I hardly write about Africa anymore. Not because I don’t feel anything for it anymore, but because there are so many things crammed into one that I have no clue where to begin.
I am back in Cape Town after a four-year hiatus. Last time I was here I had fled Mozambique right before Christmas and spent Christmas day in bed eating cheese and watching documentaries while the heavens cried in earnest at the birth of baby Jesus. Well, it was raining hard.
My friend Merel and I bought a shopping trolley load of cookies and skipped around the CBD handing them out to street kids and I interrogated homeless people as to how they ended up on the street. We took photos in random garages and sun baked on a windy rooftop. We drove through the city in a convertible and partied on a yacht with some New Zealanders who were sailing around the world.
I surfed down the coast at 5am on Christmas day with some brothers who had surfed that beach through the apartheid and it had been the only place they were allowed to shred. It felt sharky as the Christmas sun clambered up over the horizon and set the mountains on fire.
Then I missed Mozambique too much so travelled three days overland to make it back by New Years. It was a volatile time.
Cape Town is probably the most beautiful city I have ever seen. The central city scales Table Mountain and meanders down the coast, a thin hem of towns sewn between the hills and the ocean. A chilly wind whips up from the south, the ice cold South Atlantic Ocean collides with the Indian as the cape juts into the sea. The flight in feels like a scenic air tour, ridges stoically finger the coast, pencil-line rivers snake through patchwork valleys, gaining momentum as they near the edge of land. The edge of Africa.
Always in Cape Town there is some kind of mountain formation in your periphery. Granite tiers stacked into the skyline, thinning shrubbery struggles to hold its place at height, the mountains watch as human ants scuttle about their business. Kelp forests wave fronds like palm trees above the ocean surface, vague distress signals as if they are trying to clamber out of the ocean and take root on the hostile dry land.
Cape Town is a collision of land and sea, a microcosm of South Africa fenced in by the ridge that splits it from the rest of the country. The city pulses to a beat unheard in the rest of the nation, in the rest of Africa.