Thursday, March 16, 2006

Homecoming

Well, it's my last day in Africa! I've been here for about six weeks now, and I can honestly say that I still have that little voice in my head saying, "Holy shit! I'm in Africa!"

This is a beautiful continent with a lot going for it. Nice people, a ton of natural resources, stunning landscape, a rich history. There are understandably a lot of problems here--we drove past miles and miles of shanty towns made up of discarded aluminum siding on the outskirts of Cape Town, a grim reminder of the vast inequality of South African society--plus there is the HIV/AIDS epidemic which I realized in all its shocking magnitude while working in Gabs. But at least in the places that I've traveled thus far, it's clear that they are on the right track. The end of apartheid. The Botswana government providing free HIV medications for all of its citizens that need it. Improving race relations. I'm going to follow with much greater interest now the progress of southern Africa because of this trip.

Yesterday's activities: rented a bicycle and drove all around the city. Checked out the "District Six" Museum, an homage to a once-vibrant neighborhood comprised by the African and coloured populations of Cape Town which was razed to the ground during the ugliness of the apartheid era. They're in the process of giving this land back to its previous owners, and they've set up a nice little museum to commemorate the families and businesses that had lived there. Also spent some time in the "Bo-Kaap" (the old Muslim area of the city) and ate some tasty roast chicken in a public park. I also foolishly set about biking up a mountain as a "short cut" back to the hotel from which my quadriceps are still burning...

Today was a lot more relaxed...we drove our Volkswagon Chico out to Wine Country and spent the day meandering through the beautiful mountains and vineyards that comprised the area just east of Cape Town. As the sole driver of manual transmission vehicles, I was unfortunately the designated driver for the day...but I am bringing home some excellent South African vintages that I picked up along the way.

I'll be back in the good ol' U.S. of A. on Saturday afternoon. Hope to see all of you soon!!!

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