WULF UTIAN’S LETTER FROM CAPE TOWN DECEMBER 2021

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WHAT’S UP?

RETURN OF MY NEWSLETTER
AND ARRIVAL OF A NEW COVID VARIANT

Responding to the requests from so many of you, which I truly appreciate, I have decided to resume my monthly Letters from Cape Town.

We left Cleveland the evening before Thanksgiving heading to South Africa reporting some of the world’s lowest Covid numbers. Dire warnings of overwhelmed airports and blizzards in Chicago and Cleveland made us fear the worst but hope for the best. The latter happened. Airports were uncrowded and Clubs were empty, as evidenced by the following photos. The media had misled us, causing unnecessary concern. The trip was flawless.

UNITED CLUB, CLEVELAND
UNITED CLUB, CHICAGO
LUFTHANSA CLUB, MUNICH

In-flight the world had turned on a dime. We arrived to the news that we were on one of the last international flights allowed in because the world was in panic about “a new South African Covid variant.” Omicron, as it was soon to be labeled, was actually present but unrecognized in over 15 countries when scientists in South Africa identified, genotyped, and reported it to the world. Instead of commending SA for the high quality of its science and its integrity in early reporting, in stark contrast to what China had done in the original spread of Covid, the country was punished for its scientific integrity.  Again, the media had it wrong. So did Boris Johnson who has never missed an opportunity to mismanage the Covid pandemic and was the leader of the pack in starting the snowball travel ban to and from SA. So, SA does the right thing and pays a heavy economic price with 72% of British and European tourist reservations canceled within 48 hours, and this at the peak of the tourist season.

Once again, we are fearing the worst and hoping for the best. Early indications show an extremely contagious variant that appears to have attenuated to a milder disease, but that can break through vaccinated individuals. Time will tell. Enough of Covid, we are all indeed Covid fatigued.

Cape Town continues to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

LOOKING TOWARDS CAMPS BAY FROM HOUT BAY ROAD

This season we are living in a brand new, ultra-luxurious apartment called Bantry Hills with ocean views and wrap around balconies, a gym and lap pool. These days occupying high-tech new places also involves a steep learning curve in working the devices and appliances, as witnessed by the following instruction manuals I was presented with. A  technician was sent in to give me a crash course. Hopefully I won’t crash the system! But it is good to be back in Cape Town, spending time with Lara and our grandson’s Jack and Max, and seeing so many old friends, even if we do have to wear masks and socially distance. That seems to have become a way of life.

BANTRY HILLS
THE INSTRUCTION MANUALS

What I find very stimulating is the area in which we live. Literally one short block’s walk from our apartment, I am in a thriving, multicultural shopping area that at times makes me feel like Paris. On the corner is a cute coffee shop with outdoor tables. Next door is the ice cream store, with at least 6 varieties of dairy free gelato, all delicious. On the opposite corner is the fish shop where the early morning catch provides the freshest fish in the world. And next door to the fish shop is the butcher. Across the street is the supermarket and the baker. As I walked back up the hill with a full shopping bag peaked by 2 fresh Parisian baguettes, the only homeless man on the road shouted “Shabbat Shalom” to me. It was Tuesday.  I think he has found the golden key to survival. But his presence does  highlight the extraordinary chasm between rich and poor in this complicated country.

THE PERMANENT ABODE OF THE ONLY HOMELESS MAN ON THE ROAD
THE COFFEE SHOP LOOKING TOWARDS THE ICE CREAM STORE
DELICIOUS FISH

Further afield, there is nowhere in the world to match my absolute favorite place, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. This has once again become my choice place for my weekly hikes. A winter of heavy rains has the gardens in peak beauty. One hardly knows where to look – at the grandeur of the mountains in the background, the floral vistas, or to deeply concentrate on the magnificence and beauty of individual blooms.

TABLE MOUNTAIN AND DEVILS PEAK FORM THE BACKGROUND TO THE GARDENS
CASTLE ROCK, ONCE UPON A TIME MY FAVORITE HIKE WHEN I CLIMBED THE SMUTS TRAIL

And here are some of the flowers in bloom.

A PINCUSHION PROTEA
A QUEEN PROTEA
WATSONIA, GROWS ONLY IN THE WESTERN CAPE
PELAGONIUM
MORE PROTEA
THE STRIKING CAPE CHESTNUT TREE
DETAIL OF CAPE CHESTNUT BLOOMS

This in a nutshell is our domestic background.  Our exploration of other parts of the country will start again at the end of the month after  a long involuntary Covid hiatus, and I look forward to sharing our experiences with you in my next communication.

Moira and I wish you all good health, a return to normality, and a productive and joyful 2022.

As ever

Wulf

Cape Town, December 16, 2021.

28 Responses

  1. Glad you and Moira made it safely to SA. Yes, the world is a different and rather paranoid place. I agree with you that travel bands do not work as we saw with Australia that had closed off the country for over a year yet could not prevent COVID spread. Australian death rates are much lower, I guess. I think we will all come to a compromise that there will remain a resistant population that will not get vaccinated and that we will be masking for years to come until COVID becomes less deadly like the flu. Glad you are enjoying the summer in SA. We are planning to go to Australia to visit our grandkids in Jan assuming that Australia doesn’t change their travel restrictions. Jim Liu

    1. So good to hear from you. Agree on all counts. I do hope you get to make your trip. After that add SA to your bucket list. Would love to host you in Cape Town. Best, Wulf

  2. Dearest Wulf and Moi, so great to be able to read and enjoy your letters once more. The photos are outstanding and look forward to all your next letters. Love from the family.

  3. How great it is to once again enjoy reading your letters and looking at those outstanding photos. Look forward to all your future letters. Love from all the family.

  4. Dear Wolf,
    So glad you and Moira are well and arrived safely. We were concerned on hearing the news about Omicron. The pictures from the Botanical Garden are beautiful..
    Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2022!
    Love,
    Sandy and Elliot

  5. Thanks for the report. Glad things are going well for you and Moira. Beautiful photo. Have a very healthy and happy New Year! Jeff and Sue

  6. Glad that you’re well and thriving. From the description, it’s a far cry from Jacob Zuma going to jail, etc. Watch out for serpents bearing apples and stay safe, Fred.

    1. So good to hear from you. Congratulations on organizing your 60th class anniversary. Ours is in 2022 and I just wish someone would pick up the reins and do the same for us. Do you have any advice? All the best for 2022.

    1. So good to hear from you. Congratulations on organizing your 60th class anniversary. Ours is in 2022 and I just wish someone would pick up the reins and do the same for us. Do you have any advice? All the best for 2022.

      1. Would not have recognized many of the people on the website. I remember one day when I was at Med School reading a copy of the Auricle which had an article on a Reunion of the 25, 35 and 50 year classes. The author wrote: “Everyone was the same, only more so.” Like I said, I wish someone in my class had the energy to put together what you have done. Best, Wulf

  7. Wulf and Moira
    Looks ideal. You both deserve it. I am very happy for you both. A lifetime of hard work and amazing service should have these good times as its just rewards
    Health and happiness for the coming year for you and all of us
    Best Steve

  8. Thx for sharing. Enjoy precious time with family and friends. I’d never be able to get the dishwasher or dryer to work! Loved the rainbow pic. We’re all well in Cleveland.

  9. Thanks for this update Wulf! Cape Town has a deep draw, historically, geographically, and by its reputation for sheer beauty. Your updates deliver on all and more. My favorite of course are the floral shots, stunning! So beautiful and so different than here.
    Like Jim, we have family overseas, our son and wife and two of our granddaughters live in Hong Kong. They have succeeded in stopping COVID there, with a tremendous ability to identify all infections and truly isolate them. This city of 7 million, through today, has suffered a grand total of 213 deaths. Had the US done the same, our death count would be no more than 10,000! The price we pay for Hong Kong’s success is that anyone visiting must endure a mandatory 3 week quarantine, alone in a hotel room you cannot leave.
    Here is to better days, may the unimmunized’s choices begin to weaken the harm to all in 2022!!

    1. Yes, we live in discombobulated times. South Africa has just officially declared the end of the 4th wave. Despite unbelievable social inequities, people here do try to follow the rules. I believe we may have reached herd immunity in SA. Warm regards, Wulf

  10. Thanks for sharing and updating us. Happy your travels have been safe. I love reading your letters. I am so looking forward to seeing South Africa. Hoping this pandemic will let up and allow us to travel freely again.

  11. Dear Wulf and Moira,
    We love reading your SA newsletters. Thank you for resuming them. In this unpredictable time, we must find joy in each moment…family, friends, the beauties of nature. We see that you’ve found that mix. May you and yours be safe, healthy and have a joyous holiday season. And a special thanks for photos of the rainbow… love, Jan and Bob.

  12. My first time reading your “Letters from Capetown”. Thank you for sharing. The manuals look intimidating! Enjoy paradise. Fantastic Pictures! All the Best, Rob

  13. Wulf,

    Today is Xmas, and since I’m a Nice Jewish Girl, I’m spending the day catching up on work. Your SA photos were a welcome change from all that is going on in New York City. I yearn for a simpler life, but it’s not my turn yet. I have Teenagers!

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