I spent most of Sunday in bed, enjoying the queen size and the fact that there wasn’t someone sleeping above me. It was good to be able to switch off and recover from the four weeks I’d spent in Malawi, never really getting a chance to completely stop during my time there. Being on my own helped achieve this, but I definitely didn’t miss everyone any less. It felt strange to wake up by myself, to not have a conversation with those in my room before heading out to the kitchen and saying good morning to everyone else. It was just me now. It felt as though I was finally starting my adventure and now I was actually ready. The only thing in my way was two weeks’ work for my old employer at the office in Cape Town, where I would test if my knowledge had stayed in place since my resignation in December.
Knowing I started tomorrow I took advantage of a full day at home and only went out briefly in the afternoon, finding the nearest grocery store and purchasing supplies for breakfast. I left my Airbnb in Three Anchor Bay and headed down to the Promenade, a walkway rounding the water which I couldn’t believe I had found almost on my doorstep. It was busy, full of runners and walkers admiring the view as they went. I continued on until I found Woolworths and made my purchases, disappointed at the fact that I couldn’t find a single fruit or vegetable that wasn’t wrapped in plastic. South Africa clearly hasn’t joined the ban on plastic as yet.
I got back and set myself up in the front area where a table sat amongst a myriad of pot plants and ornaments. The fact that I was back in a city was very obvious as I listened to the cars pass by, missing the quiet that I’d had in the village in Malawi. This also became even more known as I headed to work the next day, experiencing traffic so bad it was on par with Sydney. We were lucky enough to be heading away from the city so it wasn’t as bad for us, but for the people going the other way it looked liked it was going to be a long journey. What should’ve been my first glimpse of the real Cape Town was one of the rainiest days I’ve experienced in a long time. We couldn’t see much through the fog and the rain and so I still couldn’t quite get my bearings, unsure exactly of where I would find myself for the next few weeks.
It felt weird to be back at work, doing what I’d done for the past 3 years but in a completely different office and with different people. It was surprising to find that I hadn’t really forgotten anything despite my 3 month break, but a relief to say the least. One of the advantages of starting my trip at work was working with local ‘Capetonians’ who would give me advice of what to do and where to go, as well as some company when needed.
I spent one afternoon with a colleague driving home via Chapman’s Peak, something my taxi driver had said was one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Not sure how much merit that has, but it was certainly stunning and despite my usual incessant talking, I found myself almost speechless, unable to find the right words to describe what I was seeing. We drove around the mountain on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean looking out at the water while admiring the natural cliff faces around us and the mountains in the distance. It was like nothing I’d seen and perhaps nothing I’d ever see again. I didn’t have my camera on me as the trip was quite spontaneous. Disappointing, but almost special because I’ll maintain the memories of the view for myself, and I didn’t experience any of it through the lens of a camera. I was focused completely on what was in front of me and nothing else.
This week I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of friends from Malawi for dinner a few times, experiencing the food of Cape Town as well as First Thursdays, a night where all the galleries stay open until 9pm and people walk their way down the city streets, walking in to see what art might be on offer and popping into bars for drinks and dinner along the way. It occurs every month on the first Thursday, hence the name. We felt lucky to be able to experience it, despite the strong wind and the fewer people out and about because of this. One of the galleries we stepped in to had a swing dancing group, entertaining the crowd but enjoying themselves as they took turns dancing with each other, a group who frequently practises together but doesn’t often have a chance to show off their skills. It felt special to be a part of, and almost felt like we were experiencing a night out in the 80s or 90s, something very different to what you see in your standard club nowadays.
On Friday I was taken to Muizenberg to visit the colourful huts lining the beachfront, again admiring the water with the mountains as a backdrop. We took a walk along the beach and watched the kite surfers in the distance, perfect wind for them on the water as I struggled to keep my hair out of my mouth on the land. It was great as a lunchtime visit, breaking my work day up and helping me get through the afternoon ahead of my busy weekend playing tourist.