One of the things I love about my house is that it’s in the heart of the community. In Harbour Heights, alongside the predominantly coloured area of Hangberg, we are perched on the guarding mountain known as the Sentinel, overlooking the working harbour of Hout Bay. All within walking distance from my front door, there is a local high school and primary school, a health centre, a community development and recreation centre, a library, a sports field, two bus stops, a mosque and two churches.
With a constant flow of activity, these community establishments generate a symphony of sound, creating a beautiful rhythm and pace to life that guides our days.
There is the boat caller, sending out messages to the boats coming in and out of the harbour, its long, flat honking sound resonating through the bay. Once, on a particularly beautiful afternoon, the boat caller tooted the tune to ‘shave and a haircut, two bits’, bringing an immediate smile to all listening.
There is the sound of the school bell ringing from the high school next door, the loud chatter as rowdy students break from their classes. They walk in herds to the sports field for their activities, and every afternoon is punctuated with their laughing Afrikaans voices as they return to class.
There is the call to prayer from the mosque five times a day, one of my most favourite sounds in the world.
Every Sunday and Wednesday, and sometimes Monday, there is cheerful singing from the church across the street, the harmonious voices rising and falling to the tune of the piano being played, and a sense of calmness that settles in the air.
Over the weekends there is the Kaapse Klopse band playing at the harbour, the exuberant sound of the brass instruments and drums cheering everyone’s hearts. Sometimes you can spot the band dressed in their full regalia, their colourful uniforms and umbrellas dotting the harbour like the brightly coloured flowers of the fynbos on the mountain.
On sunny days there is a tourist boat that goes out to Seal Island, a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. You can hear the skipper welcoming everyone on board, explaining their route and telling them to enjoy the gorgeous day.
Recently there is also the new MyCiti Bus, a wonderful new form of public transport for the whole town and I am delighted each time I hear it pass by my house. I wave at the bus driver, and all the people on the bus, loving the accessibility and equality that the service provides.
I have yet to partake in any of these sounds, to really get involved in the daily activities of the people that make up this community. But just from sitting on my balcony, from quietly listening and watching the constant motion around me, I am overwhelmed with the sense of commonality that these sounds bring, that each person living here is a beautiful thread of sound that weaves the community together, and each day I look forward to adding my own melody to the mix.