Trying to meet 50 different nationalities in 3 days
One of those things that initially drew me to the thousand network was the interesting people that I met that first weekend away in Whistler. Everyone was working on something exciting and you really felt you could learn a lot from these new friends. As I began to learn more about the network, I grew even more excited at the possibility to meet more interesting people in other countries around the world. To be able to travel somewhere and immediately get a feel for what its like to live somewhere by spending time with the people that live there is something I love.
So for my wow, I set out to meet 50 different nationalities in 3 days. A tall order, I thought but if I could do this anywhere, my current location in the beautiful cosmopolitan city of Cape Town would be a great place to try. The following serves to recall the experience, as well as to give you a little tour of my home city (to which you are all welcome to visit.)
I arrived to the immense beauty of Camps Bay some four days ago to meet up with a friend and to speak about a new project that we have been putting together. After our meeting, he wished me luck for my adventure, I walked out the door to the street and saw three very white guys walking up the road carrying smoothies to ease the pain from the night before, I presumed. “Rough night, boys” I asked ? To which they replied “Fucking right” in a thick sounding Irish accent. The game had begun. The boys were all from Dublin(1) and were having the time of their lives in South Africa. I proceeded to walk towards the breathtaking Camps Bay beach a mere 2 minutes from my mate’s house. Just before you arrive, there is a strip of top class restaurants and bars. I pulled in to one too get a smoothie as the same had looked very refreshing in the Irishman’s hands.
Now, Cape Town is a tourism Mecca and with our president’s recent firing of our finance minister the rand was sent into chaos leaving the Rand to the Dollar sitting at 15.50 to 1. So there are a lot of happy tourists around, none more so than the Germans. The next gentleman, I was to meet was from Hamburg(2), typing on his phone outside one of the restaurants. I asked if he needed any advice to which he said no and that he was just using the Wi-Fi. He actually comes here every year with his friends who are models and he has a mate that owns a bar in Sea Point just around the corner. It will be a place he comes to every year. He let me know some tips about Hamburg and to stay away during the winter and I was on my way. What a cool dude!
Next, it was on to Llandudno beach. I know it was the middle of the day but when you happen to drive by a surf spot with great waves on your way home why not? I suited up and headed to the beach. Now, in Cape Town, you really need a car to get around and LLandudno is one of those beaches that is a little of the beaten path but those who find it are treated to something special. Sitting out in the water and looking up at the mountains is one of my favorite places in the world. To make it even better, a little humor is added too, as the people who are not from Cape Town coming running to the water not realizing it is about 12 degrees. Ha-Ha. When they hit the water, you can just see the terror in their face. Anyway, as I made my way down to the beach I stopped to speak to another couple, this time from Cologne, Germany. I was very impressed that they had made the effort to come down to this beach and wished them the best. Just before I got into the water, I met an English couple(3) from Leeds who had been here four times before and didn’t see themselves stopping anytime soon. Really delightful couple! I paddled out and sat out in the back line where I proceeded to meet a South African(4) who told me a little about some other surf spots that I had not tried before. After my surf, I headed up towards my car and heard people speaking a language behind me that I couldn’t quite identify. Swiss German, I was told. The guy was Swiss (5) and his girlfriend was from Germany but both lived just outside of Zurich.
I then moved on to the Waterfront. Now, as I work in tourism I have seen the stats and basically anyone that comes through Cape Town will head to the Waterfront and to be honest, it is very obvious why. It’s a central location with stunning views of the mountain, there are hotels, attractions, restaurants, bars, and it serves as the gateway to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. This surely would be a happy hunting ground. I put on my black Cape Town embroided T-shirt, that I had bought for market research the week before and proceeded to walk around asking people if I could help with any questions about the city. This is definitely a hit or miss exercise and not something I am particular fond of because many people treat you like dirt. There are many people in South Africa who are try selling you something or are looking for money, so this reaction is not unexpected. However you do meet some great people and right away I ran into two Dutch girls (6) whom I had met the day before. They were going back to Holland after three months of living in SA for the modeling season. Cape Town is huge for this and just like Vancouver is a big destination for film, modeling and commercial shoots.
Next, I stopped for a coffee and the three guys serving the coffee had a distinctively French accent. I asked from where they came and they said the DRC (the Democratic Republic of Congo)(7). They had moved here for a better life. I bet they had some interesting stories. Walking back through the crowds, I met a Portuguese(8) couple over hear for the first time on holiday. They were friendly and told me to visit Lisbon, definitely on the list. The French family – not so friendly, ahha. I asked, in French if they were from France(9), to which a received a stern nod. As I crossed the bridge towards the Robben Island terminal, I heard more French – this family was decidedly more pleasant and told me they were all from Paris but lived in Cameroon. I really look forward to living in Paris for a period of time one day. That was enough of this. As I was leaving, I ran into a friend I had met a couple days before from Bratislava, Slovakia. He introduced me to his friend Katrina (10) who had just arrived. They were trying to find people to go on a dive with then to see Whales in the open ocean.
Driving home that evening, I took the less crowed and sensationally beautiful coastal route. There are many viewpoints and one I decided to stop sold hand crafted African artifacts like carved Giraffes and Hippos. The guys and girls herewere all from Malawi(11) and also in search of a better life. Malawians are known as very hard workers and often come to South Africa too work and send money back home to there families. Great people.
Upon arriving at my parents place that evening I was introduced to two of their friends who had come over to dinner that evening. The guy was a friend of my parents and they reminisced over the time spent in Mallorca some 28 years before. In Mallorca often go down to the Marina where he docked. Barry had lived all over, as he worked on the rigs like my father. Interestingly enough, he was originally from the Falkland islands(12). His very nice girlfriend was from Namibia (13) and it was super interesting to hear about growing up there.
Waking up for day two I knew I would have to get a little more creative in my search areas. I had already found all the easy to get nationalities. I called up my mate, set about plans for the evening and then got to work.
Later, I dropped my car off at a mate’s house and so the evening began at bar called Caprice just off the Camps Bay beach. After having a good catch up with a mate I hadn’t seen for a while I noticed a group in the corner who looked foreign, Brazilians I thought. I went over and introduced myself and they turned out to be from Saudi Arabia (14), very cool. They all worked for Saudi Aramco, Saudis national oil company. We had a very interesting conversation about Saudi Aramco’s soon to be public listing this year and the effect this could have on the oil price.
No time to lose, we hopped in the Uber and headed to the main party street in Cape Town. Our first point of call was a trendy hostel bar. This would be a great place and we were not disappointed. After somehow getting a table a group of people came to share the table with us. We got to talking and they were all in town for a marketing conference, Malaysia(15), Singapore (16), Nigeria (17), USA(18), Egypt(19), and Spain(20). Jackpot. They stayed for a while and chatted before moving on to their own table.
We were back on the move and this time to another bar down the street. Here we enjoyed the Europa cup Man United game with some Brits before meeting some girls that were over studying engllsh in South Africa. They came from Brazil(21), Italy(22), Belgium(23) and England. Very cool girls living here for 2 months. I always forget that Belgium has a French and a Dutch part. I always dreamed of living in Florianopolis, Brazil for some time and I got some great information from the Brazilian. The massive bouncer at the door also got handshake and he was from Angola. As we were leaving I heard some more German in the empty bar, I went over anyway and turns out the girls were from Salzburg, Austria (24)which is absolutely beautiful and the home of Mozart too. A little dash of culture seems appropriate right now.
I needed to think where could I meet a significant number of nationalities in a short period of time. Where could I possible meet for example the whole Eastern Block?! Mavericks strip club, it was, ha-ha. A buddy of mine had some friends
that worked there, which was great because the ladies are trying to work and I didn’t want to slow them down with my questions. We got to talk with the ladies my friend knew, in particular an Estonian girl (25) who was a wealth of knowledge. On a side note: many of these girls work and travel around the world doing this. They really do get to see some incredible places and make some good money. One of the best work travel programs out there, I thought. Another friend of my mate came over. She was from Columbia (26). From here, we got introduced to a few more of the girls and of course a couple very inebriated guys along the way, including a Scot(27) and a Norwegian (28) who told us he was a treasure hunter who had been working off the coast. I do believe this was the truth. The Cape of Good Hope or the Cape of Storms as it is known has a sea bed littered with shipwrecks, as it was for the longest time, the passage to the east from Europe. By the end of the night we had chatted to girls from Ukraine- Kyiv and Donetsk (29), Czech Republic (30), Moldova (31), Georgia (32), Estonia and Colombia. We were exhausted but what a good night! We hopped into an Uber with a Zimbabwean(33) driver and got a lift home, speaking about the conditions in Zimbabwe and there use of U.S dollar. 19 different nationalities in one night I may actually be able to do this I thought.
Arising the next morning I was a little worse for wear but I had 33 nationalities and one day to go. I drove home, did some work before going to a meeting at the university at 11:00am. Upon arriving at the international building, there were people from all over Africa registering for their courses, as our school year is March to November. Many different passports were presented as forms were being filled out. I met some great people from Botswana (34) (Okavango Delta- wow!) Mauritius (35), a gentleman from the Cameroon (36) with a rad African shirt and an English lady, who was going back to school and laughing at the chaos in the office. As I was leaving an Asian lady walked into the office next door, it turns out this was the center for mandarin studies. China(37) tick!
That evening it was off to the other coast for evening surf. Now as I am sure you guys know Cape Town is on a Peninsula and at the Cape of Agulas the warm Indian Ocean meets the cold Atlantic Ocean. This evening because of the wind I decided to go to Muizenberg beach on the Indian side and it’s where people come to learn to surf. As I walked to the beach I saw some people wearing a Global Volunteer t-shirt playing with some local kids. After an hour in the water I got to talk with the people and there were out in South Africa volunteering with a program that taught kids how to surf. An Aussie (38), two Danes (39) and two ladies whom I didn’t meet as they were still playing with the local kids. There are some amazing initiatives and volunteers programs in South Africa A tremendous experience for a great cause if anyone ever is interested. Have a look at surf pop and Habitat for Humanity as just two examples. The local kids are just incredible surfers too at such a young age I really believe sport is a source for change and a better life.
Arriving home that evening my parents were having another dinner party. This doesn’t all the time but my father works away six months of the year, a month on month off. As a result, there is usually some very interesting people from all
nationalities at our house and this night there was a couple from Britain who have lived in South Africa a long time and good friends of my folks, one who was born in Zambia(40). As the day came to a close the total stood at 40.
As I started at midday on the first day I thought I could allow myself the full three days up until 12pm. As it was Saturday I headed of to one of the local food and drink markets? These weekly events bring people together to create a wonderful and merry vibe, you run into old friends and today was no different. I ended up speaking to a friend of mine that had a stall there and despite the good amount of people there only was able to meet a Korean and an Argentina who had both lived in South Africa for a period of time. After all said and done what an incredible couple of days which included 42 different Nationalities funny enough no Canadians, haha. Probably every city in Germany and not far behind with the English.
I really hope you enjoyed reading this little adventure as much as I liked living it and I look forward to meeting you all in your home countries. You are always welcome wherever I am.
All the best Matt
Index of Nationalties
4. South African
7. Democratic Republic of Congo Portugal
12. Falkland Islands
14. Saudi Arabia
30. Czech Republic 31. Moldova
32. Georgia 33. Zimbabwe 34. Botswana 35. Mauritius 36. Cameroon 37. China
38. Australia 39. Denmark 40. Zambia 41. Korea