Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The other night a couple of us decided to go to Camps Bay to see this band Goldfish that was supposed to be huge in South Africa. On the way there, we had the most ridiculous taxi experience of all time. This guy, who casually referred to himself as “the Gingerbread Man”, started out harmlessly funny, joking about having 11 kids and not knowing their names. He then transitioned into describing his former gang life robbing people on the trains. Eventually, the Gingerbread Man was telling us stories about how he kicked a bunch of drunk girls out of his cab at 2 am and how he elbowed a guy in the face for “touching his steering wheel.” The climax came when he was talking about how he once considered suicide, joking that “there was a first time for everything” as he swerved dangerously around the curving side rows of Camps Bay. Luckily, we survived and when he told us to “get the fuck out of his cab,” we literarily leapt out. The party was a bit too malibuish for us, so we decided to go to Green Point (in Cape Town), where there was a jazz club. These musicians were absolutely incredible. It was some of the best jazz I have ever heard, and you could really see how much fun everyone in the group was having. Our next taxi driver was a happy improvement from the Gman. His name was Ishmael, nicknamed Ish by us, and he spend a lot of time talking about politics and how we wasn’t going to vote because the ANC party (the one virtually responsible for freeing the country from apartheid) was going to win. Apparently the party, with its rising power, has been corrupting and side parties have formed as a result.

Yesterday we took the minibus into Cape Town. This is the most absurd form of transportation I have ever experienced, It is 5 rand (50 cents) and the way it works is they drive down the main roads hooting and whistling at people. People jump in (they can squeeze about 12-15 people inside) and you get out whenever they stop near your destination. Apparently it is supposed to be dangerous if you aren’t careful, so you have to go with a big group and make sure there are women inside so you know it’s not a scam. Cape Town is bustling during the day. There is SO much going on, and for a newcomer without a map it is difficult to navigate. The streets are sprawling and illogical. We walked past markets, restaurants, and more, constantly asking people for directions. Luckily people here are very very friendly, so asking for directions is pretty easy. We had lunch at a restaurant in Bo Kaap, a hilly Indian neighborhood. It was awesome because it was at the top of a hill and you could see the whole city and harbor from the top. The neighborhood is really interesting. All the houses are adobe looking and are painted with bright, vibrant colors. Apparently this was how the Indians who lived there could identify their houses because they couldn’t read. After that we walked along Long Steet and ran into our friend Silas from Coffee Bay (the guy is everywhere!). We stopped by Long Steet Backpackers and met this really cool guy who gave us advice on the Garden Route and wine tours and shark diving. We are taking a bike and wine tasting tour tomorrow, which is going to be so much fun.

So far, things have been great. South Africa, though, is a different place, and I notice little things all the time. At dinner last night, I was listening t o a couple gay South African students talk about how homosexuality is very repressed in the country, and how you have to be very careful about flaunting it. Also, things seem pretty segregated. In some areas there is a mix, but in the wealthier areas the people are noticeable whiter. I have been fighting against my own inner prejudices here, and sometimes feel ashamed when I get nervous if a poorer African person walks by. This is something that I need to overcome if I really want to learn about this country and its people.

Communication has been difficult. We have wireless in our rooms but it is spotty and expensive. I am sorry that I haven’t been able to talk to everyone as much! I miss my family a lot, and my friends, and my Em, and I wish there was a better way to communicate. But I will have to adjust. It will just take time. Right now I am going to Camps Bay because it is blisteringly hot. Bye!


  1. Wow so many cool things there!!! I wish so badly I could come and see all the colors and the scenery. And I cant believe your cab driver! I would have been like, hahaha, you were a part of a gang, oh thats cool because my dads a mafia boss and eats knives for breakfast. and see what he says then. ok i wouldnt have the guts to say it...but still, could have been intersting to mess with him. I miss you!!! And I love you so. Have fun on the wine and bike tour, sounds fantastic! P.S have you read the book Ishmael?

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  3. ah its a crazy, super deep, really interesting book. its really hard to finish but even reading some of it is worth it! to give you a clue as to how strange it is, its from the perspective of a talking gorilla. you should check it out!