Within the first 24 hours in Cape Town, I tripped up a flight of steps, crushed my hand in a security gate, and got my suitcase stuck in a bus station turnstile.
In other words, everything is as expected.
The AirBnB host at the apartment I’m renting couldn’t have been any more helpful when she met me to drop off the keys.
“We’re close to the Convention Center, so there are a lot of hotel restaurants and chains around here,” she explained. “If you want something less touristy, you’ll have to go into town.”
I nodded. Then she walked to the window and pointed to a convenience store in the square below.
“That Superette is a good place to pick up a few staples,” she said. “But if you want to buy groceries to cook, you’ll need to go into town.”
Cook, ha! That’s sweet.
“And there’s lots of great shopping up at the market on the Waterfront,” she continued. “But if you want something from a department store, you’ll need to go into town.”
“That’s about it,” she concluded. “Any questions before I go?”
“Just one,” I said. “Which way is town?”
On my first full day in Cape Town, I decided to go for a run along the Sea Pointe Promenade, a 2.5 mile trail from Granger Bay to Queens Beach.
I was so impressed with the view: Water! Mountains! Cape Town at its finest.
In fact, the scenery was so beautiful that it took me several minutes to realize that I was actually just running the perimeter of an upper level parking deck.
Nicest parking lot I’ve ever been to. Very scenic.
On my way back from my run, I stopped to buy some fruit from a street vendor. He had his plums, apples and pears piled five to a basket and set out on the ground outside the Superette.
“How much for the plums?” I asked.
“Six Rand,” he answered. That’s about 35 cents – which is far less than I paid for fruit anywhere, even when I lived in Nigeria. This led me to believe that either I wasn’t meant to haggle on the price of the basket, or that he was trying to sell me one very expensive plum.
“For the bowl, or just one?” I asked, immediately realizing that my purchase would now be priced by the piece. Advice I needed yesterday: When buying fruit, don’t ask stupid questions.
“The bowl,” he said. “Who buys one?!”
Who buys one, indeed. I took all five. Plus a basket of peaches. Came out to about $.90. No haggling required.
If you want to read a good book, I recommend Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Life of a Desert Nomad.
In the first five pages, the subject, model Waris Dirie, runs away from home at age 13 to escape an arranged marriage, wakes up from a nap with a lion in her face, and then beats a man to death with a rock in the back of a pickup truck.
And it only gets crazier. True story.
On Sunday, I spent the day in Camps Bay, a cluster of beaches set against Table Mountain. Cape Town Tourism describes this stretch of coast as “the place to see and be seen.” And a European man on the bus ride over took it a step further.
“Camps Bay is like the Monaco of South Africa,” he explained to no one in particular.
The man’s comparison seemed even more absurd considering that he had a dinner napkin scotched taped over one eye at the time. He hardly seemed to be an authority on world-class travel, but since I haven’t been to Monaco, I thought it best not to disagree.
That said, I have been to Camps Bay. And I agree with Cape Town Tourism. It is, in fact, something to see.