Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Settling in

After 3 weeks in Muizenberg, I'm starting to feel like I'm getting the hang of the town, finding out about things to do and places to go. Funny, the first few days I felt like I'd been dumped in the middle of nowhere, isolated from civilization, and that's sort of true -- but there are redeeming factors.

One of the first things I picked up was going to the catholic church choir in St. James. One of my students located it. It's rather small, and full of old people, and requires going to catholic church. They even have a special mass before practice on Sunday!
But: the choir leader is part of a proper large choir in Cape Town, and took me along this Monday. They're doing Brahms' Requiem, and I was impressed with both the size (roundabout 120 singers) and the quality of the choir (everyone was sightreading, and really well at that; their German pronunciation was impeccable). People sing everywhere, in South Africa too! It's unclear that they have room for another alto, so I'll see if I keep going.

The next thing I tried to find was a judo club. On the internet -- which isn't really a thing in South Africa; coverage is very, very limited -- I found the phone number of a Judo club supposedly located right in Muizenberg, and rejoiced. Unfortunately it turns out that they moved 15km away, so out of range for me. But eventually I found a dance studio in town, where they have capoeira twice a week! I decided to check them out, the teacher lives above the studio and seems really nice. The first capoeira class is happening tonight; I'm really looking forward to it.

On the social front, we discovered the Blue Bird Garage, a local food market that happens weekly, in an old garage just about 3 minutes on foot from our house. Since we only got paid last week, it was the first time I had non-AIMS food in weeks, and it was lovely. I ate falafel, tom yum soup and samosas, and drank a lot of delicious South African wine. The crowd is full of locals, and it's one of the few places I've seen blacks and whites mixing and mingling -- although it's of course yuppie and, consequently, predominantly white. People are also very friendly and amenable to a little chat, a rare thing here.
A sort of sister-business to the market is the vegan cafe in town, whose existence I am quite excited about: they have pastel painted walls, wooden chairs and tables, lovely coffee, and home-made veganaise.

Then, one big thing to do in Muizenberg: surfing! They say this is the best learners' beach in all of the Western Cape: the bay protects in from rough weather, and the shore is very flat, so you can have long gently waves, or something like that. Clearly this is an opportunity not to be passed up, and Emma and I ventured to the surf school on Sunday afternoon. We were put into wet suits, handed surf boards and tried for about an hour to walk out into the waves, lie down on the board and get up on it. It's not easy. I sort of managed to get up a few times. Emma managed, after 20 minutes, to get the board between herself and the incoming waves, almost got hit in the face and snapped her thumb so bad that she's unable to use her hand for now. It's a lovely Scottish blue.
We are, however, not discouraged, and I'll be going back for more later this week... Practice, practice, practice.

Finally, we went to visit the penguin colony in Simon's Town, further down the cape. It was amazing: little penguins everywhere! They have a "penguin protection fence", but some of the nosy creatures obviously didn't mind at all, circumvented the fence and were poking their beaks out from under the boardwalk we were standing on -- they were incredibly cute. Sadly I don't think they'd make very good pets: they also smell very bad.

All in all, it looks like this might be an alright place to live for the year. And that's probably true of most places. Maybe this is my lesson to get out of living first in Waterloo and then here: even if somewhere looks like it lacks everything you want in a home town, over time you find your niche.

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