Thursday, May 27, 2010

Four Seasons in a Day

Cape Town is a city of incredible contrasts. Most readily apparent is the volatile weather and the rapid shift from shanty towns to a gorgeous seaside metropolis. What sets Cape Town apart from the model of squatter villages you see surrounding major Latin American and Asian cities is the racial segregation of its impoverished areas. During the apartheid era a shortage in labor lead to the creation of townships to bring black and colored labor closer to the white urban areas without actually residing in them. Even though apartheid has long since ended, these townships still exist and remain racially separated. They continue to grow as the government provides more free housing and as poverty continues to increase.

One township we visited, Langa, is right next to Cape Town’s airport. A quick ride from our quality drivers Rithwan and Zaid down the N2 will put you right on the V&A Waterfront and the luxurious seaside Cape Town residences. Our residence is just down the street from Clifton and Camps Bay, posh neighborhoods with homes owned by David Beckman, Madonna, and others. If you opt for the M3, you’ll find yourself going from Langa to Newlands and other ritzy areas in a mere 15 minutes.

Less heart-wrenching but more physically taxing is the constant changing weather. Cape Town can be hot enough to tempt you to surf at 1PM, and freezing cold by 5PM. South Africa, like many other countries, does not believe in central heating, preferring tons of blankets and the occasional space heater to keep you warm indoors. Also, on one side of Table Mountain you may find low ominous clouds and on the other discover a gorgeous day fit for a stroll through Kirstenbosch gardens.

One thing you will not be in this city is bored. If you don’t like the scene, drive five minutes in any direction. If you don’t like the weather, wait. And pray you don't get sick!

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