Lashes and Lattes

An afternoon in Cape Town

December 02, 2014  |  By Lisa Axelsson, Sweden

Lashes and Lattes

Photo : Lisa Axelsson

Lashes and Lattes

Photo : Lisa Axelsson

It is one of those moments in Cape Town where the weather gods cannot decide what they want to do with the day. They chose to give us a little bit of everything. The morning drizzle drifted up towards the mountain and the sun is now in such a position that you can detect all the hard-drawn contours. Its light is utterly unforgivable but stunningly ravishing at the same time.

My friend Kriti and I have taken the train to the industrial area WoodstockWherever we now turn, our eyes are facing factory buildings which look like huge cardboard boxes. Each has its door hidden behind burglar bars and windows that, if not already, are about to shatter and collapse any second.

We enter a building named the Woodstock Exchange, also known as the WEX, which modestly hides what is hiding within. It is a unique blend of ecological shops, organic food and retro furnished stores. The space is occupied by people with style brimming out of their eyelashes. They are flirting madly and even though my ungainly mascara lashes scarcely can compete, I feel more than welcome.

I always get ridiculously enthusiastic when it comes to places where the dull exteriors are at odds with their vibrant interiors. Enthusiastic about hidden quarters, hidden stores, hidden things within the stores and hidden secrets within the cashier behind the counter. These kinds of places are like that medium-sized Christmas gift that does not really appeal to you in the first place, but later turns out to be exactly what you wished for. Now I just want to unfold and wrap myself into all there is.

We walk into a store that sells hats. Hats and cushions. Cushions and earrings. Earrings and more hats. There are paintings with quotes that neither say 'Carpe Diem' nor 'Live Laugh Love'. The man who works there looks unmistakably tired. Furthermore whatever he is doing is seldom, if ever, considered actual work. He does smell a bit from last night's merriment and that last quarter-to-three-shot he would definitely have been better off without. He shushes the screaming children rushing past, although it is doubtlessly only his own hangover demons that he really wants to silence.

I try a hat on but I keep getting my fringe in my eyes. It has an unfailing tendency of wanting to be right there, straight in front of my sight. My hairdresser called it a 'curtain fringe' when I cut it, because it would give me 'the possibility to get the best of both worlds.' Personally I would rather say that it locks the world's light out as opposed to letting any in. In a brusque attempt to show who is the real king of the crown I purse it up in a small topknot straight on my head. 'You look ridiculous,' my friend says. 'Like a girl version of Legolas.' Having had a major crush on Orlando Bloom all through high school, I choose to take that as a compliment. After all I think I glimpse a small smirk from the man behind the counter while people still frantically wave their long lashes.

Leaving the hat shop, we go to find coffee. The place where we get a table is named Starling & Hero Bicycle Café. From the ceiling old bicycles (that have certainly suffered a few miles) are hanging. Among crooked cactuses and old-fashioned furniture (that definitely would have fitted in a hipster home), there are also screw nuts, bolts and other articles that you perhaps in one way or another could associate with a bicycle. The woman behind the desk does not match the accessories. She has definitely never covered any miles on a bicycle and wears the kinds of tights I have never really understood why anyone would buy. But to be fair, it is not her physical appearance that makes the rub. She is bitter as gall and does not really seem to be bothered about our entry. Luckily, there is another waitress who, after explaining every organic ingredient of the different buns, takes our coffee order (after all we only came for coffee).

The fine art statutes dotted around the inner courtyard, where we decide to sit, are like half-finished thoughts and abandoned deeds. They are all exceedingly special in their own way: the horse with a back of grass especially far from the grass fields, the huge swing with the steel-sculptured courting couple especially anomaly and the colourful pipes pointing straight out from the ground especially far from the actual rainbow. But then again, what do I know? The only art-encounter I personally have had was when I as a 12 years old girl, strikingly lacking enthusiasm I made a painting of Garfield.

After finishing a latte that contained everything but what a latte is supposed to, the eco-friendly food menu eventually becomes too tempting for us to resist. We order an omelette stuffed with everything organic you can possibly find and once we have eaten up, it is time for us to leave. We get out on the street and wander on replete feet towards the train. I all of a sudden kind of wake up fresh and become aware of that the sun's earlier so distinct contours have been replaced with a premature dusk. Soon this moment will be covered behind a mantle of days and years and the contours will fade bit for bit. But right in this second, I am here and I am loving everything there is to it: all from untrustworthy weather gods to grumpy cash assistants.

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