Being at the airport at 5am in the morning deemed itself to be challenging as Rama and I were convinced that we may either have to leave without Unkeli or Twiggy because of their late arrivals. However, by the grace of the most high, we all made it into that plane.
Sindi, Twiggy’s wife, joined us on his trip in order to experience her first time in Cape Town.
Rama and Unkeli took the trip quite well even though it was both their first time flying. Well… except when we landed. I won’t lie, I took joy out of Rama jumping out of her seat as the plane touched down.
When we went to collect our rental car, we were at a loss for words… It was the exact same Kia 5-seater, but this time the 5th seat belonged to someone. And this time, we had a lot more luggage. There was a moment where we thought the was no way we could fit ourselves and all our luggage into the car. But once again, by the grace of the most high, we made it happen… With suitcases beneath us ad on top of us. Regardless, we made it to our hotel in the City Bowl. Satisfaction cannot even begin to describe the the feelings we experienced when we saw the conditions we would be getting familiar with in Cape Town.
The first task on our list was to go to Observatory to meet the women of Sweat, an NPO that advocates for the rights of sex workers. On the way there, I noticed the glow that Rama acquired during a conversation with Sindi as she was able to communicate in Pedi.
When we arrived at Observatory, we found the ladies and one man waiting for us on the grass. There must have been around 10 of them there, and all of them were sex workers. It was a family. You could tell by the laughter they shared, and the way they lovingly interacted. Nobuhle, a voluptuous, charming, mature woman, actually seemed like one of the more maternal energies in the group not only because of her maturity but also because of her willingness to be that person to the youngsters. Pukkie, the only man there, and Lulu both cuddled up to her as if she were their mother. As young adults they seem to get the love and affection they missed from their parents and this dog eat dog world, from Nobuhle.
There was a girl who look no more than 19 years old who sat quietly as the rest of the women spoke. I knew she had been robbed simply by looking into the windows of her face witnessing her trapped soul. He knees were marked by scars; both old and new, and her body was covered in tribulation.
There was also a woman named Lorna, who sat comfortably and began to ask me about where I was from. We intended on interviewing her first later in the evening, because she said that she lived quite close by.
Eventually, Dudu, the spokesperson of SWEAT arrived and spoke to us about how to go about covering the various stories of women of SWEAT, especially in an ethical sense.
After the meeting, the crew decided to go for lunch on Long Street. This gave us a good chance to debrief and decide on how we who we would interview and when.
We were seated on the balcony of the restaurant, where we had a great view of Long Street almost in its entirety. We noticed a young lady seated on the balcony at the restaurant across from ours, who had been sitting there alone for almost two hours. She was just sitting there and sipping a refill of the same drink, looking lonely. We were convinced that she had been jilted by the person she was supposed to meet. When we left the restaurant, we went to the restaurants across the road and paid the young lady’s bill.
You may ask why we decided to be so generous for no apparent reason, but reason feeds into the character that our crew has developed over time. We aren’t just a group of queer women with one straight man. We are also self-made angels and matchmakers. Throughout our entire journey so far, there were consistent attempts at pairing crew mates with people we encounter as we travel (the people we encountered never really knew that they were now betrothed to members of our 5-seater).
In the evening, we went back to observatory to do the interview with Lorna. We thought evening would be best, so that we could get a glimpse of what goes on at night when sex trades happen more frequently. However, when we arrived, the wind was so powerful it had us retreating back to the car with our tails between our legs.
Do you remember when I said that Lorna lived close to the park in Observatory? Well, I was sadly mistaken because she in fact lived on the park in Observatory, in a make shift tent. She was homeless. As we went back to our hotel, all I could think about was whether she would be alright during this wind storm. We were to see her the following day, and it would be our chance to fully understand the circumstances in which she has found herself.
After witnessing forest fires and the wrath of Zephyr, we made it through our first night in Cape Town; an easy night compared to the thousands that dwell outside.