Waiting for the registration of the bike to go through, this week I spent most of my time wandering around Cape Town’s vibrant streets. I walked through The Company’s Gardens – the original gardens built by the workers of the Dutch East India Company in 1652 to provide fresh supplies for ships coming around the Cape of Good Hope. These gardens were the critical cornerstone in enabling trade between Europe and Asia. Today they are surrounded by skyscrapers and street performers.
Wednesday night Pan and I went to a free concert in Green Market Square as part of the Cape Town Jazz Festival. We used an app called Meet Up which links you with other locals in your area to enjoy activities together. As well as us, an Indian and an Israeli, there were two South Africans, a Namibian girl and a girl from the Netherlands. The festival featured more reggae and pop than any jazz music, but the atmosphere was great. The first performer, Laëtitia Dana, was my favourite – she had a great vibe and an extremely powerful African Queen look.
Yesterday I climbed Table Mountain. It was a very strenuous one-and-a-half hour’s walk up. And another tiring hour-and-a-half walk down. The trail begins at either of two points – the Aerial Cableway or Trafelberg Road, two kilometers onwards. The path from Trafelberg Road is shorter but either of them can be done if you are in shape and give yourself enough time. The way up is beautiful, with waterfalls and streams criss-crossing the track.
The top of Table Mountain is covered by a “tablecloth” of mist which blows across the jagged rocks and short shrubs, revealing and then obscuring again the view of the city and the ocean below.
The walk up was difficult for me. I am highly competitive to the point of a fault. Everything is a race for me – sometimes that drive pushes me further, sometimes it is destructive. After years of trying to change myself, to work on my weaknesses, I decided that there were some things about me that just weren’t going to change. I am fine with my weaknesses – oftentimes their flip-sides are my greatest strengths. On this journey in Africa it was important to me to not fight myself. If I wanted to run up that hill just to prove to myself that I can do it faster than anyone else on the trail – that’s fine. I wasn’t going to beat myself up for it.
Of course, at the top third of the climb I slowed down, struggling to keep climbing the steep stone steps. The motto to climb Kilimanjaro is “Pole, pole” which in Swahili means “Slowly, slowly”. Anyone can climb a mountain, all you need is the will power to keep moving forward, it doesn’t matter how slow. I put one foot in front of the other, a bit upset with myself that I had slowed down. The view from the top was just as sweet, though.