That night, I descaled and gutted the silvery fish with my pocketknife and fried it up, both sides with ginger and garlic. I browned onions alongside the fish and warmed up a few slices of ciabatta, for which the Kalk Bay Olympia Bakery is famous. The fish was surprisingly meaty and substantial, surprising in such a small fish.
Starring into my plate of fresh, simple food, improvised in a backpacker hostel, I felt sad and then sadder. I hadn’t stopped to allow myself the blues since July. Mellow from the sun and surf, I looked up from my plate and told Jonathan my sadness.
He in turn, told me his. Four months ago, Jonathan returned to Israel from a post-army, celebratory trip to Asia. His father had awaited his return, and then suddenly left the family without explanation. This opened up a Pandora’s box with the rest of his extended family and after several months, Jonathan picked up and left to wind his way down to the Cape.
Jonathan had been at the Zebra for more weeks than he wished to divulge. He had been traveling through eastern Africa for 4 months, but had clearly rolled into a rut in Cape Town. I could understand — you can’t go much farther south on the continent than the southern tip of Africa. At some point, he would have to get over indecision and return. My heart swelled at that small bit of privileged understanding of why he was stuck — and the unspoken camaraderie I felt with yet another traveling escapist, another traveler lost.