Like Southern California, the area around Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate - wet winters and dry summers.
This week the huge Table Mountain National Park (25,000 hectares), which is surrounded by the city of Cape Town, caught fire. Fanned by an extremely strong south-easter, the fire spread rapidly, threatening homes and communities. Three retirement homes in Noordhoek were evacuated in the early hours of the morning, as half a dozen homes in the area were burnt to the ground, as well as a 5-Star hotel sitting on the water's edge in Hout Bay..
One of the retired women commented to a reporter that she hadn't had as much excitement in years!
To compound the problem, persistent winds combined with the hottest day on record for Cap Town (40 degrees C - 104 degrees F).
Firefighters had to walk to many of the fire due to the mountainous nature of the area. And as you can imagine, there are hundreds of them trying to contain the blaze, plus water-bombing helicopters and planes.
As of Wednesday evening, fires were still raging in many areas, and a new one had started in the Cape Point area.
This area is by far the smallest of the earth's six floral kingdoms (about a third the size of the UK) and is the only one contained within one continent. Fortunately the 8000+ species of plant thrive when there are fires like this. However, the animals don't, and the kill rate has been very high.
Of course, the best way to convey what is happening is to show you.
|300-year-old Tokai Manor is threatened.|
|A bakkie (pick-up) full of ice for the firefighters|
|A small tortoise rescued|
|A large one perishes|
|Rescuing a baby squirrel|
|One of the many who put their lives on the line|
After Caro's sad tale last Friday about Mikaeel Kular, I have a happy one.
Seventeen years ago, on April 28, 1997, Celeste Nurse gave birth to a daughter at the famous Groote Schuur hospital (of Christiaan Barnard fame). She and her husband gave the little girl the name Zephany.
When Celeste awoke after being heavily medicated for a Caearean section, the little girl had disappeared - abducted by someone unknown.
One cannot imagine the grief that the family felt.
Later the Nurse family had three more children, the eldest being Cassidy. But Zephany's family never gave up hope and celebrated her birthday every year.
At the beginning of this year, 15-year old Cassidy befriended a new girl at the school she attended, and they started hanging out together. The friendship blossomed as they found they shared similar tastes in almost everything - music, clothes, boys, etc.
Other pupils at the school started commenting on the two, saying how much alike they looked. Cassidy's father heard of this and decided to take a look himself. One day he joined them for lunch at at a local fast-food joint, and was also struck by the resemblance. The girl also had a birthday exactly the same as Zephany's.
He decided to alert an investigator and the police. Before doing anything, they checked on the DNA and, when it matched, took Zephany (not her name for the past 17 years) from the woman who had abducted her.
Now begins the slow, difficult, and complicated process of integrating her into her biological family.
But, nevertheless, a very happy ending.
Stan - Thursday