Cape Town could be Vancouver’s long lost sister. Separated at birth, they would have grown independently, unaware of each other yet obeying instincts far greater than just their own. They both are tucked in the most intricate way between mountain and ocean. A ride through town is a threat to the neck as eyes are drawn in all directions, each vista rivaling the next.
Like Vancouver, Cape Town is a scene in which many micro-climates compete to surprise you. Strong winds from the ocean collide with the ever-present Table Mountain, forming a strange orographic cloud affectionately called the "table cloth" which rolls down the opposite slope. No matter where you stand in the city, the Table thrones somewhere in the landscape, civilization having surrounded it like a river flowing around a rock.
But there is much more to Cape Town than just a mountain. There are immense sandy beaches, giant surfing waves and windy sand dunes. There are immense cliffs of reddish rock, and baboons roaming them freely. The vegetation is amazingly diverse, ranging from typically Mediterranean plants to rare orchids and tropical species. Weather wise, your choices range from nice to stunning. Food is awesome, international, cheap. Do I sound like a bad tourist guide yet?
But of course, I didn’t go witness the shanty towns. Visits are organized every day, and the stink of it is that in the end, locals benefit from the foreign attention and even maybe from the direct impact of such visits. I don’t know. As fascinating as other people’s poverty might be, my voyeuristic instincts were tamed by so much beautiful natural scenery and I was happy not having to deal with my conscience. The South East Asia lesson is not forgotten.
So this post is about beauty, and may the less fortunate forgive me. It’s easy to record beauty when you are surrounded by it, much less when you can only find it inside of your bleeding heart and everything around you screams of ugliness. This being said, I have seen pictures of the shanty towns that reflect surprising cockiness and even good taste in the middle of all the chaos, once again proof that beauty starts inside and is very much about contrast.
Some other trip, maybe.