Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Snaps for (meaning I agree) and from (meaning I or someone took a photo) weekend moments in Cape Town (and surrounding areas).

1.  Birthday.  24.  Ah, I am really 24.  I think that this means something significant.  Most likely it will take me much of the next year to figure out what that means.  Signing contracts, getting health insurance, making friends, having a business card…

The luckiest girl in the worlds, I was able to celebrate my 24th birthday in Cape Town, the day I arrived, with some of the coolest people I will ever meet!!

2.  Llandudno.  The beach that everyone dreams of, silky sand, crystal for water, and houses that make your jaw hurt.  Beauty on the beach, in winter.  We took a mid-day brunch to the beach to celebrate Sara’s final days in Cape Town.  It was a warm day with a brisk breeze.  One of those days that makes you feel like you are on a movie set it is so perfect.  Tossing a disk, eating Nutella, and laughing with friends colored the day and paralleled the radiance of the sun.

3.  Flowers and Flamingos.  As spring has sprung so have the flowers found in Namaqualand (say it 10 times fast) and in the West Coast National Park.  South Africa is peppered with pristine wilderness and the WCNP, as it is called in these parts, is a vast and memorable piece of wilderness.  Settled along the western coast of the country (Atlantic Ocean side…brrrrr) there is a small peninsula that is covered in rolling hills of colored wild flowers and a diverse animal population that left me and some friends questioning whether animals were real or figments of our imagination.  It is so diverse that the least likely animal was found in the “lagoon” that settles calmly in between the peninsula and the mainland.  Can you guess? I guess I already gave it away…a pink flamingo.  One solo flyer sifting through the salt and teal water amidst burst of wild color. 

The WCNP is modest but bursts with pockets of beauty.  Pulling over every 5 minutes to soak in the kaleidoscope of flowers that follow the pattern of the sun, exposing their liveliness as the day progressed, and pausing to admire the dirty zebra, the pink flamingo, and a slew of birds and antelope we made our way around the lagoon to the beach and fishing town of Langeraan.  Mainly Afrikaans is spoken in these parts, so street names, shop names, and even saying “hello” and “thank you” had my mouth in knots and me tripping over words.  Continuing inland the color of the flowers was replaced by altitude and oranges.
 4.  Cedarbergs and Oranges.
The Cedarbergs are a jugged mountain range that is a 2 hour jaunt north of Cape Town on the N7.  So close and so vastly different, the magnificence of the ocean is replaced by jugged rock and deep valleys that house a citrus supply that had my skin turning orange due to lack of self discipline.  Oranges and lemons are found dotting the road and I don’t think that a farm has ever looked more inviting.  Neatly dressed orange trees in rows dominate the valley which then juts into mountains (my favorite!)

We rolled into Cirtusberg (aptly named) and happened upon an tourist information sign.  With local recommendation we ventured down a road to some “baths.”  Having no idea what we were in for, we were greeted by a teenage boy who promptly sold us the largest bag of oranges for 5 Rand (about 75-80 cents).  Amazing!!!!  Tart and juicy, these oranges could have fed me for a lifetime.  Then we kept going and found ourselves in camping paradise. Natural hot springs, hiking, and camping amnesties all found in one spot.  Watching the sun set, fighting with fire, and soaking in a hot bath were the events of the evening…and the morning brought a hike to look out onto the orange conquered valley.  Take that Sunny-D.

5.  New home and mini-buses.
Now that I am 24 and some form of adult, the venture for housing is a constant thought and concern.  I seem to be getting very lucky and learning a lot the more places I rent and the more people that I live with. Eventually I assume that this luck will run out, but for now I will take it while I have it. And as luck would have it, my criteria were price, furnished, and hopefully a washing machine.  Guess what I got?  All that and SO MUCH MORE.  I got poker chips, sea gulls, Jewish grandmothers, promenade and beach access, a television (haven’t lived with one of these in a while), and instant hot water.  Basically I live in a quiet apartment building in Sea Point (you’ll just have to look that one up).  I can walk to the beach, hear sea gulls in the morning, ride a min-bus to work, and have a grocery store super close by.  I love it. It has a bit of a grungy feel, a bit of a grown up feel, and a bit of a lost somewhere in time feel.  Home.

Brief notes and thoughts about mini-buses.  I adore public transportation, while often my experience in Zambia and South Africa shows that mini-bus drivers can be the worst, they are also the most protective of their vehicles because, well, it is their livelihood.  As a social phenomenon they teach you vast amounts about the world you are entering. 

A brief history:  hoped into a mini-bus with 3 women, strangers as I later found out, ranting and raving about men and how they are useless and the do’s and do not’s for when it comes to men. Mind you there were men on this mini-bus… I had watched this mini-bus approach from a block away.  It had stopped at the corner where a couple attempted to get onto the bus.  An apparent struggle ensued.  Now these buses are not formal; no official stops, no set time schedule, no rules, except for the fee paid (R5).  Next thing I see is the driver, a burly woman (also not something that you often see), who looked Romanian with missing front teeth and an quintessential wrestlers gate, pop out of the car yelling only in the way that an Italian grandmother who had raised boys would know how to, and kicking this couple off the bus.  Does this really happen?  I debated whether or not it was a good idea to get on the bus and decided that if she was willing to kick people out of her bus that she didn’t like than that was DEFINITELY the bus that I wanted to be on.  And man was it incredible, sad, humbling, and eye-opening.  These 3 women gabbed and gabbed, compared notes on men, showed each other stabbing scars, vowed to defend each other and Women, laughed, expressed condolences, and all of this within the 12 minutes that it takes to get from where I got on to where I got off.  Intensity of life when relationships are run in starts and stops and robots (street lights) are your only options for break-time.  The lives of these women were encapsulated within the mini-bus and that simple form of transit enabled a group therapy which we all needed.

I hoped off feeling dazed and confused but oddly satisfied; unexpected adventure on an unassuming afternoon.    

In other news

…the Springboks (The Republic of South Africa’s Rugby Team) beat Wales yesterday 17-16 in their first showing in the Rugby World Cup. 

…I saw 2 whales (not sure what kind) in the Atlantic Ocean yesterday as I was walking to watch the match.

…and I found out that there is a Swiss and Austrian Social Club, hmmm.

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