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.