Discovering Cape Town’s Vibrant Culture and Nature

Female solo traveller photo
The Global Entity
e14s1 Discovering Cape Town’s Vibrant Culture and Nature

Sharing Stories: A Night of Connection at MOCAA's First Thursday

I am still nursing my cold, it is not budging even a little bit. I am currently at the stage where I don’t have much voice. Despite this, I still managed to sobbingly explain the whole boy-debacle/moving fiasco to my old time friend Trècy. Trècy and I met during my internship in Pietermaritzburg eight years ago. When she saw that I was in Cape Town now she reached out and invited me to the First Thursday at MOCAA, the museum of contemporary art. First Thursdays is a concept that exists in both Cape Town and Johannesburg where the galleries and cultural centers of the city are open extra late. As the name describes it happens the first Thursday each month and it’s a vibrant event.

So here I am, in the middle of a hurdle of happy gallery goers and art consumers, crying. I am surprised by my own emotional reaction, I hadn’t cried before, why start now? As we wait for another friend to join us for the art tour, Trècy holds my hand and listens. It hits me that this is the first time in like a month that I am talking face to face with somebody that actually knows me. What a sanctuary. To get to tell everything that happened lately to somebody who genuinely cares for me.

It also hits me how amazing it is that Trècy and I, after eight years of separate lives, are able to reconnect so easily. I say a prayer of gratitude within, to all the girls and women who have ever been in my life and taught me all that sisterhood entails. Eventually my sobs turn into laughter, laughter at the absurdity of things, the irony of life… It’s one of those laughs that I can’t control. When I finally catch my breath I hear myself say “I just feel so much shame.” She looks me seriously in the eyes, takes a breath and says “Don’t Julia, you were brave. Don’t be ashamed of that.” I wipe my eyes and feel my shoulders drop.

Trècy at MOCAA exhibition.

Cape Town Delights: From Braais to Gardens

During my weeks in Cape Town, Trècy and her friends generously invited me to braai’s (meaning BBQ in South Africa), go dancing, adventuring in the wild, dinners and chill out times. Getting to be part of that, a vibrant group of friends, all with different ambitions and lives, made it easy to picture myself living here in this city. Everywhere I turn I get invited into different communities, groups and contexts. And sure, not everything is with a clean intention and those I promptly turn down, but that is almost insignificant in comparison to the flow I feel since I got here.


It is fascinating how a city that used to feel so cold and impregnable now feels accessible. I can almost taste the life I could have here if I decided to. It is not an easy process to get a work visa in this country but as someone said to me recently, we all have to try our own luck. On the other hand, if I feel like this two months into my trip – just imagine how I am going to feel  about all the other places I am going to see. Is this where I am meant to be? Or is my destiny elsewhere? Or do we create our own destinies? How do I know what is right?

One of the places Trècy took me to was the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. To call it a garden gives the wrong impression, it’s more like a nature reserve, a park of wilderness perfectly framed by the mountains of Western Cape. It is immensely beautiful! The past three weeks here in Cape Town have been incredibly packed with beautiful people, reconnecting with old friends and exciting encounters with new ones. Sitting here now, in this beautiful, quiet garden, I realize it is the first moment of peace I have had since I arrived in the city. I take the opportunity to journal a little bit, something I have completely neglected since I got here to Cape Town.

Boafowaa at MOCAA exhibition.

Journaling while solo traveling

Writing is such a powerful tool, especially when solo traveling as I do not necessarily have the people I need around to reflect with. Today’s writing session brings me back to something a healer told me right before I started this journey. He told me that I need to be more honest with who I am. Stop pretending to be small and willing when I’m actually anything but small and usually quite critical.

At that moment I had a hard time understanding what he meant but now, sitting here in what feels like the gardens of Eden, I have a moment of clarity. With all the turmoil that this trip has entailed, everything from broken dreams to getting ripped off by someone I thought was my friend (no it wasn’t much, yes I felt dumb), I am realizing I feel a crippling shame about articulating what I want and desire, what my expectations are. I have known for many years that I have trouble setting boundaries and saying no but today it hit me that I don’t even want to say straight out what I want. And it is not just because I don’t know what I want, which sometimes of course is the case. No, it is more that I don’t feel like I should say what I want.

The realization shocks me, I have to put my pen down. It is such a stark contrast to how I used to be as a child, a contrast to how I see myself. But I can now see the correlation between being boundaryless and not saying what I want. Somewhere along the way to becoming me, I have accepted the socializing norms that tell girls to be quiet and adaptable in order to be worthy and “good”. No mas. No more. This absurdity is something I will stop with right now. Or at least start unlearning right now.

My friends at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.

Solo Travel Journal

I am stopping all pretentions.

No longer pretending to be unbothered when I’m actually boiling with disappointment or shrinking from the insecurities that your silence triggers.

I will no longer dress my intentions in appearances of pretend non-intent and jewellery of disinterest.

I will no longer negate to ask just because I am afraid of your answer. Or perhaps even more afraid of how naked I will feel spelling out my expectations and hopes.

I will stop giving space to the idea that I need to earn to want. Earn to yearn and desire…

No, I am stopping all pretentions.

Want it. Express it, pure and clean.

Don’t excuse or diminish it. It is what makes me human.

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