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 www.plaasjaapie.com.
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.