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Closing a chapter, but not the book

July 27, 2011 by Kaitlin

I’m not sure how it happened, but here I find myself. My last night in Cape Town. There’s still two weeks of fun to be had in Joburg, Kruger, and Mozambique, but tonight is it for Kaapstad. Emotions are mixed, to put it mildly.

I miss my family, of course, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss grocery stores that actually stay open past 6 p.m., but I’d also be lying if I said I was super excited to go back to smoggy, overpriced LA and be bombarded with complaints about problems that are not actually problems (“Ugh! The next iPhone doesn’t come out until September! ”).

I’ve met so many wonderful people here, and it makes me too sad to think that I’ll never see any of them again, so I’ve told myself I’m coming back.

And in many ways, I have more friends here after 3 months than I did in LA after a whole year. I know some truly incredible and inspiring people through Annenberg, but save for a few close friends, the depth of the relationships is different.

In LA, sometimes it feels like there’s this hesitancy to get close to people. Everyone is competing for the same jobs, the same guys, the same traffic lane. Here, hearts seem more open. Which is especially incredible given the country’s not-so-ancient history.

I made one more stop at CRF today to give final hugs to Nina and Yumna, two women who exemplify the concept of beautiful inside and out. They had some wonderfully kind tokens of their home and hearts for me, and standing there one more time, sharing long hugs, I couldn’t help but think back to my first day of the internship way back in May. I was coming into CRF with a full-time commitment having not met anyone in person, and they were taking an even bigger risk, agreeing to take on some rando from the US for three months. Things could have gone horribly wrong. But they didn’t. The entire office—Mike, Nina, Yumna, Kondwani and Maddie meshed incredibly well, and everyone just brought me into the fold, no questions asked.

It helps that we all love radio, sure, but as the weeks went on, we spent more and more time outside the office—wine tasting, cooking dinner, or hiking Lion’s Head—and those bonds continued to grow and strengthen. I gained so much insight and insider tips from them, and I feel so lucky to have worked in a place where people were willing to open up their lives for me—my experience without them would not have been an experience at all. We shared music, movies and favorite books. I know once I leave, they’ll be on my mind a lot, not only because I’m scheming for ways to come back and work with them some more, but because so many songs and authors and artists now remind me of them.

As if having my own incredible coworkers wasn’t enough, I got to know super cool people from my other friend’s internships too—hello Tina and Michelle from the Cape Argus!

When we weren’t working, we had a friend, Brett, who was willing to drive us around (while letting me DJ on his iPod that was full of good tunes) to some of the most beautiful sights in the city—from Signal Hill to Kirstenbosch Gardens to the entire way around the Cape Peninsula.

And then there are all the people I met only briefly, but who made an indelible impression. This includes everyone I’ve interviewed for CRF—from Mario, the ex-gangster to Alex, the 12-year-old magazine entrepreneur. There have been phenomenal tour guides, drivers, translators, musicians who performed for us in their homes, Xhosa mamas who cooked for us at Bulungula, and an entire village in the Transkei that let us come to a wedding (more stories to come as time and internet access allow).

We had to move out of our place on Tuesday, so we’ve temporarily set up shop in the beautiful apartment of our friends Warren and Ollie in Sea Point. They let four of us crash with all of our stuff (and there’s a lot of stuff) for two nights without a moment’s hesitation. Their kindness is just one more to add to the ongoing list of South African hospitality I’ve experienced from people of every race and gender.

And the sunset’s not bad either.

Evening view from the Mig, our second home in Cape Town


  1. Toya says:

    You totally had me tearing up! Enjoy the last of CPT while you can!

  2. Yumna says:

    Me too! Nina and I just shared an intense “aawwwwwww!” moment. Here’s the the next SA chapter. xxx

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