For most Capetonians there are actually very few occasions to have a ‘Beach Day’ – even though we’re surrounded by the most spectacular beaches. So, when it’s hot in Cape Town, it’s going to be packed! Deal with it, says Gasant Abarder in a new #SliceofGasant.

Abarder, who recently launched his book, Hack with a Grenade, is among the country’s most influential media voices. Catch his weekly column here, exclusive to Cape {town} Etc.

I live in Cape Town, a city surrounded by two oceans, yet I feel like an impostor when I set foot on a beach. It’s not only because I live in a suburb from where it takes a few minutes to drive to the beach. I think it has more to do with my experiences growing up.

Allow me to explain:

Those who grew up near the beach could walk across the road and enjoy nature’s gift. But if you’ve spent a big part of your life growing up so far away from beaches, you’re lucky if you got to go on Boxing Day, Easter weekend or one of the other big holidays – if at all.

Even though Mitchells Plain is relatively closer to the beach than most places on the Cape Flats, you’re still going to need access to a car or public transport to get there. So ‘Beach Day’ was reserved for special occasions. It was an all-day affair.

The entire family – aunts and uncles and more than 30 cousins between my grandparents’ kids – used to plan it meticulously. We’d meet somewhere central at first light before making the trip with each family in a car packed up with half of the house in the boot and at our feet.

One aunt would arrange breakfast, the other lunch (sometimes a pot of akhni!) and a third or fourth the watermelons that would be buoyed in the water to keep cool. Mama would have bags and bags of delicious treats she’d bought over a few months at Wellington Fruit Growers in Darling Street for just such an occasion.

There was one golden rule: get out on the road extra early or you’ll miss out on all the best spots on the beach.

I couldn’t believe I made the rookie mistake on Saturday – a stinker of a hot day that just cried out for a Beach Day. It’s festive, mos. But my 4-year-old daughter has become quite the practical joker and decided to hide my wallet. And then forgot her hiding place. By the time we found it, it was 10am.

The destination was Boulder’s Beach – a favourite for Beach Day, but when it took us almost two hours to get across Boyes Drive from Muizenberg to Kalk Bay my experience told me we wouldn’t even get out of the car.

It was hot – 37-degrees hot – and the kids were getting restless. There were no good beach spots. There were no beach spots. Never mind parking.

So, we turned around and made a different plan. Because we could. And we didn’t mind at all. There will be other Beach Days for us. But the families who came sak-en-pak deserved to be there because they made the effort and put in the work. This would be one of just a few Beach Days for the year. And this one would be special as work would probably start on Monday for most and the start of school was just a few days away.

I’ve been there and had the t-shirt and the manga (a baggy shorts up to the knee in ridiculous colours and patterns that you wear on Beach Day).

When I got home I saw an awful post doing the rounds on social media by someone who gets to have more Beach Days than the rest of us. It wasn’t complimentary. You know what, it was racist too, since most of the folks who don’t have regular beach trips aren’t as privileged as you. Yes, you! We all saw your terrible comments.

I hope someone sends you this column so you can understand a bit better when you’re a little inconvenienced once a year and then go on to social media to make hurtful remarks.

Then, take a bit of time to reflect, you’ll hopefully and finally know why the Capetonians who come out to the beach once or twice a year, and make an event of it, feel like impostors in our own city. Get a life, you beach (-goer)!

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Picture: Instagram 

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