I’m so in love and awe with the group convened in Johannesburg, and say that without exaggeration. The group (the reason I was beckoned here in the first place) was made up of brilliant minds from around Africa, South Asia, primarily, and each does such important work to address such large issues in the world, puts so much thoughtfulness and love and care into their work– both out in the world and there in the workshop– that the love and joy in the room was palpable.
After the first night, we went to a restaurant in the Hyde Park area overlooking the city and, spread out along long tables, the entire group of us ate and laughed and engaged in funny and friendly debate about the big issues, and learned more about each other and the whole thing was delightful. I don’t remember what I ate, only that I rather liked it, but I remember the wonderful debates and questions, the loud laughter and the political conversation that turned suddenly to be about books, then turned later to become about tattoos. So good, all of it. I returned to the hotel ready to burst with joy. I soaked in the wonderfully tall-person-friendly tub in my hotel room instead.
The following morning, I went to the hotel dining room for breakfast, which was transformed to an open-air terrace overlooking the Wanderers Club cricket fields and gardens with perfect summertime breezes, and ate fruits and vegetables I could barely identify and something like a yoghurt with granadilla seeds there in the sunshine at a tiny table, which was perfect by me. I’m the sort of traveler who wants to try as many local dishes and foods as possible when traveling, and while I like to think I know a lot about a lot of ingredients, I really love finding ingredients I’ve never tried before.
We took photos after lunch on the second day (one of the group of fellows, a group selfie, a candid moment, a different approach to the group selfie, a wonderful group selfie from the “selfie champion,” and a few photos to document great conversations) and many of us traded contact information, but I felt so bonded to the group that I hope to be in touch with them all for all of my days.
On day three, my co-leader and I ran around holding one-on-one sessions with each of the fellows as we caught them coming out of other sessions, and late in the afternoon, a sidebar conversation with the great Holly turned into a two-and-a-half-hour conversation about gender violence and online harassment, male allies and short films, and all sorts of things as a loud and wild thunderstorm blew over.
The following morning, Zeba (aforementioned co-leader) and I, finished in an official capacity, scurried out of the hotel early, not long after the sun was up to be sure, and rode to the airport through pockets of hazy fog. We found a cafe and ate and caffeinated and laughed, then, finally, boarded our flight to Cape Town. Taking off from Johannesburg, I felt like I was leaving a life-changing experience behind, but left knowing I’d be back again; Africa has gotten me to think deeply and clearly in unexpected ways and I already can’t wait to return.
Cape Town is positively stunning. It’s got a San Francisco sort of vibe with an exotic undertone and a certain Malibu Beach sort of chill thrown in for good measure. The residential streets are old and winding, the homes gorgeous with beautiful-but-understated details and all built as if for its residents to live outside as much as inside.
After settling into our gorgeous AirBnB in Sea Point, we first fed our craving for super healthy superfoods, and came across this wonderful and spicy quinoa-lentil-curry dish with bananas and shredded coconut, chiles, mint yogurt, and caramelized red onions. Sounds like palate overwhelm, but it was perfect and a dish I can’t wait to try to recreate at home.
From there, we made our way out to Clifton Beach, which, holy shit, just take a moment and look at that photo. The Twelve Apostles mountains are amazing monoliths, giant rising up from the shore, and we sat on the beach until the sun began to slide below the horizon. Perfect way to acclimate to this unbelievably beautiful place.
Plenty on the docket here in the next few days, so I’m off to bed. I feel fairly settled in around South African time, so hopefully sleep will be more forthcoming tonight. That said, the beautiful moon is rising up over the mountain range overlooking the city and, despite urban lights all around the city, the stars here are the clearest and brightest I’ve even seen in a city. It won’t be easy to keep my eyes from staring out the bedroom window all night to watch the sky over Cape Town.