Last Weekend in Cape Town

Currently, I am winding down my last full 24 hours in Kapa (we’re going to some riverside town, Swellendam, until Wednesday, and I leave Thursday). They have been too much fun, and I am not happy that the end is here. It’s funny, because I REALLY thought I would be for awhile–when I moved out of Obs, where I lived for ISP, I was kind of not looking forward to this week. I really do miss my family and friends and home. Still, I’ve had such a wonderful time since classes ended yesterday that I just want to stay for awhile longer.

Class ended at 5:30 PM yesterday, and all of us went to this great little Mexican restaurant called Panchos in Obs.  I know, I know…good Mexican food all the way in South Africa? Must be a joke. Nope, it was genuinely pretty delicious–not California good, and DEFINITELY not as good as my new roommate’s mom’s cooking but wayyyy better than I expected. After months of no Mexican food, I was impressed. It was a fun atmosphere too. Definitely a good start to an awesome night.

Then we came back to our favorite backpackers, near Long Street, and got ready to go out. Last night was definitely in my top 3 nights out in Cape Town…I don’t even know why it was so fun! We went mostly to our usual spots, although we added in this super corny but fun place called Dubliners, where they played ridiculous music like “All the Small Things” and “Proud Mary.” Still, and maybe I’m just getting nostalgic for a semester that hasn’t even ended yet, but I just had so much fun.

This morning, I woke up and went to the top of Table Mountain! We didn’t hike–we had a ton we wanted to do and there just wasn’t time–but we took the cable cars up. I really wanted to hike it this semester, but I did hike it the last time I was here, so at least I don’t feel as though I missed out. I planned it a few times, but either the rain was bad, or I was sick…hopefully, I’ll hike it again some time in my life! It is now officially one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Also, it’s super touristy but the views are just breathtakingly beautiful. Lion’s Head looked so small from the top. I remember hiking that just three and a half months ago…it really made the semester seem to come full circle.

After Table Mountain, my friend and I made it to the Old Biscuit Mill JUST in time to grab some food. I bought myself this kind of expensive necklace I’ve been eyeing all semester–I figure if I’ve literally wanted to buy it almost every Saturday for three months, I probably deserve it. You’ll all see it the next time you see me–since my great-grandma’s old necklace that I used to wear all the time broke, I plan on replacing it with this. The Old Biscuit Mill is probably the yuppiest thing ever, but it was definitely one of my favorite parts of Cape Town, without a doubt…delicious food, awesome clothes and jewelry and home decor…I hated leaving for the last time today.

When I came back from the Biscuit Mill, we went to the beach! Clifton is one of my favorites, and it was so nice. The water was FREEZING though, but I read a bit, and napped, and chatted…and generally freaked out about going home. Honestly, I am anticipating so many questions that I just don’t have answers to (“How was Africa?” “What was your favorite part?”). Africa is a diverse place, yo, but South Africa was excellent, although it is a complicated place with so much possibility and hope but also a lot of problems. My favorite part? I don’t know, do you want to hear about my favorite nerdy thing, my favorite homestay or experience, my favorite tourist memory? I should honestly just type up a form answer, the length of a novel, for the questions and hand them out…that isn’t to say I don’t want people to ask me! I do! I want to share my experiences, but they were just so multifaceted and intense…it would take me days and days and days to explain it all! And even then, I’m not sure you can understand ZA (or probably any place) without really experiencing it…do  even understand ZA? I’ve been here for 3 1/2 months, a total of 4 months in my life, and I’ve seen such a wide range of people and places and things…but I have always been able to place myself in a context of not living here, and being transient. Also, a month or so ago someone asked me if I could live here, and I answered with an emphatic no. I think I’ve since changed my mind…I absolutely could live here. I really do love it, for all of its faults and complexities.

Glamping and First Impressions of Bo-Kaap

Earlier last week, my program went glamping at a San cultural center. Glamping, for those of you who don’t know, means glam camping…and it was pretty glam. Sure, we slept in tents…but they were surrounded by straw huts, had lights, and contained mattresses. The only food we made around a campfire were s’mores—the rest were in a nice restaurant. We did go on a few nature walks, but they were easy. I’d never been glamping before, but I think I prefer real camping. However, the stars and the terrain were gorgeous. Our first night, we even watched the sun set over the ocean. As our program director said, “In Africa, the sun doesn’t set…it disappears.” He was right. It was pretty awesome.

When we came back to Cape Town, we moved into our fourth homestay: Bo-Kaap. I’m pretty smitten with the place. It’s situated on a hill above Cape Town, so the views are unbelievable. A few streets of houses are vibrantly painted in all colors. It could not be more beautiful. It’s also near the city center, which means we can easily roam the city in the afternoons and on weekends—finally. Last night, we went to this awesome fundraiser with local musicians, dancers, and poets. The talent was incredible! This morning, I finally went to the Old Biscuit Mill, which is this intense market every Saturday. There’s a ton of food and unique shops. One store has essentially everything I would ever want for my future apartment, from patterned silverware to funky inspirational wall hangings. The food is also delicious.

My family in Bo-Kaap is also great so far! They’re so friendly and chatty. Apparently they love karaoke. My host mom makes these delicious donut-like things that everyone apparently has for Sunday breakfast. She taught me how to make them last night! That brings my count of fattening, bready, delicious recipes up to three: donuts, fat cakes, and steamed bread. Yho! I don’t know how I was so lucky with my host families. They’ve all been so nice, welcoming, and fun! Also, if any South Africans reading this would like to offer a recipe that is a little less bready and a little more dinner-like, let me know!

I can’t believe it’s my last 10 days before independent study (ISP). I know ISP will go by so quickly, especially since I want to live in the city. It’s funny. When I stayed in Langa and Stellenbosch, I didn’t mind being right outside a city’s limits and having to drive or take a cab in. When I was in Tshabo I liked roaming the fields and always feeling safe. But the second I come back to a city, I remember how incredibly obsessed I am with them. I just get really giddy and immediately want to explore. ISP is going to fly by. I’ll be in the city, busy with research (which I plan on doing on the beach, actually), interviews, and of course, exploring Cape Town more. I feel like the semester is winding down, and I am not happy about it. I miss home and Claremont, but mostly, I wish all the people I love there could transport themselves here forever and ever so I could always be here. I don’t like the feeling that the end is coming, even if it is still weeks away!

Also, I need to figure out what I want to do for my birthday, in case it requires planning in advance. I have a Cape Town bucket list, and I’m thinking either tea at Mount Nelson, a sunset cruise, or the beach…one is free (always nice!) but the others are a little more special I think. It’s the last exciting birthday I’ll have probably ever, so it needs to be fun! Thoughts?