Tag Archives: Cape Town

Nostalgia, Already (Table Mountain)

The first time I peeled, I thought I was dying.

I had just returned from Cuba. At first I chalked it up to dry skin, but the skin – my skin! – kept rubbing off with frightening ease. I showed my mother.

“Oh, you’re just peeling. From the sun,” she had said.


“You must have gotten burnt in Cuba.”

“Oh. I didn’t know that happened to us.”

I was reminded of that special moment earlier, after sloughing off a layer from my forehead. Memories of South Africa, but more specifically, standing in line for the cable car up Table Mountain. I was out there for about 2 hours and half of that time was spent in the sun. If I had known about that wait in advance, I might not have gone (or I would have at least worn sunscreen). But the views from Table Mountain were magnificent and worth every second in the sun. I had lucked out, because the day before and the two days after were so windy that the cable cars weren’t running.

I hope my burnt layer hangs around for a bit longer to remind me of my good fortune and fun times.

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Coloured (Cape Malay)

Cape Town feels like an island. You can definitely feel the proximity of the water, even when you can’t see it.

I went searching for South African food shortly after arriving at my hotel in the CBD (Central Business District), but all I could find were chicken livers on fancy “international” menus. So I settled in at a place called Tiger’s Milk on Long Street.

The waiter was very attentive and clearly curious about me, so I took the opportunity to ask him about South African food.

“Well, because South Africa is made up of different cultures, it depends. Indians have their curries; the white guys have their braai. For example, in my culture, we have chutneys.”

“What’s your culture?” I had my own ideas, based on what he looked like to me, but I wanted to hear how he identified according to South African norms.

“Let’s say, the polite way to say it is Cape Malay.”

“The polite way?”

“Basically Coloured. But I know that for American people it’s not good to say that.”

“How do you feel about it?”

“It doesn’t bother me. Actually I’m proud to say it.”

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