Cape Town, how could you? How could you do this to me? First off, we’re rounding the Cape of Good Hope and what do I see? Table Mountain and Lion’s Head in all their fine glory just looking out at us with a welcoming smile.
And then, if that wasn’t enough, low clouds roll in over the top to create what your locals call, ‘Table Cloth’. How am I supposed to handle such a sight? Huh?
Or what about the hundreds of sea lions that swam with the boat, each one sticking it’s cute head up and watching us, some even waving. What is that about? Huh? Waving seals?
Entering the harbour you are entirely spread out before us, Table Mountain watching over like some guardian angel, Lion’s Head making sure that Table Mountain isn’t falling asleep on watch. I mean, really, you expect me to be unhappy at such a majestic sight?
And don’t get even get me started with your smiling people everywhere, willing to help without want of financial gratification. Your quiet city streets don’t even make it feel like a city. The awesome bars along colourful Long St, your buildings dating back to the 1700s, all painted and renovated, your street art that makes you stop and look and not just walk by even if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere.
And who the hell is in a hurry in your fine city?
Nobody! Where’s the pressure pot of city life? What’s with all the laid backness? Do you want me to stay forever? Cause you’re going about it the right way.
If that’s not enough you then have me introduced to some awesome people like Theo, my first couch surfing host who not only knows everything about South Africa and could work as a tour guide if he ever lost his lecturing job at the Stellenbosch University, he also knows the best surf spots.
And then he takes me surfing. It’s been 4 months since my last surf in Sri Lanka, somewhere in the vicinity of December, 2013. Sure, as soon as we were about to hit the cold waters of the Atlantic some surfers come out running and say,
“Saw a very large dark shadow in the water.”
“Dark shadow?” I repeated. “A shark?”
“Could be,” he looked out at the water. “Could be a seal.”
Well which one is it, damn it! Man’s gotta surf! I wanted to yell at him, shake him out of his laid back state.
“It’s a seal,” a surfer coming out last confirmed.
“You’re sure?” I asked.
“Yup,” he said.
“What’s chasing it?” I grinned as Theo led the way to the water and I duck-dived, the Atlantic not as cold as I thought it might be. My balls where even OK with the temperature.
So that was my introduction to your waters, Cape Town. How dare you provide me with a great morning for surf?
Theo said it was the best he had ever seen Strand Pipe work.
And if Strand wasn’t enough, Theo takes me to Stellenbosch, the university town on your outskirts, Cape Town. What, you couldn’t have a town with small grey ugly buildings? You couldn’t have dirty streets with graffiti everywhere? Countless beggars? Street cats? Something that might disappoint me?
No, you had to go and have a lovely little university town, big enough to walk around in a day, provide a beautiful botanical garden with a restaurant that served epic food, squirrels that are rummaging everywhere for nuts under the big oak trees giving the town the nickname ‘Town of Oaks’ with art galleries, quaint little café’s, leafy streets, buildings dating back to the late 1600s, a Dutch Reform church with a bible showcased in a glass case because it’s from 1722.
I’ve never seen a book that old and here you go just presenting one on display in a church where half of the space is dedicated to the Titanic-sized organ a woman was playing.
Then you introduce me to False Bay on my first weekend in your fair city.
What were you thinking, Cape?
That your long stretch of clean, sandy beaches, surfable waves, sunny-blue-skied weather, small town vibe in the big city would somehow put me off?
On contrer, Cape Town. You sucked me right in.
How dare you have epic people like Stacey living within your city limits? How dare you provide a house, a home with her 6-year-old daughter who likes to climb all over you, a 12-year-old Great Dane that only wants attention and a kitten-turning-cat that thinks your legs and arms are scratching posts?
How very dare you provide me with introductions to some awesome people like Nikki who runs the pre-school downstairs and just happens to live in an awesome place called Scarborough?
How dare you have Stacey take me to a private invite-only live music upstairs in an underground venue aptly named ‘The G-Spot’ (cause it’s so hard to find) and then, while there, enjoying the live sounds of the likes of Tim Parr, John Pain (guitars), David Goldberg (keyboards) and Richard Prowse (flute) and the owners Caroline and Greg and being introduced to rip-fucking awesome people like the above mentioned along with Edna, her pal Al, Christian, Greg, Peter.
Where does it all end, Cape Town?
Oh, it doesn’t because if that Friday night wasn’t enough, on the Saturday I meet up with Theo who takes me to my first South African braai for his brother’s birthday. I thought we knew how to barbecue in Australia but then you just bring out the works, aye?
Lamp chops and boerwors (beef sausages) piled high, drinks, local brandy, potato bake and a peppermint cream cake.
A peppermint cream cake!
Think the torture ends there? No, no, dear Cape Town. You then throw me on top of Mt Hedleberg out in the Hedleberg Nature Reserve.
Do you feel good about yourself, Cape Town? Hmm? Letting me climb 1006 meters with Theo while being warily eyed by a troop of baboons to overlook the entire Cape Peninsula and if that weren’t enough, you had to provide us with a perfect fucking day where you could see all the way to Australia?
And then what do you do? You take me (via Theo) down Clarence Drive (which is just like driving down the Great Ocean Road minus the gum trees lining the road from the Otway Rainforest) where we stop at Koleg Bay for a surf in glassy water, so clear you could see the fish the seabirds were diving for.
Waves that were 2-4 foot and barreling and if the perfect conditions weren’t enough some baboons the size of my surfboard were in the car park destroying what used to be a packet of chips. And then big papa baboon comes trotting along the road.
“There’s a baboon crossing the road,” I tell Theo.
“They don’t cross the road here,” he grins. “They walk it.”
Why don’t you throw a lion and an elephant into the mix, Cape Town, really make my stay a nightmare.
And then it’s another braai for that evening with my famous potato salad and a garden salad. You liked that one didn’t ya, Cape Town? So what do you throw at me in return?
A week of 30-degrees, blue skies, train rides where for 80 cents you not only get a train ticket (verified by the verification staff) but you get Evangelical preachers screaming about the good word of JC, you have an a Capella group with a djembe drummer come into the carriage to try and save the people from the preacher but he can’t be outdone and then some Zulu dancers in full costume just stroll by, looking for a quieter carriage to entertain the crowds.
And then I’m back in False Bay at Stacey’s house where I find three jobs at three different backpackers, I get taken to a food market with Rochelle who is a chef and I find myself in food haven in a place bustling with good vibes and amazing food and then Stacey takes me to the Mercury with Richard to see The Bootleggers (led by Terry Porter) with special guests Doc John Morstet (lead singer of The Boulevard Blues band), Margarita Free, Monica Englebrecht and Katey Lewis on vocals, Guy Collins on guitar and Vince Connel on harmonica.
Did it end there with the ep-fucking-tastic blues music? No, Cape Town. I had to walk out, cross the street to the caravan food stall where the owner, an old hippy was sitting playing the blues on his guitar.
I had me three boerwors hot dogs with tomato relish and fried onions and while he cooked I played! On the street!
And that was just Thursday. Friday I’m taken to another braai where my backpack gets stitched up by the lovely Shani in exchange for some of the music and movies I have on my hard drive.
Could you be more helpful, Cape Town?
And then what happens on the Saturday? A drive down to Scarborough for another braai at Nikki’s place where I meet her awesome husband, Richard, who just happens to be a very talented artist and the day is so hot, the waves on the Atlantic look as though they’ve been photo-shopped and we all go down for a swim and I find myself body-surfing in 3-foot glassy waves with a sunset that would have anyone’s balls tingling (or ovaries. I’m guessing here, I don’t know the effects of sunsets on a woman’s body).
And my last Sunday, Cape Town? What do you provide? An open air market with heaps of food and a live band on a 34-degree day that couldn’t be any more perfect. Even the three hours it took me to get from Somerset West to False Bay was accompanied by a sunset of the likes that only St Kilda beach (Melbourne, Australia) could provide.
You just can’t let go, can you Cape Town? You just rope us unsuspecting visiting souls in and before we know it, you’ve grabbed us by the balls (or ovaries).