Once in Cape Town, Yours Truly Cafe
It’s 11.53 and I’m sat here at this huge table kind of in the middle of Yours Truly, all by myself. This cafe is the de facto hostel bar and restaurant for Once in Cape Town. I had a pretty meh biltong avocado salad. Not so flavorful and I kind of feel like shit after eating it–too fatty.
I’ve got on this grey ZA RVCA tank top, complete with a fresh new cigarette burn in it…Yesterday was an interesting day. I got up and had the free breakfast, and then met up Agnes, Annabel, and her boyfriend for breakfast at 10.00. I walked into SEXY FOOD and it was pretty cool. I wasn’t starving, so I just ordered a kimchi side dish and some yerba mate.
This crazy fuckin’ guy got our attention and wanted us to help him come up with an idea for a unique party. I told him about how my roommates and I back in San Francisco held champagne and shackles parties, and he was like oh I don’t know if that will work for a public party. Also, he seemed a little taken aback for a second by the name of the party–I guess that’s why we renamed it to Bubbles and Bondage. For the uninitiated, you simply zip tie two strangers together at the wrist and hand them a bottle of champagne. They don’t get to unbind themselves until they finish the bottle.
This guy was desperate for someone to help him come up with an idea. “I’ve got the bar, the venue, the DJ, I just need a unique once in a lifetime experience.” He sounded like he was on fucking MDMA or something.
“So, you’ve got a gun, but you don’t have any bullets to fire?” I ask him with a grin. I love using that analogy. The guy was telling us some shit about how he was from Mozambique and then when we told him we all met in Mozambique he suddenly changed it to say he is a diplomat from Saudi–what a bullshitter.
Annabel’s guy just smiled a bit and said nothing. This was just another day in Cape Town for him. “As soon as he started talking, I just thought ‘this nigga must be on pills!’ ” he told us with a bit of a laugh after the crazy guy left to bother the next table of guests. The boyfriend got a bottle of this detox ‘whisky’ drink which essentially is some sort of Western Cape leaf in water. It tastes pretty tangy and bitter, but I kind of liked it.
My Kimchi was not at all what I thought it would be like. Shredded and a green and yellow color, not squares of red spicy Korean style Kimchi. It was still good, but more like a sauerkraut. I quite enjoyed the fresh red chili sauce that they had prepared. It was so RED, I felt like I was in a spice market or something.
We said goodbye to Annabel–farewell my friend. I will see her later, but for Agnes this is goodbye for an undetermined amount of time. I part ways with everyone, as I need to bring back the rental car and clean it before returning it. I try to find the car wash but I run into trouble until I see it is in a parking garage. I’m getting stressed out driving in this traffic, and I realize it will take an hour to clean the car–an hour I don’t have.
I call up First car rental, and find out I don’t even need to clean the car! Damn. OK, so I roll through Cape Town traffic and am able to drop the car off and walk back to make it to the hostel for 13.00. I was meeting Marie from Germany and Agnes to hike up the Table Mountain.
I return to a foggy overcast day–not looking good for table mountain. I call an Uber to take the three of us to the botanical garden–Kirstenbosch. We arrive and go on a 90 minute free walking tour at 14.00 given by this old volunteer lady. What a funny old lady, she had some spunk. She reminded me of my dear granny–except without the cigarettes
After the tour we look at how the fog has worsened near the peak, and feel glad we did not hike up. Agnes and I have some sandwiches at the Tea Room–said by our guide to be better than the restaurant–and I really enjoy the homemade salad dressing. I believe the chef here must be famous as they had their cookbook for sale and also the dressing was in a bottle labelled with the brand name of the chef.
We grab an Uber back for 100 Rands, and It’s around 17.00 now. “Drink?” texts Bianca over WhatsApp. I respond in the affirmative, and tell them I will see them ‘now’–the South African version of it at least. Marie jumps out on the way, and then Agnes and I stop at Wildfire Body Piercing so she can get another ear-ring piece–hers fell out while we were having sandwiches. The fresh piercing got inflamed and pushed the piece off.
Walking down Long Street now towards our Hostels on Kloof and Loop street. I part ways with Agnes, but tell her to come join for a last drink. She agrees and I head back to Yours Truly and do a quick look for Bianca and company. I’m pleased that they’re not here yet–I really want to take a shower.
The rain-water like shower falls over me, cleansing me of all my sins–yeah right. There’s still no one checked into the dorm, and that makes me happy. I get to walk around naked for the price of a dorm room. Last night some people came in late at night and dossed (slept) and were gone before I got up in the morning–waste of money for them. Other than that, I’ve had this dorm all to myself.
So now I’m looking fresh and dapper with a couple drops of beard oil in, the same ZA tank top I am wearing today–sans the cigarette burn–and then some cuffed up to the shin black Levi 511s–my only pair of pants.
I walk down to the upper balcony level of Yours Truly and find Bianca and a bunch of people I do not know. I introduce myself and blend into the group slowly. After about 30 minutes we are all best mates and sharing jalapeno (JA LA PE NO) pizza and laughing about some story of a guy correcting someone’s pronunciation of the aforementioned pepper. I try the reposado tequila on the rocks, and it’s surprisingly not bad.
Agnes shows up and has a drink, and the South Africans remark on how international our crew is–they’re a little enamored. Whereas being surrounded by different nationalities is the norm for me now, to these South Africans it’s much less common. Sweden, Canada, Hungary, and South Africa are all sitting around the table.
Agnes leaves, and I give her the hug goodbye and that final segment of eye contact before she turns and leaves–perhaps forever. I’ve said goodbye a lot now in these last 10 months and I’m getting pretty good at it. I hope I see that lovely soul again. “I probably won’t see her for many years now” I let out as a sigh as I slouch down into the table. I’m only a little bummed for about 20 seconds, but take another drink and hold my head up high–back to normal. This is just how it goes with life and traveling.
We continue to get drunk, and then decide to go to a flat party. Bianca leaves her laptop in my dorm-room as I show it off to her. I steal a kiss and then we head back to the group. We finish our drinks and then hit the road.
I prepare myself for some sort of long car ride through dark unknown areas–not the first or last time I’ve jumped in a car going to parts unknown. We stop within a minute to get alcohol. “Samoosas!” echos Bianca’s sister. Unfortunately, they’re sold out. I grab some rolls and a slice of Brie to make some snacks later–despite the extreme doubt thrown on the idea by everyone else. The sister grabs a bottle of 30 Rand ($2) white wine for Bianca.
We jump in the car and start driving. Like 3 minutes later we are there–what the fuck? I guess the flat is just down the street! OK, can’t argue with that. Bianca already has the clicker for the iron gate to the parking compound, and it slides open to welcome us. I realize now that all apartment buildings in Cape Town have big tall gates securing the parking area and property at large. That and “PROTECTED BY XYZ ARMED RESPONSE” signs plastered along the exteriors.
The three of us walk up to the flat, to meet this red-haired girl who lives there and her long-haired boyfriend. They’re cool and we make the intros, etc. Bianca throws my 6-pack of Black Label (Blabel for slang) and I start drinking a glass of cheap sauvignon blanc.
Time to make the food. I cut open the buns and warm up the oven. Then I put the broiler on and throw the tray of rolls in the oven and set a three minute timer. I have another sip of wine and start chatting, and then as I get up to check the oven, someone is already saying “that bread is burning in the oven”.
Smoke pours out of the nice oven and my buns are fucked up and burnt–it only took 2.5 minutes. How embarrassing. The hosts don’t really mind, they’re all cool and chilled. Bianca’s sister scrapes the burnt bits off and cleans that up for me while I throw the Brie in the oven, this time being much more observant. The snack is OK, but I think would have been much better with a baguette. It was how Andrew G and I did it back at StFX. That, and making pizza dough at 2 AM.
We continue to drink, and I’ve got my arm around Bianca and she is leaning into me and all. Her hair is like golden blond and down past her breasts. This is such a South African girl thing. I haven’t seen girls like this anywhere else. The girls are all so blonde and with long and unrestrained hair. I would say they’re blonder than the Swedes–what a mysterious and interesting place. Hearing girls speak Afrikaans is kind of sexy–even their accented English is cool. I’ve got that typical South African infatuation–looking past the problems of their economy, corruption, institutionalized racism, etc…
It’s like all coupled off here except for Bianca’s sister, who is taking a nap in the corner. It’s a group of 7 people here, I guess she is the 7th wheel tonight. We decide to go out to P&G’s (Power and Glory) for a drink, and I’m drunk at this point, telling Cape Towners that P&G sounds like PG&E, Pacific Gas and Electric–like they would even care. This is how you know I’m drunk.
We walk down the block to P&G, popping my cherry for this oft-talked about bar. It’s super hip, it’s got like 4 craft beers on tap (that’s a lot for South Africa) and reminds me the most so far of a Mission District bar. This awesome track comes on…It’s so familiar. It consumes my attention fully for a minute and then I remember–La Femme! Ah ha. The whole album is playing–and I remember for the second time today that girl who showed me this artist. Weird coincidences today.
I steal another kiss, and then get dropped off at Once in Cape Town