I went to Cape Town a couple weeks ago, unexpectedly. It was quite incredible. A friend of mine was turning 40 and her husband wanted to surprise his wife by making sure some of her old school friends were present for her birthday bash. (Most of us live a long way away from Cape Town and could not make it down there for various reasons.) On Wednesday I got the call, ‘What are you doing this weekend?’ friend’s husband asked.
“Not much,’ I said.
“Do you want to come to Cape Town this weekend? I have air miles that are about to expire” friend’s husband said.
2 things here. Flying to Cape Town is like going overseas for a non Capetonian! Cape Town feels very different to the rest of Africa, it’s faraway and shit balls, someone was offering to pay for a ticket! How often does that happen? And how incredibly generous!
A day later I was packing my bags and screaming down to the Durban airport, old school tunes pumping, good times coming! The plan for Cape Town was to participate in a compulsory ‘Amazing Race.’ I suddenly had flash backs of my unexpected 3 day trip into Lesotho on horse back and I started to ponder some deep thoughts about how I manage to regularly experience the unexpected. An ‘amazing race’….what on earth is an ‘amazing race?’ I can’t lie, I was just a little nervous because I can’t remember the last time I ran a race, if ever! In fact, I think it was when I was still in school. I offered to take photos instead, but friend’s husband was having none of it!
As I was tootling down the road and around the corner, there in front of me was a traffic jam, a very long looking one. I turned on the radio and to my utter dismay, heard that Cosatu – the South African Trade Union – was blocking the main dual carriageway into Durban. They were striking about rising fuel prices and were not letting any vehicles through. 2 hours later, I had barely moved 5 kilometers and I missed my flight. I was also absolutely desperate for the loo…’sweat droplets dripping from the brow’ kind of desperate! At one point, I’m sure I was seeing stars! I even considered peeing into a bottle but my problem was that I was surrounded by trucks, all with a great aerial view of the low level vehicles!
I managed to change my flight and decided to be safe and book the later flight which was a whole 4 1/2 hours away. I was only 40 kilometers from the airport. Of course I’d get there, I thought. Plenty of time, I thought.
Yep, you probably guessed right….that kind of confidence get’s you nowhere in South Africa, in fact if anything, it merely tempts a terrible fate! I missed my second flight. I’d spent 6 and half hours waiting for the protesters to let us through. It took so long that I stopped needing the toilet, though I have no idea how that happened! I can only imagine how many people were trapped on the roads and what the consequences were for them. 6 and half hours of blocking a main dual carriage way!!! Lucky for me, my friend’s husband made a third plan, can you believe it?!
The following day, I made damn sure I got to the airport on time. After a long and stressful 24 hours, I was finally strapped in on a plane and flying to Cape Town.
What is an Amazing Race?
If you watch TV, you will mostly likely know what it is. We don’t watch TV. But I was very glad to hear that this Amazing Race was a race to get from one point to another in an UBER! It involves some hilarious and daring challenges, it involves clues, it involves having a team mate and in our case, key to the game, an enthusiastic UBER driver! Because I have a Zimbabwean past, we thought it was appropriate for the name of our team to be something from the Shona language. Our brilliant tongue twisting team name was CHIMBUZICHIRIPI! It means ‘Where is the toilet?’
My team mate actually chose that name himself, not knowing how strong the ‘toilet theme’ has been on this particular trip! A relevant team name, I thought!
My friend wanted an experience for her 40th. In all there were about 7 teams on a wild goose chase around Cape Town, ending at a mystery final destination. The winners would be the team with the most points. Points were earned with every challenge completed. Photo evidence was necessary for every completed challenge and was uploaded to the Goose chase App. The Goose chase App was on all of our phones so that we could monitor every team’s points and positions…and sabotage our competitors if necessary! The challenges included things like ‘Taming the Mane, as in climbing onto the iconic lion statues and riding them like a horse! Without doubt, we were absolutely 18 all over again!
We also had to swim in a public fountain or swimming pool, get 5 strangers to play follow my leader and one of my favourites – to play twister in a public elevator! You can only imagine what it was like when the doors of the Constantia Hospital elevator opened and a shocked male nurse found 2 middle-aged people in a very precarious position, taking a selfie. We were also very grateful for our fantastic Malawian Uber driver, who completely embraced the race. I think it was the name of our team – he understood Shona – and realised that this would not only be good work for him, but hugely entertaining! Other challenges included finding and buying a Big Issue magazine, a Sold Pam Golding sign and 2 black cars parked next each other. Our driver knew exactly where to find them, speed was on our side! Though it was a bit touch and go when we found 2 black cars parked next to each other, surrounded by some serious gangster looking fellows. You can only imagine what it must have looked like to them when a little UBER car pulls in and comes to a screeching halt, out jumps a middle aged man sporting a pink cap with Chimbuzichiripi written in bold letters, he pulls out his phone, takes a photo of them, sprints back to the silver UBER then speeds off like a bullet on fire! I was half expecting a chase at this point!
Is it any surprise that we won the Amazing race?!
Our final destination was a roof top bar on the trendy Radisson Red Hotel! A whole different world for a farm girl like me!
I have not belly laughed like this for a long time! This trip to Cape Town was a surreal experience and brilliant fun! From leaving the farm in Ixopo, to missing 2 flights, to the Amazing race and to ending the day off on the roof top of the Radisson Red and watching the sun go down in a very trendy, cosmopolitan Cape Town bar! Sometimes in life, we just need some time-out from all the seriousness, some laughter, good friends and to behave like we are 39 going on 18 again!
It doesn’t end here. As I missed 2 flights on one airline, we had to postpone that flight to another date and buy a whole new ticket on a different airline.
And so, once again I’m going to be back in Cape Town in December, unexpectedly!
The trendy people of Cape Town!