Musings from the Mother City

Cape Town is an eclectic city. It entertains, challenges, and invigorates me in more way than one.

“You’ll like Cape Town, guaranteed!”

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Here I am with 4 other students doing journalism internships. They are (from the left) Kelly, Corey, Saam, Natalie, and me.

“Cape Town is South Africa’s gem.”

“Oh, the Mother City!”

“Eish, Cape Town is paradise.”

“Cape Town, it’s like Africa and Europe pieced together.”

When I told local South Africans I’d be spending 2 months in Cape Town, these were the responses I got. South Africans love Cape Town. And that’s an underestimation. Yet I wondered whether the place was overhyped. Like the Frozen movie. It was good, but was it worth the constant rehashing of songs and scenes? Maybe not.

My first 2 weeks in Cape Town proved to me that Cape Town is spectacular, and in many senses of the word.

It’s South Africa’s answer to California.

Many people compare it to LA or San Francisco.

It’s a liberal, cosmopolitan, and modern coastal city with chic streets selling burgers, shakes, smoothies, and local fare. And its mountain scenery is breath-taking. Table Mountain and Lion’s Head overlook the entire city.

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This is Camps Bay, just outside of Cape Town. It’s one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, in my humble opinion.

The area is also relaxed, I imagine especially since the legalization of weed in September.

Need more proof of its similarities to Cali? The 2018 romcom film The Kissing Booth was shot both in LA and Cape Town. Watch the movie and tell me what you see!

It’s a case study in race and language.

I spent my first 2 months in South Africa in Durban, where most residents are black Africans and know isiZulu as their first language. Here in Cape Town racial categories and breakdowns are:

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My friend Craig and I making mutton curry. This guy is an Indian cooking mastermind!  And he happens to have a very mixed racial history.
  • Coloured (mixed racial descent)- 42.4%
  • Black African- 38.6%
  • White- 15.7%
  • Asian or Indian- 1.4%
  • Other- 1.9%

The term coloured has a bad connotation in the US, but in South Africa it’s more accepted. Racial categories are remnants of apartheid now used for affirmative action and other government purposes.

Here in Cape Town, most people’s first language is Afrikaans. Although Afrikaans was the language of the oppressor during apartheid, it’s almost universally spoken by whites, coloureds, and blacks here. Thankfully most people know English though!

Its media scene is up-and-coming.

The reason I’m in Cape Town is a journalism internship. However, I’m not aspiring to be a journalist. I just want to become the best writer possible!

I’m writing for the Sunday Times, the largest newspaper not only in South Africa but also on the continent. I’m assigned specific stories, and have already published 3. They’re about:

  • Pregnant women drinking fertilizers when they can’t get abortions- based on a recently published University of Pretoria study
  • Transport challenges for Capetonians with disabilities- involved me paying a visit to the Cape Town Society for the Blind
  • Mrs. Deaf South Africa I hung out with the pageant queen, learning how she seeks to empower the deaf community through her fitness and deaf confidence platform

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    Here I am with Mrs. Deaf South Africa. Believe it or not, our interview did not involve a translator. Although she’s “profoundly deaf,” she learned to lip read at age 2.

Fitness freaks are welcome.

I love leading a healthy lifestyle, and thankfully Cape Town makes that easy! Lions Head, a mountain directly across from Table Mountain, is a killer 2-hour hike involving ladders and stairs. Table Mountain is itself a hiking hotspot, but it’s not just one trail. The mountain is absolutely massive and could take days depending on the paths you choose.

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Running my first half marathon in South Africa was very cool…but those hills were tough!

And of course there’s running here! I do the parkrun 5K every Saturday at 8 AM, which is a cool South Africa initiative where you:

  • 1. Sign up for the parkrun online- you’ll then be able to download a free barcode
  • 2. Go to a location near you where a parkrun is hosted
  • 3. Wear your barcode and run- you’ll be sent your time after the run so you can improve next time

Since there’s hundreds of people who go to each parkrun, it’s like a race. Yet you don’t have to pay anything!

You have 0 chance of boredom.

Whenever I travel, I always try to befriend locals. Here I’ve already had some successes.

Once a week, my friend Craig teaches me to cook Indian food. Last week we made lamb bunny chow, and this week we prepped mutton curry with roti. He now calls me “Spice Queen.”

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I hiked Woodstock Cave on Table Mountain with my hiking club! Cape Town is in the background.

I also have a church family. Cape Peninsula Reformed Church is one of the most diverse churches I’ve ever attended, with whites, coloureds, and blacks; rich, middle class, and even beggars. And it’s only a 3-minute walk from my place!

That’s not all. I’ve got pals at Meridian Hiking Club and am looking forward to starting FREE tango and kizomba dance lessons this week.

 

So…if you’re looking for a city to explore, see a different side of Africa, and embrace your wild side, look no further than the Mother City. Take my word for it!

 

Now, in the spirit of my blog’s photo tradition, here’s some special moments from my last 2 weeks:

First, a new friend of mine…

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When I hiked at Kirstenbosch National Botannical Garden, I came across this creature bathing in the sun.

Now for the food…

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Here’s the bunny chow me, Craig, and my fellow journalism intern Saam made. It’s with carrot salad, a traditional side for bunny chow. We ate it all with our hands!
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Mutton curry made by Craig and I, served with roti and carrot salad.
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This is a koe’sister, a traditional Cape Malay pastry sprinkled with coconut. You can just call it a donut!
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Denning vleis is a popular Cape Malay dish among the Indonesian descendants in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. It’s lamb loin chops in a sweet-sour, brown onion tamarind sauce and served with rice and several sides (as shown above). Thanks to Biesmiellah Restaurant for the meal!

 

 

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