Letter from Capetown
I arrive in the dark at Capetown International airport, after a grueling 24 hour journey on KLM in economy class, but immigration is fairly quick and soon I am in a taxi heading for my hotel in the old section of the city. The taxi is clean and air conditioned and while we drive into the city, the driver and I talk about the recent the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of my country. The driver is very excited about this event, almost to the point that I suspect he believes that Obama is now president of the world and South Africa in particular. Yet I say nothing to dispel his notion; as I bask in the glow that Obama has created for Americans traveling abroad. This is so much more different than the days I traveled during George W. Bush’s tenure, when I often debated sewing a Canadian maple leaf on my backpack. Anyway, it was a nice beginning to a nice trip to one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
I checked into a well established hotel within easy sight of the home stadium of the FIFA World Cup 2010, still under construction. The room was modest but it had a small balcony that overlooked the main street. The weather was slightly cool with a steady breeze from the south; summer was on its way. I opened my windows and slept until late the next morning. When I awoke, I walked to the balcony and there in the near distance was Table Mountain behind the low profile cityscape surrounding my hotel. The air was dry and the sun was in full glory to the right of my balcony. I had an English breakfast, did some work at my laptop during the afternoon and that evening, went to the bar for some fish and chips washed down with a fair amount of Carling Black Label. It’s a good medium beer I remember as a teenager in America as being somewhere between water and goat piss. Someone had obviously decided to move it out of the American market and make a better a product of it. That night, I was very grateful.
The next day began a grueling week of customer meetings. The taxi picked me up at 8 AM and usually dropped me off near 7 PM for the next 4 days. Each day as I drove to the customer site, the face of Table Mountain would change. One day the clouds were on top, the next to the side, etc. There was something mystical just looking at it, almost like meditation over a serene valley as the clouds slowly moved above it. When I dropped my gaze from the mountain, the other amazing thing I noticed were the high walls and razor wire that surrounded all properties. South Africa, as my friends told me, is a land of high crimes and as bad as it is in Capetown, Johannesburg is much worse. In any event, I was strongly advised to never walk the streets alone after dark, even if you thought Jackie Chan was a pussy.
That Friday night, I was especially tired so after dinner went straight to bed. I awoke around 11 PM with the wind blowing my curtains around the room. For some reason, I was instantly awake; I pulled a Carling from the mini-bar and sat at the table on the balcony in my skivvies. I watched as people walked up and down the street below me. As I finished my beer, I noticed one figure that walked slowly up the street in front of me and back down again. Sometimes cars would pull up, talk to this figure and then drive off. One time a police car drove up but she magically disappeared, then reappeared when they left. I was intrigued, so I dressed in jeans, t-shirt, sandals and went downstairs. I crossed the street and started to follow this mysterious figure. Walking quickly, I soon got with 5 meters and discovered this figure was a black female; short in height, straight hair, and a wonderful body. I crept up behind her and as I got to her shoulder I said “hi”. She turned suddenly with a startled look but when she saw my smile, she instantly flashed her own which was much brighter than mine. I asked her name and she said Sindia. We chit-chatted as we walked along the street towards the main part of the town when suddenly I said we should go to this bar I knew down the street. Actually, I didn’t know the bar except I always drove by it on the way home from work. It was strangely painted and looked almost like it was closed and abandoned. But as we approached it, there were many people standing outside and when the door opened, I saw flashing lights inside. She readily agreed and grabbed my hand as we quicken our pace towards what I hoped was a good experience. I had broken the first rule of safety in Capetown.
After paying a token amount of money at the door, we entered into a crowded, multi-leveled room filled with bright lights, dark shadows, and blaring techno-dance music. We found two seats at a small table. I went to the bar for our drinks; Carling for me and a margarita for her. Looking around while I waited for our drinks, this was obviously a gay bar but there was also a fair amount of lesbian couples and straight couples. This was different from the American scene where bars are mostly segregated by sexual preference, but it certainly gave the atmosphere an unusual dynamism I had not experienced since being in a katoey bar in Bangkok. Unlike the bars in Bangkok, though, the music selection by the black DJ standing opposite the dance floor was eclectic but very good. Everyone in the bar, dancing or sitting, seemed to pulse to the sounds such that the crowd moved in a symbiotic rhythm. After bringing the drinks back to the table, and again seeing my friend’s wonderful smile, I instantly felt part of this scene. We finished our drinks then ordered another round. When we finished these, my date could not be contained anymore, so I asked her to dance. What happened next I can only describe as the dream sequence of the story.
When are the times in our lives that we feel most human; the most alive; the most detached from our society and completely into our being? For a man, maybe a lonely man, could it be dancing on a crowded floor to superb music with a beautiful black prostitute in a gay bar in Capetown, South Africa? With every movement of her body and every flash of her bright smile, I fell more under the spell of her pheromones and forgot everything about me except that I was a human male. Could I ever feel as much a man as I did now? We danced as if we were making love; closer and closer, contracted by the pulsing crowd, until there was only a breath between us. When the music stopped, the spell did not subside, as we found the nearest dark corner of the disco and kissed each other passionately. It was now time to leave.
As my hotel was only two blocks away, we slowly walked the empty street from the bar arm in arm, laughing loudly and trying to keep that special moment alive. We walked into the hotel lobby as king and queen, yet the sleepy staff barely noticed us. In my room we were giddy teenagers as we took our clothes off and met in a warm shower, pulled by magnetism neither of us understood. Her body was small but perfectly proportioned and I found I couldn’t keep my hands off her. She seemed surprised when I offered to wash her but she relented and gave purring sounds as I gave particular attention to certain areas. After a few minutes, she returned the favor. We dried each other off slowly and walked slowly towards the bed.
Aware of the unbelievable rate of AIDS in this country, I used a local, heavy-duty condom and yet her body was so hot, I had no trouble satisfying both our needs in spite of the many drinks we had consumed. We collapsed on the large bed and slept deeply for a couple of hours. Minutes before the first light of day entered my room; she kissed me gently and got up to take a shower. I lay listening to the water as it impacted that wonderful body of hers. When she emerged a few minutes later, she dressed as I tried to get her in bed again. She separated herself from my grasp and gave me that look. I looked for my wallet and asked how much I owed her. She said since she had a good time and I only “bonked” her once, it would be 300 Kruger, or $30 US. I gave her 500 Kruger and kissed her for a long time as she exited the door. I put my skivvies on and went out on the windy balcony to watch her leave the hotel. She took a few steps out of the main entrance and must have known I was looking at her. She looked up at me, flashed that great smile of hers, and said she loved me and waved while walking across the street. Now she was gone. I felt lonely, but more than that, I felt incredibly tired. I went to the bathroom to pee and noticed she pinched my cologne; the ultimate compliment that a woman likes your scent. I lay down in bed and slept for another 3 hours, when my friend called and said it was time to go.
When my head cleared, I remembered I had arranged to go with my friend to the Cape that day. This trip has been described many times in many travel magazines. The South African cape is one of the most ruggedly beautiful places on this small planet. We hiked it all, took many pictures, and then had a great meal with great beer in an Afrikaner bar on the way home. Every human should be able to experience this part of the planet at least once in their life. Yet, on the long flight home, it was not the incredible blues of the two oceans on the Cape that I thought about. It was Sindia, her beautiful smile, her laughter, and her passionate kisses. Would there every be another night in my life like there was in Capetown?
This is the sort of mutual passion that I seldom read about in Thailand. Thai women may like to jump into bed, but it seems more about getting off than passion – and when passion is absent it is just not the same.