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 another ten days. The highway was in excellent condition, and ran through areas of scrub that flowed away the verges of the trail towards distant mountains. However ten minutes later we found shanty towns that had been erected alongside the highway.
They certainly were a poor reminder than 10 years after gaining independence the contrast between the rich and poor has perhaps worsened. The shacks creating the shanty towns were made of every sort of material known to man – corrugated iron sheets and rusty metal sheets along with wood, cardboard and wire to form an extremely uncomfortable shelter than a family called home. A lot more appalling was the fact many 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 area authority was operating to keep the shanty towns habitable. We saw several shanty towns along the main highways during our remain in Cape Town.
Pete lives in a suburb called Somerset West, and his home was a practical and extremely modern cluster home in a compound of about 30 residences. This kind of living is very popular in South Africa, due to security and reduced overheads. The complexes are perfectly 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 are generally able to help keep pets too, because each house has its private garden. Additionally it is a perfect way to call home in Africa if one needs to travel or go on vacation – neighbours will watch on the home while you are away. My husband and I were so impressed with in this manner of living that these year we bought into a bunch complex my then employers were marketing in Harare. Whenever we sold the house in 2003 we reinvested the profit another cluster home. If one wants to call home in Africa security is vital, and a bunch home complex offers the very 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 a wonderful evening. The view from Pete’s house was superb. Somerset West is built 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 large 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.