12.11.2009 - 13.11.2009
At the end of the day it is just a few rocks, with some scrub and cliffs set back a bit, with relentlessly pounding waves and water. For me, it was the part-realisation and semi-achievement of a long held dream. Back in the early 2000s, I had got to know a Danish guy, Morten. Morten had a land-rover, and several dreams of long trips to be undertaken. It was the early days of the Landy project. We exchanged some emails, met a few times, became friends – which we remain – and even did a small pre-trip trip, driving through Norway right up to Nordkapp and with plans for several more and a start on the main part only months away. Details of the long haul were always sketchy, except to say that it was a long term plan of several years, and the first part of the journey involved driving from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas: the Northernmost point in Europe to the Southernmost point of Africa. And the Nordkapp loop had already been taken care of.
Sadly, circumstances and sh1t happens then got in the way. Problems with time, finances, the vehicle and other friends/people due to appear at odd times led to several postponements. Life, and all that entails, got in the way. Despite an official farewell party for Morten way back in 2004-ish (?), the Landy never really left. Morten ended up going to South Africa to work, and I traveled to Asia. The Landy, I believe, is currently in Portugal. We still periodically talk or consider plans of trips of varying length, extravagance and scope, but the original Landy dream in its form is pretty much dead.
But Cape Agulhas retained its hold on me, and it was pretty much the one non-negotiable wish that I had had before coming to South Africa. I just had to go there. And really, it is just a lump of windswept rock. By the time we arrived, it was close to 6pm and it had already been a long and very successful day. It would be close to 11pm before we finally arrived in Oudtshoorn for a night of well needed rest. But to me, it was worth it.
Despite what you might think or be told in Cape Town, it is here and not Cape Point that the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. It is the site of innumerable shipwrecks over the years, especially in early years of ship exploration in this part of Africa. Well over thousands of men on hundreds of ships have come into trouble and lost their lives here, and even today, it remains a dangerous location for the unwary captain or small boat.
I love these sorts of desolate cliff and rocky outposts, which almost feel like the end of the world. As I have at several others (Erimo Misaki in North East Japan is another favourite), I could have sat for, probably, hours just gazing out to sea over the crashing waves and windswept rocks, pretty much until i had frozen to death. The knowledge that the next land to be reached if you headed due South, West or East would be many, many days and thousands of kilometers is in a way, to me at least, awesome. Head due South - and the closest landfall - and you won't meet anything until you crash into Antarctica.
But at the end of the day, a rock is a rock, and after the obligatory cheesy photos it was time to head onwards. As we drove slowly away, I reflected that whilst I might not have gone the whole way from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas in one trip, I have now visited both extremes - without ever getting on an airplane for good measure - and also seen a good chunk of the world in between. And for that, I will always be happy.