Global Lay-Correspondent Report on South Africa



Jeff Spahr-Summers, US


13: Camps Bay


We moved into a house recently built on a small lot near the base of Devil's Peak (below Table Mountain) in Camps Bay. The property was so extreme that the house was built straight up. At street level was only the two car garage (no driveway), one flight up was only a recreation room, one more flight led to the living room, then half a flight to the dining room and kitchen (this was the ground level from the back), one more flight and then another half to the bedrooms. My bedroom was four stories directly above the street. The view of Camps Bay was breathtaking; along the left ran a range of mountains called The Twelve Apostles (because of their distinctive twelve peaks), to the right and straight ahead was the spectacular Camps Bay with it's spotless white sand beaches and the blue water of the Atlantic Ocean. The irony of having mountains named The Twelve Apostles towering above a community that was predominantly Jewish wasn't lost on me. The view from my window was so captivating, that Mom and Dad hired South African artist Lambert Kriedman to paint it in watercolors. This very painting has hung in every bedroom I've had since we left Cape Town, just as it does now.

I was enrolled in Camps Bay High School, which also overlooked the bay. There were approximately 400 students in the school (only white students, of course), made up of 26 different nationalities, of which I was the only American. This incredibly beautiful place and it's people enchanted me. I signed up for Gymnastics again (which I hadn't done since my friend Jerald died two years before), every English class they would let me take, History, Afrikaans (a requirement for me), and other general studies. I made friends quickly and eased into the life at the school. I slipped naturally back into my class clown mode of old, particularly in the Afrikaans class (which was no longer Immigrant Afrikaans). I was not required to participate in the Afrikaans class, I pretended to know absolutely nothing about the language so the teacher just left me to myself. It wasn't long before our favorite entertainment was ... for me to blurt out some odd or suggestive Afrikaans phrase, then claim I didn't know what it meant ... "They told me to say that!" Of course 'they' (my friends) knew I was fluent in Afrikaans, it was great fun, and no one ever really got into trouble. I was hopeful in Cape Town. I stopped drinking so much, although I certainly continued to go on benders now and then. I started writing poetry regularly, and I even joined the Drama department (but not to act, mind you, I just wanted to get my hands on the lighting panels).



Read the entire South Africa Series by Jeff Spahr-Summers


1: On the Move—December 2007

2: Rain—January 31, 2008

3: Culture Shock—February 29, 2008

4: Lord of the Ridge and Fort Scorpion—March 31, 2008

5: Nightmares and Snakes—April 30, 2008

6:  The Natives are Restless—May 31, 2008

7: Mozambique—June 30, 2008

8: Wild lifeJuly 31, 2008

9: ReconciliationAugust 2008

10: End of InnocenceSeptember 2008

11: Chasing the Cherry—October 2008

12: Johannesburg to Cape Town—November 2008

13: Camps Bay—December 2008 (This issue, this page)





Read the Poetry of Jeff Spahr-Summers


Jeff Spahr-Summers, USFree Verse: blue bird, Poets at Thirty, con-trary, justin at thirteen, dino, Instructions for Lars, New Dancing Shoes, Cherry Pit, Resenting the Shark, Stormy, The Circle of Faith and Healing










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