Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

January 1, 2006 Happy New Year! We walked down to the Hop On Hop Off bus, this time to take the Blue route (90 Rand per person, unlimited transportation all day). This seemed to be a good way to pass the day since everything was closed for the holiday. We were across from the tourist center, but due to the holiday, everything was closed. The bus stop is in front of a German – English bookstore and there was a poster of Cape Town in the window that caught our eye. Ron set his hat on security railing of a door while he bent over to take a picture of the poster. At that minute, the Blue bus arrived and we jumped on. It was minutes later that he realized his hat was still on the railing. It was a Tilley hat and cost about $50.00 when he bought it, so he really wanted it back. He told the guide on the bus and she told him to kiss it good-bye. He asked if she could call the Red bus guide who had the same stop and have them check it out. She said she would, but did not make any moves to do so. The blue route overlaps the red with a few stops, but there are many more stops than are shown in their brochure, so both routes are worth doing if one has the time. There are some wonderful beaches on the blue route that were not covered on any of our other trips. Our first hop off was the Botanical Garden. This is beautifully laid out, but surprisingly being summer, there was not a lot in bloom. The garden is huge though and could be a full day event. Each section is clearly marked with signs like “Scented Garden” and “Medicinal Plants”. There are hills, dales, and ponds, and fountains in addition to a statue garden. We only stayed for two hours to maximize our bus ticket. Before we left, we had a coffee in the restaurant and I had my first carrot cake of the trip. When we got back on the bus with the same guide, she never mentioned the hat and when we asked, she said it was not found. My thought was that she had never bothered to check. As we were about to leave the gardens, two more people wanted to get on. They were refused since the bus was full. No on is allowed to stand. We were going to get off at Hout Bay, but then thought better of it. Since it was a holiday, they were only running their smaller buses. At each stop, people were refused entry due to lack of seats. We were afraid that if we got off, we would not get back to town. At one point, a group stated that they had been waiting for over 4 hours. They argued with the guide until she finally called the office and the office agreed to issue them a refund on their tickets. We got stuck in traffic and it took more than an hour for the next scheduled stop. The beaches were wall to wall or sand to sand and covered with umbrellas. It was amazing to think this was New Years. When we finally returned to the tourist office stop, I looked at the grate where Ron had left his hat, but it was empty. Then I happened to look up and saw a young black man crossing the street with it. I shouted there is the hat and I jumped off of the bus. The bus driver started blowing the horn to get the guy’s attention. I yelled to him too. He started to come back to me when another guy came out of no where and grabbed the hat out of the young man’s hand and brought it over to me. He asked if the hat was mine. When I said it was, he said he had been meeting buses all day looking for the owner. I gave him 20 Rand and he was happy, until the first guy grabbed the 20 and said “You owed me twenty, now we are even.” We went to the Catwalk and checked e-mails. Finally, we walked to Old Town Hall and called a taxi from there. Rikki does not run on holidays. When we got home, Ron fixed the chicken we had bought a few days ago. We read and showered outside in the dark. Don and Patricia asked if we wanted to join them for a movie, but we were not up to it. I finished The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille and started Flowers for Algernon. At first, it was like reading students' papers with all of the mistakes, but in the book they are intentional. At 3:30 am, I received an SMS from a student wishing me a Happy New Year.

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