Heerengracht Fountain, Cape Town, Late Afternoon
Heerengracht Fountain is one of my favourite places in the city. There is always something happening there and a new chapter of the story unfolds every morning as the sun rises, running throughout the day, unconcerned with what is going on in the rest of the city, although everything remains connected.
In summer street kids enjoy swimming in the water until they are inevitably chased away by security guards or Metro Police. In winter the foul weather that lashes the city is reflected and magnified as high winds are forced between the nearby buildings and whip around the fountain, knocking the water right out of the catchment area until it floods the pathway and grass on the north side. Between runs minibus taxi drivers use the water to wash their vehicles at the taxi rank on the south side. Tourists appear with cameras and photograph themselves with the fountain or the mountain as a backdrop. Occasionally the entire system is drained and then cleaned by a team that appears magically. Sometimes the fountain is switched off for no discernable reason; other times it's on - you never know.
I often go to the fountain to test gadgets that can take photos (cameras and phones, usually), occasionally fending off the inevitable curiosity from locals with too much time on their hands. On Monday I had a number of cellular phones to test and braved the rather horrendous wind (powerful and freezing) to take my test shots. Halfway through the process about six street kids crossed my path, which is enough to strike fear into the hearts of most Capetonians. Cape Town is not a safe city but it's also not as dangerous as some would have you believe although I, like most, have been accosted a few times. I had a brief internal panic as I wasn't sure what I should do but decided to stand my ground and continue with my testing. They passed ... and then one turned back and asked me to take his photo. This wasn't the first request I'd had for the day so once again I obliged. The kid dived on the ground in front of me and one of his friends came racing up to join him, tossing the crate he was carrying to the grass as he did so.
I took the photo and then suddenly was inundated by the group, which wanted to see the image. Mindful of the fact that this was not my phone and not overly fond of being surrounded by anyone, nevermind street kids, I had to ask them to stand back while I frantically tried to find the Gallery function in the phone. To my relief they did so while I located the photo and then showed it to them.
Satisfied, they continued on their way.