I think when I told some people I was coming to Africa they imagined me going into the bush, with no showers, no electricity, no phone, nothing. Boiling water over an open fire, eating crazy things and being around everyone who spoke a million different dialects.
One day, that’s going to be my Africa experience… one day.
Cape Town is its own thing – a strange mix of modern and ancient, of urban with the way things have been here for thousands of years.
And here in this lovely city so full of life and passion and energy – life is different. I am different. Everything in my heart is shifting around. Even more than usual, I see the value of community. The value of saying ‘Hello, how are you?’ to everyone, and then actually listening to them. The value of beauty for beauty’s sake. Things really can be functional and gorgeous all at once. The value of family, of hugging new friends, of listening. The value of sleeping 11 hours a day. (Two days in a row…. I am beyond shocked & so so well-rested.)
We went today to Green Market Square – to the open-air markets in the middle, and we walked through all the stalls saying hello to everyone. It’s free to look. But I have a good price for you. Look at this one. Or this one for you. It will look very nice on you. For everything.
But the craftsmanship was stunning. So many tiny figurines and bracelets and scarves and carved wooden spoons and statues and earrings and shoes and paintings. I wish I would have taken more photos as I walked through everything. I touched everything, felt the smoothness of the soapstone figurines, the supple softness of the leather purses, the textures of a thin cotton scarf, the polished, rounded edges of the wooden ladles. I could smell the coffee nearby, and the fish & chips from the ocean. I could hear the wings of flocks of pigeons. The sound of steel drums from a nearby musician. The gentle clinking of a mbira in the next stall. The conversations all around me in English, Afrikaans, Shona. The laughter of kids getting out of school, running through the marketplace on their way home. I met V’s aunt and cousin and SO many of the other merchants there. Everyone wanted to hug us and wish us well. This is your first time to Africa? And they’re looking after you well? After reassuring everyone that Alli & V are taking crazy good care of me while I’m here, I just listened to everyone’s stories. How business is going. How life is going. At least compared to LA, everyone is constantly touching everyone else. It’s a land of living together. These lovely people just know how to do life together and I love it! There is just so much everywhere.
So often, I feel like I’m just drinking from a firehose.
Everywhere I turn, there’s just so much to see, so much to process, so much to absorb. The way the air smells. The way the city is just so full of people always looking to see if they know someone.
Like I told Alli – back in LA, if I saw a friend of mine way across the street while I was driving down a road, I might try to honk at them. I’d wave, but most likely, they wouldn’t see me. They’d be looking at their phone, seriously in their own world. (And if I was the person walking across the street – I’d be doing the exact same thing.) So we’d more likely get home and text each other – Hey! I saw you walking on Riverside today! We’d both laugh and catch up at that point. But here in Cape Town, everyone is looking for everyone else, and everyone is yelling from their cars – Hello! Hello! How are you, mama? They’re seeking each other out, and the world is so much more vibrant for it. And I can’t even tell you how many times people hugged me before Alli & V could even explain who I was. In a way – it didn’t matter. I was a person clearly part of their world, even for just a minute. Everyone told me I must come back soon.
I love this city.
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