Ben’s trip to Cape Town started as you would expect. I ran to hug him as soon as I saw him outside of baggage claim, he insisted I didn’t recognize him immediately, I told him I couldn’t see as far as he could, and he blamed me for my poor vision that he was lucky enough to never have had the opportunity to inherit from our mother. Once that was out of the way, we were back in action like Mario and Luigi.
Over the next two days, I took Ben on a jam-packed tour of Cape Town using a carefully formulated itinerary that fit the most fun into the shortest amount of time. We shopped at craft markets. We frolicked in the botanical gardens. We walked around downtown. We stuffed our faces at the famous township braai, Mzolis. We hiked Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. And now for the most shocking event of them all, Ben actually watched me play in an ultimate frisbee game! It might have had something to do with my two attractive roommates also attending, but I’ll take it.
Tuesday and Wednesday of Ben’s trip were almost entirely spent driving on the beautiful Garden Route so that he could also do the world’s highest bungee jump. I was worried that doing all the touristy activities all over again would be boring for me, but it was surprisingly enjoyable experiencing everything for the second time with my brother. There are little things about Cape Town that I never would have noticed if it hadn’t been for him. He taught me that the little pink flowers that grow in the medians of the roads are not just little pink flowers, but amaryllises. He taught me that if you eat six meals a day instead of just three, you actually discover twice the number of delicious restaurants around town. (Basic calculus.) He taught me that your body has attitude that’s not just the good or bad kind when you jump off a bridge. He even taught me that I may not be as skilled as I think I am at driving on the left side of the road.
And of course 21 years has proven that our relationship is usually reciprocal. I finally had the opportunity to share my joy of traveling and exploring with my brother, and he finally understood the excitement I feel to leave a comfortable place, see new sites, and meet new people. After the success of this trip, I think it’s safe to say that the Mellman siblings have been put on the map!
Infecting the City is a Public Arts Festival presented by The Africa Centre in Cape Town. It takes place over the course of five days in the streets of Cape Town, using the most unlikely spaces for unbelievable artistic performances. I was advised by my African Studies professor to check it out, and so I went on March 9 to follow the “orange route,” which began at a concourse in the downtown train station. When I arrived, there was a full costumed ballet happening in the middle of the station. There were a considerable amount of people in the audience who were there intentionally for the festival, but the best part was watching the reactions of the regular train-goers who had no idea why there were ballerinas dancing around them while they were just trying to get home from work on a Friday afternoon. After the ballet, everyone followed a few festival workers holding big orange dots down the train concourse where we waited for a flash mob. Now I know a scheduled flashmob sounds like an oxymoron, but it actually was a surprise because the singers of the flashmob were completely mixed in with the rest of the crowd waiting for the flashmob. Anyway, it turns out that the singers were the UCT acapella group, and they did an amazing job singing over all of the broadcasted train announcements. We then followed the crowd down to a grand piano, where a pianist was playing pieces written by Cape Town classical composers. After this performance, the festival took a turn for the weird. But weird in a good way. It was seemed like the more I asked my self what the heck was going on, the more I couldn’t take my eyes off of the performance. We watched an acrobatic performance on the roof of the train station which really made me nostalgic for my circus camp days, and after that I couldn’t tell you what play I watched for a half an hour but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in English.
“Public art has always been part of who we are on this continent and in this country. The interconnectedness of the African “us” has often been impeded however, throwing people apart and far away from each other, creating a physical and psychic separation. Infecting the City is a small attempt at igniting this interconnectedness through artistic expression, making public space public.”—The Africa Centre