On the Beach

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

You know you're living in Africa when...

I have mentioned before how, even in a city as stunning and jaw-droppingly beautiful as Cape Town, you just get used to it. When we we first got here we were saying: "WOW, IT'S TABLE MOUNTAIN" every 2 minutes (and, actually, I don't exaggerate- TM is there, all the time, wherever you go and it has so many moods, so many angles...). The locals would look at us like we were slightly simple with a look that said, well, er, Ja. My husband marveled at his commute, which literally hugs the mountain, takes in a view of the harbour, Robben, Island, the City Bowl and Lion's Head- to name a few well-know sites in Cape Town. He'd even see zebras sometimes.

Now, sad to say, we've become a bit more local and well, perhaps a little blase, about the lump of sandstone that we can see from our back garden. The mountain still astounds and there are times when I turn a corner and it takes my breath away but, even so, sometimes you're so caught up in the school run or annoyed by a traffic jam that you wish someone would just build a damn tunnel to ease your commute. Wonder of the World or not, I'm running late, for crying out loud. And, sometimes, on this side of the mountain the damned thing just spoils a good sunset (although please don't tell from the Atlantic Seaboard that I said that. It would be like admitting defeat).

What I'm saying is that, sadly, I do take some of what makes Cape Town exceptional for granted. However, there are some things that can't help but remind me that I live in Africa.

What I am about to recount will wash over long-time Capetonians, but not the rest of us. Bear in mind that what I am telling you happened in the suburb of a city of 3.5 people. In an urban area. In a  city with a major international airport. With some of the best restaurants in Africa. We ain't no backwater here, is what I am trying to say.

The other day, at my daughter's preschool, a fellow parent was telling me how their daughter had become very clingy since the baboon incident. Yes, world, since the BABOON INCIDENT. You're assuming this happened on game reserve, right? Think again...

Apparently, her daughter was in her high chair in the kitchen (they live less than 5 mins drive from me) and her nanny had gone to the loo. When the nanny returned, a young male baboon was sitting on the kitchen worktop opposite the little girl, munching a banana. The not-yet 2 year old was silent. Unsurprisingly, the nanny was horrified and scared the baboon away- but he didn't leave before grabbing some take-out: 2 bananas.

As the mother recounted the story, one of the aspects she was most concerned about was the fact that "Baboon Watch" had not alerted the area.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, I live in a part of the world where we have Baboon Watch. Not just Neighbourhood Watch. No, we  watch baboons too. Apparently, how this works is when a baboon is walking through the streets (really), the security companies call the wildlife people but also a general SMS is sent to subscribers in the area, telling them to close windows and doors (and presumably hide bananas) until the animal has left. You then get an all-clear SMS. Apparently, if they get in they make a real mess of your kitchen. A bit like having a toddler baking in your kitchen- just more furry, bigger teeth.

In the area I lived in in the UK, we had Neighbourhood Watch. I guess we were looking out for real thugs, you know, the moronic looking type whose knuckles drag on the floor. Baboon Watch is very similar- they're just hairier and more likely to target your fruit bowl than your HD Ready TV.


  1. Hi, My wife and I together with our 3 kids and 2 dogs will be moving to Cape Town in the next few months. We were both born and grew up in JHB but have lived in the London for the past 13 years. We just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to write your blog it has proved a great source of information (and entertaining as well) to help with our big move to Cape Town.
    Regards, Eales Family (London)

    1. Dear Eales Family,

      Firstly, good luck with the move! I imagine it's a big deal logistically and psychologically, I hope it goes well. Get in touch when you get here, let me know if I can help or we can exchange notes.

      Secondly, your comment about my blog touched me so much. In one comment you made writing it worth it ( apart from fulfilling my own narcissistic needs). Thanks so much