It’s been months since I’ve written anything —it may even have been a year. When I sit down to write at my computer my mind is like an old rusty car, the wheels barely turning, and a lot of start-stop problems with the engine. I change lanes back and forth from I’m just an average writer and I’m the next great Hemingway. Maybe not Hemingway, a book of his is just in eyesight on my desk.
But I’ve been chugging away at it nonetheless, determined to grease my writing wheels and finish the book that I’ve writing and living the past 3 years.
The other day I started writing about Cape Town, South Africa. We spent 3 months there from October – December in 2019 and when I tried to write about our time there, only the average day-to-day memories came to mind —Like dropping off and picking up Matteo from daycare and then walking out of our way while on our way home to McDonald’s for an after school ice-cream cone and fries. Or walking through the well-manicured company gardens every day, feeding the overly friendly squirrels nuts, and watching the tiny baby ducklings grow into awkward teenagers. Walking around the city and constantly admiring the 180 degrees of mountains surrounding me and observing how heavy gray clouds perpetually hovered over their green sandstone peaks like a shroud of sadness. Feeling like I was in a giant wind tunnel every time I tried to walk down an East-West street on a blustery day carrying a stroller full of groceries. Ordering the largest plate of Turkish shwarma from the ever-crowded Eastern Food Baazar that I affectionately called my cafeteria, as we ate a lot of meals there because it was cheap and offered a variety of different cuisines. And then sitting at my desk in an all too quiet apartment staring out the window at table mountain waiting to begin teaching my first of six English classes and feeling completely unfilled with this new job choice and already looking into doing something else.
These were the everyday memories and these are what stick out the most when I think about Cape Town, but then there were the highlights…
Riding the train for two hours to Simon’s Town and swimming (well not me —the water was arctic cold) with penguins on the beach. Or hopping on the crowded city bus to Clifton beach in the late afternoons when I finished teaching and sitting in the warm sand and cool breeze watching the sun casually sink lower in the sky while Matteo collected twisted seashells and dipped his ankles in the icy ocean. The time I drove across the country and stopped along the way to admire stunning cliffside ocean views and never-ending rolling green South African countryside. Visiting an elephant sanctuary and watching the amazement in Matteo’s eyes as he sees an elephant up close for the first time. And I’ll never forget driving our rental car through the Addo Elephant Reserve Park on a self-drive safari and spotting beautiful animals from elephants, zebras, warthogs, and ostriches in the wild, and then realizing my mistake of following two elephants a little too closely only when they turned and faced my car — and while they took their sweet time deciding whether or not they wanted to pummel our car, I was waiting with white knuckles clutching the wheel and my adrenaline pulsing arms wrapped tightly around Matteo who sat on my lap — thankfully they let us off the hook. Riding a bicycle five miles along mountainous and rocky coastline from the center of Cape Town and ending at Camps Bay on the other side of Lion’s head mountain, the majestic scenery and having Matteo right next to me was an unforgettable day.
There is so much in Cape Town that I didn’t even get the chance to do — being there for three months I should have been able to do everything — had everything been my goal. But my only goal or desire was simply to live in Cape Town for three months and that’s what I did. I enrolled Matteo in daycare, I did weekly grocery shopping, I cooked almost all my own meals, I purchased a season pass and took Matteo to the aquarium once –and sometimes twice a week before dropping him off at daycare so I could teach for 3 hours in the afternoon, I hung out at the playground before daycare and sometimes afterward, I went to the gym twice a week. I lived a very normal life in Cape Town.
In fact, in the last year our travels have been a blend of a very normal daily routine and amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences. From the outside looking in it may look like we are on one big long exciting vacation, but in reality, some days are quite mundane, others magical. But that’s life, and that’s anywhere you are. These past five months we’ve been stationary in the U.S. waiting (with the rest of the world) for life to resume. And for us, very soon it will. In two weeks we’ll be leaving for Tulum, Mexico for at least a month or two depending on when Colombia actually opens their borders —if you’ve been following my journey on Instagram, then you know that our original plan was to be in Colombia in March, but that changed when they closed down their borders a few days before we were to arrive.
I’m excited for a change of scenery, and to work (remotely and not teaching English anymore), continue writing, and settle into a beautiful tropical paradise for the next few months.