Saturday, October 30, 2010

Africa Part 9

On the weekend in Joburg:

Stop #1? Apartheid Museum. These were a pretty emotional 3 hours for me, faced with footage, and photography, interviews, and posters. Coming out of the building was almost cathartic, walking on into the light of the afternoon. Although apartheid in many ways is still operating. Lots to think about, to be sure.

Stop #2 Lebo's Soweto Backpackers. A beach themed rastafarian type joint (those seem to happen to me a lot these days), it was a great place for pool and foosball in the evening. Before then, I had a short soccer stint with some 10 year olds at the field across from us.

Stop #3 We certainly painted the town-ship that night, stepping out to a dance club called Ozone. Danced right onstage after a girl pulled me up with her. I had no time to protest and so I didn't-- Reacted with the music and came down shaking after shaking everything I had. I am glad I got over myself and just enjoyed. Dance emancipates, man. 4 hours of it, especially. I felt thoroughly freed, albeit exhausted, climbing into bed that morning.

The next day, we went on our Soweto bike tour: four hours examining landmarks of such a politically charged area proved incredibly insightful and moving, literally and figuratively. I used to cycle with my dad on weekends for hours on end-- and it was wonderful getting my bike legs back. We went through Orlando West, and East, Meadowlands, saw the homes of Winnie Mandela, Nelson of that same last name, and Desmond Tutu, tasted sorghum beer from a surly looking shebeen, and had snacks that I won't easily forget. Chewed on some cow cheek, which other bikers found unsettling, but was of little issue for me since a year ago in China, I ate cow eyeball.

My 24 hours in Soweto felt so amazing and alive--I hope I get to come back at some point for some reason. Maybe I'll make a reason.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Africa Part 8

Up and down Cape Town: Highlights 10-9 to 10-16

-Within an hour of arriving in CT, I felt more irie, heard more shouts of "Ja!" and "RASTAFARI!!" than in all of my life combined. First amazing experience of the trip? A reggae cd release party in Khayelitsha, the largest township in the Western Cape area. Since we were operating not only on African time, but also musician time, and stoner time, (the whole place was overwhelmingly and quite tastily cannabis-ed), the projected start time was more of a joke than anything. So there we were, in Peter Tosh Hall (how apt) with a dirt floor, red, yellow, green, and a roof that was more of an idea than a protective covering, jamming it. By the end I was delirious. (The end was around 3AM), and could not wait for the rest of the week to unfold, telling myself it was anything like this, I'd be thrilled beyond words.

-CT reminds me of a number of cities have I loved. The V&A Waterfront likened itself to Long Beach, the area surrounding Observatory was quite like Brooklyn, and San Francisco for the hills, houses, and weather. Although I've never been to Chicago-- the wind.. enough said.

-Finally, I got my milonga. After weeks and weeks of teaching tango in the schools, I finally found myself in a dimly lit hall with DiSarli playing. You learn quite a large deal about people from dancing with them: their sense of rhythm, how they listen to your momentum, weight, and the music. I felt sanity crawling back into my body. So far, every time I've tried to dance in a foreign country (all two times now) it rained. Shame. But I went on, on both occasions. Milongas here are from R20-R30, which means roughly between just under $3 to a little over $4. A much less obsession to have than in LA. But then again, both are cheaper than cocaine, so I should consider myslf lucky and thrifty.

-Wine tasting for the first time! Stellenbosch is a charming place, that which reminds me a bit of Santa Barbara, (the State Street portion), and I learned so so much about the poetry of reds, whites, roses.

-Kalk Bay and Simon's Town were some kind of beautiful- seeing the ocean after so long was invigorating to say the least. And the penguins!!

-Raced the sun in order to watch it rise as we schlepped up Table Mountain-- Shame however, that our moves were a little slow. Still, it greeted us as we sprinted through Kirstenbosch early in the morning. Went up Nursery Ravine trail, and down Skeleton Gorge, clambering through rain soaked terrain. Dangerous? Maybe. Fun? Absolutely. Breathtaking was the view from the top, where I could see Robben Island, and about seven shades of blue in the sea. Thereafter, time on the beach. Sand here is white, and gorgeous.

-Since some of my favorite places are museums, I made it a point to visit a couple. Spent the morning in the District 6 Museum, a place of immense healing and affirmation for the folks who were forcibly removed to crappy areas of the cape, (read: ghetto) and I found it beautiful to see the interviews, photos. The South African National Gallery was also gorgeous, with its sculpture, photography, paintings.

-Robben Island was amazing. And sobering. And inspiring.

I think I ought to have more to say, and I do, but this game of blog-catch up is over. For this entry, at least. Pictures will come... eventually, if you behave!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Africa Part 7

In the quiet and hopeful mornings, I am writing a good deal, and polishing off books even more readily than strips of biltong. They present a grand opportunity to study humanity through other sets of eyes, and so I snatch it. I’ve finished the latest of Amy Tan’s novels, started into a Nigerian writer’s work, and shamelessly cried toward the end of A Lesson Before Dying. I’m turning into a recluse, so it seems. But it’s so easy to just curl up. The library here is actually really well stocked, and I’ve been voracious.Yummy.

In other yummy and exciting discoveries, there is a mulberry tree in our yard!! In the event that I’m feeling highly ambitious, I would try to make jam! But the more likely scenario is that I’ll pick them and pop them into my mouth. Fruit trees are wonderful.

I am already thinking of the next time I will come see Africa, perhaps to the east.

Here and everywhere else, people ask me, “How is Nanci?” I find that question at once refreshing and daunting to start to answer. I am having new adventures, plentiful everyday. I am seeing myself better, and clearer. I am singing and skipping in my heart, because of the energy and love that I am active participant in, and a witness of, and for that I feel exquisitely light.