Day Sixteen-Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope, Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach written by Yuqing “Bill” Wang

Today is our first actual day in Cape Town since we landed yesterday. After a delicious breakfast, we left the B.I.G backpacker at eight. Despite it was the second time for me to actually be in this city, knowing we will be visiting Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, and the penguins still excites me, because I knew as a fact that I will be learning something new today.

We first arrived at the Table Mountain. As one of the new seven wonders of nature, Table Mountain in known for its incredible views of the city, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. In the afternoon, sometimes we could see sea of clouds pouring down the mountains like waterfalls. In the old times, Table Mountain were used as a land mark for the Europeans travelers to know that they have arrived Cape Town. Table Mountain and its surrounding area is known for their unique flora kingdom as well. Thanks to the flammable shrubland, a diverse and unique floral kingdom was created with 69 percent of its plant species being endemic. We took a cable car to the top of the mountain. What is unique about this cable car is that it can rotate 360 during its ascend, and we got to experience entire view without moving inside the cart. With the howling wind blowing, we saw the most incredible views with one side of the mountain being the city of Cape Town, the other side with the oceans and some other mountains covered with sea of clouds floating. On the rocky mountain itself, plants and flowers are all over the sites. Animals like the dassie and various kinds of birds are playing freely inside the protections of shrub like plants. Unfortunately, with the tight schedule, we had to leave this place and head to meet the Penguins.

Cape Town is a city currently experiencing a severe drought. Even though it is right next to the ocean and its sky is full of clouds, there has been not a single drop of rain coming down from the sky for the past months. It is one of the biggest drought in 100 years. Everywhere we go, soils are not brown. Soils in Cape Town are just like sands. According to our guide, Cape Townians had introduced Australian plants, which were already adapted to this kind of soil conditions, to slow down the desertification of the land in Cape Town by holding down the soil with its roots. It is a brilliant idea to introduce another species from places far away from our planet to adapt the changes in local environment of what could possibly be one of the consequences of our human activities. However, there had to be draw backs from this activities.

After another half an hour drive, we arrived at the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony. Being known as the easiest place on earth to meet penguins, the first thing I have noticed is that the sands are incredibly soft. With the creamy look of the sands, the beach itself is a pleasure to look at. After walking through the gates, we are walking on the wooden platform above where the penguins stands. All the African penguins, the only penguin found on the African Continent, are taking their time under the sunshine of South Africa. One thing I noticed is that for those penguins, instead of making their own nest, they lived in those big plastic tubes human prepared for them. It was later that I understood that people did that in order to attract the penguins to the continent of Africa, not only for tourist attraction, but also for the protection of penguins by giving them a safe place to lay eggs. Penguins usually nests on islands no land, in fact, this is the only place where penguins are reachable on land.

There is a sign that caught my attention. It showed how invasive species effected the habitat for the penguins. In fact, the invasive species is from Australia, the exact same species that were used to prevent desertification here in Cape Town. As it turns out, this species is not flammable unlike any local plants. This was an floral system based on the easy to flame shrubs. However, the introduction of inflammable Australian plants had a strong advantages over the local plants and is in fact taking over the local plants. A huge portion of the plants we saw at the Penguin Colony is invasive species. People here introduced foreign species intended to help the local system turns out is harming the local sustainability. A interconnected globalization brought convenience to Cape Town, but at the same time, it’s killing what made Cape Town special, it’s unique Floral Kingdom.

After the Penguin, we headed towards the Cape point, the Cape of Good Hope. Being known as the southernmost point of the continent of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope is the point where the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean merged. It is call the Cape of Good Hope is because of the reason that for the European trading ships headed towards Asia, the Cape of Good Hope means that they have past the Atlantic Ocean, and they are now in the Indian Ocean where the currents are calmer, the most dangerous part of the journey is over. Instead of taking the little train up the hill, we walked up the hill. On our way up, we have noticed the Baboons here were extremely aggressive towards humans. In fact, we even saw them robbing people. After they robbed people’s backpacks, they straight up throws them on the ground. After a fifteen minutes’ walk, we have arrived the top of the hill. The view is incredible once again. With the freezing wind blowing from the direction of Antarctica, it’s hard to imagine how much did the European explorers were willing to risk in order to get the species from Asia without the Suez Canal. The little museum at the top of the hill next to the light house future explained the risk of going to Asia, and how many ships were buried forever here.

After walking out of the little museum, I am glad that I was born in the 21st century. No matter how far apart humans are, they have always find a way even with the greatest obstacles to unite, to connect, and to share. At the same time, I am also worried about challenge 21st century brings. The globalization give solutions to almost every problem we faced. Sometimes it is too easy to only see what it could bring us in the short run without looking at the long term effects of this rather easy solution. As one of the many global citizens of the 21st century, it is our mission to appreciate what 21st century brings us, yet at the same time, to sustain the planet of ours and everything in it.Table