Kiting On The Cape
People often ask if this is our first trip to Cape Town. They seem surprised when we say "no". But then we tell them we are part of the international kite festival here. And it surprises us how many people in this large, cosmopolitan city know what we're talking about.
"Cape Town" is now 17 years old. It is the largest kite festival in Africa (which is not a huge standard) and enjoys one of the most effective and broad-based media and public relations programs of any kite event I have seen (which is high standard indeed).
The festival is organized by Cape Mental Health as a fund raiser and an awareness raiser as well. CMH argues that kiting is a positive and uplifting pastime that encourages psycological well being. Susan and I are pleased to serve as patrons to the event.
A few days before the formal event, kiters travel to Khayelitsha, a township on the edge of Cape Town. We visit children in the CMH facility there and then do a flying program in Peace Park. The township is a dusty, windblown expanse of shacks and cinder block homes, and the "park" is little more than a pasture with two soccer goals and a non-working toilet.
Unemployment exceeds 40% and the kids we meet are mostly from single-parent homes. Disabled children here face challenges that are beyond my comprehension. But for a while, flying kites here put smiles on everyone's faces.
I'm not sure if the day is more rewarding for the kids or the kiters.
And throughout the weekend, the press is relentless. I do two radio shows, a spot for a comedy/education program, news report, countless print media photos, and even a segment for a reality show featuring the winner of African Idol.
Over the past few years, an increasing number of international kiters have signed on to attend (at their own expense). This year we have Germans, Brits, Balinese, Americans, and a respectable collection of South African kiters.
Susan and I have brought our whales and the Safari Series of elephants, zebra, giraffe, and hippo.
Flying conditions are challenging. Winds are coming off the land and over the hills rather than from the water. And it is blowing hard.
Susie Takes One for the Cause...
On Thursday, Susie was a celebrity in Khayelitsha, as the news covered her working with local kids from the Cape Mental Health facility.
Saturday, she was a celebrity again, with a full photo spread on page three.
I turned around and the bol, the 50 pound sandbag anchor, and Susie were tumbling downwind. When they stopped, she didn't get up....
Fortunately, she was conscious and not in pain. But something was clearly wrong. Several first aid responders arrived immediately and immobilized her arm. We went directly to a local hospital where x-rays confirmed the shoulder was dislocated. Susie was sedated and then the physicians stretched the arm out and pulled the shoulder back into place. No pain for my wife, but I was traumatized just watching! A second x-ray confirmed the repair worked.
And of course, the photographer caught the entire thing on film....
She is wearing a sling for the rest of the trip and on medication for the soreness. And she is not happy. But fortunately, she is ok and this is not a permanent injury.
BIG thanks to the field first aid staff, to the festival volunteers that took us to the hospital and waited for us there, and to the kiters who picked up all our gear.
Susie is a trooper and always willing to go the extra mile for a host or good cause. In this case, the extra mile was about 20 feet too far....
Now that the festival is over, the winds have abated and the weather is perfect.
We've just wrapped up two relaxing days in Cape Town. Tomorrow we fly to Jo'beg and than on the Krueger. More on that next week.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in a safari of your own, were offering a 20% discount on any of those inflatables between now and November 15.
Susie says we will also take 25% off on any Basket orders while she is wearing her sling....
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