Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A trip to South Africa...

I like the backpackers life. My friend Cheryl is one of those excellent planners who organizes the details of a trip well ahead of time so as to maximize every minute. I like these kind of people. They often see more of a place than a traveller like me. But packpackers tend to be last-minute planners and this serves one fantastic purpose: they end up exploring things one might not normally explore and have adventures with the most random and fascinating people. I love this. Yesterday as I stretched out my toes to bask in the warm sun along the Cape Town waterfront an ugly thought came to mind: "I have officially become a tourist and am no longer a resident of Zambia." I wanted to burst into tears and promptly made a list of all the things I love about Zambia. But it will break my heart to write it again, so instead, I will simply give you some words and pics about the last 2 weeks of my life...

I arrived in Johannesburg (lovingly referred to as Joburg)and after 3 short days, here is my wee little definition of the place: A massive edgy city where the elite minority live in electrified fences, tall walls, and hire security guards to protect their small enclaves from the outside world. It is a city steeped in fear where residents delicately trod on wounds of apartheid still gaping and bleeding, and yet, words of forgiveness and hope and a fierce pride follows quickly on its heels. I met wonderful people and while I choked on all kinds of culture shock (good roads, a variety of delish fast food, consistent electricity, AND drinkable tap water) I had a lovely time in hipster "Melville."

HIGHLIGHTS OF JOBURG: A Xlosa woman took me to her home in Soweto and gave me an excellent tour of the place and, a trip to this city is not complete without visiting the brilliant apartheid museum.

I then flew to Port Elizabeth: A darling coastal town that masks, fairly successfully, the radical socio-economic disparity that characterizes the place. I got to spend a week with my WONDERFUL friend Gharde (a friend from UMin in Seattle!!) and her very cool boyfriend Jaco. They introduced me to a world of Afrikaans as we visited beatiful Nysna and Tsitsikamma National Park. We stayed at a very cool backpackers place where we had a real "Braai" (Afrikaans for barbecue)--- mmm, delish!

HIGLIGHTS OF PORT ELIZABETH: Spending time with fabulous Gharde and her friends, getting a haircut for the first time in well over a year,zip-lining, eating biltong, and playing in the ocean.

And finally, sophisticated Cape Town. Only a city this beautiful would boast calililies for weeds. Springtime bursts from every rock crevice and mountain slope that surrounds this magnificent place and it luxuriously pulls up a blue ocean blanket filled with whales and Great White sharks, surfers and yachts. It is an exquisite, culturally fascinating place filled with startling racism, violence, and beauty.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM CAPETOWN: wine tour through Stellenbosch and Frankshoek, whale watching and laughing at the penguins at Boulder's beach with my darling German friend Udo, visiting Robben Island (where Mandela and others were imprisoned)and the District 6 museum. The trip was not complete without eating amazing food, hiking Lion's Head, enjoying the spectacular view from Table Mountain, visiting Kirstenbosch gardens, and lapping up sunsets with new friends. I've been trying to upload a vid of the cutest, most hilarious penguins, but it keeps failing, so forgive me for simply posting a lame pic (just doesn't do these guys justice)!

The following pics are some random shots from Table Mountain, in and around Cape Town, and one of Gharde searching for shells. I think she looks cute and about 10 years old in this pic. Don't even ask about the scarecrows--- just a wonderfully weird place in Stellenbosch!


Becky said...

Carmen, what beautiful photos and descriptions. I hope you are sucking the life out this adventure! Peace, girl!

Alissa Maxwell said...

Glorious! Sounds like you're doing mighty well without a minute by minute plan.

Sue Wright said...

Greetings from Louisville! Was wondering where in the world you were, dear Carmen.

~ wabi.zumai ~ said...

Hi Carmen !
nice pic from You and Udo !
And also the other pics, too, of course !!

(I´m a good friend of Udo)
He told me about your blogg.

Greetings from Germany


MyPE said...

Thanks for the Port Elizabeth plug. Sorry you missed the Red Location Apartheid Museum here in friendly PE, though.

Oh well, maybe next time.

Carmen Goetschius said...

Cool.... I have a comment from Germany! Greetings to you as well!