Where do I sign?

To get organised for buying a car, insuring it and having a carnet (car passport) we have had to secure three things:

1. SA bank account
2. SA ID card
3. SA drivers license.

Not necessarily in that order, not necessarily in any order, and not even necessarily all necessary to our plans. But there were several mobius-strip-type if-statements going on to get any one of the three, so we went into Turbo Admin Mode. Ralph (undiagnosed ADD) the engine, me (self-identifying Virgo) the navigator*.

The first and main challenge was for us to prove that we were South African residents, which we are not. However, all we needed, apparently, was a friendly friend who had a utility bill, to say we were staying at them.

We took it seriously, because we are Jews, and because we knew any slip up could mean knock-on delays of days or weeks. So we got a LOT of paperwork together (involving multiple appointments, queues and forgeries) and went with Lorne to the Kommetjie Police Station to get a stamped affidavit of our residency at his house. We were almost disappointed when I pushed our pre-completed form across the counter to the policeman, who glanced at it briefly and asked me: “Where do I sign?”

So of course this isn’t a good thing for the long term prospects of this beautiful and doomed country, but it was good for us.

* At one point I admitted “I love admin” which cost me several redeemable tokens but made Ralph feel like the luckiest man in the world.

The other side of the mountain

For Friday night drove to Romi in Camps Bay, via Hout Bay. The suburbs are so GREEN. I remember the Southern Suburbs as newly planted.

In Camps Bay we went for a swim at Glen Beach at sunset. The water smelt of sewerage (apparently a 6 week old leak, not yet fixed) and was colder than Muizenberg (13*?) but not nearly as cold as 30 years ago. Romi says it really has gotten warmer over the decades. Where does data like that get stored, the true memory of a colder swim? Ralph dug a hole with/for Barcai as the posers posed all around us.

Driving back on the M3, we were nearing the turning to Steenberg Rd near Muizenberg, I was driving and tired, Ralph was sleeping so I was debating whether to turn the radio on. Just then a motorbike came speeding by, it was the fastest thing I’d ever seen on the road, maybe 160km/h. Then 2 more. They were death-defying, and not just their own lives. They could have killed me but they woke me up instead.

Very good, very niice.

Today a bus had stopped under the bridge next to Cinnabar. An hour later it was still there. We thought that the fact that they hadn’t towed it was another example of South African ‘broken’ infrastructure, but ah how naive we were. The bus had literally got wedged under the bridge.

And what the hell happened to that sign above the stuck bus??

Comments on the (newly joined) Muizenberg Community Facebook group:
“it just shows us how well the bridge was built all those many years ago.”
“Just past the scene. Driver is new, started last week! Shame man”

After the swim we went to Harvest, recommended by Bea, for a cup of coffee, as we do most days.
There are silver haired ladies there in kikoi kaftans and I want to grow old and be like them, and be in Muizenberg.

You hear Afrikaans being spoken all over Muizenberg and Cape Town (well, the places we go). A phrase that keeps popping into my head is “Stokstil alien”

Ralph’s phrase (sung) ” Very good very niiiiiice. Very good, very niice.” The Kifness.


We went for a goodbye drink with Brian and Zea who have a flat on the tenth floor. Their flat has windows to the south, views around to Cape Point and of the Muizenberg mountains.

Of the mountain side, two observations: South Africa is so gorgeous that that view is barely noticed, even though it is one of the most stunning mountainsides I have ever seen. The lowest part where it meets Main Street is covered in beautiful trees, almost tropical. Muizenberg shul is nestled on the north end.

Second, if you spend a minute admiring the view, you will notice that there are homeless people living amongst the exotic trees.

This is the story whichever way you look. Brian and Zea told us some home truths about Cinnabar. It came to their notice that the staff of Cinnabar live in cell like rooms in the basement. Windowless, and each the same size as a space in the carpark. Children not supposed to live there – but do. Cooking not supposed to happen – but does. Zea tried to rally the residents to do something to improve the conditions, but met with a wall of opposition. I don’t know any details beyond this, for now, but it seems a horrendous thing, period. Perhaps I should organise a screening of Parasite? And what is our place in this parasitic relationship as we watch the sunrise from the 6th floor.

Irma Stern

First ever visit to Irma Stern’s house below UCT in Rosebank, now a museum of her art – with several rooms still arranged as she used them. We agreed (with ourselves?) that the brilliance of Stern’s work was to capture her life and times, mainly through the people around her, rather than any particular artistic genius. She was fearless, traveling throughout Africa (Congo, Senegal, Zanzibar + + ), and painting portraits of people in the street.


It was rainy and windy, Ralph was still asleep, I resolved to swim. As I stood, shivering and naked (but for my bikini), at the water’s edge, I realised it was the first time in my life I was to go for a proper swim on a cold day. And deliberately walking into that cold* water felt like one of the strangest decisions I have ever made**. Because there was no escape from the cold, it felt so unnatural (did I mention it was cold). But then the relief to find that I got used to the water as easily as if it was a hot day, and that I felt warm walking out (still naked, but for my bikini) and stayed warm. So being immersed in cold water warmed me up. Wot?!

A list of things that were not in Muizenberg 10 years ago:
Granadilla lollies

* Water temperature has ranged from 14* to 18*.
“Based on our historical data over a period of ten years, the warmest water in this day in Muizenberg was recorded in 2021 and was 19.9°C, and the coldest was recorded in 2009 at 16.7°C. Sea water temperature in Muizenberg is expected to drop to 17.3°C in the next 10 days. March average water temperature in Muizenberg is 18°C, the minimum temperature is 14.3°C, and the maximum is 20.7°C.”

** some weeks later, it still has the same strangeness of a conscious but unnatural choice being made.


This morning I ran across the road to Checkers to get a lemon for supper.

I put the lemon on the scale and clicked the ‘lemon button’ to generate the price sticker. Error message. A Checkers worker tried to help, but did what I had, so failed. Like how a shark can sense a struggling fish, her floundering alerted another staff member who came and did pretty much the same wrong thing. Then a third worker, then a fourth, then a fifth. No-one was leaving, we were all very invested. Everyone was smiling, moving, buzzing, chatting, pushing buttons. Finally the Manager did something magic (plus we waved wands at each other) and the sticker machine started printing.

This is a very important lemon” I said, holding up the labelled fruit for everyone to admire – and everyone laughed and I thought how much much much I love South Africa. Then another customer, a white woman, smiled, looked at me conspiratorially, and said “At least we’re providing them (these black workers) with employment” and I thought “That’s not funny” and “These attitudes run so deep” and “Can I escape from being like her just because I don’t want to be?” .

No Lift for Old Men

I’m liking walking up the 6 flights of stairs to our flat, even when there is electricity for the lift. There are two+ hour scheduled outages almost daily. I asked the security guard who works in the Cinnabar garage today:

When the electricity goes off, do the lifts stop?” Ja. (looks at clock, 11.59am). I wouldn’t go now.

So what if there is someone in the lift when the electricity goes off?” He just starts smiling.

So people just get stuck for hours! Has that happened?” Ja.

Does it happen often?” He is smiling more and more broadly.

Even old people??!!” (Cinnabar is a de facto Jewish old age home).
He bursts out laughing, nodding. So do I.

As I head back to take the stairs, I think of how differently every single aspect of this conversation would have played out in America.

When Phil sells his flat next month, the Jacobson name will be changed on the board after nearly 30 years. : (

The Point of No Return

From 1972-1987 pretty much every day of the summer my uncle Phil and Aunty Hil would pick us up in their hired combi and drive us to Muizenberg Beach, singing “My bags are packed” and “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” all the way. Then we’d swim in the waves for hours.

Walking along the beach in Muizenberg today, after 10 years away, I started to walk then kind of kick-skip in the tiny little waves, walking parallel to the shoreline. Wetting feet then calves with small splashes. Then turning and walking into the sea. Jumping against the small waves, resisting (tippy-toed) but also allowing them to reach higher and higher till the bellybutton, the point of no return. Then diving under.

It seems to me that if you were happy as a child, the sensations that surrounded you then, will hold you in thrall for life. How else to explain the flood of good feelings I have being woken by the wail of the passing train, walking barefoot on the hot pavement (adjusting my weight for the broken glass), taking in the smell of wee and stompies, salt air and melting tar, smiling at everyone, feeling at home.

Something new for my Muizenberg: Kiting.
Never changes: swimming, smiles and blue bottles.