Monday, September 1, 2008


Sorry for the lapse, everyone. It'll get more regular- I just took some blogging-strength Metamucil.

Anyway, I went to Durban this past weekend to see South Africa play Australia in rugby. The game, at least on the score front (27-15 Australia), was sort of a letdown but we came to celebrate nonetheless.
It was about a 12 hour bus ride from Grahamstown to Durban; we left around 7:30 pm on Thursday and arrived at the Durban train station Friday morning. Advil PM took some of the sting out of the ride.

We stayed at the Banana Backpacker's, which was about a 10 minute walk from the beach. It's just coming out of winter here so the water was cold, but that was going to be no deterrent against swimming in the Indian Ocean. Luckily, the sharks were all full on Friday so I escaped with life and limbs intact. Most of our Friday was dedicated to getting acclimated, going to the beach, and seeing Durban.

This place is PeeDoubleOh!Are poor. The trip was such a confluence of emotions: on one hand, I was absolutely delighted to be in a new place (to see an international sporting competition in person, no less); on the other, I kept reverting back to 'why is so much money devoted to these games when we just walked by people hanging on by the finest of threads steps from the stadium?' The desperation is palpable in Durban; you can almost touch it.

The game was on Saturday, so our day was devoted to that (and yes, they tailgate at rugby games, too).

On Sunday we went out to Drakensburg, which is a mountain range about three hours away from Durban. The ride was easy and beautiful. We got to the trail at round 930 in the morning and met our guide, Mbu, there. It was about a fiveish hour hike with a distance of about six miles.

The beginning of the trail went through some serious brush:
After about a half mile or so it started to clear up, allowing glimpses of the most majestic, humbling, and intimidating vistas I've ever seen:

At our halfway mark, Mbu stopped us at a large stone called Boundary Rock:

Yes, the rock was THAT big.

Painted on the rocks were a number of cave paintings, some as old as 10,000 years. I have more pictures of the paintings, but here is the clearest:

This painting depicts a Trance Dance. Mbu told us at length about this painting and what a Trance Dance is as he has participated in them before. Here's a paraphrase of his talk:

'Sometimes there are problems out of human control, like when a woman in the group is menstruating and won't stop, the men of the group will sit in a circle. They sing a song, the muherb (sp?) song. All will clap and one will feel an uplifting force, will begin to shake- to feel hot- to feel like he is bleeding he is so hot, the blood rushing as if it will come out. At this point he will feel half animal and half person. All will look. He will feel as if he is growing long, long hair. The hair will feel heavy. At that time he is communicating with the ancestors. Then he will faint. People in the circle will come close, touch him- feel him, feel the rhythm of his heart.'

So the painting above shows four men kneeling in front of a man who is experiencing this animalistic, communal, transcendental state. He has long legs, a dangerous looking tail, and claws. He is at the peak of his dance.

After we had ample time to absorb these paintings, we began our trek back:

On the way back, we stopped in a cave hidden behind a waterfall. Here is a picture looking out:

The paintings in this cave were all of Boks, a type of antelope (and also South Africa's rugby team name):

After that cave, we were pretty much back to the start, and we headed back to the backpacker's to get excited for our 5:30 am wake up call to get the bus back.

I promise I'll post again before the end of the week. Thanks for bearing with me.


Oh, I'm so pumped for Sarah Palin. It was like Christmas came early.

Soundtrack for this post:

Wiz Khalifa, Say Yeah

Bob Dylan, Stuck Outside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again

Matt and Kim, Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare

ABX, Everyday Ghosthustlin'

A Tribe Called Quest, I Left My Wallet in El Segundo

Thursday, July 31, 2008

On the Rhode

The hardest part about getting this blog started was coming up with a title. Then, on Sunday when our power was out, I went for a trek. the town was fairly deserted as everyone was either in church or at home. On this trek, I went down a street I had been down several times.

This time, however, I actually took stock of its name: Anglo African. The rest was history, and now the blog is up.

I'm still not sure what form this blog is going to take, so bear with me in these first few weeks as I figure out the best means of delivery.

First off, I just want to thank all of you for helping me get here. The outpouring of support and the enthusiasm that everyone showed starting when this trip was just a pipe dream was overwhelming and touching.

The strangest thing about being here isn't the food, the school, the people, or anything like that. It's the sky. It's completely different. The stars are different at night and its exhilarating disorienting. To look up and see the southern cross instead of Orion and the Big Dipper and realize that I am literally on the other side of the world is a singular experience I will never forget. The other thing that slipped under my radar, and I didn't realize it until early this week, is that people walk on the other side of the street. I knew that cars did, but that's a little more obvious; I mean, there's lines. So, for the first two weeks I was literally bumping into everyone on the street.

This place is wild. On a weekday you can see, on one block, in one eyeshot, men in business suits, army officers with high tech weaponry, donkeys (yeah), and women with babies on their backs balancing crates on their heads. All that and a dazzling array of Dutch Euro fashion. Here are a couple pictures of some notable hot spots:

This is the Olde 65 pub. It's a Zimbabwe-owned place and is the location of some of the more heated, and truly mind expanding, political and cultural debates I've ever had. Oh, and they have drinks, too.

At Rhodes, you either live in Res (short for Residence Hall- they abbrev. everything here), which is on campus, or you live in digs, which are off-campus residences. This is the digs of a few South Africans and Zimbabweans I've become close to. It has been named, with absolutely no sarcasm whatsoever, The Monastery.

Here's what's growing out side my window (which has a wonderful view of the Chemistry department- I was coming out of the shower the other day and didn't realize that there was a full class that could have looked in if they so chose.)

I'm not sure how well that came out, but it's an orange tree that grows in our courtyard.

Alright, everyone, I'm going to call it. Expect posts at least a couple of times a week. And please, leave comments. If there's anything in particular you want to know about, I'll try to find out.

Soundtrack for this post:

Lil Wayne, Let the Beat Build

Nina Simone, Baltimore

Andre 3000, Hollywood Divorce

Talking Heads, Sugar on My Tongue

Joy Division, Love Will Tear us Apart