Sunday, March 25, 2018

My Days on Long Street, Cape Town, South Africa

I arrived into Cape Town after traveling for eight and a half months and settled in a place called Long Street - which was once known for brothels and drinking and is now known for drugs and tourists and food and cafes. I was on a sabbatical and just took a break from my work as a starting attorney, but it was time. I arrived into Cape Town, however, without the desire to travel anymore, so I stayed awhile at the same hostel in the city center. As a result, I met a lot of interesting and different people. They were so "interesting" there were several times that I had to be asked to move from room to room.

Perhaps the guest I disliked the most was a guy from Africa. He was an obese man in his mid 20's to 30's with a shaved and big head and a furry goatee and had the body of a walrus. I won't ever forget his big, pumpkin head.

He asked me: "Are you from the Philippines?"

I said, "Yes. I'm here illegally."

"OH!!!!! You are! Give me 800R ($66 USD), or I'll tell the police."

"Go ahead. Tell them."

(I didn't like him; so, I didn't tell the truth about him. It made me realize also what the undocumented in my country have to put up with.)

This guy would sit in his underwear all day and talk on the phone, all day. The only time he left the room was to eat, what he called "African food". He asked me a few times to join him. I told him, "No thank you."

One time, because he couldn't be bothered going down himself, he asked if I'd get him some food if he gave me the money. I told him: "You can get it yourself."

I asked him if he believed in voodoo one day. He said he did and asked for my hand so he could "give it to me." I told him, "No thank you."

I was annoyed with him, because he woke me up every morning by talking on the phone - lying like a walrus in bed in his underwear. I asked him if he could take the phone call outside. On this morning, he was talking about with a lady on the phone (presumably) about starting up a prostitution business on Long Street. He said he could get a room for her for 200R ($16.67) a day.

I told him: "Please take the call outside."

When he didn't, I asked to be moved. He found out I asked to be moved and called me a "Chinaman."

One morning, he went to the ladies at reception and told them: "You're women. You need to make me my coffee."

One lady - who had some black in her - told him: "You're making my African blood boil. If I was your wife, I'd kill you."

First, I met a guy named Naoto from Japan. We had a good time. You can read about how we hiked Lion's Head together.

Then there was creepy. A local man, maybe 50, white, pudgy, would come so close to talk to me, I felt really uncomfortable.

I asked him why he was staying at a hostel, if he was from Cape Town. He said, that he fell on hard times.

He also tried to sell me what appeared to be a stolen bus card.

He snored so loud that he could wake the dead. I asked to be moved. I moved.

Next, I met a runaway boy from the Xhosa tribe. He was 19 and said he graduated university already. He was very nice and kind.

He never met an Asian before, he told me. He was clever enough to figure out I was American too. He asked me a lot about my straight hair, which I guess he didn't see so often of.

He told me he had runaway, because he was being forced into an arranged marriage, which he wanted nothing to do with. He said it'd be a loveless marriage.

I asked him, "How do you know?"

I told him that he should return home and that his mother probably missed him very much. He didn't believe me, but eventually, he went back home.

He taught me how to click my tongue to make the different noises they do in their language. It was interesting.

Then there was stinky. He was maybe in his 30's. He was a white guy from Australia. His body odor was so bad, that I couldn't sleep. (It made wonder if this is how bad the Spaniards smelled, when they met the Incas and Aztecs. The Incas and Aztecs had to constantly carry incense around the Spaniards.)

I don't think he meant any harm about it though. But the next day, when I couldn't handle it anymore, I had to tell him: "Do you mind please taking a shower. I don't mean to be rude. But you are sharing a room with other people." He didn't talk to me after that conversation.

One night, I was a wallflower - which means a shy guy, not wanting to meet the ladies. I was sitting in the kitchen - working on computer "stuff". A Swiss-German girl told me that I had to join her for some beers. I packed up my computer and went to the balcony - where the music was booming and the people were roaming. I met a group of Germans, which felt comfortable to me. We drank and chatted.

Two German girls asked if I'd join them for breakfast. I agreed.

The next morning, one turned out to be a "hangry" - and was about to shout at the staff for not bringing her food right away. The other one, young, blood, with blue eyes, asked me if I'd join her for a walking tour. I sighed.

She said, "You don't have to come, if you don't want."

"I'll come," I said. No matter what she says, I believe she wanted me to come. And saying, "No," wouldn't be very gentlemanly.

So, I joined her. And like I had predicted, the tour was boring. She said I didn't show enough "positivity." I thought - She belongs to the new religious cult of positivity. I smiled and said, "I'll try better, next time."

Not always pleasant, but one can say my days on Long Street have been interesting nonetheless.

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