Mare and I love adrenaline adventures. South Africa’s coastal town of Gansbaii is the place for shark-cage diving. We book it, along with a room at Backpacker’s Hostel in nearby Hermanus, where drunken youths revel in obscenities and keep us awake for two nights.
We decide to cancel the dive, but not because of the party. A rainy day gives Mare time to do research on cage diving. She felt uneasy about it from the beginning. According to Marine biologists, (not George Castanza):
- Sharks will normally disappear at the sight of humans, unless attracted.
- Chumming (throwing fish and blood into the water) changes predator behavior…an unnatural situation for sharks. (It happens 250,000 times a year in South Africa)
- Great Whites may be associating humans with food, near beaches.
- Shark cage diving has been banned in Australia since 2012.
- This adrenaline adventure gives a false sense of bravery. I mean, the cage is attached to the boat and simply dropped under water level. It’s too safe!
- Taunting sharks is not sustainable tourism.
- It’s akin to feeding bears. “A fed bear is a dead bear.”
Let’s drive to the continent’s most southern point, Cape Agulhas, where warm waters of the Indian Ocean collide with the frigid Atlantic. Wind howls over flat terrain. Waters churn and spray over rocky shores.
Watch the sun rise over the Indian Ocean, and set over the Atlantic. Nah. That would take all day. Despite the surprising number of beach homes here, there’s not much to do. After munching on fish cakes and squid at a café on a gorgeous beach, we head inland.
The road twists around massive wheat farms, hills, mountains, and scrubby terrain. Temperatures soar at 104 degrees Fahrenheit. We’re exhausted after eight hours of driving, when “Ronnie’s Sex Shop” appears roadside in the middle of nowhere.
Bras and underwear hang from the pub’s ceiling, where we have a well deserved cold one. Ice cream and T-shirts are for sale next door. Is this a mirage? Actually, the place has nothing to do with sex. Ronnie is a mellow, friendly fellow whose creative gimmick will refresh any long journey.
Finally we relax in the comfort of the Bisibee, an immaculate Guest House in the town of Oudtshoorn. Here, we toast the Great White Sharks. There are plenty of other adrenaline activities available for our indulgence.