13 months
Nov 11:
beachfront property
Nov 18:
Nov 22:
10 yrs of freedom
Nov 25:
unfast food
Nov 28:
the low down
cape town gallery
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(hong kong)

view from atop Table Mountain
Cape Town, South Africa; Nov 8, 2004


Believe it or not, that is the name of our neighborhood. After about a week, we were finally able to pronounce it well enough that locals could understand us, but we never did figure out exactly what it meant. A“boer” is a descendent of a Dutch colonist and a “kloof” is a cliff or a gorge (South Africans sometimes go kloofing, which simply means tromping about a mountainous region). [Update! Our guess was half right and half wrong; the real meaning is "drummers' ravine" - see the comment sent in below.]

the view of Table Mountain from our balcony

To get to our apartment, which is in a 12 unit (or there abouts) building, we have to hike up a pretty severe hill (and remember, we’re San Franciscans so we’re not kidding). But when we finally arrive home at the end of the day, we are rewarded with the most amazing view of Table Mountain, so it’s worth it.

As with most cities, there is a wide variety of neighborhoods. Ours is usually quiet, which suits us just fine. The two notable exceptions to this are wind and dogs. Amazingly, the wind in Cape Town can be crazy. They call it, for some reason, “The Doctor.” There are nights (and less often days) when the wind is so strong that it seems that all the windows in the apartment will break, but thankfully they never do. (During these times, “The Doctor is IN.”) At first this freaked us out a bit, but we got used to it. Apparently, it’s somewhat of a local black art to find the beaches that are least windy at various times of the year. Fortunately, we got some tips from our neighbors/landlords and managed quite well.

Now, on to the dogs. In the neighboring building (fortunately *not* in the neighboring apartment), there lives a pair of dogs (partly for security). They bark. A lot. And of course, when one dog barks, all other dogs in earshot take up the call. So once in a while, we endure an hour or two straight of dog opera. In the States, somebody would lose their temper and either brandish a firearm or sue the owners. Note that we’re not condoning either of these courses of action, but merely pointing out a societal difference. But dang – these dogs are loud sometimes, not to mention a bit scary when you walk by. (For more about the South Africans’ penchant for security, see the sidebar in the cape town: 10 years of freedom entry).

our favorite visitor

There is a small shopping area about 6 blocks away from our apartment. This is where we go to buy groceries, use the internet, watch movies, inquire about shipping things home (which, by the way, is way too expensive, takes way too long, and seems to come with very little guarantee that it’ll ever make it), and all other mundane daily things. We also are lucky enough to be about a block away from a cute little café. We have had several leisurely breakfast/brunches there, and often bought bottled water, juice, and “health bread” to take away. So far, however, they never have gotten an order correct. There is always bacon instead of sausage, tea instead of coffee, the wrong number of eggs, or something. Prices seem to vary depending on the person who happens to be working, too, but not enough to worry about. Nonetheless, we love our little local café and our neighborhood in general.

© 2004-2012 susan & grace, all rights reserved

-- comments from readers --


Loved reading about your travels and your pics are great. Regarding your Tamboerskloof apartment, it looks like Alexander Hill. The balcony railings looked familiar, as I've just returned from 3 weeks in CT and much of was spent apartment-hunting in your old neighbourhood there. By the way, your fav little cafe is still there, the sandwiches are great and the cakes yummy. I adore cape Town!! You two must go back sometime.

--Prijie M. (Hong Kong); Aug 18, 2006


First of all, I admire what you are doing and wish that I will also get the opportunity one day to do the same.

I want to explain to you why the people in Cape Town often refer to the strong winds as "the Doctor". You may have noticed during your stay, that whenever the wind is not blowing, there tends to be a buildup of smoke in the air above the city centre. You can best see this when looking at Table Mountain on a non-windy day and seeing that the mountain hides behind a bit of smoke. When the wind blows, it blows away the smoke, and therefore locals believe that the wind heals the air.

--Juan (Cape Town, South Africa); Aug 1, 2006


Hey you two. It's always fascinating reading the perspectives of outsiders on one's own neighbourhood - by and large you got Cape Town pretty well. And yes, your guess as to the reasons why Capetonians are so _slapgat_ (sorry, it's untranslatable - half-arsed would not be too bad a synonym) is right on the money.

Except: Tamboerskloof: Tamboers-kloof (the second part of which you correctly divined - a ravine). But a tamboer is drum (similar to an Irish bodhran) or the person who plays a tamboer, and nothing at all to do with farmers! In English, then, tamboerskloof = drummers' ravine.

Travel well

--Tom M. (Cape Town, South Africa); Feb 7, 2005

Aha! Thanks, Tom! We've amended the entry. It's great to hear from a local that we basically described the flavor accurately, and thanks again for the etymological assistance!

--Grace; Feb 15, 2005