You know you have come to finally own a city when tourists make you look at it under a different, unexpected light. I asked my friend Silvia, whose sojourn here is about to come to an end, whether she would ever live in LA. In all fairness, she spent 3 months here over 10 years ago so she has more than a fair idea of how this city works (and doesn’t). Surprisingly, she said she would choose LA over NY because she feels LA has more to offer. I know, it’s anathema to a New Yorker’s ears and, being a fan of the Big Apple myself, I had to think about it for a moment. What about Broadway, and the fantastic museums and all the walking distance restaurants?? Silvia also added that LA feels more relaxed, people don’t seem as stressed – but she hasn’t sat in gridlock traffic on the 405 nor has she entered the offices of CAA so I am not too sure about this last statement.
But yes, LA is more relaxed because she takes herself less seriously and as pretty as the Hamptons are, the beach culture that pervades our city is definitely more alluring, more welcoming and year round. The food is just as good, theatre and museums are catching up but probably will never get there. Nonetheless, the cultural picks LA has to offer are exciting, if not as high brow but we are not a high brow kind of people anyway. And the stunning beauty of its nature never makes you crave for skyscrapers.
When I was in Cape Town last year, my friend Sue kindly took me around to see the sights and, in the process, rediscovered her city. It took my eyes to remind her how beautiful CT is and how much it has to offer. I am about to make the same long trek once more. The stories of a triumphant Soccer World Cup have given way to a series of reports on endless strikes that depict a country in turmoil as it grapples with the remnants of its own recession. Recently, a South African doctor told me he fled his native land after being robbed at gun point and the most frequently asked question when I share my vacation plans is “But is it safe?”.
Any country where the gap between the very poor and the very rich is beyond imagination on both parts is not safe. It’s not safe for the immigrants who try to escape an even more dire life by illegally crossing the border, it’s not safe for those, black and white, who struggle to make a living. It’s probably not safe for those who have accumulated more than their fair share and might feel threatened. To a varying degree, most countries belong in this category, ours included. I am just looking forward to looking at it with fresh eyes, with curious eyes and, most of all, I am looking forward to the warm welcome I experienced the first time. The South African doctor also told me that being there with a native makes all the difference. So what? – it would make the difference anywhere.
All I can think about right now is that this travelling monkey is on the move again.