Saturday was a lovely, sunny day…I spent the morning reading, journaling, grading, and I feel prepared for the final week of class. In the afternoon, Sheila and I went to a local vineyard, Steenberg, which was founded in 1682 (!). The vineyards are absolutely beautiful now with the golden grape leaves of late autumn (see photo).
The wine tasting was free (!), and we learned a lot about local history through the wines, many of which were named after ships from the war at Muizenberg…the HMS Rattlesnake, Sphynx, and Echo, to name a few. It was a delightful way to spend a couple of hours. The sun was so warm, I even had to remove my outer sweater and then apply sunscreen (amazing!). I think a few freckles popped out.
The flower in the photo is a protea, the national flower of South Africa. It has a huge blossom, sort of reminiscent of a small pineapple, only pink…lovely, lovely. (I read how words are often said twice for emphasis in “African English”…seems fitting here.) You can see how large it is by using Sheila’s hand as a frame of reference. The grounds of this vineyard were quite stunning with the grapevines, flowers & trees (including wonderfully smelling eucalyptus), water features, and mountains in the background. (And the spectacular chandelier made of glass grapes!)
From my Lonely Planet travel guide book, “Dozens of flowers that are domesticated elsewhere grow wild here, including gladiolus, proteas, birds of paradise, and African lilies. South Africa is also the only country with one of the world’s six floral kingdoms within its borders.” I guess there are over 1300 species of plants in the Cape Floral Region, whereas the South American rainforests can only boast 900 species. Even more, “Over 20,000 plant species sprout from South African soil – an amazing 10% of the world’s total, although the country constitutes only 1% of the earth’s land surface.” Who knew? Based on those statistics, that must mean that there are over 200,000 plant species in the world…way to go, God! His Creation of plants, animals, land formations, bodies of water, and even us humans is pretty incredible. By the way, I also learned (again from my guide book) that “aardvark” is an Afrikaans word meaning “earth pig.” And, hoofed animals (like the aforementioned earth pig) are called “ungulates.” I think I knew that term once, but had forgotten it. (Sorry for the long paragraph with the biology lesson…I told you I spent Saturday morning reading!)
Saturday evening was another rugby match, but Binci was unable to join us (her absence was a bit mysterious…she just told Sheila she wasn’t coming). Anyway, this time the food was ostrich curry and noodles…very yum yum (see photo)…along with some Pinotage, a red wine unique to South Africa. Our Hermanus guide, Marinda (from last Sunday), told me that a horticulturist at the University of Stellenbosch created it by crossing Pinot and Cinsaut (or Shiraz, formerly called Hermitage) grapes, hence, Pinotage.
Don’t worry, I’m really not drinking all the time, it is just more a part of the culture here, in the biggest wine-producing region outside of Europe. And, it is done responsibly and in moderation (not to say there aren’t problems with alcohol abuse and dependence). At the vineyards, the standard six tastes are very small, probably not even equaling one glass. Here is an amusing quote, again from my guide book: “Today, praise be the Lord, wine was pressed for the first time from Cape grapes.” –Jan Van Riebeeck, 2 February 1659. There is a looooong history of wine here.
Oh, the Springboks won the rugby match against England, 36-27. I’ll spare you the bloodied faces in my photos this week. It was quite exciting, and it got very close in the second half after the Springboks dominated the first half. No “yum yum” comments this time from the gallery, though I think I have identified my favorite: #8, Pierre Spies (say “Spees”). I think I might have to buy a Springboks jersey or scarf…I have become a fan.
Sunday morning I returned to the Claremont Methodist Church…it was good to visit once again. This week the message was out of Ephesians 6:10-20, reminding us to put on God’s armor everyday to face the ongoing spiritual warfare in the world. We were urged to pray fervently, and never forget to carry God’s word, our sword, into battle. It was passionately preached, and I felt inspired. This little church in South Africa has a big heart, and I appreciate the warm welcome I received during my time here.
The evening held more rugby…this time the junior Springbok team – the “Baby Boks” – played Argentina in the Junior World Cup semifinals. These guys are are 18- to 20-year-olds and future “grown-up bok” stars. The Baby Boks easily won, 35-3, and will face New Zealand in the final Friday night. Even more, it will be held in Newlands Stadium, just down the street from my home stay.
On to our last week of the program…!