My 30 by 30 List. Yeah. I’m doing this thing.


I started writing my 30 x 30 list while trying to kill a day at the Cavendish Square shopping mall. As I mentioned, it started out as more of a “Cape Town bucket list,” but quickly broadened in scope.

I also read a lot of other people’s 30 by 30 lists, and they left a bad taste in my mouth. Googling “30×30 list” is like lifting up a blogging rock and seeings hundreds of icky lifestyle blogs skitter away. Like I said when I put up my 30×300 list for the USA, I worry this exercise is “self-indulgent in the bad way.”

And yet, I’m still posting this list of thirty things I hope to do before I turn 30, which is incidentally, about three weeks before our visas expire and we theoretically leave South Africa for the United States.

So here’s thirty things I hope to do or accomplish before I turn 30. Some items are designed to make me a better person, but some are actively opposed to that pursuit. Some are to suck the marrow out of Cape Town, and some are irrelevant to living in Africa. Some are obnoxiously bougie. Some are overreaches.

I still hope I do every one.

1. Do a power hour with champagne.
2. Attempt to surf.
3. Get a bar outside the USA (not necessarily in South Africa) to chant “USA! USA!”
4. Go to Asia and/or Australia.
5. Swim in the Indian Ocean.
6. Visit another major city in Africa.
7. Visit one of the townships in South Africa.
8. Learn the name of at least one person on the security staff of our building.
9. Smoke a Cuban cigar.
10. Make a South African friend.
11. See the penguins on the beach!
12. Get paid to write something, or at least take serious steps in the direction of making money off of my writing.
13. Write a complete work of fiction (comedy sketches do not count).
14. Develop a tolerable fake UK/ZA accent.
15. Learn how to say something in Xhosa. [Prerequisite: learn how to pronounce the actual word Xhosa at least as well as I can pronounce my sister's last name, which is to say, not very.]
16. Understand rugby at least as well as I understand American football, which is to say, well enough to explain roughly 60% of what is going on to Collin.
17. See a live rugby or soccer match.
18. Read one of those really long classic novels that I’ve never read. Maybe I, Claudius if that is long enough.
19. See a South African film or play.
20. Paint the view from our balcony.
21. Climb all the way to the top of Lion’s Head.
22. Ride the cable car to the top of Table Mountain.
23. Perform improv comedy.
24. Successfully cook risotto.
25. Train for a marathon. I don’t have to run it before I’m 30, but it needs to be on the horizon.
26. Have sex outdoors. Our balcony counts.
27. Memorize the names of all the Vice Presidents and who they served under. This has been on my to-do list since HIGH SCHOOL. The time has come.
28. Buy something I wear or use regularly and/or a well-received gift from one of the street vendors in/around Greenmarket Square.
29. Eat at one of Reuben Riffel’s restaurants. DAMN YOU, ROBERTSON’S ADS, YOU’VE GOTTEN TO ME!
30. Be comfortable with the metric system, but still default to our backwards imperial measurements. FAHRENHEIT FOREVER!



  2. Have played rugby extensively – happy to help with 16. It’s really not that bad (and fun)! I also did some googling and it looks like social touch rugby (‘for men and women of all ages’) is available in Cape Town! It could be really fun (and it does not involve injury) and could help with making a friend as well…

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  4. Robin,
    I played rugby for 15 years here in the states…. If you are serious about learning about the game, I would be happy to send you some “rugby for dummies” type information. Hope you are getting acclimated and love to you and Collin… Uncle Paul and Aunt Marilyn

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