“It's summertime in Cape Town!,” the cheesy radio announcer's faux-sultry voice crackles out of the speaker adjacent to my ear as the minibus taxi hurls down the familiar simmering tarmac towards the city center. The smooth beats of Akon, a popular Senegalese rapper, ease onto the station and the driver cranks up the volume to levels that would make even the most self-proclaimed “ghetto” of American college freshman boys cry. I glance up at the “Maximum Capacity: 12 Passengers” sign and smile to myself as I sit sandwiched between two well-endowed mamas in the back seat. I count 19 passengers excluding the driver and his gap-toothed guard. Grimacing as I draw my giraffe-sized legs closer to my chest, I struggle to liberate my hand from the clutches of my fellow passenger as I seize a few greasy coins from the depths of my jean's pocket to cover my fare. The passenger on my right, a beautiful Xhosa woman whose tribe forms the black majority in the Western Cape Province, chides the driver for missing her stop and issues a toothy grin as she tells me in the silky rhythmic tones of the Xhosa people to “Have a blessed day.”
The minibus rattles onward down the center line, swerving past a collection of victims—Volkswagon, Chico, city bus, all no match for its holy trinity of size, speed and insanity. I disentangle my legs and move towards the now vacant seat next to the window. Plunging my head out into the roaring Cape Town wind, I gasp for air and sight of my final destination: the top of the Cape Town MetroRail Station. As I sit there, head lolling about like a bobble-head doll whose awkward jolt failed to make the cut for final sale, my eyes catch a glimpse of Table Mountain looming protectively over the city's main streets. A sense of awe washes over me and I bury my head in my hands, "I'm going to miss this place so much," I think to myself. And soon I forget about the harrowing minibus experience as my thoughts wander across the path that lay before me.
Home. College. America. My own bedroom. Graduation. Matt Lauer. Shitty Health Care Legislation. Myley Cyrus. Snow. Pizza House. Neoclassical Economics. My stuffed Walley. Conventional Paths in Life. Starbucks. Rush Limbaugh. Reeses Pieces. Sorority Girls. Rent. Ashley's beer. Communism. The Jonas Brothers.
But as mixed and bent and twisted as my feelings are about leaving, I've learned to make the most of the time life gives you for where you are. I relish Cape Town for being such a fucking crazy city that I had no choice but to step into myself. I savor its streets, its history, its people. But I love my home...home meaning the people with whom my life has become so deeply intertwined that no person stands alone but is wrapped up in the delicate web of humanity. Ubuntu: "I am because you are."
Mallorie, Phil, Johnny, Hannah, Emma, Philip, Mom, Dad, Keri, Sheena, Angie, Andrea, Sarah, Molly, Shannon, Meg, Hannah, Stina, The Benj
My journal entry from the Johannesburg airport reads: "Friday, December 12th, 2009: And now, as I leave, my heart aches and I sob like my thirteen year old self watching A Walk To Remember. But while these are tears of mourning for saying farewell to what was the best time of my life thus far, these are more tears of GRATITUDE for how this experience has carved me out of the clay...has given me the confidence to continue the adventure. I guess that's the beauty of Cape Town. I'll see it, breathe it, feel it, LIVE IT, even when I'm away.