bo kaap and the infinite brightness of being

Dearest ______,

Following a year that was profuse with adversities and setbacks in the global front,   I feel that going into 2014 calls for optimism and light.

While recounting some of the more blessed days of 2013, I just thought of showing you some of the happy colours we found at Bo Kaap, Cape Town’s very own Malay Quarter.

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1) The year saw reprieves from real life problems in the form of viral Twerking videos online, the Breaking Bad series among other TV greats, and pop song obsession after pop song obsession (Anna Kendrick’s Cups, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, and so on).
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2) Gay rights hit milestone after milestone, from the US Supreme Court voiding Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to the new pope suggesting a departure from the Catholic “obsession” with homosexuality. (Yahoo News)
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3)  Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the 266th pope, whereupon he took the name “Francis”. (Wikipedia) And so far, he’s been quite the amazing figurehead as evidenced by point number 2 above.

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5 signs you’re in a good place

Dearest ______,

I don’t claim to have travelled to as much parts of the world as other people may have, but I do claim this much:  Everywhere I’ve gone to has been pretty damn good.  And I’m immensely grateful to the forces in the universe that will these things to happen.   From these trips, I’ve more or less managed to name a few signs that ultimately make me a happy little traveller.

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Of course, we all have our own quirks and individual things of interest, so whatever rocks my boat might not necessarily sway yours.

Here are 5 signs you’re in a good place:

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elevation 1-5 scale 1:1

Dearest ______,

Despite its obvious rigidity, there’s something quite rebellious and downright wild about seeing things in a single plane. Horizontals and verticals aligned, we like approaching things straight on.

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Love,

Karlita

ALL PHOTOS BY JAWO BOLIVAR.

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Photography and text by Author unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

royale eatery

Dearest ______,

Let me just put it out there:
Cape Town is majorly Hipster City. The locals know this too, as evidenced by the countless cracks made about Moleskin- toting, cafe- sitting ironic kids at the stand- up comedy show we caught there the other Sunday.

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If hipster should mean great “gourmet” food and “artisanal” drinks, or an all- around awareness and appreciation for cleverly good design, then I really don’t mind.

What’s more, I think hipster Cape Town is very cool indeed .

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camps bay houses

Dearest ______,

You often ask me how I can afford to write you letters when I always seem at my wit’s end with the day job’s never- ending deadlines.
Simple: 45- minute daily commute (where I happen to be writing this to you right now).

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Camps Bay can be found at the western fringes of the Mother City (a.k.a. Cape Town). It’s a luxurious area that dots the curvy shorelines of Cape Town’s western beaches with beautifully made houses, hotels, restaurants, and bars all designed to face stunning views of limitless sea and sky.

Google Maps

Behind this arrangement of houses and infinity swimming pools, you see the 12 Apostles (similar- looking mountain ranges tailing the city’s beloved Table Mountain).

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Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918-2013)

Dearest ______,

We’d just gotten back to Cape Town from a two- day Internet and TV- free stay at the Karoo, when I read my phone messages at the hotel. One that was cryptic enough from a colleague all the way in Singapore saying:
“You go all the way there and he dies?!”
“Who died?!”, I asked.

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Unbeknownst to us happily trailing animals at a remote wildlife reserve, South Africa’s beloved Tata Madiba (literally Father Madiba, in his native Xhosa name)- Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nelson Mandela to the rest world- had died at 95 in his home in Johannesburg.

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It was like holding one’s breath underwater in a public swimming pool: when you stay underwater long enough, you lose sense of what is going on above the surface. And when you bob up after a few minutes, you realize that you’ve shifted elsewhere in the swimming pool and that the whole place has obviously changed. After confirming Mandela’s death on the television, we were suddenly walking along streets where things had obviously changed.

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safari, for starters

Dearest ______,

It’s hard trying to tell you about my recent trip to South Africa, just because it could possibly have been the most amazing of my life, so far:  the passing of beloved global peace icon Nelson Mandela; or hanging out- chilling, as the locals would say- at the coolest (some, quite frankly and proudly, hipster) places unexpected in this side of the world; or driving for 400 kilometers and getting very lost at the top of a dangerous mountain pass ominously called Bain’s Kloof Pass; or personally seeing remnants of the shit storm that was the Apartheid system; or eating great food (“Some of the best meat in the world!”, so exclaimed my companion the carnivore); or drinking some of the world’s best beers and wines for a fraction of whatever we pay for, here in Singapore; or getting robbed of 400 African Rand and 300 Singapore Dollars inside our very own hotel room (yes, sir!); or seeing all that staggering natural beauty synonymous with the African wild; but of course…

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What is the African experience without seeing its famous “Big 5”?  There’s so much to say about amazing South Africa, and with that latter note,  I shall begin to try telling you about it.

“Big 5” is what they call the most famous animals indigenous to Africa’s countless deserts, bushes, and Karoos  (what they call a semi- desert natural area in South Africa) .  “Five” consists of the African Elephant, the Rhinoceros, the Cape Buffalo, the Lion, and the Leopard.  If only to get as much from our first trip there, of course we had to see them too.  Kruger Park is supposedly the best place to see them in the whole continent, but it’s closest to Johannesburg (and too far from where we actually were).  There are a good number of “Game Reserve” venues closer to Cape Town, though.  And since we were going to be based in Cape Town for the most part, we did research on these other choices instead (read many reviews, more importantly) and decided on doing the safari experience at the Inverdoorn Game Reserve and Safari Lodge, a mere  3- hour drive away from Cape Town’s center.   More on the 3- hour drive (which inexplicably turned into an adventure in itself, taking us a total of 5 hours to actually get there), and more on the lovely Inverdoorn Lodge resort later as well.  For now, the safari.

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Each day, they have two 2- hour drives out unto the reserve. One at the crack of dawn (around 5:30AM) and the other at dusk (around 4:00PM). The animals are said to be more visible during these times of the day.  And I can only imagine the cold at night.  At those two times we drove out in a 4×4, the dry Karoo winds made for about 12-15 degrees Celsius.  It was even chillier whenever the jeep moved against those winds.
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This is us, getting our caffeine fix at 5:00 or so in the morning, while waiting for the open- sided jeep to take us from the resort out unto the reserve. From experience the night before this, we’d already found out how cold it could be out in the African bush. While they have blankets in the jeep, we opted to wear long- sleeved sweaters and scarves to protect us from both severe sun and cold. Weird combination, but it really was like that out in the Karoo.
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This was our trusty 4×4 jeep.

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