of life. “
A noble vision, from my book fanatic’s point of view, and a delicious irony in the name, don’t you think?

What booklover doesn’t fantasize about owning their own Bookstore? And then to own a happy red book truck – that’s gotta be the bright red cherry on top!

 

* Footnote: I hesitated before adding the following grim footnote to an upbeat post, but nevertheless, it’s important current issue in our country, regarding the freedom of the Press, and the need to prevent State censorship. Not to forget protecting our citizen’s Right to Freedom of Speech. I need to connect the dots between these ideas and the present uproar in South Africa about the publication of The President’s Keepers – Those Keeping Zuma In Power And Out Of Prison (Paperback) – Jacques Pauw. His expose has rattled the cages of the corrupt and powerful, and Pauw has been threatened by our State Security Agency . Naturally the enormous publicity has caused the book to sell out. More irony. Banning books is a relic of our bad old apartheid past, and must never be tolerated again.
https://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2017-11-11-ive-got-more-dirt-on-ssa-
https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/nzimande-sacp-like-jacques-p

 

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HEAVENLY GARDENS


Occasionally a much anticipated outing exceeds expectation. For years I’ve wanted to see the annual Elgin Open Gardens event and this past weekend, Nina helped make my dream come true. On Sunday we drove out to Elgin to visit the gardens on show. The weather was perfect. Sunny and hot, with just enough breeze to offset the heat.
After reading the brochure giving a brief description of the 18 show gardens, we decided to limit ourselves to three gardens. As this was our first visit we weren’t sure of the distances involved, and this proved to be a wise move. Not that we traveled a huge distance overall, but driving on gravel farm roads when you don’t really know where you are going is time consuming. Plus half of Cape Town was also in Elgin to see the gardens, so traffic was often congested on the narrow gravel roads.
Elgin is famous for its apple orchards. Other deciduous fruits are grown in the area too, and the views of farms and estates were stunning. Here is a general view of the Elgin area, en route to Highlands Road.

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Another general view, this time from the hilltop area of the Auld Earn garden, with a protea bush (our national flower) in the foreground.

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And a close-up of the protea.

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Jenny Simpson’s plantswoman’s garden at Auld Earn was worth the slog up and down steep hills, along challenging narrow farm roads in our modest saloon car – how we wished for a rugged 4×4, but we got there in the end. And it was worth it for the views, and the riot of mixed plantings on the property.

 

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For me the highlight of our visit to Ridgelands, Elgin Vintners on Appletiser Road, was the charming and unusual Fairy Garden. It was set in a shady corner, planted with brilliant green ground cover and tiny delicate flowers, which formed the backdrop for the miniature figurines of fairies and woodland animals peeking out from the foliage.

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Nina had a ball photographing the many roses at Ridgelands, and to enjoy more of  her pics  see the link below. Here’s a sample

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I’ve left the best until last. Fresh Woods – owners Peter & Barbara Knox-Shaw . Walking through the garden I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven! Here’s the description from the brochure:

Rambling, romantic plantsman’s garden with major collection of heritage & species roses; many rare trees & shrubs, some wild-collected, incl. rhododendrons (esp. Maddenias), serrata & wild hydrangeas, deutzias & over 70 Japanese maples; also collections of cyclamen, epimediums & lilies; woodland garden under pine. Bamboo walk. WFRS Award of Garden Excellence 2003. Featured in Remarkable Gardens of SA (2012); Gardens to Inspire (2013), Veld, Vlei & Rose Gardens (2011) and Old Roses: Survival & Revival in SA (2015).

The woodland setting provides enchanting, dappled shade, with twisty little footpaths leading to yet another surprise or treasure. I love azaleas and there were plenty, ranging from the small to the giant:

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Next to the bamboo grove was a tiny pond, guarded by giant leaves – an accurate description, when you see me standing next to the plants, to illustrate the size of the plants. Perhaps one of my readers will know the name of the giant plants ? I’m baffled.

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Who hasn’t dreamed of a leafy fragrant pergola? This one has blue/purple Petrea at the base, another of my favourites, with pink roses higher up, and wisteria as a roof. Gorgeous!

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But my favourite was the Japanese maple tree area. I loved the delicate leaves, that etch themselves so clearly against the background , while the different coloured foliage ranging from vibrant red to pastel spring green is breathtaking.

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I could rave on for hours but will stop here. We’ve already diarised the date in our 2018 diaries and can’t wait to go back next year. If you live in Cape Town, the event will be open for one more weekend only, 4 and 5 November 2017. Do not miss the opportunity!
All photos in this post are by Nina Ganci, and you can see more of her wonderful pics on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nina.ganci. Be sure to visit her page, as I’ve shown only a fraction of her pics .

 

 

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SUN ‘n SUSHI


A beautiful day so I drove up to Melkbosstrand for an ad hoc al fresco lunch : sushi by the sea.

 

 

I stopped off at my local supermarket and bought sushi. And you Sushi Snobs can stop raising your eyebrows. Their sushi is delicious. I stood and watched them make it – fresher than that you don’t get.

 

 

And of course there was an opportunistic gull, beadily looking out for a dropped crumb. Sorry bird: no crumbs associated with this lunch.

I reminded myself I should do this more often. Just 11 kms up the road is a pretty little town with a superb stretch of coast. I’ll be taking more picnics to Melkies beach.

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GRANNY GOES GAMING


 

 

Proof – I really did go! Here’s the ticket stub, and the indestructible, hard to remove armband that gets you through the door.

Why? I hear you ask.I’m a self-confessed wrinkly, who doesn’t play electronic games. All true.  But I’m a dedicated fan of The Big Bang Theory  and brainwashed by the Uber Nerds, I was hoping for a Comicon style display of glorious Star Wars costumes down at the Gaming Expo. I have to say, I was disappointed. I spotted very few. What I did see was enough  PC Monitors and big screens to thrill every gamer in Cape Town. Nerdvana heaven, without a doubt.

The gamers were there in sober blacks and greys,  throngs of spindly teens with ratty locks and deathly white complexions, clearly unaccustomed to the Great Outdoors or meat and three veg. I had to resist the maternal urge to dash up and force feed them. There were quite a number of hefty Dad-type men in attendance too, and not all of them were clutching kids by the scruff of their  hyped up necks.  Some women, but clearly on kid duty, and I spotted only one of my contemporaries. These events are not really Granny territory, but hey!  You never know until you give it a bash.

Bash being the operative word. All I could see on the mega-screens were un-ending battles with exotic creatures demolishing opponents with brilliant red starbursts. And not to forget the death-defying cars zooming through canyon-like cities. I’m not a boy. I could care less about fast cars. Give me style and padded luxury any day. James – bring round the Rolls.

 

 

 

Another reason for my attendance were the advertised Board Games. I’m looking for a particular board game and hoped to find it there, but no luck. To my astonishment I spotted big piles of boxes of Monopoly and Cluedo on the Games stands. There was merchandise to gladden every gamers’  heart: figurines, hats, costumes,  and I even spotted Harry Potter lingering over the trinkets.

 

 

The pic I missed: a 7 year old little boy, wearing a brown Jedi robe, with an enormous fluorescent green light sabre clipped to his belt. The sabre was so long, it trailed on the ground behind him. Ag shame.

Never miss an opportunity to wear your pink Princess outfit.  Despite all the sexy girls prancing round in lycra, the Pink Princess was the prettiest girl there.

 

 

Will I go to another Gaming Expo?  I very much doubt it. Unless the cast of The Big Bang Theory happen to be in attendance …

Because   my faithful photographer Nina could not accompany me , I am responsible for all the blurry, second-rate cellphone  pics – photography is  not my strong point.

 

 

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A PLAYDATE FOR MY INNER CHILD


 

When last did you take your Inner Child on a Playdate?  Nina and I took our Inner Children on an outing last week to the Two Oceans Aquarium, down at the Waterfront. Because Cape Town is situated on a Peninsula, it is literally bounded by two oceans: the Indian Ocean on the Eastern coast, and the Atlantic Ocean on the Western coast. Hence the name of our Aquarium. I live on the ‘cold side’ i.e. the Atlantic, and believe me, those waves are cold! I never swim on ‘my’ side – just paddling at the water’s edge is tinglingly painful  if not downright unpleasant.

Neither of us had visited the Aquarium for years, so we joined the heaving hordes of families, school  kids and tinies (it’s school holidays, so our visit was somewhat ill-timed, but never mind). On the upside, we got a very generous Pensioners’ discount at the ticket Office, so that offset the downside.

 

First stop was the penguin pool at feeding time. Nina couldn’t get over how the penguins patiently lined up waiting for the young lady to arrive with a pail full of fish. She  sat down on a rock, and carefully fed the birds, one by one, posting the fish down the birds’ open  beaks . Her colleague sat by her side, armed with a clipboard, and ticked off the dinner queue one by one. The penguins’ daily fish intake has to be carefully monitored.  Apparently each penguin has a unique pattern of black dots on their white chest feathers, which serve as identifiers. A sort of penguin fingerprint, if you like.

 

Next stop was the massive shark tank, where large sharks glided ominously by . The little kids were fascinated, noses pressed to glass. I’m not crazy about sharks. Periodically we lose a surfer or swimmer to a Great White in our coastal waters. I wish they’d stick to a diet of seals.

 

Way back in the mid 70s I saw Jaws at the movies, and nearly had a cardiac arrest.  The traumatic experience has remained firmly rooted in my memory.

 

Moving swiftly on, we  found the beautiful,  gaudy, small tropical fish. I love these, the bright colours and the exotic shapes. There’s a wonderful tubular display with a Perspex bubble mid-column into which small kids can crawl, stand up  and be surrounded by clouds of flitting fishes. Both Nina and I are short ladies, and we eyed the crawl space longingly, but  feared we might get stuck in the narrow entrance tunnel, so sanity prevailed and we dragged ourselves away to the dark, mirrored gallery,  displaying the jelly fish. They were also displayed in vertical tubes, and as you can see from the pics below, the effects were spectacular.

 

I’ve saved the best until last – the small sting rays.  My favourite was the huge tank where the diver was feeding the big fish and the rays. I can watch rays all day long. They glide so effortlessly through the water, gently undulating the edges of their bodies, which creates the illusion of flying.

 

 

 

And lastly: the Aquarium is plastered with posters reminding us to cut down on our use of plastic, and to re-cycle or dispose of the material with care. The oceans  are not a disposal dump for our careless trash!  Many of Cape Town’s beaches have  plastic  litter deposited by the incoming tides, I’m sorry to say. Apparently there are great floating rafts of plastic debris floating around mid-ocean. The Wiki link below provides info. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_garbage_patch

Thanks to Nina Ganci for all the pics.

 

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