Last Night in Cape Town

My last night in Cape Town was spent in the beach town of Muizenberg, with my workmate Jasper.

I had deboarded at the Muizenberg Station thrice before, to meet my workmates for fieldwork on Silvermine and for a weekend surf trip. The town is sleepy, quaint and calm, populated with small independent cafes and surf shops that open their doors to the street. The fences are low, some not even barb-wired, electrified or pointy. Jasper commented, “You can even walk the streets at night.” His friend Matt replied, “Yea, not like the old days.” Matt is a raucous, emphatic redheaded surfer/trad climber/botanist, a do-it-all outdoors-man and a helluvadude.

When we pulled into the town, we continued past Jasper’s house to check out the waves at the beach, just two blocks away. “I haven’t surfed yet today,” he said. “Want to come?”

We went back to grab boards from Jasper’s place, which is high-ceilinged with sunset colored walls, well-worn hardwood floors and skate boards in the living room. Surfboards and wetsuits lined the laundry next to the bath. The bookshelf by the couch held natural history of the Eastern cape, Rudyard Kipling rhymes, and “Hikes with a Fat Dog” by Jasper’s multi-talented father — cartographer and publisher of the popular Slingsby hiking maps.

I struggled into a shortie wetsuit and we walked to the beach, carrying our boards underarm. I rode a fiberglass 90 that was quite a bit lighter than the hollow-core 92 that I rode for my first surf lesson. The waves were much weaker that day, and I initially sank and fell off of every wave. I soon realized I had to paddle out to the deeper waters, where the waves were bigger (and the great whites circle). Once I was out there, Jasper looked back grinning. “Here’s one for you,” he said, pointing to a large set coming my way. I caught one and rode all the way back to shore, my first and only wave of the day.

We ended the night with a pile of fish and chips at a divey harbor joint in Kalk Bay. The “chip roll” is the local way of eating fish and chips — a classic workman’s supper. You open up a sandwich bun, stuff it with a handful of thick-cut fries and a couple piping hot chunks of fried fish. Slather on the hot mayo sauce. Chomp and down with a beer.

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