Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I am alive, I swear. Somehow updating my blog just didn't seem like a huge priority during the first semester of law school, which is probably a pity. I'm sure I'll want to look back and see what things were like, but it was also an insanely busy period.

I mostly just wanted to send out into the ether my memories of a wonderful day in London, yesterday. I've been here almost two weeks, although it seems like much longer, and unfortunately head back to the States for the new semester in just a few days.

Anyway, yesterday started with the longest line that I've ever seen at the National for day seats. By the time I got to the counter (after an hour in line, only 20 minutes of that in line before they opened the doors), there was standing room only for all six shows (3 evening, 3 matinee). So, I settled in to do case briefings for our first week back and checked in with the box office before lunch. I snagged one ticket then, but was able to exchange it for two seats together after lunch. They were wonderful! Full price, but alas. Center and about 10 rows back, which was amazing, since we both really wanted to see August: Osage County. It's pretty easy to see why it won the Tony and I lurve whole house sets. Which prompted Ian and I to recount how many complete house sets we'd seen at the National (we think three: Rafta, Rafta; The Rose Tattoo, and this one).

For lunch, I caught the bus to my old bus stop and had pie. DEAR GOD, THAT IS AMAZING PIE. It was also lovely to remember all the friends who I took to have pie there when they came to visit me in London. I realized later that I'd forgotten to look for the pie shop's blue plaque, but they may be all the excuse I need to go back again for more. PIE! I don't know what I expected, but Tower Bridge Road has barely changed in the 18 months since I left. It was a bit odd, but comforting, too. A big part of me just wanted to slip right back in to the life that I left here. But, someday....

I had a lovely bimble back up Bermondsey Street (again, few changes), through Borough Market (as wonderful as I remember), and along the Thames. It was lovely, but I really do miss living here. Capitol Hill is great and all, but it just can't compete with Southwark. I think that I'd like to find a way to move back to the neighborhood when I come back to London, whenever that is. After I picked up tickets, I walked over to the LSE to pick up a book that I wanted and bimbled back to finish my homework, read a bit, have some dinner, and meet the Boy a bit before curtain.

Play was great. I'm not sure that the actors themselves weren't replaceable, although they were wonderful, but they weren't...memorable. The play was the strong thing here and the Boy later remarked that the mid-play dining room scene was the best piece of theatre that he'd seen since the big speech in Blackbird. I'm fairly inclined to agree with him. It was a really long play (two intermissions), but until the last five minutes (I think they could have trimmed a scene or two right at the very end), I was absolutely unaware at the passage of time. So, yes, if you have time, go see August: Osage County at the National.

And I think that's all from me; I need to get ready for the day and go to do some shopping. :-)

Monday, August 04, 2008

I don't know when this blog turned in to a place for me to have random thoughts, but here's another one.

I'm currently leafing through the latest People magazine (shut up!) and reading about the new Jolie/Pitt twins. And I wonder a) if the twins were born in France in order to make it easier for their parents/siblings to get EU citizenship? (not that I have any real understand of French citizenship law) and b) if I'm the only one who looks at that crowd and wonders what kind of passport/immigration fun you could have in that family. Eight people, six nationalities (unless any of the kids have been natzed).

I'm off to England tomorrow!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy thoughts!

1) I TOTALLY have the chairs from the cafe where the women have brunch at least once an episode on Sex and the City. Ikea. Who else? (Is it sad that I know the product line that well?)

2) Tacky DC souvenirs. I love those shops in Union Station. Tonight, also, I found Mints for Obama (tagline: Peppermints we can believe in). Hilarious!

3) The fact that the Boy, the Boy's brother and I are all APPALLED that his parents would buy an All Blacks onesie for the impending grandchild and that we've been dispatched to Twickenham to supplement the wardrobe of England's newest supporter (to be; he/she's not here yet). I'm very excited, because I'm always wanting to buy the cute stuff for my nephews, but it wouldn't really mean much to their parents.

4) Having coffee with a friend.

5) My new Brookstone blanket (50% off!). SO SOFT and big enough for my whole bed! Cowering under my special, but twin-sized, fleece blanket was a bit strange on a queen-sized bed. Now it will just have to be special in the living room.

6) Being almost done with work (tomorrow!).

7) Going to England sooooooon. And seeing Boy and so many friends.

8) Lists.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My friend read my last post and proclaimed: "It's like you're a poster child for Stuff White People Like."

I'd also like to discuss my unhealthy habits with craigslist. Is it normal to keep looking for apartments, even after you've gotten one? Why do I compulsively check the Arts & Crafts page, even though it serves as a daily reminder that a lot of people own a lot of tacky crap (and all seem to need to get rid of it because they're "moving abroad")? Seriously...I've found some awesome stuff, but they're diamonds among some pretty rough stuff. I'd take myself to task for scouting the furniture ads, but I really am looking to upgrade my loveseat. More importantly, is craigslist a thing white people like? Am I living up to my reputation?

Ok, after an Ikea flatpack filled evening, I'm heading to be. Got to be up in time for my 20 minute walk of a commute. :-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New neighborhood

Ok, time for my more or less monthly post: but OMG! I know that I'm a total yuppie, but I LOVE my new neighborhood. I just moved to Capitol Hill and have this adorable little basement (English garden, if we're being posh) apartment. The GULC (that's the Georgetown University Law Center) campus is a few blocks down Massachusetts from Union Station (and not, it must be noted, in Georgetown), so the whole point in moving here is to be less than a 20 minute walk from school. But, I love that I've got two coffee shops, two yoga studios, a public library, several parks, and lots of restaurants all nearby. Even my tiny corner convenience stores sells couscous and three kinds of organic milk. I'm a happy, little camper.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Well, it seems like the answer to the title question of this blog is that Joyce goes to Georgetown. Which is awesome. I got accepted off the waiting list last week and couldn't have been more excited. Accepting the offer and withdrawing from Northwestern was kind of a no-brainer, but really only because I'd been asking myself "what if I get off the waitlist at Georgetown?" for several months. In the end, the only thing that really, really mattered was the international law curriculum. It's a major, major thing at GT (we have our own library and building) and not so big at NU (I wasn't sure how I was going to find enough classes that even interested me). Chicago would have been awesome, but I'm really rather relieved not to have to move across the country. Now I just have to find a new place to live, so if anyone knows of anything on Capitol Hill within easy walking distance of Union Station, just let me know!

That's the major news for now. I've been keeping busy with stamp club meetings and ushered at the theatre on Friday. Last weekend was the major stamp show for DC and I spent two days out in the suburbs somewhere. It was fun, although I didn't find a ton of stuff for my new 1980s/90s inflation-era Yugoslavia collection. That's been coming from e-bay for the most part and I'm up to 6 covers! (Soon to be expanded by 35 thanks to a massive lot.)

I dunno, I really suck at updating, but I'll be keeping the blog going. Maybe law school will spark me to write more often? We can hope!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I officially suck at blogging

I'm really sorry! I'm not good at this anymore! But, I've got something to talk about now....

So, today was the last event for "Passport DC", which has been a three-week celebration of embassy-ness and DC's international flavor. Two weeks ago was EU Open House day and today was "rest of the world." Plus, I took time off of work yesterday to go to the Russian Embassy. Both days were really long and involved a TON of walking and waiting in lines, but were absolutely fantastic and definitely worth needing a good soak in the tub to make my legs feel better. Is it a coincidence that I passed out in naps both times? Probably not....

Both days involved a LOT of turn-of-of-the-century mansions on and around Dupont Circle and Massachusetts Avenue (which isn't called Embassy Row for nothing). Some were really surprising, like the ultra-modern Italian Embassy, one of the ones I definitely expected to be old. The British Embassy is a MASSIVE compound and, although they only opened one room, definitely won the "free stuff" battle and set a really high bar for everyone else (they were our first stop on EU Day). Even better was me trying to keep a straight face when Her Majesty's Representative spoke and told us how much Britain loved being European. I think he was trying to illustrate their position as a bridge between the US & the EU, but it was kind of funny. Also quite popular were the several different kinds of Scotch that were being served at 10am. And my new British Council flip-flops (I know, I Those rock. Also, the staff all looked rather uncomfortable in specially printed t-shirts with a MASSIVE Union Jack on them! Hee, hee.

Other embassies were a lot more traditional. The Irish Embassy was like that, where all the white people stood in line for AGES to celebrate their heritage and were rewarded with a piece of cheese each. Uh..... I was going to boycott the Cypriot embassy until I heard that they were serving massive platters of Halloumi cheese, one of my all time favorites! I had several pieces and laughed to myself about their promotional materials, i.e. "The Myth about the Isolation of North Cyprus." I brought that one home, but haven't looked through it. Also awesome: the number of different materials designed to explain the EU to children/dummies/Americans (same things, right?), which are EXACTLY what I wanted for my EU class at Earlham several years ago. Win!

There was more of that today, actually, where there was a major focus on South and Central America. The Peruvian embassy and the Colombian residence, especially, were incredibly maintained/restored mansions. Wow. There was a real tendency everywhere to mix modern art with the old houses and we learned that the Colombians fly in fresh Colombian roses every week for the floral arrangements. The Peruvian embassy was a special treat because they took small groups upstairs to see the Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission's offices. The tour guide was their press secretary and he was great. On both this tour and the one of the Venezuelan residence (a purpose-built art deco mansion), I definitely learned more about the countries than I'd previously known (although I later proved just how much Paddington Bear trivia I know with a detailed history of his pedigree).

And, today, there were quite a few modern embassies, mostly clustered up around Van Ness on the edge of the UDC campus. Pakistan definitely won my prize for "architecture that reflects the country" with this amazing modern mosque/Islamic/Mahal blend. It's only three years old and VERY modern, but with windows that are styled to look traditional, with the points, and loads of tile work (that's not really tile, but maybe?). BEAUTIFUL! I totally want to go (although that was kind of the theme of the day, much more than for EU day). Bangladesh had great food and I now know how really good Ethiopian coffee is. Ghana was SO DECKED OUT in flag goodness for their 50th anniversary celebration and someone at Nigeria forgot that they'd signed up, I think (TIA! Also, snerk). Oh, and Australia opened the big open entry space in their embassy, which has a model of the Southern night sky on the ceiling. They were doing wine tastings (yum), had a fantastic digeredoo performer and a very nice photo exhibition commemorating Australian/American cooperation on the Western front in WWI.

The day was all capped off by finding a Peruvian restaurant (it sounded so good when described at the embassy!) courtesy of google maps on my phone (BEST. THING. EVAR!). We tried the traditional cocktail (Pisco Sour) and had an incredible dinner, all for fairly reasonable prices (cocktail, an appetizer & half an entree for bang on $25/each), sitting outside in the perfect weather. Mmmmm. The restaurant was INTI Peruvian Restaurant and it's roughly at S & 18th in Dupont. Lovely day. I'm glad that I'm finally enjoying things about DC, especially since the move to Chicago in the fall currently seems inevitable.

Monday, April 14, 2008

OMG, my wee Muppetkins is going to LSE!

This is just one big w0000000t shout out to my Muppet, who is one of my most awesome Earlham friends. We bonded over a mutual love for England and I remember he was one of the most excited people when I got in to LSE. AND NOW HE'S JUST BEEN ACCEPTED TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAM, TOO!!! Yeah, that's two of us on Welling's tally and I bet she'll be over the moon when she finds out. OMG, jealous, but Muppet totally deserves it and I'm super, duper proud of him. Eish! I'm going to have to try and hook him up with the LIMUN crew! :-)

So, some dorktastic photos:
IMG_0575 IMG_0418

Friday, March 28, 2008

Signs that you know too much about weird sports....

1) watch an American production of "The History Boys" while mentally critiquing their scene change rugby "matches" (no doubt thrown in only at the beginning so we all remembered that it was supposed to be set in England, unless it was supposed to be foreshadowing for "Pass it on boys, pass it on" at the end of the play). SHOCKING attempt at a line-out and we won't even mention that the ball came the wrong way out of that ruck. Otherwise, generally decent job with the accents (although the "dumb boy" who was supposed to have the REALLY thick Northern one was really bad and unfortunately it's an accent that I'm fairly familiar with...despite the fact that my Boy is quite a clever Northerner) and pretty bad set, more evocative of a posh, modern, wood-paneled office than a Northern grammar school in the 1980s. Sometimes they got the timing of the punchlines wrong, which I think was a difference in the way Americans and Brits phrase things, and there were a fair number of jokes that went over people's heads. I don't think the audience understood that it was a comedy until the second act. And, of course, no one thought that the Holocaust or fondling themes were meant to be amusing. But that all sounds more critical than I mean to be: ultimately, I think it's a play that works wonderfully in an intimate space and tonight was a treat. Did I mention that it was free because I was an usher. You can bet that I'm doing that again!

2)'re watching "Becoming Jane" because you're a sap for period dramas and as Jane Austin and James McAvoy face off on the cricket pitch you think to yourself "ooooh, she's really going to catch it now; look how far back he's gone for the run up! Fast bowl coming up!" I think the Boy can take SOLE credit for that particular bit of dorkiness, since he made me go to the cricket in South Africa. Go Proteas!

3) (thought of one more, also related to "The History Boys") are really, really amused that the actor being Damon (the cool one who everyone seems to be in love with) decided that his "cool" hairstyle meant evoking the spirit of Shalk Burger. And we already know my opinion on Afrikaaner/Springbok coiffure choices, don't we class?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

OMG, two posts in one night?!

I would like to add to Lindsay's collection of Balkan graffiti with my own:

Me in Prishtina

That's me on Ruga Bill Clinton and a bit of graffiti which rhymes in English (and though I'm only two lessons into my Albanian tapes, I don't think it does in it's original language): No Negotiation/Self-Determination.

I've been sad to read about everything happening in Mitrovica, but that's where things were mostly likely to turn sour. I wish we'd had a chance to visit last summer, but it probably came at the expense of the side trip to Macedonia, which I also adored. It's so frustrating!

One other quick Kosovo note, which amused me to no end...did/does anyone else pick up on the subtext in this statement by Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, responding to a question about the embassy attacks:
"Well, obviously, some of the actions of Serbia have been deeply disturbing. The riots in Belgrade, the attacks on a number of Embassies were outrageous and unacceptable. This is a terrible thing. There have been various provocations in North. This sort of thing was to be expected. I think the Kosovar leadership has responded to these provocations with, frankly, a maturity which vindicates the decision of the United States and two thirds of the European Union members to recognize it. And I think with time, and as Kosovo develops, these problems will work out slowly, but I think they will."

Obama on Race

I just watched today's Obama speech on race and I have to say it was pretty impressive. It was more interesting than American Idol, which I turned off when I realized that this was one that I had to watch straight through and not during the (long and frequent) commercials.

I kind of feel like I've just watched a really good episode of West Wing, like those times when I can hear good writing happening in my head and my fingers try to keep up.

But I think Obama's message was fantastic. I agree wholeheartedly that this election should stop being about race, because what my experience in South Africa taught me is that Americans have so much in common, even when they don't realize it. I don't want to denigrate South Africans by saying that they're not like Americans (because ultimately we're all human) or pretend that I completely understand the African-American experience, but the truth is that we watch the same tv, DO have many of the same problems and hopes (as Obama pointed out so eloquently), are governed under the same set of laws and by the same people, share a language, and learned many of the same things in school. And I wish more people realized that and would focus on our similarities, rather than our differences, as Sen. Obama did this morning.

His remarks reminded me of one of the things we learned about in South Africa, but so often struggled to integrate into our lives: Ubuntu. As many of you know, it's the concept that "I am, because we are." And realizing that we MUST recognize our overwhelming commonalities, rather than our differences when tackling the problems that almost every American worries about, the economy, education, health care, and foreign policy, seems to me like our own American Ubuntu.

It was great.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

I have a better sense now of what might be happening in my life, come the fall. I got in to Northwestern, which I never expected and which I have been over the moon about since Thursday. It's a wonderful, wonderful school with an atmosphere (supposedly) that would be as close to Earlham as I'm going to get in a law school and a human rights program that is very much oriented towards matters of transitional justice, one of my personal passions and interests. Plus, I love Chicago and would like to be back in the midwest.

None of this is final. I'm still waiting to hear from another school, but I am also starting to stress about moving (far more than I should for an event that's five months away)!

I would also like to congratulate myself on doing some ironing today and found myself thinking that if I wanted to iron, I should have stayed in South Africa!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Well, my excitement for the morning has passed. I woke up to find my cell phone service cut off and, upon further inquiries, that I owed almost $400.

After paying enough to get my service back, I was able to investigate my online bill. Seems like the main problem was that I was being charged $1.49/minute for my calls to the UK instead of the better $0.08 rate that I pay a little bit extra to receive. And, since that's the difference between $8 and $150 for my recent calls, it was dramatic. Customer service was great and fixed everything right away.

So, yay for AT&T and your service (although I may be shouting about a reactivation fee if I see one, for the bill that I never received)!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happy (almost) Birth-day, Kosova

God, I can't believe that it's finally happening. For years and years, I've been teasing my dear, favorite Kosovar, asking him when his wee, little fake country was going to get it's independence and today (because it's already 5 am in Prishtina), it probably is. For reals. And I know it's not my country, but I feel immense pride on Behar's behalf and I am so, so glad that he and a whole lot of other people will no longer be stateless (de facto, not de jurie, of course). I'm happy that he'll have a real passport and that Kosova will be a real place on the map, and that it'll have the might of the EU behind it and helping it grow.

Kosova was so beautiful when we visited last summer. It seemed like a place that was so looking forward to the future, but one that needs someone to help plan and control the explosive growth that is taking place. I hope that the beautiful, forested mountains won't go the way of Macedonia's (away, in other words). I hope that Kosovars can honor their past and their dead and celebrate their freedom in ways that don't threaten the beautiful and sacred places and the lives and safety of Behar, his friends and family and everyone else.

I have a special hope that the Serbian Orthodox monasteries will be alright. Especially Decani, which was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever visited (although the monks were creepy). I felt honored to be there, but sad knowing that I could only visit because of my foreign passport. Behar would never have been able to go, but for a bit of luck when the NATO troops accepted his US driver's license as ID.

But, anyway, well done Kosova and enjoy your independence. You've suffered for it and been in limbo for so many years, while the international community argued over your fate. Also: do you guys get to be in Eurovision now? Because that would make me super happy! Happy Birthday!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Flatpack Princess

I would like to admit a secret love for the Ikea flat pack. For some reason, their directions and I just understand each other. I can get in the zone and hours go by while I insert wooden pegs and tighten screws with the little wands. I'm just sad that I have very little furniture left to assemble in my new place. I would also like to volunteer my mad Ikea skillz to my friends.

All this is by way of saying that I finally have a bed and a mattress! After a call to customer service to have the directions e-mailed (they'd been left out of the box) and a trip to the store to buy the midbeam support that I'd forgotten, it was done. And so I got to sleep on a real bed for the first time in several weeks. Awesome.

I'm also looking forward to today, because of the chance to see lots and lots of friends, some from the stamp collecting world and others from LSE. Tomorrow's the rugby and I've just gotten word that my wonderful, wonderful Boy has booked his early-April plane ticket!

Plus, I am officially admitted to American's law school (there was some mix-up that involved my notification being sent to South Africa)! w00t!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Washington Gas Sucks

I am so incredibly steamed right now. After making me go in to see the gas company customer service people in person (which they then told me was completely unnecessary), we scheduled the installation of my gas meter for this morning between 7 and 12. After hauling myself out of bed to get dressed after being up with election returns until 2, I've just waited and waited. I even put a note downstairs on the call box with my cell phone number, since the box doesn't work (probably because I don't have a phone).

Finally, at 12:45, I call the same people who made me go to the office in person and they explain that the technician had been there at 11 and left a note on the glass door. I go downstairs and there's no note. I walk up and down the sidewalk, checking the flowerbeds and there's no note. There was no courtesy call, as there was supposed to have been. I think the chumps saw that my street was under some construction (replacing lead pipes, I think, which seems like a noble undertaking) and decided not to bother. So, now, the only option is to reschedule for "between 8 and 5 tomorrow," which having wasted today already, I'm rather upset about.

So, while there aren't any other options, I would like to alert the world to the fact that Washington Gas sucks and has terrible customer service. I hate monopolies, 'cause I'd sooooo take my business somewhere else.

The great irony of all this is that I HAVE gas already (apparently for free) and the gas company seemed shocked as hell about it. Muppets.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Life in the US

I was talking to the Boy tonight and giggling gleefully about all the craaaaazy new contraptions I’ve discovered upon living, really living, in the US for the first time in two and a half years. And now, I understand why people think this is the land of milk and honey: we have everything! And it’s moderately priced (as long as I don’t multiply prices by 7 to put them into rand)!

My new apartment, while located ages from a metro station and in an amenity-less “emerging” neighborhood, has enough gadgets to keep me SUCH a happy bunny. I have a dryer!!! Which means that for the first time in ages I have my very own, completely dry fluffy, big towels! This might seem like a little thing, but after London, where nothing ever dries properly, and South Africa, where I used those horrible travel towels the whole time (because buying proper ones seemed like an extravagance), it feels like the world’s biggest luxury. And, although I can’t imagine needing it for just one person, I have a dishwasher and A MICROWAVE (we didn’t have one in London, so I’m kind of in awe of not needing to spend 10 minutes heating up some soup and needing to wash the pot afterwards). OMG.

This last thing’s the best though. The Boy was thoroughly amused and a bit patronizing about it, but I refuse to be deterred. So, I have two window units, one in the bedroom and one in the main room that are both heaters and air conditioners (A/C! Be still my heart!). And they operate by REMOTE CONTROL!!! So, I have this plan to wake up with my alarm, turn on the heat, push the snooze button, then get up when the heater’s had 10 minutes to take the frost off. Pure luxury. Only in America.

This is all, of course, in addition to my tendency to wander around stores, particularly the grocery store, in a daze wondering where all of this came from and why on earth we need so much of it. In the recent past, I may have had a short freak-out over the need for 10 ft. of shelving devoted solely to pickles. Seriously?! I’ve also been acting like a bit of a n00b, as I bumble my way around DC and the metropolitan area. What’s startling is how willing people are to help and how many strangers strike up conversations with me.

It’s one of the things I’ve noticed about myself since I got back from the Peace Corps: I feel much more willing to strike out without a plan or directions. And, more importantly, I’m willing to have conversations with perfect strangers. It was always awkward in SA and still is (a bit), but I feel more willing to be open and more willing to hear their stories (and met some very cool people as a result). I feel more confident in places that probably would have sketched me out before. I think this will sound weird, but I feel even more comfortable around persons of color than ever before. I think living in South Africa made me super, super aware that despite differences, people who live in the United States have more in common than we often realize. And for some reason, I seem to have a bit of serious street cred, because I lived in Africa.

I do, however, have to fight the urge to call every older woman, especially the African-American ones, I meet “ma’. I think that might get misinterpreted. And, after three weeks, I’m finally ready to cut back on the root beer. Hurrah!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Oh, er, right. I'm not in South Africa or the Peace Corps anymore. I moved to DC two days ago and am starting a new job very soon. I also couldn't feel happier about my decision to leave.

And, yes, I'm changing the name of the blog again.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Update from the road

Well, we're two days out of Cape Town now and it's been fantastic. We've got a tiny white [Boy: actually it's silver] Toyota that the Boy's been driving through some very beautiful and dramatic countryside. (The Boy is doing all of the driving because I sort of forgot that I needed to have my driver's license with me, which actually worked out well because they only had manuals at the rental place at the time.) His review: "It goes like a three-legged sheep and handles like a whale." (We were on a winding, fun mountain pass at the time, through the vineyards, reflecting on how much it looked like a place where Top Gear would film.) It also has the turn signal stick on the right side, instead of the left, so the windows were getting washed with astonishing frequency for a while [Boy: when I rule the world all cars will be laid out the same, but to be fair the windscreen is now sparkling].

We stayed last night in Swellendam and drove to Cape Agulhus, which is the southern-most point in Africa and the point which demarcates the boundary between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. It was strange to stand there and reflect on the continent that stood to my back. We were standing on the edge of a nice, quiet, prosperous, Afrikaans and English speaking (read: white) seaside town that wouldn't have been out of place in England if it were a little more densely populated and with more of what the Boy calls "tat" stores [Boy: it would have been about 10 degrees cooler as well]. And, yet, I was thinking about my village and Niger and what I've seen of Kenya & Tanzania: generally poor, black and very different than Europe and the US. I kind of felt that L'Agulhus (that's the town) would give the completely wrong impression to an alien who landed there and wanted to learn about Africa. But, that's South Africa for you: "the world in one country."

Today was the start of the Garden Route proper and we took the slow route through more mountains and the Little Karoo desert (not at all impressive because it looked just like the area that we did our pre-service training in, albeit with big mountains this time). It was really, really windy by the coast, so no swimming, but we did visit the Post Office tree, which has been used for sending mail since the early explorers [Boy: cue much squealing from the Girl Girl: he's just jealous of my "post office-dar"]. We'll pop back tomorrow so I can finally mail my postcards.

Oh, and I should mention the last few days in Cape Town. We went up Table Mountain, which had amazing views over the city and out to sea; bimbled over to see Parliament and the synagogue; and then spent the Boy's birthday going to the first day of the second South Africa-West Indies test match [Boy: cricket for any Americans or other aliens reading]. It wasn't bad, although I was very bored when things got slow in the session between lunch and tea [Boy: read as "I didn't understand the subtleties of an absorbing tussle and have an American attention span" Girl: but, he did promise me ice cream at the tea interval]. I was, however, infinitely amused by the family behind us with its grown-up children (my age?) who got progressively drunker as the day went on. By the end they were having a beer cup stacking contest with another family and were calling for the Proteas (SA's cricket team, named after a flower) to bring on Shalk Burger to bowl (read: pitch). (Burger was one of the heroes [Boy: villains] of the World Cup-winning rugby team, in case you have no idea why that was funny.) We continue to follow the match on the radio.

A few notes:

1) The Boy would like everyone to know that he did not only give me a bear for Christmas, but also the Doctor Who Season 3 DVDs. He thought I made him sound cheap (also read: Northern *grin*) in the last post.

2) I love that South Africans call avocado "avo." It denotes a fondness and familiarity with one's food that I don't think Americans generally have, although "mac 'n cheese" may be an exception.

3) Today's Afrikaans word of the day: spanspek = watermelon.

4) Mossel Bay is lovely. It's a very Victorian seaside town that hasn't gone downhill or too far towards tat. I like it a lot. And Swellendam has a million B&Bs and is home to what may be the only chatty English couple in history (even if we did stereotypically talk about the weather). My map reading skills are coming along [Boy: coming along being a relative term. Boy "left or right here?", Girl "err I don't know", Boy "make a decision!", Girl "err.... straight on?", Boy "that's not an option! bugger it! right it is", Girl (5 minutes later) *accusingly* "you've gone the wrong way"], but we're awfully glad that we bought a nice road atlas.

5) This road trip is turning out to be a lot of fun.