Things I've seen from my Bay Window.
It’s been over six months since I uprooted myself from my cosy little Melville home to come and live in Cape Town. I’ve found a doctor, a dentist and a hairdresser, have a favourite coffee shop and have made a few friends. I love the Spar down the road, am delighted to say I never shop at Woolies and eat a lot of duck tacos from the Mexican joint around the corner. I hardly ever get in my car which is good because petrol costs a fortune and Cape Town drivers are not exactly good.
The first person I see each morning is Hoppy. Hoppy spends his days in one spot on the promenade, across the road from my rented apartment. He has been here for FIFTY years and one day I hope to write his story. He watches the world go by, shoots the breeze with strangers, reads a little and makes me feel safe. I once asked him why he doesn’t face the ocean and watch the sunrise or sunset and he said The Palaces are far more interesting.
He calls the apartment block where I live The Palaces.
His nickname is Hoppy as he was born with polio and has an odd limp. Hoppy calls my dog Hoppy as Fred has an odd limp too.
Hoppy and Hoppy.
My apartment has a bay window where I sit, watching the walkers, joggers, skateboarders, French bulldogs and cyclists go by. I get to see the sun rise or the moon set, recognise the tides and in the evening, notice that the sky gets brighter before it gets darker. The stars come out and the lights of the ships start to twinkle. The locals slowly disappear and the shapes and the shadows change. Homeless people make their way to their favourite spots. The art installation bed is a popular one; an Instagrammer’s delight by day, a shelter for the poor by night.
There are often people sleeping under my bay window, especially in the rain. Once I came home and quietly tiptoed towards the person sleeping there, to put leftover noodles next to him. I noticed he was spooning a woman, two people loving each other, sleeping on the ground right underneath my window.
It made me feel sad.
When it rains it’s tricky. My Daschund will bite heads off chickens but won’t step foot outside in the drizzle. Once I got caught in a downpour without any rain gear. My boots filled with ice water within seconds and I had to run six blocks, soaking wet, freezing, giggling and sloshing all over the place. And then the sun came out and I put on a bikini, SPF 50 and went to the beach. There are at least 45 seasons in one day and I have learned to always be prepared.
But I never am.
Fred is a huge hit, rain or shine, and tourists stop to take pics of him carrying his leash. He’s camera shy, allows people to pet him but really, is only interested in heading to the nearby Strolla Cafe. Both dogs get a scone each morning, an initial trade-off for moving cities. Scones were R10 when we first arrived, now they are R15.
I walk a lot. I walk to the lighthouse in one direction and CampsBay in the other. I walk alone or with a friend. Sometimes we stop and get ice-cream, a glass of wine or just sit on a bench and get nothing but have everything around us. It’s always gorgeous. And it’s always clean. But everyone who says that Cape Town works and Johannesburg doesn’t is wrong. Yesterday I met a friend and we hiked Devil’s Peak. On the way back we did 3 kms on a tar road and I twisted my ankle in a CAPETONIAN POTHOLE.
It’s not all perfect here.
Sometimes I walk and chat to friends on the phone, always shrieking mid conversation. Oh god I just walked past a rat, hang on, what’s that you say, work going well, life good, you have a new boyfriend, oh no eek there’s another one.
I take my phobia of walking past squished rats one rat at a time.
When the weekend arrives, Sea Point changes. People come from all over the city to enjoy the sunshine, ocean, pools, parks and even the parking lots. It’s wonderful seeing families, kids, fishermen, brides, grooms, paragliders, Goldendoodles, Pitbulls, Ferraris and souped up Golfs lined up side by side. For two days a week Sea Point is alive, vibrant and diverse. My favourite time.
And a good reminder of privilege.
I do wish Sea Point was more diverse and sometimes the comments on the Sea Point community page horrify me. Not everybody wants inclusivity.
It took time but I’m starting to settle. I have learned that the best bagels are from Giovanni’s, the best Barista is at Bentleys and La Perla is almost affordable if you share a starter calamari and a glass of wine. The best vintage shopping is at George, best market is Oranjezicht and the best yoga is at the Shangri-La studio. It’s Kundalini yoga which I had never done before and I find myself looking forward to 1000 gongs under a full moon while wearing a hand knitted garment and chanting.
Maybe I am becoming Capetonian.
There are always friends passing through and I love seeing them. It makes it easier to be less homesick. I never say no to an arrangement unless it involves dinner after 8 pm. And there are so many chance encounters. I’ve bumped into bartenders from Melville, old Zimbabweans, my ex-husband’s wife and the whole of Sandton in the Spar, aisle 12, the kosher section.
When I walked with a Johannesburg friend along Main Road recently she said it reminded her of Hillbrow in the old days. There’s a lot of traffic, as many burger bars as there are vegan cafes, fun markets and a good vibe, together with a little grit and the slight scent of decay. When my son was visiting and walked home along Main he was offered Tik, weed and I don’t want to know what else. When I asked why I was never offered anything he told me I was not exactly the target market. Also they would not appreciate the lecture.
I don’t see wire artists or broom sellers but I do see ice-cream carts and flower sellers. I observe a lot more than I participate but I try and do different things and explore different areas, especially the city. Sometimes I have a few doubts about my decision but not often. There is a different kind of community in Cape Town but there is a community. And I am just finding my feet.