Cape Town: Where The Wild Marijuana Grows.

"This is the first thing you need to see," said my guide for the tour through the Winelands. "It is a monument on top of a hill that overlooks Paarl, where the first vineyard I am taking to is."

At first I was slightly hesitant to allow her to do this, as there was no wine involved in the stop. But then I came to my senses and realized that there would be plenty of wine during the rest of the day. So why be picky?

"Sure!" I said.  "Let's do it!"

As we drove up the hill, I noticed a large monument peaking skyward.

"That's the Afrikaans Language Monument," said my guide. "It was built to represent the Afrikaans language, which is rooted over three continents."

As we pulled into the parking lot of the park where the monument lives, I noticed a bus of school children.  As I got out of the car and walked into the park, I got an invite from these gentlemen...

"Hallo!" they yelled. "Hallo! Come with us! Please? Come with us!"

They were very friendly. It was awesome!

They were there as part of a field trip for school. These were Afrikaans children - meaning their main language is Afrikaans, where as English is becoming the predominant language in South Africa - there to tour the monument. Their guide was leading them in English. They were very well-behaved and friendly.

(Pretty much like the rest of the people I encountered in this country. Everyone is friendly and helpful.)

Beyond the monument was the view...

Gorgeous and stunning views of the Paarl wine valley, and a little of the Stellenbosch valley.

Also in the park were all kinds of indigenous plants that my guide pointed out for me. She was shocked that I knew what what an aloe vera plant was, as well as some of the cacti.

"I grew up in the desert," I told her. "We have that and prickly pear cacti in Arizona."

She wasn't used to someone not being impressed by those two plants. One plant she did, however, bowl me over with (ha!) was this...

"This is wild marijuana," she said.

"Wait," I said. "It just grows here? And no one comes by and tries to smoke it? Is it illegal to grow this here?"

She said no one would care, but that yes, marijuana is not legal to smoke.

Marijuana covertly growing in a provincial park? Guess South Africa is more like the U.S. than I realized.