April 30
More from Cape Town

Our final morning in Cape Town, the sun burst through, burning off the cloud cover. Since we had a late afternoon departure, we decided to take one last excursion – a gondola ride to the top of 3,000 foot Table Mountain.

From this rugged vista, the city, the country side, and Robben Island spread below us. And for a moment it seemed we could squint into the Southern distance, past the pole, and back up around the other side of the world.

It was enough to make me forget my uneasiness with heights.

Table Mountain Table Mountain Table Mountain

The 9th Annual Cape Town International Kite Festival had ended the night before with an exquisite meal overlooking churning surf and blustering rain. Fortunately we'd pulled everything in and packed it for travel as we watched the storm approach across the valley.

Saturday morning, I rose early and headed for an Internet Café to try and retrieve mail. As I entered, the proprietor wished me a Happy Freedom Day. With a proud and deserved smile, he explained that April 27, 1994, was when most South Africans received the right to vote.

An hour later I was on the kite field easing my largest pieces into the air.

Festival Flying

Not every festival features a host of large showpieces or a large contingent of fliers. South Africa is far from the other big events, but their fliers are as enthused and as 'mainstream' as any I have met on my travels.

We were in Cape Town to fly the big stuff and did our best in the light breezes. But promptly at 2 pm, we were told to bring everything down. The real show was about to begin.

Forty schools had been invited to the festival – each provided with kite skins to decorate. Ten children and ten kites from each facility gathered in the workshop tent where volunteers helped stick the kites and form them into arches.

Kids Workshops

Anyone who has been on a field with 400 novice fliers will immediately see the merit of making short arches instead of long-line individual mayhem. And of course, each school had parents, staff and other kids in attendance to swell the spectator crowd.

Kids Arches

Kites were judged for artistry, craftsmanship, and adherence to the theme "Let's Fly Together". It was really a wonderful thing to see.

We finished the day with a formal rokkaku battle. Only modesty prevents me from naming the winner, although I can tell you it was the same chap that brought the competition down in Berck France a week earlier.

On Sunday, we rose early again for a twenty minute drive to the Boulder Bay Penguin Colony. All week long, we had made jokes about flying our big Penguin there. "Our African Penguins are different than the one you brought", we were told. "I certainly hope so!" I replied, "because my Penguin is 50 feet tall!!!"

As it turned out, the beach was much too small for a large kite launch and it would have been an intrusion on the wonderfully natural setting. But the birds were delightful to watch and amazing to get close to.

Penguin Friends

Susie warned me to not reach out to one fellow, but I figured I had already petted a cheetah earlier in the week and penguins don't have teeth. He waddled up, turned his head sideways to examine me, and then with lightening speed, grabbed hold just above the knuckle. Turns out I was safer with the big cat!

Back at the field, the winds shifted from south to north, and from light to very strong. We struggled to offer a show, and for the record, we damaged a Cody, a Pilot 75, a Shannon 50, put a minor tear in the paw of a Kitty, and tore the bungie from a large Crown. So watch for some deals on the Factory in the next few weeks.

With storms approaching, we pulled the kites down and packed them an hour before the formal close of the event. The locals also packed up and even the sound system went down.

Festival Flying

I'm flying home today -- totally exhausted!! I have emails to answer and work to get done. But the Southern Cross is rising in the night sky and all I want to do is doze, dream, and remember.

It has been quite some time since Susie and I left a festival and wanted to stay on longer. The people and scenery and emotions were all so remarkable! It has been a very long way to come, but we are determined to return.

It is 6 am and we're in Frankfurt (Germany) now for connections to Los Angeles. If we stay on schedule, we'll be in Neotsu about 7 tonight. We have just 12 hours at home and I want to stay awake there even if it is night time. After all, we're off to Japan at ten in the morning and I can sleep on the plane. There are more adventures just ahead.

We'll be checking emails as we go and back in the office on the 7th.

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