Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Meghan's Cederberg Experience Changes Her Forever

On Friday night, Meghan and I drove two hours north of Cape Town to stay at The Baths, a mineral hot spings near the town of Citrusdel. The main purpose of our trip - besides bathing outdoors in our own private mineral-water tub - was to witness some millenias old rock paintings done by the San peoples (the Bushmen from The Gods Must Be Crazy).

The rock painting we saw on Saturday is estimated to be only 1000 years old. Anthropologists are confused by the subject matter, for it was unusual to see men depicted parading along with elephants. Have a look.

The painting was near some amazing sandstone rock formations in the Cederberg Wilderness Park. We had to drive the last 60 km on a bumpy, dusty gravel road to reach the site of the painting and the caves, but it was definitely worth the trip.

Something must have happened to Meghan (perhaps when she crawled into this hole atop one of the caves) for ever since our return, she has become obsessed with photoshop modifying pictures of bald men she knows.

It started innocently enough with a remark that Vanessa's boyfriend reminds her of Lena's boyfriend, who kinda looks like our friend Dave. So she thought they belonged together in a picture, even though they've never met.

But now it has just gotten out of hand. I'm starting to worry.... She promised to cut down, but today I caught her making some edits to Grant.

Not to turn this into some X-Files conspiracy, but it appears that I have not escaped whatever curse has befallen Meghan. I found myself buying a stone carving of a bald man from a Zimbabwean refugee named McFortune Langa that I met on the street yesterday. We have nicknamed the statue "Langa" and he sits next to our laptop. When we find ourselves experiencing some Internet lagginess, we often turn to Langa, stroke his baldness lovingly, and find the bits immediate start to flow faster.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pride (In the Town of Cape)

Long Street was thick with Canadian interns last Friday, as Jess and Lena joined Meghan and me for a delicious traditional Kurdish dinner at Mesopotamia. This was the second visit for your Cape Couple to this particular restaurant. We had so much fun the first time that we didn't hesitate to recommend it to Jess and Lena.

Hubbly Bubbly, Where's Meghan?

Here we are sampling the flavoured tobacco shisha known on the menu as The Hubbly Bubbly. I was expecting buggle gum flavour, but it was fruity. A bong for desert is not something you see every day (ever?) in Canada.

Pop quiz: which of the four of us accepted the belly dancer's invitation to join her on stage?

Okay, that was an obvious one.

Jess, who you may remember from Meghan's pony trek through Lesotho, was in town for the Pride Festival. On Saturday we hung out in De Waterkant at the street party. There were angels, witches, Roman soldiers, bears, bulls, several Cleopatras... Meghan loved the costumes.

I got bored and pooped out by the time the official house band of Cape Town (Goldfish) appeared on stage. Or maybe I was sulking because none of the guys hit on me. My loss, as I missed out on this amazing sunset that Meghan captured while walking back to our apartment with Lena and Jess.

biggest reunion tour EVER!

They discovered me at home freaking out over the announced reunion tour of The Police, starting May 28th in Vancouver.

More recently, Meghan and I spent yesterday afternoon exploring Bo Kaap, the predominantly Mulsim neighbourhood of Cape Town. We visited the museum that explained how many of the original slaves imported by the Dutch colonists 300 years ago were from Indonesia and Malaysia, and that Islam became the religion of dissent. The neighbourhood is beautiful. Here's a typical street panorama.

Bo Kaap is nestled into Signal Hill. Meghan and I climbed to the top where the noon gun is located. Apparently they fire this cannon at noon every day, but I have never noticed. Here is Meghan sporting her newly acquired sunglasses.

Now for the requisite history lesson. It turns out that cannon between Meghan's legs is over 200 years old. The miracles of modern genomics willing, that is a sentence I hope to one day revisit.

Holy crap, where did these donkeys come from?

The only wildlife I have seen so far, and it turns out to be domesticated farm animals grazing on Signal Hill.

There is a Canadian Film Festival in full swing right now at the Labia Theater. Last night we entertained at the Labia ("sounds like my last date," quipped Dave) and caught the charming Quebecois film "Miss Meteo". On Monday we saw the documentary "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey", which made me think that Meghan should make documentaries. Tonight we are going to see live dinner theater at the Old Zoo, which is literally an old zoo that was built on the former Rhodes estate (yes, that Rhodes).

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 12, 2007

669 Metres Above Sea Level

This weekend was rather coldish and stormy for summer time weather in Africa, so we made the best of it and went to the Iziko South African Museum. This museum was a bit funny as some of the displays looked half finished and lacked proper labelling and/or lighting. There was some great footage of a freaky looking San woman dancing herself into a trance by a bonfire. She looked a bit like an alien. The museum is free every Saturday so we will have to return to see the rest of it and also see a show at the adjoining planetarium. It will be great to have a lesson on the constellations of the southern hemisphere.

This is a photo taken of the Great Synagogue from the Company Gardens. Devil's Peak is shrouded in clouds in the background. The Company Gardens are the central greenspace for Cape Town. It was originally the Dutch East India Trading Company's Gardens planted to grow food for the first Dutch settlers in the Cape.

On Sunday Rusell and I mosied up Lion's Head which offers gorgeous panoramas of the city, the ocean, beaches and Robben Island (which I am pointing at above). The Island is famous for having been the home of a prison in which political prisoners from the struggle against apartheid were locked up for decades on end. I have toured the Island and am happy to announce that european deer live there amongst elands, kudus and penguins.

Here is Russell climbing Lion's Head with a gorgeous backdrop. To the left of him in this photo is the "city bowl" while to the right is the part of town known as "camp's bay." Too bad we cannot upload a bigger and better version of this fine photograph. Do yourself a favour and click on the image for a better look at the Canuck in a strange world. It kind of looks like he is wearing leiderhosen.

On the way up/down we built our first ever Inukshuk. Actually, it was my first Inukshuk, as Russell had made one with Rebecca in his kitchen before. This is the one for public consumption. It is a slightly disfigured Inukshuk, but we are confident other Canadians would recognize the 2010 logo (?!) along their route and perhaps have a heart-warming chuckle.

Here is a photo of the "central business district" from our hike. We wanted to capture the photons reflecting off of the crazy yuppie floor-to-ceiling windows of our condo. Ours is the one with food spilled on the patio (where I sit) and coffee whiffs wafting from the air-conditioning output thing.

In case you didn't see our specific place above, we thought we'd highlight it for you.

Russell couldn't resist taking a portrait of me in the first "Glory Hole" known to man! We are in the cradle of mankind, you know!

Russell had a lot of fun reclaiming his adventurous spirit which has been a bit dormant since his days in Chilliwack. We will have to climb a lot more rocks and negotiate some kloofs before heading back to the other side of this beautiful planet.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Burn Mothercity, Burn

Meghan is away today at Stellenbosch in her official capacity as Canadian Intern, UWC Law Center. Fortunately, she left me the keys to the blog.

Today I witnessed - from the balcony of our apartment - a fire on signal hill. Here is a picture of the firemen dousing the flames. If you look in the lower right-hand corner, you'll see one of the many mosques that adorn the surrounding neighbourhood.

Coincidence...? I think not.

It is difficult to make out exactly what is going on, so I have zoomed in for your convenience. I love how there are all these expensive homes in the background.

Enough of the drama. The real reason for this post is twofold. One, to wish Meghan's wonderful sister Ariel a sincere Happy Birthday! Meghan and I hope you are having a great day, and send you tons of love and hugs.

Second, to discuss the abysmal state of beer in South Africa. In the many bars, restaurants, and liquor stores that surround us, you can have any beer you like so long as it is one of the following five lagers:

1. Carling Black Label
2. Heineken
3. Windhoek (which is Afrikaans for "farty beer")
4. Castle Lager
5. Miller Genuine Draft

As a Canadian, it's an absolute hoot (which, by the way, is the verb they use here instead of honk) that Carling Black Label is so popular. I read the Wikipedia entry on Carling to try to figure out what the deal is; a recommended read for those of you who are interested in the history of beer.

My kingdom for an ale. When the British packed up and left, I guess they took their beer home with them.

Labels: ,

Monday, February 05, 2007

Reunited, Relocated, and Re-Originated

In honour of my flying through 10 timezones and three continents within 24 hours to join my beloved in Africa, Meghan thought it would be fun to let me (her boyfriend Russ) take the reigns and write a special guest post.

Reunited I have been here for nine days, and now that the jetlag and initial culture shock have worn off, I am thoroughly enjoying the experience. I can report that Meghan is looking radiant and healthy; the climate and environment are agreeing with her (she looks like a movie star, to be honest). Here is the first picture of us together in South Africa, taken by her roommate Eliza in the house on Upper Mill. I am sporting a Bishop Desmond Tutu t-shirt that Meghan bought for me.

My flight was great. Okay, maybe not great (it was ridiculously long), but I did get to see some amazing sights and three in-flight movies. More importantly, I can now say that I have seen the Sahara Desert, Jackass 2, and the Mediterranean Ocean. Here is the latter from 32,000 feet along the French coastline at Marseille.

On my first full day in Cape Town, Meghan wasted no time in taking me to the surfing beach at Muizenberg. It was beautiful, and while we didn't do any surfing, we did see a Jack Russell playing soccer.

Me, not surfing.
Burning my neck, actually.

That is not a tennis ball; it is a full-sized soccer ball.

Relocated On Thursday, Meghan and I moved into our own apartment. We are on the 10th floor of a brand new downtown condo development, in what seems to have been an old parking garage. The view from our balcony is... well, see for yourself (click on the image).

Meghan had amassed a few treasures in her three months away from home, but we managed to fit everthing into her VW and make the move from Upper Mill to Long Street in one trip.

I can't say enough about how much I love living in downtown Cape Town. Long Street is right in the main entertainment district. The streets are alive with business people during the day, and at night the place becomes a vibrant mass of friendly locals and tourists making their way from one establishment to the next.

Meghan did a great job in picking out a place for us to live. This is the first building she has lived in that has had an elevator; this is the first time I have lived like a yuppie. Our building is still under construction, and we are one of the few tenants that have moved in. I am writing this at 11:00 PM, and I can actually hear workers in the hallway. The main cultural differences that I have experienced so far seem largely due to the labour intensity with which South Africa approaches things. (A discussion of the economic problems of resource allocation in the context of post-apartheid South Africa is left as an exercise to the reader.)

My first weekend in the city and Meghan drives us out near Worcester to camp and attend the Origin Festival, which is one of those new-age hippie music festivals. Despite my Generation-X skepticism, I found it to be a fun time, with great food, scenery, and music.

Here we are joined by our new best friends, the Blockheads, of Jo'berg.

South Africans are apparently famous for their love of trance. This picture was taken Sunday afternoon: 24 hours of non-stop, 4/4, kick drum on the downbeat... and the white people are still just a givin' 'er.

There were four black people sighted at the festival. Do you see them?

Here... let me zoom in.


I think they should have combined these:

I had to drag Meghan away from this purchase.

The natural setting was beautiful, and to top it off, there was a full moon.

Labels: , ,