Back at home we were always so busy with school, sports and our daily lives we often did not visit the places that our area is known for. I liked having visitors so we could venture out and see what fun our hometown had to offer. We have enjoyed being residents of Cape Town and visiting many of the tourist spots. I’m finding in the different cities we go to that residents don’t always see what the tourist come to see. While in Greece we would ask different local people if they’d been to the Acropolis – most of them answered “no, never” and laughed. Many South Africans we have spoken with have never been on a Safari.
We visited the West Coast Ostrich Ranch this week and it was such a warm, comforting experience. It is only about a 20-minute drive from Cape Town so a great distance for a day trip. The Ranch is on a rolling piece of green, lush land and you can see Table Mountain in the distance. Everywhere in Cape Town is prettier than then next. The man that gave us the tour, Omar, knew everything there is to know about Ostriches. He took his time showing us around and we felt the pride he had in his workplace. It’s nice to meet people who really love what they do and are eager to share their knowledge with you. We had a tour of the museum, learned about the ostrich skeleton, their vision, speed and the history of the ostrich in this area. The ostrich has no teeth and swallows everything whole (they say to keep your cell phones and small cameras in your pocket because they can swallow them). They then eat stones to help digest what they have swallowed. At one point ostriches were poached because in their belly they would find different gems – diamonds, emeralds, etc., these beautiful gems were then sold for a lot of money. Africa is known for it’s rich minerals and once the locals figured out that the ostriches were eating them, they became a fast way to find the gems and make some money. Since it is spring here in South Africa the birds are a little aggressive, it’s mating time. What was fascinating was the male Ostrich’s beak and legs turn bright pink to attract the women (if you know what I mean). Our trip was the full experience. We even stood on the eggs – they are so strong and weigh between 3-5 pounds. One egg is equal to the size of 24 chicken eggs, – – maybe use an ostrich egg for your next large brunch, only one egg to crack! We even sat on an Ostrich. Some ranches allow you ride them – this ranch (and I think it’s this part of South Africa) find it inhumane to ride them. It was an exhilarating experience just sitting on them. They cover their head with a fabric bag while you mount them, then they lift the wings so your legs lay between their body and wings – it was a very warm seat on a cool and windy day. Just in July of this year the Guinness Book of World Records announced Ostrich Tom (who lives on this ranch) as the shortest Ostrich in the World. (I know a couple other short Tom’s but they have not made it in the Guinness Book of World Records!) The Ranch has a wonderful gift shop that sells all things ostrich; purses, belts feather dusters and decorated eggs. Our tour ended with lunch where we enjoyed, Ostrich filets, burgers and eggs. Another fact, actually fiction, that made the guide roll his eyes is the story of the ostrich sticking his head in the sand – – – it’s just a story – – – not one bit of truth to that!