i know i’m seriously behind on my writing. thing is, i’ve been a bit bummed out lately. it’s cold, i miss my friend in cairo, i miss my friends and family (esp.those of you who LAG, SERIOUSLY LAG responding to my feeble attempts at keeping in touch – you know who you are. now, HOLLA AT ME), it’s cold and i’m bundled up in everything i have that could possibly keep me warm and i’m very conflicted about the things i’ve seen here in south africa.
first off, south africa is still not the safest place on earth, thanks to apartheid and the years since then (it’s been 20 years!) of recovery therefrom and the current xenophobia battles. i was on an island in thailand when the sh*t hit the fan here with xenophobia. asylum seekers from zimbabwe camping outside of police stations, starving, getting sick, having no access to south africa’s “civilized” services and yet fearing return to their own country because they would (a) be killed or badly hurt by thugs, (b) find no work, (c) find their homes occupied by someone else and/or (d) find there is no food and that disease is sure to follow imminent starvation. there’s still quite a bit of crime – robberies, muggings, break-ins, etc. and it’s always advised you take extra care walking at night, especially alone, and so i’ve been limited in what i’ve been able to do at night, not wanting to take any chances out there. this repression is a big albeit necessary drag.
yeah, so south africa can be a bit of a downer which sort of put my otherwise joyous spirit a bit down on my dog. don’t get me wrong, i’ve met some incredible folks here and enjoyed some very good times touring around and seeing cheetahs, monkeys, whales, penguins, wine tasting, and shark cage diving (wow! a great white shark got THIS close to my fingers in the freezing cold cage – worth every shiver!). seeing the big cats and other critters in the wildlife parks and sanctuaries is also a double-edged sword. on the one hand, i LOVE seeing the beautiful animals up close. i appreciate their beauty and grace. i do, however, have issues with the cages they’re kept in. even though they’re well cared for and fed, keeping them locked up in these relatively small, confined areas is just not natural for them and when i see the lions pacing back and forth, the way they do at some zoos, you know they’re depressed and want nothing more than to be free back in the wild again. makes me sad to see them this way.
so, my mood is less than shining now.
what i’ve done since egypt? cape town – 1 week. ashanti lodge. RULES. spent a VERY cold week in a nice room in a dutch victorian hostel in moderate luxury (i had a bathroom and hot water shower and a heater, altho the heater left much to be desired). cape town was ok. long street is like the khao san road of south africa, so that was ok. sampled some game. next, hermanus where my man percy of percy tours hangs out. spent about 5 days there, touring around the area. percy and his gal partner ranelle (sorry if i spelled this wrong! yikes!) showed me a very good time both separately and together. hermanus was mellow and nice, but boy was it cold. i had a heatless semi-detatched bungalow that was very damp and very cold. oddly, i didn’t get sick again!
south africa has no public transport to speak of but for the Baz Bus which goes east west and west east once a day each way. because of their schedule and my lack of sufficient time to explore leisurely on the bus, i opted to rent a car and cruise eastward along the western cape. driving on the “wrong” side of the road and car proved challenging at first, but i have the hang of it now. drove through verdant valleys and farmland filled with ostrich and cows and sheep to oudtshoorn. to get there you have to go over a huge mountain range (the kind that kills all radio stations on the way through the passes) which then dumps you into another valley more empty and “african” than before. oudtshoorn has game parks and you can get just about anything made out of ostrich. what i got was a steak (good, a bit tough) and eggs (fluffy and lighter than regular chicken eggs, scrambled for b-fast). another shivering cold night spent with no heat.
visited more cheetahs being saved from the wild – according to the pros at these sanctuaries, the different types of cheetahs in the wild were spread so far out away from each other that they were forced to breed within their own species. this inbreeding was causing sterility and the species was rapidly dying out. they rescued as many different species as possible with the hope that they would breed together and expand the gene pool again in order to save the species. not sure if that’s happening, but they’re working on it. hopefully, they will be successful otherwise these african cheetahs will be extinct before you can say “RUN, CHEETAH, RUN”.
then, on southeast to the coastal town of knysna – a pleasant waterfront town; then plettenburg bay – another pleasant waterfront town; after that tsitsikamma bay, where i’ll check out some elephants (possibly), do a zip line adventure (maybe, if i can manage to go down it without pissing myself – there’s a pretty good possibility that i will do) then turn around and head back west to cape town. will have a couple nights there then fly over to a whole new ball of wax: east africa!
i had the good fortune of visiting monkeyland and the birds of eden parks here on the “garden route” along the southern cape. the former is a large enclosure containing capuchin, spider, vervet and a couple other kinds of monkeys, a bunch of ring tailed lemurs, a black limur and a fluffy white gibbon, all utterly unafraid of people (born in captivity all). you walk around in their forest and they jump around in the trees all around you and try to steal your car keys, sunglasses, and whatever isn’t attached to your person. they got one lady’s very expensive shades right when she walked in. i couldn’t help but laugh as i watched the very cheeky monkey cruise straight to the tops of all the trees with those nice shades in his mouth. serves you right, lady…next time read the sign and PUT YOUR GOODIES AWAY where these bandits can’t get at ‘em. doy!
that place was amazing and the critters very entertaining (and unlike the big cats, seemed pretty content to be there). julianne would’ve been in HEAVEN there. coffee, this post’s for you. hope it cheers ya up after the prior post about old clawsimodo.
the “birds of eden” park is the largest indoor free-roaming bird sanctuary in the world. although i’m not very much of a bird person, often preferring their predators one up the food chain – cats – these birds were fairly impressive. i spied about 2/3 of the birds listed in the guide which i think is pretty good considering i never know what to look for or, for that matter, where to look for these elusive feathered friends.
sadly, i will not be able to visit with my friends whom i met in phnom penh, belinda-jayne and peter, who are living in pretoria. our timing is just totally off and i guess pretoria is a good distance away from here. this bums me out too, but i am sincerely hoping our paths will cross again sometime, somewhere. i suppose i’ll just have to return to south africa at a time when they WILL be around! there’s a bunch of political hullabaloo going on up in pretoria right now too, so i’m not surprised they’re getting the hell outta there for a while.
i know i owe y’all more scoop on egypt and what went on there. that chapter is not going to be easy, short or without meaning. there is much more there than meets the eye and i will have to do a couple of drafts before posting to be sure i get it all down correctly, articulately and in chronological order. photos will help, so i’ll have to upload some of those too to aid in providing the best descriptions possible.
now, however, in plettenburg bay there is no internet place i can stay in for long nor where i can upload any photos, so this will have to wait for another day. that should give me time to create the egypt chapter too.
meanwhile, i’ve surpassed the 6 month mark and although everything’s still going well at home and out here on the road, and my health is 99% perfect, i do wonder how i would fare if i lived in a place like this. would i be bummed out all the time or is it just right now with this current mood? i would HAVE to make some friends, that’s for sure, because the solitude of late is irritating me more than i can express. perhaps the vastly dramatic, devoid of humanity and civilization seascape makes me more proportionately moody than the warm sun, sea and sensuousness of upper egypt or the southeast asian islands, places where i was a significantly happier blogger. to add insult to injury, i’m reading the biography of isak dinesen (a.k.a. karen blixen, the author of “out of africa”, a personal favorite) who was nothing less than an intellectual nihilist and depressed all the time, even within her own aristocratic african colonial experience. and she got an entire COMMUNITY named after her in mombasa after she returned to denmark! but then again, she met a perfectly hideous fate dying from complications from syphilis (she got it from her lousy, unfaithful HUSBAND). maybe i need to read that light-hearted comedy instead. maybe i’d better catch up on “hellovegetables.com” and “didntseeit.com”. that usually perks me up when i’m feeling craptacular.
fear not, dear readers, i’ll get over myself shortly and upcoming posts will be FUNNY and NUTTY, dammit! no more sadsack. no sirreee.
what’s up next: SAFARI. gorillas/lions/tigers/wildebeests/elands/dik-dik/hippos/rhinos/gazelle/zebra/giraffe…you know the africa drill.
“i had a farm in africa…”