Capsule Cape Town

The last time the Mother City welcomed me was December of ’94. The family holiday, I was eleven years old. Took a walk on the mountain, and returned to find them spinning in hysterics. They thought I’d fallen over the edge or been eaten by a mutant dassie.

Something of an adult now, I maintain that lofty edges offer the best views and I never miss the opportunity to push a tongue out at chipmunks.

So back to the “return to Cape Town”; a fly-in-fly-out-overnighter for work. Sat between two largish women on the plane, the cheer of economy class. The one who usurped my window seat was overheating. She may have been pregnant (I didn’t dare confirm) and decorum overrode the bitchmode induced by the discomfort of having the cooling fan deepfreeze my eyeballs, while she called for the airsteward to haul an iceberg or two.

The drive to the hotel, and I’m reminded just how much the mountain dominates, it’s hulk dictating the spread of the city and perhaps the laid-back temperament of its people (I was told it’s the mineral ore in Table Mountain that contributes to the trademark Capetonion disposition)

I spend the night at The Metropole on Long street. Luxury boutique hotel, I read off the website. The copy doesn’t do it justice. They’ve left little sugarcoated jujubes wrapped in clear cellophane as my sleep-treat. I’m swallowed by the plush of the pillows and swim in the cool of the linen. I want to live here forever and ever, in this soft-towelled gentle-hummed climate controlled pill.

Supper is kurdish; guvech at Mesopotamia. Heavy tapestry, dim lighting and the air thickly weaved with the redolence of Shisha. Eating dolmades off of low copper trays, I don’t feel like a solo diner. The other patrons are seated on cushions next to me, and their conversations fall like condiments into my food with the spice of some turkish pop played on the restaurant’s soundsystem.

I meet up with webaddiCT and we talk google and geek over caffeine at Lola’s. The decor is something we christen nouveau-retro. During the stream of conversation, the internet slights our geography. I discover he’s the legend responsible for an erstwhile net-haunt from my days at RAU, the only fish in the thinktank behind the now defunct
Long street sleeps when it’s fans do, and we leave the ardent aherents behind in Lola’s and Fiction and I’m back at the hotel, preparing for the 6.30am wake up call. My pores absorb the tenderness of the sheets. On cue, my eyes staple shut to welcome nothing-dreams.

Waking up at 6.30 was something of a foolish optimism. Those pillows, those sheets, I simply couldn’t detach. The trauma of separation anxiety dimmed when I finally made it down to a breakfast of standard lux hotel fare; coffee, croissant and muesli-fruitsalad-swimming-in-pristine-yoghurt. My inner gourmand called for crumpet-like hotcakes streaked with cream and a beautifully-prepared berry sauce.

Baseness appeased, I set off to my gig, I’ve almost forgotten that I’m in Cape Town for work and not to eat and inhale the city.

After the bookreading at the children’s library, I walk back to the hotel. I’m given directions but I let them lose their rigidity. I don’t mind getting lost, there’ll always be someone to help you find yourself.

I find a bench on Government Avenue and watch; tourists, school children on an excursion to parliament, bergies, municipal workers, people on early lunch breaks. It’s one of those days when you blink, warm from the sun and the world is perfect and complete in that second when eyelash kisses eyelash. A stroll through the gardens and I find my way back into Long Street. I’m checking email at the Metropole after I buy books outside the Afrocafe and sift through vintage skirts at a stall.

My press-release and pics sent and delivered, I have two and a half hours to bead before my airport transfer. And because Cape Town is a city for walking, I make my way to the Waterfront. I underestimate the distance, but I don’t mind it. I’m wearing flats and i’m in the mood to eat kilometres.

I settle on a lunch of calamari and onion rings at Fisherman’s Choice. My meal companions are the seagulls who are adept at picking fries off people’s plates. I wonder what these fat flying chickens have as cholesterol levels.

After these ruminations, I follow the “Pedestrian route to the city” signs back to the hotel, grateful to the city council for thinking of tourists and jozi-girls, in time for my transfer.

Bag in hand, in the cab, my back is to the mountain, but I don’t feel as if I’ve left Mother behind.

Published by


I am a writer and photographer (look up my work on based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have an MA in Creative Writing from the university currently known as Rhodes. My writing accolades include winning the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize for my debut collection, Zikr.

13 thoughts on “Capsule Cape Town”

  1. awesome..
    loved the writing…my memories of cape town are so beautiful…but im a durbs girl
    just wish i could take a trip there whenever i feel like disappearing.

  2. AWESOME!!!!

    Hope my next trip to Cape Town is not crap like my previous one…….and i mean it literally…*Cough*Cough*Food Poisoning 😛

  3. excellently written as always… I love Cape Town, but i think im too of a jozi girl to stay there permanently.. glad you managed to get away from the work and enjoy CT as a tourist.. the Fish n Chips are the best aren’t they??? next time, you should go to camps bay, and have ice-cream at the ice-cream parlour called SINFUL… complete bliss…

  4. Erm, M. Want to know how to do alot it Cpt? Dont go visit the in-laws! Sorry, couldnt resist:-P

    S: guess your time was limited- but next time we org you a chapmans drive in those 2 free hours- thats the beauty that even dreams are made of!
    The heartbreaker is leaving that behind:)

  5. All in just one day!

    The hotel does look the part of brilliant.

    At least you got in the Fish and Chips 🙂 btw.. you ‘re my hero.. you got all that done amidst the work you had completed as well.




  6. wow! bring back memories of when i use to stay in cape town! but i dont think i could live there forever, i like curry too much!

    i go there once a year now to soak up the european trendy atmosphere and gorgeoussss scenery…..and visit my friends of course….

    sounds like u had a fab time….

    did u come back with the feeling that u would love to stay there permenantly or are you also a homebird?


    fida. . .

  7. The way you’ve described Cape Town and your stay (WHAT A FANTASTIC HOTEL! Were the duvet and pillows filled with goosedown feathers? Oh that’s heavenly…white sheets and goosedown duvets are just sublime!)…I can only describe one feeling that I am experiencing:

    JEALOUSY (but not in a mean-spirited way, of course 😛 )


    Like you, I haven’t been to CT in ages and I really want to visit our Mother City again.

Leave a Reply