Sunday was one of those rare and beautiful Cape days simply begging not to be wasted indoors. Pushing a twinge of trepidation to the back of my mind, I decided to walk up Muizenberg Peak even though I was on my own. I had just enjoyed a brunch date with my daughter, but as I had hiking clothes in the car, I impulsively decided to take the walk I had long wished to do.
As a reasonably experienced hiker I knew that it is not a good idea to walk alone, but the car park on Boyes Drive was full so I felt reassured by the thought of other hikers in the vicinity. I had already changed into walking clothes, so I just packed my handbag into my blue tog bag, popped them into the boot of my Toyota Tazz and set off.
On my way up the mountain, I stopped frequently to admire the view and noted how visible my car was from my vantage point. Just imagine, I thought, if someone decided to steal my car!! I could watch from the mountain in a helpless rage and not be able to do much about it. Ce la vie I chuckled as I slogged on. To get a better view of Muizenberg I deviated from the path. Not a good plan. I spotted a lone man hanging about on Steenberg ridge and feeling very vulnerable, as a lone female on the mountain, I crept away as silently as I could.
Back on the path I paused to catch my breath and on looking down again noticed two official looking vehicles at the car park. I watched with interest but was unable to determine what they were about. The walk through the pristine fynbos, around Muizenberg Peak and down Pecks Valley was a great escape and all thoughts of City worries evapourated from my mind until I rejoined Boyes Drive.
“Damn!” I thought as I approached my car. A car guard was standing next to it and I knew that I did not have any change. I hate not being able to pay decent people trying to earn a living! As I approached my car the uniformed “car guard” informed me that my car had been broken into and my bags had been stolen from the boot. I was instantly suspicious as my car did not look `broken into’. One look into my empty boot filled my head with thoughts of lost bank cards, lost brunch-with-daughter-gold-earings and worst of all my granny brag book of precious photos – gone. When the “car guard” who I noticed was wearing a `Mountain Men’ uniform tried to reassure me that the thieves had been accosted and arrested, I wondered if I was being set up for a new type of con. He continued that all my belongings were waiting patiently for me to claim them from Muizenberg Police Station and that he would show me the way there. No way! I thought. I had already been foolish enough to hike alone. I was certainly NOT going to allow some strange person, however official he seemed, into my car.
Unperturbed the `Mountain Man’ made a radio-call while I started to wonder about the connection between his story and the official cars I had noticed in the parking lot on my way up the mountain. Within minutes another vehicle with Mountain Men emblazoned reassuringly on its side arrived to escort me to the police station. There I found out that the suspicious looking person I had hidden from on the mountain was in fact a Mountain Men security guard who spends his day checking for car thieves and genuine dubious characters on the mountain. When I spotted him, he was no doubt busy informing headquarters that my car was being broken into!! With binoculers and radio he had co-ordinated a slick action to catch the thieves red handed.
Wow! What an experience!! I am so very grateful to Mountain Men Security and the police who acted so fast, and who treated me with so much care and respect. All in all it was a most positive experience but one where I learned firstly not to walk alone and secondly not to put belongings into my boot where others may be watching. Please learn from my mistakes.
Kathy 25 Sept 2011