Capes of Hope and Capes of Needles. They have been points of extreme joy and abject devastation. Today we are drawn to them, as if by some magnetic force, but from the perfect safety of the land. The shipwrecks suffered have mostly disappeared but as I stand on the Capes I cant help but think about the treacherous conditions which those sailors and all their passengers faced on the stormy and disobedient seas, lives and loves lost in an instant. I breathe in the fresh air and look out. The ocean rolls on, unperturbed by any of its cruel takings.We can offer respect to it while enjoying the saltiness thrown up into our faces as a stark reminder of not taking it lightly.
The Cape of Good Hope was named the Cape of Storms by Bartolomeu Dias when he found it for good reason. Its second name of Good Hope resonated the immense feeling of relief and optimism felt by sailors who knew that in rounding that point they could travel up eastward towards India which was so important to trade at the time. Today it lies on the Atlantic side of the tip and is windswept and stormy inhabited by friendly hyrax and many many tourists.
Cape Point is a national reserve and the area leading down to the Cape of Good Hope and it is beautiful to explore but more of that in my next blog. A lot of people think that the Cape of Good Hope is the southernmost tip of Africa but of course that prize goes to Cape Agulhas also known as the Cape of Needles. This is southeast of Cape Town in the Overberg area and it was named the Cape of Needles after the Portuguese navigators noticed that the direction of magnetic north- the needle- coincided with the true north. This is also the southern most point in Africa.
This area is flatter and less dramatic but no less treacherous and it is said that some 150 ships were shipwrecked off this coast. A lighthouse now stands and is constantly on to alert the passing ships to the dangers.