A Dutchie's view of Cape Town

2015-03-12 12:42 - By Yvette Bax
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Yvette Bax is a freelance travel writer who came to Cape Town on assignment. She has since rescheduled her flight three times and is already planning a longer return trip. Here's why...

"What??" said my mum, after I called to tell her that I’d changed my flight for the third time. "You are never coming back again, are you?"

Writing my piece from Tamboerskloof, with a view on Table Mountain, I must confess -  I am seriously considering that option.

So why did I fall in love?

I’ve visited Cape Town before, three years ago. Right after a big fat camping trip that lasted for over two months (visiting 10 different countries in Africa).

That was great. Amazing. Wouldn't have missed it. But it was about... at least one month too long. With a leaking tent, a mattress that lost its air, almost no hot water along the way, some severe bush camping etcetera. So when I arrived in Cape Town, it felt like the most fantastic place on earth to me.

Because there were beds! Showers! Hot water! There were restaurants! Bars! Coffee places! So I knew I loved it, but I thought that my vision on it was slightly subjective after coming from the bush.

But when I came straight from Amsterdam this time, I immediately knew for sure: I love Cape Town.

Festival Spirit

I guess the thing I like most, is that everybody seems to be in this festival spirit.

Maybe it's the time of year, but everywhere I go it feels like an outdoor festival with lots of sun and booze. Maybe it's my happy face because I like it here so much: but I seem to meet new (potential) friends literally around every corner.

I chat with people in the streets, in bars (obviously), but I even made some friends while shopping. Really. I met this cool designer, who made me a jumpsuit. I stayed talking to her in her store called Wag and after that we went for some wine - and I have done that for a few more nights since.

I met an interesting guy while walking down the Sea Point Promenade. Out of the blue he came walking beside me and started talking to me. And then we actually had a really nice conversation about life in Cape Town, politics, the electricity issues and just daily life. I haven't seen him since, but he added me on Facebook, so that counts for a friend as well, doesn’t it?

And then the most extraordinary of all: I met a girl when I was having an afternoon drink, we shared a table - and now we are sharing an apartment. After just one time of hanging out together, she invited me to come and stay over at her place which she shares with two friends, and they were all right with it as well. In their guestroom. For as long as I wanted.

And that's not because of my happy face, but because of the open and welcoming mindset of the Capetonians.  

Bloodshed eyes

To adjust to the Capetonians lifestyle, I've been partying a great deal of my time. Caprice and Shimmy's Beach Club on Sundays. And/or the Kirstenbosch summer concerts. Tuesdays to the live jazz perfomances in Asoka. The Orphanage on Thursdays. Rooftop Cinema and drinks after in Waterkant on Wednesdays. To The Power and the Glory, and Yours Truly at Kloof at any evening. (Can you imagine I've already got a party routine here?) And then there's beach parties, pool parties, and get togethers - at least 4 times a week - at the place I'm staying at. (Is everybody on a holiday here? Or WHEN do you guys work!?)

I can easily adjust to this. But what I cannot adjust to: The South African drinking culture. You guys drink bottles of wines every day. Beers. Cocktails. In The Netherlands I only drink on the weekends, but here it seems hard to 'detox' for even one day. "Oh come on Yve, let's have just one!" You guys force me to ignore my bloodshed eyes. But of course that's an inevitable part of the festival spirit.

Cornflakes scam

Luckily I've got enough energy left to do some working as well. Hopping around town and cool coffee places to type and edit articles. And while I'm strolling around here, I have discovered a scam. I call it the cornflakes scam.

When I was here three-years-ago, a homeless man came up to me and asked me for food. My policy: I never give money to beggers, because they might spend it on booze or drugs. But if somebody says he's hungry, I can't refuse.

So we went to a store and he wanted milk and cornflakes so I bought him that. And now, two weeks ago, a homeless girl came up to me saying she was hungry.

So we went to a kiosk together, and what did she get? Indeed: milk and cornflakes. I thought: what are the odds? But then I found the girl at the counter looking a bit strangely at me. Few days later, someone else asks me to buy him milk and cornflakes. That's when the suspicion turned into the realisation that there definitely was some kind of milk/cornflakes business going on here.

After that I had a conversation with a homeless man (that I did give money, because there was something about the way he looked that I just had to), and I asked him what this whole M & C deal was about. He said that the big package of cornflakes is the most expensive edible good they sell in the kiosks. So they take that, and afterwards they bring it back and split the money with the shop owner. Mystery solved.

And from now on I only give doggy bags away, to those who really are hungry.

Fun stuff

Besides writing, partying, and unmasking scams, I've been up to a lot of active fun as well. For my assignment AND pleasure - lovely how that always combines. So an absolute must-do for those who haven't done it already: paragliding from Signal Hill. Just jump off a mountain and sail down again right in front of the beach at Green Point. Gotta love it.

Also, driving along the coast in a motorbike's side car: freakin' amazing. Drove all the way up to Chapman's Peak and back, and it was the best fun to just sit in this side car and have this sliding view of the ocean and the mountains around while cruising along. And then there's wine tasting at Stellenbosch and the Babylon Tower, going up Table Mountain of course and hiking up Lions Head, shark cage diving, surfing in Muizenberg, the penguins at Boulders Beach, beach hopping etc. But... what I probably liked best, was snorkling with seals.

I must admit that I was a bit afraid in the beginning - because where there are seals, there are sharks (at least here there are).

Those great white ones are the type you don't want to mess with. And when I put my wetsuit on to go into the water, that's when I got really concerned. I realised: I now literally look like a 1.83m big, shiny, tasty seal. Hmmm. I hesitated for a second, but then I just jumped into the water. Luckily there were about 10 000 seals at Hout Bay and no sharks to be seen. The seals came up to play with me, blow bubbles in my face, and swam all around. They are just like little happy playfull children. I enjoyed it until the very last minute (that was about 50 minutes later) - until I stopped feeling my toes because the water was so cold.

And now...

I'm still typing with a view on the Table Mountain - which I don't see anymore because it's dark already.

But I do see the city lights everywhere around me. I was just texting with the guy that is interested in - temporarily - swapping houses with me. In which case my new address here would become 'Beach Road' - at Mouille Point. I couldn't stop jumping around the room after I visited his place. And still can't believe he wants to swap it for my place in freezing beachless Amsterdam.

There’s just nothing more to it than this: ek wil nie huis toe gaan nie.

So why don't I just stay for a little longer."

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