Finding the Ends of the Earth in South Africa

As I stared out the window of the taxi moving through the night streets of Cape Town, I couldn’t help but wonder who had been here before us. A long legacy of colonization, oppression, and betrayal. A coming to terms with that history. A new beginning at the end of a continent.

And yet, for Angela and me, it was a conclusion of sorts.

We arrived in darkness and didn’t know where we were going. Tired. Drained. Full of experience and emptied of energy. Aware only that Africa was coming to a close for us. The land had proved mystical and magnificent at every turn. And us, fighting to stay awake for each sunset, struggling to wake for every glorious sunrise, and attempting to focus our attention on every fleeting detail in between, lest we forget.

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There on the cape we found penguins and kelp forests and cold ocean water. And bright horizons that saw the sun rising from the Indian Ocean and setting in the Atlantic. European breakfasts and rainy walks on colonial streets now bearing the name of Mandela.

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On the marina pier stood a statue dedicated to navy divers past, and, out beyond the rocks and the breakers, the seals raced into the water to dance with us. Twisting, curious, lithe shapes that appeared out of the blue darkness to blink and smile, standing on their heads as we stood on ours. Mimics. Playmates. Excited puppies welcoming us at a homecoming.

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For a moment we were all alone. The seals leaving us with the starfish and the husks of urchins and oysters. A purple and orange landscape of brittle fish bones.

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We are lost in the kelp, and yet have found peace and love. Here at the end of Africa. At the end of it all.

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