Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

How (Not) to Walk Along Long Street Late at Night

Long Street is the party street of Cape Town, similar to Granville Street in Vancouver.  Unlike Granville, however, it’s not safe to wander around completely sloshed – especially on your own.

Being from Canada, though, my friend and I don’t normally weigh personal safety into our decisions.  Why would we?  We’ve never had to before.

One Thursday night we went clubbing with a big group of people from our hostel.  We decided to bounce “early” (around 2am) because we were over the club’s scene.  We walked outside and asked a taxi how much back to Long Street.

“Fifty.”

“Whatever.  We only paid R30 to get here!  We’ll walk!”

I didn’t even know the direction of our hostel, but we charged into the night anyways.

I never argue or fight, but my friend and I got into a huge row on the walk home.  We yelled the whole walk, although we weren’t actually angry at each other.  I think we were just angry about different things and it came out through screaming at each other.  Although the yelling quickly turned from us onto the creepers who wander Long Street.

One man started walking with us and we told him to fuck off.

He argued, “I’m looking for my friends.”

“DO WE LOOK LIKE YOUR FUCKING FRIENDS?  NO WE’RE NOT.  LEAVE US THE FUCK ALONE!”

Another man said, “I’m walking with you to steal your wallets.”

“FUCK OFF!  CAN’T YOU TELL WE’RE HAVING FUCKING DISCUSSION HERE?”

Super classy.

By the time we arrived back at our hostel, we’d vented out all our angry energy and were laughing about something or other.  We were surprised to open the door and find the rest of the people we’d left at the club were already back.

“Oh.  What are you doing here?”

“We took a cab,” they explained.

Later I chatted to one of the guys who had been staying at the hostel for a couple months and he told me it was really stupid of us to walk home alone, especially two women.  He said that at least one tourist a week is usually mugged on the walk home.

When I told my friend the next day, we both burst out laughing.  We refused a taxi fare of R50?  That’s less than $6!  You can’t even get a cab ride for that in Vancouver – the minimum payment is $10.

I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story.  Maybe it’s: Don’t Be Unnecessarily Stupid.  But If You Are, You Might As Well Go All Out Crazy.

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