Monday, 28 January 2013

Gin and Tonic

The sun was setting as the six of us settled into the small but aptly decorated apartment we would be calling home for the next week. The view out the window was beautiful and the smell of fresh ocean air filled the room with more oxygen than I had been able to take in over the past month or so. Before we all took turns to have the first shower after camp, a shower that is not to be taken for granted, we separated our dirty clothes into communal piles of colour. Oh, how I missed every decision being made with the consensus of all the people involved.
After my shower, short, but refreshing I joined the hobo camp that was starting on the small expanse of grass just outside the large window of the master bedroom.
Sounds of drumming, laughter and the gentle scratch of creativity against paper filled my ears as I gazed out at the end of the world. The sun was setting and it was getting chilly out. We decided, again communally, to make ourselves a well earned drink of Gina and Tonic before heading out, glasses in hand, to the large rocks that scattered the shores of Cape Town.

We sat on the rocks, rather nostalgically for a while, crunching on chips and contemplating our futures, our pasts and the dreams and aspirations we would soon be fulfilling, half inland and the other by the sea. We didn't stay seated for long and soon enough we were all lying with our heads to the horizon waiting for the Green Flash that would signify the end of one world and the beginning of another.
Hunger. Something we had almost altogether forgotten about. The mission was made and soon we found ourselves sitting in a Chinese Restaurant perving over the beautiful, Filipino waitress and pondering how everyone keeps identifying us as Jo'burgers so quickly. We decided it was our mannerisms and not our accents and made a pact to only do the "Cape Town Walk" from then on.

The quaint little street so dubed "Obs" was the destination for our next mission. A kombie taxi and a Train ride away we found ourselves walking the quiet street and peering our curious Jo'burger eyes into book shops, little cafe's and strange shabeen type restaurants in search of coffee. The last place that fell victim to our, almost, aimless wondering happened to be a Milkshake Place. They didn't have coffee, nor would they make coffee milkshakes but the allure of their grassy outside and Lilys inability to ever wear shoes was all too much. We shared milkshakes on the old wooden benches. I was pre occupied in dealing with minor existential crisis's about the stray we had picked up. A friend, but maybe more, maybe less. The milkshake was good though.
The kombie ride home was a new experience all together. From changing taxis about three times and hurriedly wondering through the centre of town before finding familiarly and a ride home, we squished onto back seats and through crowded streets, not loosing anyone before we made our way safely home.
Song lyrics filled my head as I thought back to the last moments with Jade. As if by some weird twist of fate in the universe the exact song came on and as trees and buildings rushed by, turning into ocean and back into buildings, my mind wondered through months of memories.

Shabbat Evening
In a mad scramble we managed to get dinner on the table and friends around it. While the wine and Gin flowed so did the conversation. The rowdy bunch that had emerged from the moderately fancy dinner found themselves with stickers on their foreheads guessing their identities based on Yes/No questioning. Hilarity ensued, as I'm sure you can imagine. This is when the Couch Incident occurred and to Rosa n Lily's parents, I do greatly apologise  Somehow in all the commotion I managed to drop my phone into my glass and, in my completely clear and rational thinking, pour out the contents of my glass onto the couch. I'm still not sure how life escalated to this point, or when, but I am truly sorry.
I was soon in bed after saying brief goodbyes to our friends.
Oh the life of sue-do grown ups.

Saturday Morning
The split. While the Would Be Capetonians took a tour of UCT and saw their new accommodation  the Continuing Jo'burgers took a little walk up and down the promenade of Sea Point. The sun beat down on us and the world looked a little better through my sunglasses. We walked to see, and to no particular point of interest. Just dawdling and while the floor was hot beneath our feet the sky was blue and the cool ocean breeze made it more than bearable  At this point, I would like to note that I'm not too fond of Cape Town. I hate wind and despite the fact that I've been telling people my favourite season is summer for longer than I can remember, I think I like rainy summers and not hot summers. I prefer cooler weather and have started to think that Autumn is better for me.
Despite all this, the Cape Town streets and people were quite enjoyable and after an ice cream and a little trip inside a shopping mall and through some weird foam we found on the grass it turned out to be a rather enjoyable day.
I spent the afternoon almost alone in the apartment.
I've come to realise that my stories and adventures of Shnat and Israel are harder to tell to strangers, but when someone from the movement or who has been on Shnat too asks, its not because they're being kind or curious  Its because its a wonderfully fulfilling felling to be able to tell your stories and have the person who is recieveing them know.

The large window next to the couch was open but the sun shone bright;y through it and onto the white, leather couch that took up most of the left hand side of the living room. Two bodies, sprawled but comfortable took up the empty space between the ceiling and the couch. They talked animatedly for what felt like ours, and probably was. Eventually the light faded and the wind became stronger and previous engagements caught up with the bodies and their time was cut short. They said goodbye.

No holiday is complete without an extra long day at the beach.
You may think us weird, but that is the nature of us when we are in groups. We dug holes to confuse humanity and collected rocks and sand in chip packets. The day was hot and besides the water being ice-y cold there was no escape from the elements. Looking off into the distance and seeing four friends, tall, short, built and hairy in the distance across the beach put the world into perspective. The strings of my ukulele rang out in the open space of the beach. A deep voice, that I soon realised came from a friend of mine seemed out of  place but comfortable. Maybe I've become to comfortable with being out of my comfort zone. Maybe its so uncomfortable its comfortable. Maybe I've just learnt to deal better with it.
Half Price Sushi is beautiful.

I did my hair and make up extra carefully. I sat at the opposite end of our disastrously long table, but before long, we had mixed up the language divide and I was engaged in an animated conversation with him. We spoke about the untold beauty of Johannesburg and plans for me to show him what I see and he doesn't once we both got back to Jo'burg. I leant on my elbow, legs crossed listening to his deep voice as he told me all about his time in south Africa so far. For the life of me I cant remember what on earth he said. 
Later I moved to a different part of the table and found myself engaged in one of those identity guessing games (honestly, why do they allow us into public places?) and enjoyed my sushi with minimal conversation with my seating neighbours. A sneaky exploring "Bathroom Excursion" and a few hugs goodbye, with promises to meet again and we were on our way to the infamous Long Street.
The street was crowded with party goers and after the initial confusion as to where we were to meet our friends we found them on the top floor of an old style building. The banisters were painted white and filled with swirls of metal. The floors were wooden and there was a really old, bearded man that was dancing in the doorway. We bought beers and stood watching the jazz band for a few, short minutes. The band was loud and the bar tender a beautiful, tall dark haired man. I was instantly in love. 
Outside we sat on a small bench watching the smoke curl up from cigarettes and other smokable objects around us. The smell was potent and reminded me of high school. Conversation flowed in accents so different from my own. New York, Israel, Cape Town, South Africa and me, slightly mixed up and Australian. I remember the street, filled with people, pushing and shouting. Scantily clad girls that hung onto boys that they supposed would please them for the night, weather it be rewarded, pre-conceived or completely unabashed. I remember rambling on about over analysis and saying things in a more expanded way than necessary. I remember glassy eyes and spike-y faces. I remember dancing in the crowd in Jo'burg and laughing because Pretoria was empty. I remember the flashing lights of the bad trance bar and convincing ourselves that we had to be home. But mostly, I remember the three of us, together again, like it hadn't been in such a long time, and wouldn't be for a while. 

The aftermath of last night was apparent in Long Street early that morning, but even more so in the darkened bedrooms of our flat. Mitch and I set off on a kombie taxi back to long street for a little day time exploring. We walked along the street and as we walked we were abruptly confronted by a bustle of people in the direction of an African Craft Market. We walked the narrow pathways between the stalls, looking at all the different objects and clothes that one could buy. We stopped to admire the jewellery and the shirts made of  African Material while Mitch entertained my senses with stories of when he was volunteering in Ghana. The Coca Cola hats, radios and bags of assorted sizes caught my eye. We excitedly tried them on and joked with the Stall Owner about the hazards of a metal hat before making our way to the book shop we had been looking for. We gazed around the book store in awe at the sheer amount of books for, about, in, from and around  South Africa.
A phone call later and a bit of light browsing and window shopping later we found ourselves sat at a restaurant eating delicious burgers and sandwiches with our friends who had managed to find us. The restaurant was really something. the walls were graffitti'd with artwork in a variety of different styles and the bathrooms had been tagged like there was no tomorrow. The menu's looked like old style newspapers, the contrast, although it didn't hit me then, was brilliant, and the food deliciously refreshing to my empty, rumbling stomach.

It was Mitch and My last day in the mother city, and time, coming again all too quickly required us to return to the apartment and pack up our bags for the final time. We stuffed our suitcases and ourselves into the front seats of the kombie taxi, holding them tightly so they wouldn't fall. We drove slowly in the streets of Cape Town, it was late afternoon and there was quite a lot of traffic. We got off at the train station without too much difficulty  smiling to ourselves about how much easier that had been than we expected. We made our way through the station and down the road until we got to the bus station, and that's when the wind began.
The trees were nearly bent over fully, and we were just about being blown into the street. I couldn't see for the life of me. We crossed the street, the wind doing most of the walkrunning for me, and I nearly couldn't stop the wind was so strong as it picked my feet up, my shoes unable to keep hold of the ground. Almost gravity defying.  Safely, we got to cover, our heads bent, smiles still, unfathomably so, plastered on our faces as the wind whipped around us. The bus was empty and the staff were helpful.
I fell asleep almost immediately on the plane after demolishing my first Kikat since being back- My favourite aeroplane snack.

My/Our journey had officially come to an end, almost exactly one year since it had all started. It was the last leg before being home for real and getting back into our 'normal' lives. We reminisced over the weeks and months we had spent together overseas and our shared and individual experiences  We remembered people and how much of a cyclic experience this had all been. It truly has.