Not Bad for Wintertime

It has been a beautiful past week in Cape Town, and I am starting to think/hope that the endless rain of last summer is not going to make an appearance anytime soon. Not that I am going to complain.

With sunny blue skies all weekend, we were able to take advantage of the awesome weather. On the 4th of July, after enjoying a brunch at a creperie just blocks away from my house, we joined some of my housemates’ American co-workers from SAEP (the South African Education and Environment Project) for a picnic on the beach in a place called Maiden’s Cove. It was unbelievable. We sat on a big rock right next to the shoreline and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. It wasn’t quite the same without fireworks, but the full moon in the clear sky was an acceptable substitute. Sunday, we took the train to Kalk Bay along the Cape Peninsula, ate brunch at a local restaurant, and walked along the rocky shoreline towards the surfer’s beach at Muizenburg. Since it was a warm day and the waves were big, there were lots of people out in the water with their boards—definitely a site I am not used to seeing.

Monday was a bit of an interesting day. After work, my co-worker Estelle invited me, the two other Duke interns, and an intern from Canada over to her house for dinner. She had been talking up her cooking for weeks, so naturally I was eager to test out her claims. I am happy to report that the meal was delicious, my favorite dish being the Butternut Squash Soup. Aside from the food, we were also able to meet and visit with her husband and two young children.

After dinner at Estelle’s, one of my other co-workers Joe picked us up and took us to Swinger’s, a local jazz club with an open stage on Monday nights. As we soon learned, Joe is quite a big deal in the local jazz scene. Not only was he the emcee of the evening’s entertainment, his picture was also hanging on the wall inside the club! And at several points during the night he got up on stage and performed. All the artists that took the stage were quite talented, and I enjoyed the music very much. Also, I couldn’t believe how racially diverse the club was. Coloured, white, and black South Africans were jamming out side by side—definitely a refreshing and encouraging sight. At the end of the night, however, I was completely exhausted. Joe (who is 70 years old) stayed until the very end at 1:30am, so we didn’t get a ride home until then. A long night indeed, and an even longer morning waking up after so few hours of sleep. It was funny to think that a 70 year old man outlasted 4 college students, as we were all falling asleep by the end of the night!

Work is also going well. This week, I am putting together my final report for the museum. I am making definite progress, and I hope to finish it by Monday. The historical research is coming along too, although at a much slower pace. After an endless number of phone calls and running around, I was able to located key documents from the Parliamentary committee that debated and drafted the bill that set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And luckily, the material is located in Cape Town, so I do not have to spend as much time in Johannesburg and Pretoria as I had originally anticipated. I hope to begin looking through it next week when I am finished with my work at the museum.

I’ll end with a story that I found quite amusing—and perhaps illustrative of the fact that I am settling in quite nicely as a Capetonian. As I was walking from the museum to the National Library yesterday afternoon, and black man approached me. “Brother!” he shouted out. Usually, out of safety concerns, I would ignore anyone who approached me, but for some reason, I decided to stop. He was well dressed and didn’t appear to be a threat. After the initial greeting, he showed me a text message on his phone that contained an address, and he asked me for directions. Without hesitation, I gave him concise and seamless instructions on how to get to Barrack St, an obscure road a few blocks away. He thanked me, and I walked away with a grin on my face. Not only did I appear South African enough for him to stop me, I also was able to accurately direct him. I was quite proud of myself.

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