Wednesday, November 5

Posting has been light for the last few days as we have moved into our new house. We finally bought in Observatory, a "previously disadvantaged" area.

Observatory is surrounded by Woodstock to the north, Mowbray to the south and Salt River to the east. Groote Schuur hospital is directly west of our house and behind that is the mountain. The house is almost in the center of Obs, close to the station.

I like the house a lot, but it needs a little work. Crime is also a little worse, but then where isn't it bad? Rumour has it the house plot was laid out around the 1900's somewhere, and I suspect the house was built in the twenties. Still, people knew how to build houses back then, and I'd trust this house to still be standing a hundred years from now, when all the new developments have crumbled.

The area has been changing rapidly in the previous few years as the group areas act was abolished, and it probable one of the most integrated neighborhoods in the country. Some houses are still very dilapidated, but new people seem to be moving in all the time and fixing places up. Im not sure what the coloured people think of this 'invasion'. They probable feel the same way I do about the German invasion of the city bowl.

The University of Cape Town is also very close by, making the center of Obs very lively at night. There are a large number of restaurants, clubs, bars, and coffee shops in a short stretch of Lower Main Road. Some people are comparing the area to Melville in Johannesburg, but I like the area much more. It has more character for me.

Its also become a little touristy, and I think only more and more tourist will want to come here as the rest of Cape Town's tourist industry commercializes. Im not sure about street crime yet but its definitely a problem. Businesses in the area have banded together to hire private guards to patrol the streets, so it seems like criminals have moved on to Woodstock for now. Bergies (definition here, I think) are a common site, and even though they help to disguise the real criminals, they are as much a part of Cape Town as the mountain.

Still, the first thing I did was install a burglar alarm and sign up with a private armed response company. (For those of you who live in safe parts of the world, those are the guys in the bullet proof vests and assault rifles who rush to your house when you press the emergency button. Makes gun control laws seem kind of silly yes.) I'm also upgrading the burglar bars, and will probable build the front wall a bit higher and put up some wire at the back. Two Bergies slept in the front garden outside our bedroom window Saturday night. Fine by me, but I'd rather not make it a regular thing.

Call me paranoid, but I lived in Joburg for the first part of the nineties. Still, Cape Town 'is' generally safer then Joburg, so I wont install a machine gun nest. Love this town.


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