Saturday, 23 July 2011

Storm's Cape Town

Beautiful Cape Town is situated at the southern tip of the African Continent, and is also the setting for my upcoming novel, Storm's Choice. For those readers who are not familiar with Cape Town or South Africa, I would like to highlight places and facts of interest about Cape Town - and I hope to find a few Capetonian ghosts to share with you.
The view of Table Mountain across the bay

A little Capetonian history - but not so much as to bore you
Bartholomew Diaz, the Portugese explorer who discovered the stormy southern tip of Africa in 1488, named it the Cape of Good Hope. He was by no means the first mariner to round the Cape, as this was a trade route used by the great merchant traders of antiquity - the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, Arabs, Chinese and Indians - but it was Diaz who highlighted the importance of a halfway station on the trade route from Europe to the Far East.
On 6 April 1652 Jan van Riebeeck landed with his 3 ships at the Cape to start a trading post for the Dutch East India Company. His mission was to grow fruit and vegetables to sell to the passing ships. Fresh fruit and veg on board was essential in the prevention of the dreaded disease, scurvy.
And so the Cape Colony was born. Van Riebeeck built a fort from mud and wood, but the Castle, the oldest colonial building left, was built some years after Van Riebeeck had left the colony. It was designed in the shape of a five-pointed star. The town of Cape Town grew around the Castle. In its early days, the Castle was the home of the governors of the Colony, it was used for trade, defense and as jail for outlaws, who were chained to the dungeon walls. Executions took place within the castle walls. Naturally the castle is haunted and future posts will deal with some of the more colourful ones.
Although the Castle does not feature in Storm's Choice, Storm drives past it every day to and from work. Her office is in the city bowl, in the heart of Cape Town, but the apartment she shares with her friend, Donna, is in Newlands, which is behind Table Mountain. En route home, Storm also passes the world famous Groote Schuur Hospital, where she herself is briefly hospitalized. It was here, at the Groote Schuur Hospital, that the world's first heart transplant was performed on 3 December 1967 - I was a whole seven years old at the time and I remember the fuss! The patient, Louis Washkansky, survived the transplant and lived a further 18 days, dying of pneumonia.
Yes, Cape Town, from humble beginnings, to a world-class metropolis, it has stunning views, a hodge-podge of cultures - an altogether interesting place, which we shall explore together.
What do you think so far?


No comments:

Post a Comment