CAPE POINT, S.A. - If you look on a map of the earth, this sliver of land looks like it is at the bottom of the world.
Yet here, high atop the cliffs at the lighthouse of Cape Point, looking south toward the spot where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans allegdly meet, you feel as if youíre on top of it.
Majestic. Beautiful. Awe-inspiring.
From below come the sounds of waves crashing against the rocks, almost as if in a soothing rhythm that transcends time. Look out in the distance and you can see for hundreds of kilometres, one mountainous shoreline leading to nearby Cape Town, the other meandering its way toward distant Port Elizabeth.
It is just four days before the World Cup final, and a visit here has cleansed the senses and the mind from thoughts of a previously busted cell phone, stolen camera, a three-day bed stint with flu-like symptoms, you name it.
This much is certain: This is about as opposite from dingy downtown Johannesburg as you can get. A magical place that I will miss. Perhaps for the remainder of my life.
But there will be other things I will miss from my South Africa 2010 experience including:
- The People: For the most part, as friendly as youíll find. When a pair of Canadian reporters lose their way while trying to find their rental home, a woman is asked for directions. She responds by leading them to the actual house. Seeing these folks going beyond the call is nothing unusual.
- The Orange Nation: Back when the Denver Broncos wore predominantly orange for home games at Mile High Stadium, fans would dress in a sea of tangerine. Remember that? Now multiply that by 50. Thatís how rabid backers of the Netherlands are.
- England fans: Sitting in Cape Pointís Green Point Stadium listening to supporters of the Three Lions singing as one was impressive, especially since they were able to drown out the vuvuzelas. Hooligans? Maybe in the past, but not here. Shame on foul-mouthed Wayne Rooney for ripping into them.
- The Cape Point baboons: Where else can you be driving down a two-lane road, come around a corner, and see a family of baboons, baby planted firmly on mommaís back, leisurely sauntering on the shoulder past traffic? Sure, they are pests, breaking into area homes and cars. But, in the end, they arenít my home or cars.
- Ostrich rolls: My guide warned me that these flightless birds, which roam freely around parts of South Africa, can be dangerous because they have a lethal kick if you get too close. Thatís not an issue when you get their meat served up in a spring roll, a real local delicacy. Yummy.
- Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban: A great venue in an outstanding town. The city reminds you of San Francisco, with itís rolling hills. The stadium, meanwhile, is outstanding, with its concrete archway that goes all the way over it. At the conclusion of the World Cup, a cable car will run over the arch. People will start bungy jumping too. That would be cool. To watch, not to do.
- Diego Forlan: With his long flowing locks, the Uruguay striker always had a smile on his face - and, in many cases, at least one goal on the scoreboard.
- Diego Maradona: He laughed. He cried. And, most importantly, he filled our notebooks.
- Mick Jagger: The dinosaur front man of the Rolling Stones was a bettorís delight at South Africa 2010. Hereís how it worked: find out who Mick was cheering for, bet against that team, then wait to collect your winnings. Almost every team Jagger went to see to support, ended up losing. They couldnít get no satisfaction whenever Mick was in the house.
- Charlize Theron: You have to ask why? As stunningly beautiful in person as on the silver screen.
- Rhino & Lion nature reserve, Gauteng: A place where you can get to within three metres of a full-grown lion. Why do I miss the place? Because, thankfully, the lion missed me on its hunt for food. Seeing my buddy George Johnson get playfully gnawed while petting a baby lion was good for a few yuks too.
- Cape Town: Under the shadow of Table Mountain, itís one of the most beautiful settings in the world.
- The Characters: Wilfred, the incompetent, good natured cabbie whose business card has a limo on it, but whose actual car is a beater with a cracked windshield and only three hubcaps ... Megan and Gareth, the wonderful people who rented their home to five Canadian ink-stained wretches ... And, finally, colleagues Morris Dalla Costa, George Johnson, Chris Young and Cathal Kelly, the housemates who helped make bearable some near-impossible conditions in a near-impossible place. Thanks guys.