Brilliant last morning in Cape Town, grabbing breakfast at my local cafe with a view of Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain. It’s been an adventurous and relaxing two weeks filled with great white shark cage diving, hiking, wine tasting, cape exploring, walking tours learning about the turbulent history of race and class in South Africa, visiting Mandela’s cell on Robben Island, drag kings, Tinder dates, enjoying time with new friends, delicious foods, book writing, and Netflix binging! Pretty much all the things that make me, me.
And so many wild animals!!! White and bronze whaler sharks, penguins, sea lions, ostriches, dussies, boks of some sort, and lizards galore.
Cape Town is such a fascinating place with natural beauty, a great food scene, and interesting people. It’s also an incredibly dangerous place with undercurrents of potential crime pervading famous hiking trails, fancy neighborhoods, and nighttime. It’s more than just a general “be careful in big cities” cautiousness. Basically whenever I’d ask people (male and female) about whether it’d be okay to do something alone in the day time like hiking the popular Lion’s Head trail, I’d get responses that would start confidently in the affirmative and then trail off to an uncertain foreboding:
“Yeah, it’s probably safe, but I can’t 100% guarantee it.”
“Sure, it’s a popular trail, not like climbing a mountain. But if you start and don’t feel safe, turn around.”
“Cape Town has been safe for the 30 years I’ve been alive, except for the home invasion of my neighbor two weeks ago where they stabbed my landlord in the head and she had to have 19 stitches.” WTF?!
It was great to make a new guy friend, a North Ireland man living in Leeds named Rian. What can I say? I love Brits, their self-deprecating humor and their accents! Was a great couple days hanging out, hiking up Table Mountain, pursuing ostriches in the bush, and chatting about girls, break-ups, and travel, but mostly about girls. I really love masculine energy, especially when there’s no awkwardness.
It was also a welcomed break to spend two weeks in one place. It becomes such a luxury to unpack your clothes and buy basic groceries (muesli, almond milk, sparkling water, packet of ramen, and slices of swiss cheese slices!). Okay, I’m basically like a college freshman! Do I miss settling down and having a “home?” Not quite yet, but we’ll see. Maybe I’ll become one of those people who has a few home bases or who summers and winters in different places.
I also got to dive back into the queer scene. I’ve been immersed in African adventures and not really traveling with any going out clothes, much less queer party clothes. I didn’t realize how much I missed the queer community until I was at a local Drag King event. It was so nice to see girls holding hands and kissing and a range of gender expressions.
Like most cities I visit, Cape Town has a very small and close-knit lesbian scene. Through a couple Tinder dates, wandering into a cafe called “The 2 Eves” run by an interracial lesbian couple, and messaging local event organizers, I was able to meet some really cool people and get a better sense of what the scene is like here. It’s so great how there are awesome people around the world, united behind free love and expression.
Not really the case in many parts of Africa, where you can get killed for being gay (legally or otherwise). I’m headed to Uganda, where homosexual activities is illegal. I’m fortunate to be straight-passing (even if it’s a challenge to signal queerness in safer cities!). Being queer is an important part of my life but only one part, and it’s important to be aware of when it’s appropriate to express certain facets. For example, I wouldn’t wear my Burning Man costumes to work, even though both contexts reflect my multiple authentic selves. It’s a balance between honoring myself and respecting others.
Signing out of South Africa…headed to Uganda today for a 9-day tour with hopefully, mountain gorillas!