Tuesday, May 10, 2011
We left Tsitsikamma early this morning and headed for the ostrich farm and caves of Oudtshoorn. On our way, we had a lovely rest stop in Knysna, a lovely town alongside an estuary formed by the Knysna River. Well-caffeinated, we headed to our next stop, the town of Oudtshoorn and its ostrich farms and caves.
European settlers began hunting ostriches in the 1760s, but it took a drought some one hundred years later for people to began farming them for their feathers. Ostrich feather hats were all the rage, and wealthy farmers began raising the ugly birds for their feathers. At the height of the fashion craze, a kilogram of ostrich feathers was worth the same as a kilogram of gold. Each ostrich yields 1.5 kg of feathers, so these farmers were soon sufficiently wealthy to begin building what came to be known as feather mansions. As with all fads, this one came to a quick end. Sadly, society ladies were unable to fit their large stylish hats into the new craze called an automobile, so the hats quickly became, like, so last year. Predictably, the bottom fell out of the ostrich market, and many farmers ended up bankrupt. Post-WW II saw a revival in the ostrich market, but this time ostriches were sought not for their feathers but instead for their meat and skin. MMMM....ostrich!
We had a great time at the farm. Twelve of our crew rode the ungainly birds, which are in reality quite fierce. Your fearless blogger watched from the sidelines.
Back on the bus, we had a sing-along to some lovely Disney hits from yesteryear until your humble blogger would have given anything for a pair of earplugs. Mine was the minority opinion on the bus, however. At least I had the good sense to have dictated a vuvuzela moratorium on the bus, but I honestly could not have anticipated the Disney sing-along. I can report that a good time was had by most everyone on the bus.
After the ostriches and a lunch break, we headed to the Kanga Caves. These amazing limestone caves were formed millions of years ago when the area was more tropical than it currently is. While the rivers are gone, the caves remain, and they're really quite an amazing sight.
We spend the night in Oudtshoorn and then head to Cape Town tomorrow.