Perhaps it's the 8-hours of sunshine a day that makes Capetonians so relaxed, or the subtle swish of the ocean and inaudible hum of the mountains. But relaxed doesn't necessarily mean lazy, as the number of hikers, joggers, cyclists, surfers and horse riders attests. Capetonians have developed the ability to switch from inaction to top speed without losing their cool.
Cape Town's Soul
Oh yes, Capetonians are cool alright, perhaps the coolest dudes in the whole of South Africa. Johannesburg residents find Capetonians far too laid back for their liking, adding that the reason Cape Town is called the 'Mother City', is because everything takes nine months to happen! You have to take the Cape in your stride and learn to slow your mind and get in tune with nature.
Take a trip up Table Mountain to feel some soul in the earth itself and see the continent of Africa spreading north before you and nothing but endless ocean to the south and east. But to really get to grips with Desmond Tutu's so called 'Rainbow Nation', you should walk the streets of Cape Town and eves drop on local inhabitants.
You may not understand every word said, as languages are many and diverse. Catch the clicking sounds of Xhosa, the distinctively clipped South African version of English, Afrikaans as spoken by Afrikaners of Dutch origin, as well as the local Cape Coloured population who give Afrikaans their own irreverent flavour. You'll also hear French from Congolese immigrants and Portuguese from Mozambicans and Angolans.
One of the best places to encounter this unique spice of life is in Greenmarket Square. This has always been the heart of the city and trading wagons have crossed its cobblestones over hundreds of years. Traders shout their wares with heavy African accents or spirit you to their stands with the beating of drums.
The drum beats to a slower rhythm on Cape Town's South Peninsula, where surf dudes take chilled out to its ultimate level. This includes their language and listening to a conversation in Noordhoek, Kommetjie or Scarborough may make little sense without a good translator.
'Howzit broer' (how are you my brother/friend) could be answered with 'Kief man' (fine thankyou) or even 'Lekker jôl' (very nice having fun). 'Wiped out on a potent left break but stoked I got out alive' (you'll have to figure that one out yourself). If some oke (guy) threatens to donner (smack) you then I would take to your takkies (trainers), jump into your bakkie (pick up truck) and get the hell out of there. On the other hand you could just finish that last dop (drink), bliksem (thump) the troublemaker and carry on with your pluck (doing your own thing or having fun). Note several expressions for having fun!
Oddities of the South
- Asking the way may not lead you in the right direction as it is polite to give an answer even if it's the wrong one
- Drinking and Driving is illegal but many people do it anyway
- If buying a property you want it to face north to catch the sun
- If you are from the northern hemisphere, your sense of direction will probably be 180 degrees out (as the sun arcs in the opposite way and confuses your instinct)
- In some Cape communities it is considered attractive to knock out the two front teeth
- Personal space in for example queues, is half that of Europeans
- South African drivers are notoriously bad, especially the public taxi-buses
- South of the equator the water goes down the plughole clockwise
- Taxi cabs don't drive the streets waiting for you to hail them
- The Southern Cross constellation points the way south
- You cannot pay for petrol with a credit card, you will need cash
© Copyright Carrie Hampton - firstname.lastname@example.org