Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa

I’ve been in Cape Town for less than a week now (after nearly a year away), but it seems much longer. In a way, it feels like I never left.

I’m living (per total coincidence) 15 minutes up the road in Sea Point from where I lived before; the mountains have not changed; I recognize the roads and know the bus routes; friends welcome me back.

Here are a few of the sights, sounds and sensations that feel familiar, this time around:

The knobby summit of Lion’s Head Mountain, which has never—not once—looked like a lion’s head to me.

The energizing rhythms of the music blaring in minibus taxis.

The effortless suspension of a seagull in midair, blue sky above him.

The knock of the Cape wind on my door.

Strong coffee—and beautiful faces across the cafe table.

Evening sun so strong it burns my face.

Salt in my hair—so simple—and a riot of languages in my ears—impossibly complex.

A cloud of chalk at my local climbing gym.

Thick, smoky grill smell from the braai downstairs.

The feeling that anyone could accomplish anything here (maybe that’s not true, but it feels that way).

Soft, white light at 7:30 in the morning. Pink, glowing skies at 7:30 at night.

Fruit vendors on the sidewalk offering avocados, nectarines, apricots and bananas at half the price of the supermarkets behind them.

Stack of books left and forgotten—now returned.

Purple backpack in a corner, empty and resting for a while.