We all learnt about it in geography class. It fascinated me for some reason. I would see, in my mind’s eye, ships sailing around it, feeling triumphant and hopeful about the rest of their trip. When I finally made it to South Africa, I had to go see the Cape of Good Hope. I wanted to complete that geography class from my childhood. The Cape didn’t disappoint in beauty or awe inspiration. The disappointment came when I realized it’s NOT the Southern-most point of Africa! Heartbreak 💔! So what is? I asked. Cape Agulhas! Off I went to see where the Indian and the Atlantic oceans meet. Another disappointment. Again, not in beauty but it’s nothing spectacular. The terrain is flat and the 2 oceans blend nicely. Where one ocean ends and the other starts is only a matter of human terminology, not a natural phenomena. The Cape of Good Hope is certainly more impressive. Big rocky mountains towering magnificently over the churning blue waters of the Atlantic ocean. High peaks, sharp drops, dramatic scenery and, the best part: wild animals. Baboons, several antelopes, ostriches, wild pigs and birds of prey. It was originally called, more accurately, the “Cape of Storms” until the king of Portugal played a marketing trick on the world. He changed the name to the “Cape of Good Hope” to attract more people to it. Why go through all the trouble, expenses and danger of sailing around Africa? Why all the shipwrecks, lives lost and property damages? Spices! Once the Europeans tasted those yummy Indian spices, compared them to their bland food, there was no turning back. “I want that turmeric” they obsessed! They would do anything, including kill and die for some spices! Going by land was equally dangerous as they had to deal with the, then, mighty Ottoman Empire. So they went by sea around the horn of Africa, risking everything, to spice up their lives. Cape Town started as a small Dutch refreshment station for ships. One thing lead to another and the rest is history. Ah! What we do for love (of food)!
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