Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cape of Good Hope and Burkas

This is the Cape of Good Hope. To the mariners of yore, this very important geological feature meant that they could finally begin to steer their ships more East than South and meant they were close to the spice rich Indies (and right around the corner from fresh meat, beer, prostitutes, and Cape Town after a grueling two months at sea.) Cape Point is right behind, due South.

There were some Japanese tourists going crazy over this sign, probably 15 jostling to take turns. Speaking of tourists, I saw a Muslim family where the dad was taking a photo of his wife and son. The wife was in a full burka, imagine what all those vacation photos look like. Imagine when families whose women wear burkas get together to share vacation photos. Okay, I tried to take a photo, I know it's probably not the most appropriate thing to do but the guy is right behind the girl walking down the stairs. Really, think about all those vacation photos!

African dangers

look what you've done!

Cape Point

I went to Cape Point yesterday, the south west most part of Africa. It was windy as hell, here are a few pics. That top one is the point itself, taken from the lighthouse above.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Compound sitting and International TV

Jenna and I are house sitting for her somewhat well-to-do-friend for a week. There's an alarm on the house that will make your head explode if it goes off so we have to be careful not to accidentally press a button on the key chain that turns on the perimeter laser beams.

Like all the houses here, there are bars on every window and external barred doors outside the wooden doors. Here, those external bars are pad locked. So you can imagine what the key chain looks like for this house. I feel like a janitor.

I've been watching satelite TV. It's interesting to watch the news on Euronews, BBC and Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is the only independent middle east news station (as oppossed to be ran by a specific government.) It got a lot of attention for airing comments by Osama bin Laden after 9/11. There are journalists from all over the world represented at the station including American and British reporters. Last night, we watched a program about the privatization of cities in Atlanta. There are suburbs that have actually seceded from Fulton County, Georgia and are being ran by a Multinational Corporation. The problem is that the tax revenue generated within the new city limits doesn't go to the rest of the county thus crippling public services like hospitals and fire figghting (mainly in the poor, black areas.) It's really interesting in the time of corporations going bankrupt and collapsing. What if the corporation that runs your town collapes? There goes the sewer, power, garbage pick up, street repairs and everything else that a typical municipality takes care of.

Oh, wait. The corporation that runs these towns in Georgia is CH2M-Hill Inc. which is a Denver-based company specializing in full-service engineering, consulting, construction and operations, and just happens to be the major contractor for the U.S. in Iraq and Post-Katrina New Orleans. So I guess that corporation won't be going bankrupt soon.

Anyway, international TV is really interesting. We watched a Ghanian soap opera that looks like it was shot with a camcorder. There's also a station in Iraqi. Even though there are some interesting things, TV is still crap all around the world. Those international news stations still just have 30 second news stories and coverage of things like the making of the largest Ostrich sandwhich in the world.

Well, I guess I'll watch some more TV.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

bluegrass in So_Af

I was at a pub earlier and some White South Africans were playing bluegrass with really good, fake American accents. It's interesting to think of our own accents (we have one apparently). I was thinking about how bluegrass is one of the few truly American exports.

I think that we are very insular in America because we are so far removed from the rest of the world. If we all grew up in Europe, we would be a train ride from 3 or 4 different countries and distinct cultures. It's very easy for us to just assume that our way is the way even though we know intellectually that there's lot's of different ways of doing life (especially for those that have traveled.)

So, to be in Africa and see some South African guys playing bluegrass and local people considering a novelty (there were people recording it) makes me realize that we really are a part of the world culture and our culture can be just as foreign to others as Greek music, belly dancing or Sumo wrestling is to us.

Anyway, I don't even really like bluegrass, but it was nice to get out of the house. Jenna is from West Virginia and people go nuts for that stuff there, so it was nice for her to get a little of her hillbilly roots here in Africa.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

So_Af loves cell phones

Seriously, they're like currency. These are wooden cellphone keychains, huh? I've also seen in paintings of township scenes cellphone company billboards and stores included. There are also plenty of shops and stands around that sell accessories and "unlocking" services which is where you take the cell phone you just stole or robbed from an unsuspecting tourist.

Someone at TJ's tell Wayne I'm using one the phones he gave me to give to a mugger as a my cell phone. It doesn't work too well.

My south african cell phone number is 27 71 078 9159, in case anyone wants to give a shout out. Hey, it's only 25 cents a minute through skype to call So_AF!

I have a pay as you go plan, I buy airtime at grocery stores and punch a number in the phone to recharge it. This is also how people buy electricity and the internet is per mb so you can actually run out of electricity and internet. Fun!

So_Af loves Obama

Animal Money


Here's another interesting thing about So_Af. In the urban areas where there are a lot of cars, the homeless will stake out sections of parking space. When you come by to park they "help" you by standing between the parked car and your car (which is backing up) and guide you in. Then they want some money when you come back for "guarding" your car while you're away. Just think if the homeless of Portland got wind of this.

While on the subject of cars, I was looking through the car ads the other day and looking at the features you can get. Listed, was a "smash and grab application." This is a coating on the window that prevents it from being smashed open by people that come up to your car while stopped, smash your window and grab anything of interest.

Oh, plus cars are driven on the opposite side of the road (like Britain) which makes crossing a street (especially when there's turn outs) a little more adventurous.

This is a Ford, not unlike the Ford Rancheros of days of yore. This style of car is super popular here. They're everywhere.

I've seen five people on bikes the whole time I've been here. Boo hoo, my legs are shriveling up.