More Mutual Building / Two Cape Town libraries

I received word early this evening from Martin Green, husband of Iris (both are staying at Tristan House with me) that the Edinburgh has been delayed, yet again, till Thursday. Will I ever get to Tristan da Cunha? Am I Panglossian or should I get just a little bit annoyed that the trip has been delayed yet again? I am not getting worked up about it because while in Cape Town there is lots to do. I thank Tristan House for letting me stay here, as I would not have been able to afford hotel accommodation for another eight days. I might have had to go home by now.

The scaffolding surrounding the Mutual Building is coming down, so I was able to see the nine tribal figures. They are all in a row. I took photos of three figures at a time:

Nice shot of the window cleaners as well:

Maybe by the time I return from Tristan da Cunha (if I ever get there) the netting will be removed from in front of the friezes. These friezes stretch around three sides of the building. I could only see barely inches of the friezes the last time. It is impressive to see it all now, in spite of the netting.

I always visit libraries when I travel and today I stopped in at the Cape Town Central Library and the much smaller Vredehoek branch. The library system uses Dewey Decimal Classification, which made my hunt for subject areas very easy.

You enter here:

I looked at the books on African history, and knew I would find many books on the countries of Africa. I would have loved to have been able to borrow titles on Portuguese colonialism, on Gabon, on the failure of democracy in DR Congo, on the Seychelles and so on. There was a large section on the indigenous languages of southern Africa, but, like all of the books at this library, they were old and in frail condition. I am thankful I work for a library system that is always purchasing new books. The paperback titles were all covered in plastic laminate. I hate that stuff. Whenever I wanted to take such a book off the shelf, six or seven other books stuck to it. These books could be flawlessly clean yet the stickiness caused by the laminate makes them feel–and sound–as if someone spilled lemonade over the covers. I walked to the small Vredehoek branch and its collection was also very old. I am a fan of the Lonely Planet travel guides and I recognized an ancient cover design on their guide to Cuba. I looked at its publication date: 1997! Who keeps a twenty-year-old travel guide on their shelves? I liked the tiny library yet was not a fan of its homemade lowercase Comic font signage.

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day so I went to Clifton Beach. I walked there from Tristan House, going in between Lion’s Head and Table Mountain via Camps Bay Drive, Geneva Drive and Sedgemoor Road. Some of the homes I saw en route were jaw-drop gorgeous. How would you like to have your own elevator, such as on this house on Higgo Road:

If it snowed in Cape Town, I’d hate to shovel this roof:

What scenery for your backyard:

Unlike when I came here four years ago, this time Clifton 3rd Beach had people on it, but it wasn’t by any means busy. It might have been yesterday. I just soaked up the sun. I saw no people swimming at all, probably because what I hear about September beach water is true: it’s freaking freezing.

I took a different route back once I had rounded Lion’s Head. Cape Town is a steep city especially as you approach Table Mountain. I had a very s-l-o-w walk down Bellevue Street:

I don’t know what grade this is, but the illusion in the photo is that the street is level. I felt the entire time as I was walking down that I would be dead if I fell and somersaulted my way to the bottom. You see that tall apartment building smack in the middle of the photo? That’s the Gardens Centre, an apartment with a fairly large shopping centre at ground level. I do my grocery shopping there. No matter where I am in Cape Town, the sight of that building always guides me back to Tristan House, which is located nearby.

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