RETURN OF MY NEWSLETTER
AND ARRIVAL OF A NEW COVID VARIANT
Responding to the requests from so many of you, which I truly appreciate, I have decided to resume my monthly Letters from Cape Town.
We left Cleveland the evening before Thanksgiving heading to South Africa reporting some of the world’s lowest Covid numbers. Dire warnings of overwhelmed airports and blizzards in Chicago and Cleveland made us fear the worst but hope for the best. The latter happened. Airports were uncrowded and Clubs were empty, as evidenced by the following photos. The media had misled us, causing unnecessary concern. The trip was flawless.
In-flight the world had turned on a dime. We arrived to the news that we were on one of the last international flights allowed in because the world was in panic about “a new South African Covid variant.” Omicron, as it was soon to be labeled, was actually present but unrecognized in over 15 countries when scientists in South Africa identified, genotyped, and reported it to the world. Instead of commending SA for the high quality of its science and its integrity in early reporting, in stark contrast to what China had done in the original spread of Covid, the country was punished for its scientific integrity. Again, the media had it wrong. So did Boris Johnson who has never missed an opportunity to mismanage the Covid pandemic and was the leader of the pack in starting the snowball travel ban to and from SA. So, SA does the right thing and pays a heavy economic price with 72% of British and European tourist reservations canceled within 48 hours, and this at the peak of the tourist season.
Once again, we are fearing the worst and hoping for the best. Early indications show an extremely contagious variant that appears to have attenuated to a milder disease, but that can break through vaccinated individuals. Time will tell. Enough of Covid, we are all indeed Covid fatigued.
Cape Town continues to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
This season we are living in a brand new, ultra-luxurious apartment called Bantry Hills with ocean views and wrap around balconies, a gym and lap pool. These days occupying high-tech new places also involves a steep learning curve in working the devices and appliances, as witnessed by the following instruction manuals I was presented with. A technician was sent in to give me a crash course. Hopefully I won’t crash the system! But it is good to be back in Cape Town, spending time with Lara and our grandson’s Jack and Max, and seeing so many old friends, even if we do have to wear masks and socially distance. That seems to have become a way of life.
What I find very stimulating is the area in which we live. Literally one short block’s walk from our apartment, I am in a thriving, multicultural shopping area that at times makes me feel like Paris. On the corner is a cute coffee shop with outdoor tables. Next door is the ice cream store, with at least 6 varieties of dairy free gelato, all delicious. On the opposite corner is the fish shop where the early morning catch provides the freshest fish in the world. And next door to the fish shop is the butcher. Across the street is the supermarket and the baker. As I walked back up the hill with a full shopping bag peaked by 2 fresh Parisian baguettes, the only homeless man on the road shouted “Shabbat Shalom” to me. It was Tuesday. I think he has found the golden key to survival. But his presence does highlight the extraordinary chasm between rich and poor in this complicated country.
Further afield, there is nowhere in the world to match my absolute favorite place, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. This has once again become my choice place for my weekly hikes. A winter of heavy rains has the gardens in peak beauty. One hardly knows where to look – at the grandeur of the mountains in the background, the floral vistas, or to deeply concentrate on the magnificence and beauty of individual blooms.
And here are some of the flowers in bloom.
This in a nutshell is our domestic background. Our exploration of other parts of the country will start again at the end of the month after a long involuntary Covid hiatus, and I look forward to sharing our experiences with you in my next communication.
Moira and I wish you all good health, a return to normality, and a productive and joyful 2022.
Cape Town, December 16, 2021.