It’s seven o’clock on a crisp Cape morning. The tablecloth, freshly laundered, billows on the mountaintop and sudsy white horses prance in the bay. For the moment, the city’s attractions go unnoticed. Tourists dream under their hotel duvets, oblivious of the sights they’ll later be sighing over. And up here, on the concrete expanse above the railway station, the flea market trolley-pushers – their dreams long forgotten – look neither left nor right as they haul heavy loads to the site where stalls will spring to life in a matter of minutes.

There’s a sense of urgency in the air; an awareness that the city’s idling engine is about to roar into life. The focus of activity is the taxi rank, and as rush-hour approaches, the minibuses swing off the highway and race nose to tail to their pick-up points, announcing their arrival with hoots, hissing tyres and the thudding on-board music systems.

At this hour the sun is all style and no substance. It wipes a weak wash of colour over slabbed skyscrapers, softening the cityscape and buffing the queues of battered buses to a shine. Yet sweat trickles round the ears of the trolley-pushers as it would in the blazing heat. The route from the storage area to the flea market is pot-holed and set with obstacles: hurrying commuters with thoughts masked behind stony facades; awkward right-angled bends in the pavement; and blue plastic bins sprouting in pairs from poles that impede a trolley’s progress…


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