Starlight in Cape Town

My first night in Cape Town, I could not sleep. I had spent over 36 hours in transit, between Seattle, Dubai and this new city at the bottom of the world. My internal clock was all wrong, and I was dead tired and desperately willing myself to sleep. I woke up at roughly 4 am local time and saw for the first time a skylight in the room I shared with my best friend and travel partner, Joan. She was soundly sleeping. I was counting the stars I could see through the skylight, and I watched as the light in the window turned from black, to pewter to rose to light blue. And I still could not sleep. My mind was racing through all that happened in the past two days. A brutal flight in coach to a hot city in the middle east; a view from the top of the tallest building in the world; dinner (minus cocktails) with veiled women and robed men; a picturesque landing on my sixth continent; and a white-knuckled ride on a South African freeway past townships and into the city of my dream. It was enough to make my head spin. It still does.

cape town

Cape Town from Table Mountain

How I ended up in Cape Town is both a mystery and obvious. In basic terms, I spent a few weeks planning, gave a paycheck to Expedia and then got on a plane. Mysteriously, I didn’t ever mean to travel to South Africa, at least not now. But I had a dream and in that dream I saw what I believed to be South Africa, near Cape Town. I still believe that. And then I called Joan, my college friend and frequent travel partner, and asked her to think about a trip to southern tip of Africa – we’ll see animals and oceans, I said. She said she was supposed to be paying off student loans this year….but, sure, why not! This is why I love her and also why we travel so well together.


Giraffe’s on the airstrip at Arathusa

We planned and discussed and planned some more, and then we got on the plane to the city that I never knew I wanted to see but that I cannot imagine not knowing. We did see oceans and animals, and sheer cliffs for roadways, and warthogs on runways, and ostriches sunning themselves on blustery beaches at the south-westernmost point of the African continent. We saw it all, and we saw nothing – only a glimmer of the mirage that is one of the most profound places on our planet. Like a view through a skylight, what I could see was only one window into a vast space, but it was still magnificent.

sun down in South Africa

Sun down in South Africa


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