Our friend Pete was awaiting us at the airport. After we’d collected our luggage we drove to his house. The drive along the highway from the Airport to Cape Town was our introduction to the town we’d be calling home for the next ten days. The highway was in excellent condition, and ran through areas of scrub that flowed away the verges of the road towards distant mountains. However ten minutes later we came across shanty towns that had been erected next to the highway.
They were a cheap reminder than ten years after gaining independence the contrast involving the rich and poor has perhaps worsened. The shacks getting back together the shanty towns were made of every sort of material proven to man – corrugated iron sheets and rusty metal sheets along with wood, cardboard and wire to form an incredibly uncomfortable shelter when compared to a family called home. Much more appalling was the fact most of the shanty houses had run wires to the overhead power lines làm mái tôn.This dangerous link was apparently sanctioned by the electricity board – Pete told us that the municipality and the us government were failing to help keep pace with the demand for houses for the poorer members of society, and preferred to leave the shanty towns intact! A refuse collection service run by the local authority was operating to help keep the shanty towns habitable. We saw a number of shanty towns along the main highways during our stay in Cape Town.
Pete lives in a suburb called Somerset West, and his home was a functional and extremely modern cluster home in a compound of about 30 residences. This form of living is popular in South Africa, due to security and reduced overheads. The complexes are well maintained because each owner contributes towards the upkeep and maintenance of the complex. Some complexes offer communal playgrounds for all the resident children, tennis courts and swimming pools. Owners usually are able to help keep pets too, because each house has its own private garden. It’s also a perfect way to live in Africa if one needs to travel or go on vacation – neighbours will watch on the house while you are away. My husband and I were so impressed with this way of living that the next year we bought into a bunch complex my then employers were marketing in Harare. Whenever we sold our home in 2003 we reinvested the profit a second cluster home. If one wants to live in Africa security is vital, and a bunch home complex offers the best level of security for residences.
Pete’s a bachelor, in order that night he prepared a barbecue in his Weber braai unit. His girlfriend Pat came round to greatly help with the cooking, and we had an excellent evening. The view from Pete’s house was superb. Somerset West is created on a mountain overlooking the town, and the view from his verandah offered the classic Cape Town view – the sprawling city at the foot of majestic Table Mountain, the lighthouse and the Atlantic Ocean. His house had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a big family room, state of the art kitchen and outside laundry/storeroom. He told us he spends most of his time on his verandah or in his garden.