Day 2 – Scootcuzzi
written by Roan Mackintosh, pictures edited by Rory Alexander
For those who followed day 1 & were wondering – yes, the Roulette gods did indeed smile down upon me & and I went some way to paying off that speeding fine from yesterday (found out it’s actually a 50km/h zone, so that red & white government envelope will have a little more sting to it than originally expected no doubt!) And thus, with a successful evening at the casino & a great night’s rest at Club Mykonos under my belt, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face as Guy wrapped up the outside broadcast of the Goodhope breakfast show and we headed off to Boesmanland Plaaskombuis for some well-timed breakfast.
You know you are in the heart of the West Coast when breakfast entails freshly baked bread, an assortment of homemade jams and a hearty plate of scrambled egg, pap & sous, sausage & ribs. (accompanied of course by some fire-heated “moer-koffie”) That’s right, no bacon – just ribs! And you know what… I didn’t miss the breakfast staple on the plate. Delicious, well-prepared sustenance for the road ahead, enjoyed in a very traditional west coast setting with tree stumps for chairs, a completely self-service approach (the manager even joked that if we had a problem with service then we should just go to the bathroom & look in the mirror as that is the outjie to blame!) and potjies bubbling over open fires.
Good thing that there was a warm west coast breakfast in our bellies as the weather was particularly wintery and we had some stand up paddling (SUPing) to do in the Langebaan lagoon! Not sure whether it was sheer natural-born talent or a complete fear of the icy, winter sea water that kept the SUP novices among us afloat, but I am sad to report that not one of us fell into the water and we enjoyed some frolicking in the small surf and even took a long paddle out to a small cormorant and seagull-covered island & back. All this courtesy of the very friendly crew at Cape Sports Centre, Langebaan. Very glad to have gotten out of there with a dry pair of undies!
Next stop – the West Coast Fossil Park. If I am completely honest, this did not jump out as a particular highlight for me when I reviewed the itinerary. I mean how interesting can mud-covered fossils actually be, right? Well Wendy Wentzel’s heart-on-sleeve passion and unfathomable knowledge of bygone eras turned that all on its head and I found myself enraptured in not only the painstaking patience with which the site is uncovered – 1 square metre and 10cms deep at a time – but also by what the fruits of such a labour of love can bear. For instance, given the fact that Baleen whale fossils are found at this site, dating back 5 MILLION YEARS, we can determine that the cold Benguela current system, that gives the West Coast its distinctive toe-curlingly brisk sea water temperatures, was in fact around 5 million years ago and that this had changed quite dramatically since 10 million years ago where the evidence suggests a much more tropical clime with associated tropical waters. So something drastic had changed in this period and that could be explained by the movement of continents that altered the flow of the oceans! So from a relatively small piece of solidified bone buried in a long-dry river bed, scientists are able to determine the history of our planet… fascinating! Not to mention that there is proof of the existence of an African bear – I’d always thought bears were the privilege of only the Northern hemisphere, but here at this site is evidence of a sub-Saharan bear that once scavenged across the South African countryside… truly amazing!
Wendy delivered all this information in such easy to understand terms that it seemed a wonder to me that I didn’t know this already & in fact in the last 3 years their work at this site has been incorporated into the official school syllabus and recent funding has also enabled the construction of a new education centre which is due to be launched in December this year. With 230 identified species from the site, there is a wealth of historical information to gorge yourself upon. Truly a hidden gem under an hour and a half’s drive from the Mother City.
As entranced as we all were, the schedule dictates life to some extent on our trip and we then made our way from the Fossil Park to Shelly Point for a few holes of golf, slightly later than we should have been. In spite of this slight tardiness, the welcome at Bon Hotel Shelly Point couldn’t have been warmer. Vanessa Northing & Amelia Hayes were personally on hand to offer us some much-needed snacks and a few pre-golf ales to get us settled in. With golf carts fully loaded and waiting, we took to the links to swing a few sticks and I must say that we didn’t exactly crown ourselves in glory off the 1st tee-box. I blame the wind. But as the old saying goes “a poor day on the golf course beats a great day in the office” and we were all just glad to be out in such a majestic setting. The sun even made an appearance for us which was welcome in these beginning of winter days.
Whatever kinks a poor round of golf can put into your body, a hydrotherapy session at the Shelly Point spa can surely de-kink! With massage showers, a sauna, steam room, heated pool and Jacuzzi (with beers in the Jacuzzi – contrary to displayed house rules) we truly were being spoilt and I cannot recommend a visit to this classy establishment & their friendly staff more now, having experienced it myself first-hand.
As I sit in my hotel room writing this day’s wrap up, nibbling the cheese and nut platter that awaited me in my room, I cannot wait to get down to dinner with more good company and regaling the tales of the day’s exploits (like when Guy halted the expedition on the way to the Fossil Park, very concerned that his bike had simply gone dead and wouldn’t start. In a bit of a rush, he suggested we take the spare scooter off the trailer while Dwain phoned Scoot Dr. to see if they could perhaps assist remotely. Not a small task, while all this de-coupling of tie-downs frantically took place, I sidled over to the offending scooter, switched the big red engine kill-switch button to on & she started up like a dream! “Oh… must have bumped that when I opened the seat compartment” was all the comeback that he could muster…)
So thanks again to Dwain for tirelessly supporting a misfit crew of entrepid West Coast explorers & let’s see what tomorrow has in store for us – follow the adventure on Twitter through the hashtag #scootwestcoast