I’m going to go ahead and just admit it – my trip to Cape Town has not turned out like I imagined.
After investing many daydreams and years full of traveler’s angst into the desire to visit, I find myself puzzled at this turn of events, this unexpected reality of not actually enjoying it so much, now that I am finally here.
Let me start off by saying, the geography of this place is amazing – the mountains, the ocean, everything is absolutely stunning. It’s a paradise on earth. And the people I met when I first arrived were over the top friendly, and I started off by enjoying myself thoroughly.
Since coming to Muizenberg, however, I’ve felt a bit like a wet blanket has been thrown over my trip.
One contributing factor has been the distance between my expectations of what I would find here, and the reality I’ve discovered upon arrival.
Part of the reason I came to Muizenberg was for the big long stretch of beach I saw in all the pictures online – long walks at the ocean’s edge are one of my favorite pleasures in life. Also, I chose this rental in particular, in large part for its position at the base of Table Mountain State Park, allegedly with a trail starting right behind the house and leading up to the mountain.
However, when I arrived here, I soon learned that my plans to start each day with a mountain walk or a beach walk were simply untenable. I can’t walk alone on the mountain trail, because apparently I’ll be robbed (or worse). I can’t walk alone up the beach, because as soon as I get away from the crowd at Surfer’s Corner, I’ll be robbed (or worse). Also, best not to stay out after sunset, because traveling alone in the dark, I could be robbed (or worse).
My attempts to befriend my current AirBnB host have fallen flat – she’s clearly among the crowd of people who use the website purely as a means to generate extra income, and not because she is interested in making a new friend or having a cross-cultural experience. Which is fine, that’s totally her choice – but it’s pretty much the opposite of what I hope and look for when I choose a place to stay.
The shabby chic vibe of Muizenberg might even be growing on me a bit, but nonetheless I feel like I am isolated in an open air prison, with yard time midday when I can walk into town for a cup of coffee and to dip my toes in the water.
Throw into the mix a nasty howling wind, and several days of pouring rain, and I’ve spent altogether too much time holed up in my bedroom, trawling random corners of the Internet and eating spoonfuls of Nutella straight from the jar. In other words, this experience is not at all in alignment with my plans for my life right now!
I spent several days feeling like I had to stay for the duration of my month-long plan, because (according to some bizarre logic I’d invented) abandoning my plan to be here would be like blaming the location for not making me happy, and I needed to just dig in and be responsible for making myself happy, dammit !!
In other words, if I wasn’t happy here, there must be something wrong with me – with my attitude or my thinking – that would follow me wherever I go, so I’d might as well stay right where I am and figure it out here and now.
Then I woke up yesterday morning and I was like, um no. It’s just time for me to bounce.
I considered whether I should leave the ‘Berg and find somewhere to stay back in the city of Cape Town – which isn’t a terrible idea, really – but then I decided I’d might as well see a whole new city while I am here. I booked a plane ticket to Durban and found another room on AirBnB that appears to be in a vibrant neighborhood, and with friendly hosts who appear as though they will want to spend time with me.
Obviously, I won’t know what it’s *really* like in Durban until I get there, but for right now, I am pretty darned excited about this upcoming adventure, another chance for fun while I am in South Africa.
In the meantime, I’m going to try to make it back up to the city of Cape Town at least once more, and possibly also down to see the penguins again before I go.
Oh, did I tell you about the penguins? Now THAT was purely delightful.
Down the coast towards Cape Point, at a place called Boulders Beach, there lives a colony of African penguins. They are not domesticated, and no you can’t touch them or feed them or pick them up, but they ARE comfortable enough with humans that they just chill on the rocks or swim around you in the water, all nonchalant, like it’s no big deal for humans and penguins to hang out on the beach together. Also, they are hilarious and really cute.
Here are some snapshots of the penguins from my visit:
I was enjoying myself so much at Boulders Beach that I took my chances with traveling around alone after dark, just because I couldn’t pull myself away from the penguins any sooner. I was glad to be out that night, actually, because the train ride back up the coast at sunset, with the full moon dancing over the horizon, was absolute magic.
I tried to record a little bit of the moment on video with my iPhone, which did a terrible job of capturing the beauty of the sunset and the ocean – and of course, no video could ever translate the smell of fresh ocean air or the feeling of mist from the waves and wind on my face as I leaned out the train window and tried to soak up the moment …
Whatever else does or does not happen during the rest of my time in Cape Town, this one delightful day with the penguins, and the magic sunset trip back up the coast, were enough to make my experience of coming here entirely worth it!