Thirteen Years: On Top Of Table Mountain

AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.

~ Hervé Guibert

On Top Of Table Mountain

Continued from… Underdressed In A Posh Restaurant

They woke up to a bright sunny day the next morning.

Since no one ever knew when the next clear-skied day would be, they decided to go up Table Mountain that day. At ten that morning, they stood in the line at the admissions office to buy tickets to go up the mountain.

Half an hour later, Isaac, Jacques and Annie were in one of the cable cars. Since the last time Annie went up Table Mountain, the cable cars had been renewed. These new cable cars were round and could take sixty-five passengers up the mountain on one trip. In the previous, rectangular cable cars people used to race to get close to a window. With the new cable cars, everyone got an opportunity standing at a window and to make photos of the spectacular view. The cable cars had a rotating floor, which allowed everyone a 360 degree view on the way up.

The trip up took less than ten minutes. Once on top of the mountain, they moved to the viewpoint to look out over the city center far below. Annie had made photos on their trip up the mountain and now still snapped one picture after the other. The brightness of the day even allowed them to see Robben Island.

Not only had the cable cars changed since the last time that Annie was on Table Mountain. The hiking routes on top of the mountain were not dirt paths anymore, but all of them were paved. There was also a news restaurant, and they had changed the previous restaurant into a souvenir shop. Since none of them had breakfast yet, they went to the restaurant for brunch.

“I think we will be able to afford the food over here,” Isaac whispered and Annie giggled.

The different prices shown on the billboard against the wall were a lot lower than those at the restaurant where they had been the night before. They helped themselves from the buffet and yet again Jacques took care of the bill when they came to the till at the end of the counter. The self-help cafeteria was quite basic, but the food was delicious. The three of them sat down inside, next to a window so they could look outside.

While having their brunch, they watched a family of four sitting outside. The family shared their food with some dassies sitting on a rock close by. The dassies were tame enough to come closer to get the food, but not tame enough for humans to touch them.

They finished their food and their tea.

“Are you up for a short walk, Isaac?” Annie asked. “Or do you want to sit somewhere while I walk around with Jacques?”

“If you walk the shorter route, I will walk with you,” Isaac said.

There were several tourist hiking trials on the top of Table Mountain. These trials ranged from about one kilometer to ten and fifteen kilometers. They now embarked on the shortest of the routes at a very easy pace. Annie had her arm linked with Isaac’s again, so he can decide at which pace they should walk. They stopped frequently for Annie and Jacques to make photos of the surroundings. At one stage, Isaac even walked out on a flat rock which hung over the abyss. Annie only made a photo of this moment — she didn’t dare follow Isaac because there was no railing.

When they took the turn back to the restaurant area on top of the mountain, Annie noticed Isaac was shivering.

“Are you cold, Isaac?” she asked. Concerned. She was afraid that he might be running a fever.

“It is chilly up here,” Isaac admitted.

Annie hadn’t noticed it had indeed cooled off on top of the mountain, but Isaac, with his frail condition, did. When Annie looked around her, she soon saw the reason it might indeed be cooler. On the same level as the top of the mountain, clouds appeared. Within an hour or two, the mountain would be covered in clouds again.

They reached the restaurant area. Already some people left in the cable cars. On the edge of the mountain, against a low wall which was placed there for the safety of the tourists, people crowded, looking at something on the slope of the mountain. The three of them rushed over, curious about what was going on. Mountain climbers were on the side of the mountain. After watching them for a while, Annie realized experienced climbers were teaching newbies about the sport.

Annie turned around and saw dassies on a big rock. She slowly walked over there to take a photo of the wild animals. She came closer than she actually thought she would. Turning back to Isaac and Jacques, she noticed they were laughing. Isaac was having a good time, that bit was clear.

Annie walked back to her husband and her friend.

“Stand with Isaac, then I’ll make pictures of the two of you,” Jacques said. Where Annie used her new digital camera, Jacques was still using his analogue camera.

Annie said something to Isaac when Jacques took the first photo.

“Hey, wait until I keep my mouth shut,” she laughed at her husband.

“Oh, you’re not able to do that, Annie. You’re always talking,” Isaac joked.

“Hey watch out you! I might just throw you off the mountain,” Annie threatened.

She put her arm around her friend and they both laughed just as Jacques made the next picture.

“I want to make a picture with a memorable background,” Jacques called, “stand over there at the wall so I can see the mountains in the background.”

Isaac and Annie walked over to the wall and turned to face Jacques. Annie had her hand on Isaac’s back. The camera caught them in the picture just as Isaac looked back out at the bay.

“I want a picture of the three of us,” Annie said to Isaac. She looked around and saw a man close to Jacques. She walked over to them.

“Good afternoon, Sir. May I ask you a favor?” Annie looked at the man and when he smiled at her, she continued. “Would you make a photo of the three of us?”

“Of course,” he said, and Jacques handed the man his camera.

The three of them leaned against the wall, and the tourist made the picture.

“Thanks so much,” Jacques said, and hung his camera around his neck again.

The sun had disappeared. Both Annie and Isaac knew soon the horn would wail. This horn was to warn everyone it was too dangerous to stay on the mountain, and they needed to go to the cable station before the clouds entirely covered the mountain. To be ahead of the rush, they went down right away. They had been on the Table Mountain for about three hours.

To be continued… The Rhodes Memorial & Collecting Minerals

Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.

© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay

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