What Cape Town winter is really like.
Lately my friends have started calling me the weather girl. I text them in the morning and say OH MY GOD HOW WE GONNA SURVIVE, THIS IS HECTIC. They respond with ??? I respond with oh come on, 3 degrees, rain, wind, snow, sludge, foam, sleet, mudslides, rockfalls, floods…
They tell me to get a grip.
Except for the Johannesburg friends who have also come to live here. They say Ja, Sandz, it is kinda grim.
I send these messages early while trying to get out of bed, luckily not too early. It starts getting light around 7.30, about the same time my dog has to pee. I rub the sleep from my eyes, think about moisturising, then pretend I am going on a fashion shoot. I pull on my jeans, tee, sweatshirt, hoodie, sweater and puffer, two pairs of socks, raincoat, scarf, beanie and boots. I step outside with swag.
And then it HITS ME.
I am not a fashion model.
I am going outside so my dog can pee. In the dark. And it is terrible outside. Every day. So far. This winter. It is terrible.
There are other people outside so I am not alone. They too are hidden under 15 layers of clothing, walking their dogs and desperately willing Fido or Phoebe or Finn the French Bulldog to pee. We don’t greet each other because this is Cape Town, not Johannesburg, also we cannot see each other under our hoodies. Their dogs have raincoats, mine does not.
I must remember to get one.
Because I never trained my dog, he digs his feet in and insists we go to Strolla for coffee and a scone. I actually like this ritual, the coffee is good and it is a nice way to start the day. So we stand in the line at Strolla, mostly filled with Capetonians who have just had their morning swims. They are in their designer robes with naturally highlighted towel-dried hair, wearing slip slops saying gosh the water was lovely hey only 2 degrees, see you tomorrow, maybe meet a bit earlier.
OH FUCK OFF.
I also own a robe like that except so far I have only worn it when I get out the shower.
Which I will have when I get home because I am wet and cold and my clothes are damp.
I have no clothes left.
What they don’t tell you about winter in Cape Town are the small things. Do not blow dry your hair because it will be curly in two minutes. Use all your body weight to open the car door against the wind, not just your arm, or you will dislocate your arm. There is no point in using an umbrella.
Foam takes over the city.
But also - the vanilla ice cream cones with flakes on the prom are always good, rain or shine. The hot chocolates around town are excellent. There is a huge camaraderie on the dog beach and in the forests and when you are clinging to a pole or when you get caught in a cloudburst or when your skirt blows over your head. The weather is wild and wonderful and alive and always changing and it is actually beautiful to be a part of, to see it change.
And there are numerous stylish raincoats for sale.
I am super aware of how lucky and privileged I am, and how many people there are taking shelter in doorways, being shooed out of doorways, just trying to find a warm and a dry spot to spend the night. Or who spend it wrapped under sheets of plastic, in the rain.
Capetonians have told me numerous times that this is what winter should be like, that the last few dry winters were not good. And they are right and so god bless the rain, wind, full dams and waterfalls but not the GLUTINOUS FOAM that seems to be making its way, right now, from the sea, across the beach, over the road and towards the apartment.
GET TO HIGHER GROUND, they tell me.
On my way, I say.
Now what should I wear?