South Africa — Dancing with Duality
“A week-long exploration into the luxe queer side of the Rainbow Nation.”
Day 5, Cape Town
Cape Town is definitely a city of contrasts. Right now, I’m getting the visceral feel for one as the darkened deeds of a late Friday night rail against intense UV rays shimmering off ice-blue waves. Thank god I have my sunglasses.
Glancing around the absolutely gorgeous powdery white, boulder-dotted of Clifton Third, the gayest in a string of five small beaches surrounded by multi-million rand bungalows creeping up a sheer mountain, it’s easy to forget that the riches on display here — mansions that would put Malibu to shame, not to mention oiled-up bodies that barely fit in their speedos — are an anomaly and not the norm. (Well, except for the muscles; Cape Town is rife in hot men!)
Just kilometers away lie townships that would rival any cobbled-together favela in slum-rich Rio, which measures just lower (i.e. less drastic) on the Gini Index of income inequality according to the CIA World Factbook. In a town that’s practically made for Sunday drives, with hills and valleys and panoramic views around every corner, the quaint seaside suburbs of Hout Bay, Fish Hoek and Muizenberg and the wooded, vineyard-laden Constantia are every bit as opulent as the Cape Flats strip malls and shantytowns are bleak — all within a half hour of downtown.
As the World Cup soccer stadium rises, scheduled rolling power blackouts continue to plague the country. Crime isn’t as pervasive as popular conception (I never felt unsafe walking alone in the more toney suburbs by day and with friends at night) but walled houses still have panic buttons and cars have alarms you have to constantly disable as you drive. It’s First World paired with Third, in a heady, simmering mix.