Friday, July 26, 2013

Gratitude in Cape Town

These past weeks I've been waking up full of joy and incredibly happy. 

Here are a few of the things that I've been enjoying about Cape Town lately: 

Fruit and veg. There are delicious fresh fruit and veg here. Vendors all over the place offer them at incredible prices. Coming from a place where many things are imported because the earth is frozen for a good part of the year, it is great to have year round access. My favourite? The avocados.

My fav fruit & veg vendor, Durban Rd, Mowbray

Cycling. I thought it would be scary to cycle here, but Cape Town actually has an emerging cycle scene. There are bike lanes downtown, new awareness campaigns for drivers on how to share the road with cyclists and fun cycling events. I gifted myself with an old one-speed for my birthday and derive a lot of joy from exploring the city by bike.

My 'new' bicyclette

My neighbours. I’ve become quite close with the young Congolese family 2-doors down (Ceclia, Mike, Gradi & Gloria). It all started when Cecilia passed by one day as I was opening my front door.  It was Easter and I was feeling pretty down. She gave me a warm hug and I invited her and her two young daughters in for tea and snacks. Since then, we visit each other frequently. They have been incredibly kind to me. On top of helping me practice French, they gave me a car radio after mine was stolen. One morning, soon after they knocked at my door late one night with a request to drive their sick 1-year old daughter to the hospital, Cecilia came outside still in her nightgown. She enthusiastically told me that she had been dreaming all night of braiding my hair (she is a hairdresser). She then invited me inside and gave me some pretty mean cornrows J  It is a nice exchange –I babysit occasionally and I’ve given driving lessons to Mike.

4 year old Gradi (Short for Grace a Dieu - Grace of God)

Cecilia in her home

1 year old Gloria and I

I also recently connected with some Malawians that work in the area. There are twin mechanics that work at the garage on the corner, Mtembe and Mtembele (translating as Peace and Peaceful). Mtembe is my link to Malawi – he told me where I can get Malawi gin, flour and chitenje, and keeps me posted when Malawian artists come to perform in Cape Town. I saw him one day in the corner store and we had a brief chat. When he left the produce guy turned to me and said ‘Mumalankhula Chichewa?!’ (you speak Chichewa?). Now Aubrey keeps me posted on when shipments of Avocado are coming in. The sense of community here is beautiful.

Mtende (left) and Mtendele (right)

Diversity. I love the diversity here. Sometimes I feel like I'm surrounded by the whole world. Being from a pretty diverse country, It feels simultaneously new and familiar. 

Open Streets, Observatory

On Campus, UCT

Alternative communities.  Cape Town seems to have lots of random, wonderful communities and events. I met a man at a poetry reading who invited me to a Dance Class called 'Bliss Dance'. Every week, the class provides a space to explore conscious movement. The facilitator and DJ work in combination to put together weekly themes in which we are encouraged to move creatively. I find it incredibly fun and healing. Another practice I've got involved with is the Art of Living. After wanting to do a course for many years, I did one in Cape Town last month. It was a great experience - among other things, they teach yoga, breathing and meditation techniques to live a more joyful existence. I make a point of going to the centre once a week. 

The views. It is such an irrationally, incredibly PRETTY area nestled in between mountains and oceans. I oftentimes find myself laughing alone in my car while driving, just because I don’t know how else to respond to the stunning beauty of this place.

Driving home 

Sensory overload! From amazing jazz, to deep rhythmic house music, street art, obscure galleries, shards of poetry sprawled on walls, brightly coloured homes, amazing gardens, projects to fuse genres of art, a mix of African and Western fashions, food from every corner of the globe… you get the picture.

You are always with me (check out the wall in the background!)

Words on walls

Cape Town and its inhabitants are teaching me about a new way of living. 

Oftentimes the focus from outside is on the bad bits. Despite the many insurmountable problems, this city is also chock-full of amazing stuff. 

I am deeply grateful to be living in this city with its myriad of beautiful offerings.  

Revision is Me

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