We drove to the Atlas Trading Company in the Bo Kaap. I thought they might have the glass chimneys that are so good at shielding candles from wind on outdoor nights. The Trading Co. was closed. Today is a public holiday - The Day of Reconciliation. But we parked anyway, and walked the steep streets in the hot sun. We were too late for the noonday gun.
Mosques, minarets, cobbles...
....and thick old walls. Cool inside in summer.
Between the houses people gathered on corners. Something was up.
Then Shafiek (below, behind the tambourine, with painted face) asked us to take a picture of his crew. He told us that music was about to happen, so we stuck around.
We heard the sounds of a band coming up a hill.
And The Happy Boysarrived in a blast of brass and a jittering of tambourines. Kaapse Klopse. The big, big day is Tweede Nuwe Jaar (second new year), but today's was a celebration of an observance of sixteen days of activism regarding non-violence towards women and children (according to their Facebook page).
It felt good to be in Cape Town.
Higher up another troop was moving down the streets to make a union. We circled, and I sat in the shade while Vince took pictures.
Women directed the setting up of dozens of platters of sliced watermelon and spanspek, refreshment for the thirsty troops.
We retreated at last, hot and sunburned.
I was left with an impression of community and friendliness, and the renewed conviction that this is one of the parts of Cape Town in which I would most like to live, given the chance. And all things being equal.
The Frenchman and I are back in Cape Town after a few days away near the very, very southern tip of Africa.
There was a lot of sky, there were horizons (whose memory is to be hoarded for the dark and enclosed Harlem days to come). There were fragrant dune plants. There were blue cranes whose rough calls in flight gave us a new thing to remember. There was a wide blue tide whose rising and retreating left exposed and hidden a vast sand canvas where flamingos and terns, salty plants, small fish and hermit crabs made daily new watery pictures. There was the sound of surf, always.
It was good, it was not enough, it was more than many have, it was very beautiful.