If my adventures in Cape Town have taught me one thing, it is to expect the unexpected. What a paradoxical statement. Nobody can actually expect the unexpected. Half of my struggles while traveling, especially Spain and South Africa, have come from inevitable adjustments of itineraries to “Spanish time” or to “African time”. I like plans. Definitive, clear plans. Surprises and secrets are absolutely not my style. All of my friends and acquaintances know this, none better than my lovely boyfriend and best friends.
So, returning from watching President Obama’s speech at UCT, we decided to grab a bite to eat at the Eastern Food Bizarre, where Chicken Tikka Marsala costs a mere 35 rand and you are full for days. Coming off the high of the speech, feeling like changing the world, and absolutely exhausted from a full day of volunteering, I was just reaching that anxious point when I was one of the next people in line to order food and had yet to decide between Falafel and Tandori Chicken. Frantically looking up at my options a final time, I caught a blur of dark brown hair, characteristic of a single person in my life: one of my best friends Chelsea Jolly.
Screaming bloody murder in the middle of the Eastern Food Bizarre was somewhat awkward, as everyone turned to me thinking I had been stabbed or something, but the reality was a scream of shock. Chelsea, who had just completed a month long film internship in Mossel Bay, was supposed to arrive on Monday night to spend two days exploring the city with me. But here we were, eating Indian food on Sunday night. Chelsea and Luke and pulled one over on me, even including my other roommates on the surprise. Thanks to them, my Sunday night was absolutely perfect, and I had one extra day in Cape Town with a best friend.
Waking up early after a night of catching up, we decided to conquer Lion’s Head, a shorter hike with a fabulous panorama of the entire Cape Town area. Lions Head was an easy walk until the top, as hikes usually go, and compiled in us facing our very real fear of heights to mountain climb up a few hooks to reach the top. We were able to circumnavigate the mountain and see every side of Cape Town, from Robben Island and Camps Bay to the city bowl, the twelve apostles, and Table Mountain. Sweaty and exhausted, we headed down to explore the beautiful waterfront area, and as I am a creature of habit, back to my favorite Portuguese bakery Vovo Telo where I fell in love with the lattes and soups all over again.
Chelsea and I are the kind of friends that dream of exploration and adventure together. I think that everyone has a friend like this, the kind that can waste the day talking about hiking some distant mountains or fording some remote river. This was our first time to ever really do this. One activity specifically had come to mind when we were making plans: the active, exotic pursuit of surfing. After previously visiting the surfing town of Muizenberg, I knew that I had to try. More so, I knew that Chelsea had to try. For under $30 each, we were able to book a private lesson, including the board and wetsuit, so there was really no reason, besides hoping to hold onto our pride, that we shouldn’t do it. After taking the always uncomfortable and somewhat dangerous train to Muizenberg, we were off, ready to create surfer chick alter egos.
Getting into the wetsuit was half of the struggle, and it took about 30 minutes to exit the locker room, feeling like I would never breathe again. After learning the techniques on solid ground, our instructor urged us into the freezing water. Because of either the adrenaline or the wetsuit (I’m not sure which) I never even felt the cold winter water. I am proud to say that I was a natural, standing up on the board on my second attempt despite all of my doubters back at home. It was exhilarating, and despite the fact that the waves were pretty small, I definitely got the hang of it. The board felt natural under me, and many years of snowboarding can be attributed to that. I fell a lot but I laughed even more and had the most phenomenal afternoon. An hour and a half passed too quickly, and before we knew it we were back in the locker room, and I was making plans to go again.
To put a cherry on the top of a perfect afternoon, we hopped on the train to Kalk Bay to dine on fish and chips at the famous Bronze Bell. Getting there was not easy, as we first were situated on the wrong side of the tracks so we missed our train. Waiting a half an hour, we rewarded ourselves for our physical activity by indulging in some gelato to pass the time. Finally on the right track, we did not know where first class was and wound up nearly missing the next train. After slipping through a door someone was prying open for us, we found ourselves in third class as a preacher with a microphone and speaker spoke to the train until we finally got off. Luckily the restaurant was right off the train tracks and we could not possibly get lost. The view from the restaurant was absolutely worth the struggle to get there. Right on the water, we watched waves crash for the duration of a meal of fish and chips, which we finished with a South African delicacy of malva pudding.
Once again returning exhausted, we spent the rest of the night cooking, snoozing, and watching movies. Unfortunately, not everyone can fight traveler’s sickness forever. Be it the tacos, the guacamole, or the fish and chips, Chelsea got sick. It was pretty unfair, being her last day in Cape Town, but it happened. Wednesday was spent lying around the apartment, reading books and watching NCIS, a lazy day that I had actually been craving, necessitated by illness. We made a bad day great and spent part of it at an adorable coffee shop.
Saying goodbye is always hard, but Chelsea is now on to spend another 6 weeks in Ireland on another study abroad, and I am here to complete my summer. I am so thankful that I have had this chance to take a few days off and explore with her, and can’t wait for many more to come.