Thursday, December 26, 2013

Table Mountain is easily Cape Town’s most recognised natural icon. Its flat tabletop is a result of nature as is its unusual cloud cover. The latter is caused by the South Easter winds and is often referred to as a tablecloth. The mythical story of how the mountain got its cover is said to originate in a dual between a Dutch man, Jan Van Hunks and a stranger.

When looking up at the mountain with the harbour as backdrop you will notice Devil’s Peak to the left of the table. Lion’s Head and Signal Hill are on the right. Devil’s Peak is home to Rhodes Memorial, a popular lunch and lookout point with sweeping views of the city. Hiking the peak is popular with locals and tourists but do take care to consider the weather or you might suffer the same fate as Van Hunks. 

Our protagonist was a prolific pipe smoker who lived at the foot of the mountain on the Devil’s Peak side in the 1700s. Partly to escape his wife’s acidic tongue, he would venture up the mountain to indulge his favourite habit. Happily puffing away, legend has it, that he was often enveloped in a cloud of his own smoke.

One day while smoking his pipe on the slopes of Table Mountain he met a mysterious stranger, also a smoker, dressed in black and wearing a hat that concealed most of his face. The two engaged in conversation. Van Hunks shared some of his tobacco and boasted about his smoking prowess. The stranger casually replied that he could easily smoke as much, if not more. Van Hunks was offended and suggested a smoking contest.

Before long smoke gathered around them, swirled and rose up higher and higher and over the mountain. They smoked on for days. Eventually the entire mountain was covered in a thick blanket of smoke. Some versions say the stranger bent over exhausted. Others suggest he collapsed to the ground. Either way, his hat dislodged to reveal his true identity. Van Hunks had not only won the wager but he had beaten the devil. Suddenly, there was a flash of lightning and the two vanished in the smoke, Van Hunks for good. And, if you’re in doubt as to the validity of the story think of how Devil’s Peak might have gotten its name.


1 comment :

  1. When wanting up at the mountain with the harbour as backdrop you will notice Satan’s Peak to the left of the desk.


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