It wasn’t like this last year…

A Cape Town sky full of weather.
A Cape Town sky full of weather.

Over at WordPress’s Daily Post, they asked:

Think about the town where you currently live: its local customs, traditions, and hangouts, its slang. What would be the strangest thing about this place for a first-time visitor?

I live in Cape Town, South Africa, a city on a mountainous peninsula jutting out into some very rough sea. Go south and all you will find is the vast Southern Ocean.

The climate is allegedly Mediterranean, and the scenery is beautiful. But the weather is – how to say this kindly? – unpredictable on the granular, daily level. In the round of the year, we have wet and grey winters with howling gales and horizontal rain. In summer we have a wind called the Cape Doctor, a gritty, unpleasant south-easterly.

I grew up in more temperate climates further up the coast and was astounded at the ferocity of the weather here when I first came to university.

But Capetonians firmly believe they live in a golden paradise (and indeed there are golden, glorious days) and that any weather they are currently enduring a mere oddity that will pass. They huddle in corners away from the wind that blows incessantly for a good ten months of the year and say to each other plaintively: “This is a really cold winter (insert other weather observations here).” They have never learned to adapt their driving to wet roads, appearing to believe that it never actually rains in winter. They arrange braais for summer evenings when they must surely anticipate that the wind will be so strong they will be unable to light the fire.

And they say: “It just wasn’t like this last year…”