Thursday, March 7, 2013

Arriving in Cape Town: Broken toes, tin-can cars and how we inevitably journey forward

“Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end…crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis (nomads).” - Khaled Hosseini

I’ve been in Cape Town a few weeks now and have been very bad at keeping my commitment to start blogging again.

I usually choose my posts by picking a topic that has been prominent in my life, then writing about my thoughts surrounding it. This post is rather less profound and more an odds-and-ends overview of my arrival and and settling in here. 

After years of figuring out how to move here and 2 years of anticipation, to finally arrive seems like the most natural thing in the world. Things seem almost too easy after working and saving so hard for this next step. It seems as though moving forward sometimes happens with great intention and struggle. Other-times things happen so naturally that we barely notice our movement at all. 

Arriving in CT

I arrived in this stunning city, excitedly but without event or incident after travelling overland from Malawi (accompanied by my wonderful friend Ms. Bolen). What has happened since has been a natural progression in getting settled into a new life.

Beautiful Ms. Bolen at the Cape of Good Hope

One of the first things that strikes after the beauty of the city and the warm Rotary welcome, is that things are relatively easy for me here. Keep in mind that I’m living in one specific region of the Western Cape province, arguably one of the most developed areas of South Africa. I also carry a significant amount of privilege being an international student from Canada and through incredible support from Rotary. There is a lot of ease in my experience that many others in South Africa don’t have.
When I say ‘easy’, I mean that things seem to happen relatively on time and without struggle. Fuel is always available and water, power (for the most part) and internet are reliable. There is also an amazing selection of places to go and things to do, see and eat. I also haven’t encountered any language barriers.

View from the back porch

I have found a place to live for the time being. Although not ideally located near school or downtown, I walk out onto the street in the morning and look at a mountain looming in front of me. Sitting on the back porch, I have a stunning view of the ocean and the boats in the harbor. Pretty amazing!

In other news, I’ve bought a car. Although I’ve been driving for 10 years, this is the first time I own transport that is not a bicycle. 
I usually opt to bike, walk or take public transpo but this is a sprawling city and the public transport infrastructure isn’t great. After a year of nights sitting in gated compounds in Malawi or waiting on expensive taxis, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a cheap little hatchback 'tin can' to bop around town. 
Driving to the place where I’m currently sitting, I’m sure I stalled over 20 times, mostly on hills or in intersections. Driving manual takes some getting used to, but this is part of the learning process. I am keeping a little room in my budget for a new clutch :-P

Matimati (Chichewa word for 'tomato') and I :-P

I also broke my big toe a few weeks ago in a very under-dramatic fall.  Things are healing relatively well and I have learned that Cape Town and campus aren’t all that bad barefoot. In fact, I’ve noticed many able-footed bohemian types opting to go barefoot. 

Classes began a few weeks ago after a pretty intensive but uneventful registration process. Sitting in the first few lectures, I quite frequently felt my heart brimming over with joy.
We are talking about uncontrollable, eyes-welled-up type of joy here!
I am ecstatic to be back to school and in Cape Town. What a fascinating place and time to be studying. Looking around the classroom, I often get the feeling that some of my classmates will take on leadership roles and be part of the futures of their respective countries. 

Having been out of school for 6 years and having only studied business, this is all a bit intimidating. I’m worried about keeping up but am excited for new challenges, lots of learning and hopefully some growth thrown into the mix.  

Signing off broken-toed and happy!

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