We drove round the far, eastern side of False Bay today, past transparent turquoise bays (Vince saw a shark) and rocky coastline and back over the mountains and down Sir Lowry's Pass in a howling wind that shook the Volkswagen bus before depositing us in bumper to bumper traffic all the way to Cape Town, caused by FIFA-inspired roadworks. The World Cup is in June.
More than the pristine water, the African penguins, the dassies, the fynbos or the awe-inspiring traffic, it was the bands of small black children playing soccer in the whipping sand and dust of the Cape Flats, between this arterial freeway and the shanty towns that form a brittle shell around Cape Town, that remain with me.
This was their only open ground to play on. Sloping steeply down to the road in some places, on uneven playing fields overflown by litter, some groups played with ball and sticks as goals. Others were organized into squads with men coaching them, feet away from whizzing traffic. Between an overpass, the freeway and an off-ramp, on a triangle of grass - possibly the only grass for miles around - small boys hopped like grasshoppers in a leg-strengthening drill.
World cup mania escapes me, as I am not a soccer-, or a sports fan in general. But these children in the glare and wind of a late Cape afternoon made me see it in a different light. For them it is not a traffic nightmare, a tourist boom, a cash cow, a headache. It is a dream. And that is the only thing that will get them out of where they are.