The thrill of visiting one of the most fascinating countries on the African continent mingled with a slight anguish. A strange feeling which came from a cataract of statistics that I had been devouring for years, as if I were trying to pay a sort of penance.
My interest in the southernmost country in Africa comes from afar. Well, in fact, it comes from 2010, perhaps a few months earlier, on the occasion of the celebration of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. This initial interest was further strengthened when Spain, my country of origin, ran off with the Cup in the Soccer City Stadium of the no-capital city of Johannesburg.
That’s when I became interested in that distant and unknown piece of land and when I decided to find out more about it. I dicovered that South Africa is known to be one of the most violent countries in the world; it concentrates the largest population of European descendants of the whole continent and, because of that, it has 11 official languages; it is the only African country that has legalized gay marriage and, lastly, that it has suffered one of the most sinister and shameful political regimes of the twentieth century.
So much was the information that I gathered about this country, that when I watched the movie Invictus, I was almost able to locate a good part of the exteriors that appeared in it.
On top of that, one of the first people I met here, when I moved to Brussels 6 years ago, was a South African guy based in Belgium, Jason, who introduced me to one of the most special wine varieties I have tried to date, the Mocha Pinotage.
Therefore, in April 2015 I decided that I had already collected sufficient information about the country and bought a plane ticket to Cape Town.
As the plane began to get closer to the city, the song Colorblind,from the Matt Damon & Morgan Freeman movie’s soundtrack- started to sound in my head, competing with the commander’s voice, announcing the temperature, the local time and the ritual sentece of “looking forward to travel with all of you again”. I took the precaution of looking for a hotel near the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, supposedly one of the safest areas in town. It was not a bad decision since I was very close to the sea: for someone like me – born in a city that rises less than 4 meters from sea level – it is quite an important detail. I can’t get too far from that endless blue horizon, nor from the fragrance of saltpetre that impregnates my nostrils. On the subject of security, which was the main reason for my choice, I think I greatly exaggerated. It is true that certain precautions need to be taken as should be done in any great city of our surroundings. But beyond that, I saw no reason to be permanently on alert. After a couple of hours in the city I realized that, although it was not my hometown and it was a completely different environment, I was feeling at home.
Before leaving Brussels, my friend Jason told me: “Well, you will see how Cape Town could happen to be a Mediterranean city like València, Barcelona or Marseille”. In the end, he was right. I have never imagined that I could feel so near my county being so far. Cape Town is one of the most wonderful trips I have made so far.