Picture of the Day - Mammodouy's Pictures

My faithful readers have noticed that I have become a very erratic writer. It is becoming harder and harder for me to write on a regular basis even though I am still full of imagination. Ideas keep buzzing through my head and then the humdrum routine of everyday life overrides my literary and artsy longings.

One cause may be that my life has become rather complicated those past two years. I travel a lot more and I move around a lot for many reasons I won’t dwell upon. It’s rather boring! The funny backwash being that sometimes, I feel I am turning into a suitcase. Does a suitcase write stories? No, it does not. But since I am not really turning into a suitcase either, there must be another reason for my obvious lack of work.

 This is when and where I have to acknowledge one major failing. I am a born procrastinator. There are tons of real and irrelevant and certainly always useless things to do that freeze me up! I have written a post about this. Enjoy!

On the other hand and because life is never all right nor all wrong, I also happen to loose my grip on writing regularly because I get most of my ideas from things I see, places I go to and pictures I take and when things and places and pictures get too plentiful, my willingness to write (and maybe my brain too) tend to slacken off as if my thoughts were caught in a traffic jam…

I end up spending a lot of time gazing at clouds, smelling flowers, watching the sea or the passers-by, enjoying life with the greatest intellectual laziness and of course, picking a book which I will read from cover to cover with great joy and then a second one and… and… and days go by. Sometimes I even forget there is a world where I do enjoy using words of my own and telling stories.

In June 2014, I wrote a post I called : “Writing Interview - Mammodouy’s Way”. It still is very relevant.

Mid 2015, I decided to get a very professional website besides my professional website. A website that would allow me to combine my two blogs - “The Storyteller” and “Mammodouy’s Pictures” which most of you are not even aware of plus a couple of “serious” writing projects.

I got in touch with a web designer. A woman. We got along just fine until November 12 when we exchanged our last mails. I had sent her important information she needed sorely. She had answered me immediately, telling me that progress on my website would go very fast from then on and that she’d get in touch with me, before the end of the following week, so that we’d meet for a follow-up as soon as possible.

For those of you who don’t really keep track of dates, the following night was the night of the terror attacks on restaurants and the Bataclan. November 13, 2015.

My web designer kept silent from that day on. I am pretty sure that she did not die on the 13th of November because the government issued a list of the names of the victims several weeks later. But there was no list of the wounded, of course. No list of people who had lost their loved ones or of people who were suffering from PTSD, for obvious reasons.

I know I should get in touch with her company. At first, there was the shock, even if I wrote that I was not feeling hatred and that I was not afraid, I now realize that I spent a few months totally shell-shocked. Time went by with no news from her, maybe for the same reasons that distress me… And now it is getting harder and harder to get on the phone. I feel numb.

All this to explain why from time to time, one of my posts from the “Storyteller” blog will be called “Picture of the day”. You’ll find under this title the picture posted that day in “Mammodouy’s Pictures”. I encourage you to go look at it in the blog itself because the settings there are much nicely fit for pictures than in a blog dedicated to stories! And the picture will be much bigger!

I published many pictures in that blog, starting in August 2010 till now. They are pictures I really like but that I don’t think I’ll ever exhibit. Except that life is always full of surprises. One of them will make its way to the Grand Palais in Paris in February 2017.

But this is another story…

Here is my "Picture of the Day" (yester-day actually...) - "Could This Be Africa Floating Away from Table Bay, South Africa?"

A few words about this picture - Last March, I was on top of Table Mountain, in Cape Town, South Africa. It was windy and rather cloudy. I was looking at Robben Island in the distance and all of a sudden I spotted the shadow of a cloud on the ocean below. The cloud itself was banal. Just a cloud already frayed by the wind. But this shadow into the light became priceless... Short-lived and yet such a symbol...

*Good Luck, and Good Night*



My Travel Book - A Sudden Gust of Wind Blew Us up to Cape Point, South Africa

After spending some time at the Cape of Good Hope and taking tons of pictures, don’t forget to drive to Cape Point! This huge peninsula stretches forcefully into the Ocean and is much more impressive than the Cape of Good Hope since its ragged cliffs are towering about 200m above the sea.

Didn’t I tell you how grand it must be to reach the Cape by sea?

Once again we never did go by boat. But Swee’Pea looks pretty happy anyway even if this trip probably was his umpteenth time there… and even though he’s carrying one of my camera cases, the heaviest one, of course!

Tourists aim at reaching the “old” lighthouse. People like Swee’Pea and his friends will hike from the Cape of Good Hope and will walk even further than this lighthouse. They will trek around Cape Point, all the way down to the “new” lighthouse and back up again… One day of hard trekking!

Besides trekking, there are two solutions to get up there. If you are in a hurry or not feeling like walking, hop aboard the “Flying Dutchman”* (and make sure you do not loose your return ticket… they are not very understanding up there and you’ll end up walking down which is quite worse than to walk up there).
The second solution consists in walking all the way to the lighthouse. There is a rather easy path, very steep indeed with lots and lots of stairways but where you can rest from time to time. Mainly you get to enjoy one of the most magnificent and breathtaking view ever. The whole way!


From the cliffs of Cape Point and the raging sea to the other side of False Bay and down to the Cape of Good Hope. I’ll grant you that it does look quite dwarfed from this height and somehow not quite deserving Dias’ description: “Cabo das Tormentas”…

Once you get to the lighthouse, you’ll have literally to brace yourself against the wind. Its strength is really, really impressive. And I’ve also seen people getting very dizzy there. Not funny because they still have to go down.

This lighthouse built in 1855 is no longer used. Its light was either seen too early which meant that captains would navigate too close to the coast or it would become invisible behind the fog and the clouds that tend to float at a very high level there.

In 1911, the SS Lusitania, a Portuguese liner (not to be confused with the British liner RMS Lusitania which was torpedoed and sunk in 1915 by a German U-Boat) was lost at sea because of the mist hiding the lighthouse.

Consequently a new lighthouse was built on Cape Point, much lower and much more powerful. Actually the most powerful lighthouse in South Africa.

Swee’Pea and his friends told me it’s a lot of fun to hike down to this lighthouse. I never did. So I had to rely on Wikipedia to show you what it really looks like. But I know that my "inquiring mind" will drive me to do the trek one of these days!

While I am not a great hiker, I love birds. I spend so much time in Brittany that cormorants are part of my life. It is always interesting to watch them fly very close to the sea surface and then dive into the water to catch a fish. Afterwards they spend a lot of time on a rock, spreading out their wings to get dry.
On Cape Point, the cliffs are so rugged that the winds and the waves have created  furrows where colonies of cormorants nest during the breeding season which happens more or less from October till December in the Southern Hemisphere.

In Brittany, a cormorant’s life is very easy. At Cape Point, it’s a steadfast fight. Whoever is not sitting on the egg has to go fishing… to feed its partner and a few weeks later the young.

From our point of view, this should be very easy, shouldn’t it? You go fishing, meaning that you dive down to the sea level, you fly for a while over the water, see a fish which you grab and then you fly back to the nest, not even feeling overloaded since you have swallowed your catch. You’ll only have to regurgitate the fish once you get back to your nest.

Actually a cormorant’s life is not this easy after all at the tip of Africa. The winds are fierce there. Airstreams are quite forceful.

We spent quite a long time watching them, not even feeling entertained by their efforts some people might have considered as antics. Truly feeling a lot of empathy. Swee’Pea and me, we have weathered heavy storms those past few years and it was truly gripping to watch how those rather “small” birds (as compared to the hugeness of the settings) were able to land wherever they wanted to after so many vain attempts most of the time. So many landing bids! And then success!

They leave the cliff, fly over the sea, defying the waves and the eddies until they get to a calmer area where they fish.

 This one was on his way back and ended up being tossed like a rag doll by some airstream. It simply let itself fall down again, flew back again, fell down again and again and again and managed to land by its nest, exactly by it. Probably exhausted but still able to feed its partner since he had kept the fish safely in its throat.

This one fought hard too and managed to land but by the wrong nest, in the wrong furrow actually. It looked dismayed (yes, it really did) and flew away again, turned around, tried a new approach. 

A fourth attempt later, it did land at the right place. Looking a little bit ruffled up, feathers wise, I mean. But home.

We eventually had to leave and go back to Cape Town.

Paris was so far away but who cared!

I was so happy. Imagine… One of my oldest dreams fulfilled! And so many more opening to me.


*The “Flying Dutchman” refers to the legend of the said galleon captained by a Dutchman, Hendrik van der Decken. In 1647, the Flying Dutchman was going back to Holland when she got close to the Cape of Great Hope. There was a sudden and very violent storm which ripped the sails. The crew was terrified even though the captain had rounded the Cape many times before. They asked him to turn back. Van der Decken refused, lashed himself to the wheel and swore he’d sail around anyway even if it’d take him till Doomsday.

Ever since 1647, many mariners have sighted a ghostly sailing ship around the Cape. She glows red in the night and is steered by a mad captain. Her sailors get into rowboats to deliver letters to be sent home to their families. Those who accept those letters are never to be seen again.

*This legend won international and everlasting fame thanks to Richard Wagner who wrote an opera in 1843 about it and called it… “The Flying Dutchman”! Except that the Flying Dutchman no longer rounds the Cape but sails on the North Sea, by Norway! (What a shame!)
*Good Luck, and Good Night*


My Travel Book - Time-Out but Still in South Africa on Our Way to the Cape of Good Hope

I am sorry I left you behind on Boulders Beach for so long. Huge time gap. Time-out. There are times when life takes strange bends. For a long time, I was very busy negotiating a few of them but all is well that ends well. Here I am again, ready to take you along on my journeys to South Africa or elsewhere.

I hope you did not feel too stranded on Boulders Beach and that you had brought along earplugs. Penguins are hard to live with, aren’t they? Braying little jackasses!

Well, well, we were driving to the Cape of Good Hope and we were running late… in October 2014, two years ago. Two years to travel from Simon’s Town to Cape Point - a 15 minutes drive in practice!

“I am late! I am late!”… but seriously now…

One should only approach the Cape of Good Hope by sea. Unfortunately, it’s done by land most of the time. On second thought, I am pretty sure that I would hate to brave the foaming sea, the breakers and the reef where so many boats were ripped apart.

In November 2014, our flight back to Paris happened to be our captain’s very last flight. He was thus allowed to fly at a very low altitude over this amazing Cape of Good Hope, gliding over the whole area so slowly that all the passengers were speechless until the plane turned around and back towards its faraway destination, Paris. And then clapping broke out.

Going to the Cape by land is very spellbinding too.

Some days you may even be greeted by baboons at the main entrance. They look very sweet and funny but don’t be fooled. They are cunning. They are looking for food and they will literally jump at the opportunity to find some in your car if you are careless and open your window even for a few seconds. And they bite hard, very hard!

Once you pass the main gate, you are on your way to the Cape of Good Hope and its counterpart, Cape Point. The scenery is exceptional, unparalleled and magnificent.

Before you get to the entrance of the highly protected part which is called “Cape of Good Hope - Table Mountain National Park”, you will drive through some more barren scenery, some of it sometimes bearing the marks of wildfire. You may be lucky enough to spot ostriches, antelopes and baboons. We did. Not every time though but never forget that the Cape is not a zoo. It is a wildlife sanctuary. Animals move around.

There you are. The entrance to the National Park. Most of the time, not this empty. But worth waiting for a while… when there is a long line of stranded cars there.
The scenery changes drastically. The vegetation looks more abundant, luxuriant even. Of course the colours vary from Summer to Winter and in-between. This is what’s magical about the Cape. It never looks colourless nor bleak the way our European landscapes do, right after Fall or before Spring. I missed the full bloom though. One day maybe! 

Do not expect trees there. Not even bushes. Fierce sea winds sweep across the Cape area all year long and dwarf the vegetation.

On your way to the Cape, you may notice a huge white cross. It is the Gama cross, erected by the Portuguese government to commemorate Vasco da Gama who was the first explorer to make landfall on the African coast, on November 4, 1497. There is a second one called the Dias cross in honor of Bartolomeu Dias who discovered the Cape of Good Hope in May 1488 and the passage from Europe to India. Gama and Dias crosses are navigational beacons. When aligned, they indicate the position of a rock called the “White Rock”, a terrible shipping hazard in False Bay.

Incidentally, Dias encountered storms so violent there that he named the cape he was seeing from his boat, “The Cape of Storms” (Cabo das Tormentas). A little bit scary but very real in May, a wintery month in the Southern Hemisphere. Who would have liked to navigate around the “Cape of Storms”?
John II, king of Portugal, renamed it the “Cape of Good Hope” (“Cabo da Boa Esperança”). Merely because navigating around this cape meant hope for opening a new trade route to India and the Far East.

Keep on driving and get ready to face and maybe brave the Cape of Good Hope… Because even on dry land, you’ll come up against raging winds as soon as you step out of your car.


There it is. Not very impressive though, at least from this view point. This is the most south-western point of the African continent. The southern tip being Cape Agulhas, 170 kms south-east of Cape Town, the real divide between the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans.

There is a footpath to trek up to Cape Point from the Cape of Good Hope. Next time probably…

This sign attracts tourists from all over the world. In March 2016, there were two buses there: one filled with French tourists and another one filled with Chinese, all of them competing to get their picture taken as close to the sign as they could and preferably by themselves…  

One of them won the whole sign for himself but not for long! And then they left. I did not really miss watching their absurd behaviour. We enjoyed the peacefulness… Thoroughly. Including the waves that were playing around a colony of seals… (Bad contre-jour shot, I know… You’ll have to believe me. There were a lot of seals enjoying the rollers while resting on the main rock.)

*Good Luck, and Good Night*