Cape Town

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I mentioned before that we did a tour of Cape Town last weekend. It was unbelievable. There is a feeling about the city that is so vibrant, so alive, so enjoyable. It’s very relaxed, everything around here seems to be. Going to a restaurant is a very different experience, even. In America we expect very quick service; it’s an in and out kind of deal. We want our food quickly, our drinks refilled immediately. Here, it’s rare to find places that have fountain drinks, first of all. So refills are kind of… non-existent when it comes to pop. you can get another can or bottle if you would like. You see your waiter/waitress maybe three times total during the visit, four if you’re paying by credit/debit card. It isn’t considered rude here to flag down your waiter, because they’re not expected to come to you very often. The food is also ususally a much longer wait than we would expect. And you NEVER get the feeling of the hustle and bustle that is evident in the kitchens of American restaurants.

Food here is also so fresh. We went to a bar today that serves food, and I was thinking typical… not very good bar food. We ordered a pizza, and it was hands down the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life. The cheese is real cheese, and the meat isn’t processed. It’s all homemade tasting — processed food virtually doesn’t exist here.

In Cape Town, I found myself amazed at the diversity of landscapes. As you can see in that picture, there are mountains on one side, ocean in the middle, grass beyond the sand. It’s unbelievable. The clouds here are also… just indescribable. The day we went on the tour, the sky was this beautiful, bright blue (it is every day), and there were so many clouds. But the clouds seem to embrace the mountain, drift among the peaks, flow down even lower to where you really feel like you can reach up and touch them.

In other areas of the city, there are these massive gardens. The famous Garden Route Tour is here. It features all kinds of safari-like animals and brush… flowers of all kinds… trees. A couple friends and I have plans to go on it, probably during Spring Break. I can’t wait to see it.

It just amazes me that in one area, one city, there can be so much aesthetic diversity.

We are planning to go to a place just outside of Cape Town for drinks tonight, and we’re headed down to Cape Town tomorrow for a day on the beach.

As I keep promising, there will defintely be pictures as soon as the internet connection is working in my room!

Love,
Cyndi

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Published in: on January 30, 2008 at 10:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

heath?

heath.jpg

Mr. Ledger is dead. How sad and unfortunate and terrible. I keep trying to post pictures in here, but for some reason the site won’t let me. That upsets me. This Heath thing also upsets me. Then I was bothered that I was so bothered about his death… but when I thought about it more, I realized that I’m upset because his death is like an age marker, a marker of growing up. He’s essentially the first big name, well known figure of my generation to die. When we live in a place where celebrity is so… well, celebrated, when one of our icons dies, we all feel it.

RIP Heath. I’ll miss your boyish good looks and sexy accent.

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Back to Africa.

We had a mini lecture the other day, during orientation, on Africa… some of its history (specifically South Africa). I loved every second. I sat in rapt attention, not wanting to even blink. The professor, a young woman with an almost tangible passion in her voice, who had this entire vibe about her… of just being so excited to inform us, to inform each of us international students, about her personal history and the history of her people.

Here’s a run-down of some of my notes:

30-40% of south africans are unemployed

1 in 5 South africans are HIV positive

48% of South Africans live below the international poverty line.. which means they make less than $2/day. (did anyone else notice that the international standard is in dollars? I just wish we could use our hegemonic power for good purposes…)
“think about how much you spend on beer in a night to put it in perspective.” it’s true. and south africans party a LOT.

…so many similarities between American segregation/Civil Rights and South African apartheid

National sports: cricket, soccer, rugby
SA (South Africa) won World Rugby Cup in 2006(7?)

Jacob Zuma going to be next South African president in 2009. They know because of how their system works. He is a polygamist, has been acquitted on rape charges, and is a chauvenistic pig… to put it bluntly. Scholars/politicians/activists are concerned about women’s rights while he’s in power. Can they even sustain what they have now?
“If you think George Bush is bad, you haven’t heard enough about Zuma. He may single-handedly destroy every bit of progress women and blacks/coloureds have made over the past 14 years.”

There is a huge difference between blacks and coloreds –> one that i still can’t explain…

When it comes to SA racial issues compared to American racial issues…
“I think in the US there’s this perception of – ‘we’re past that – we don’t need to talk about this; and I think that’s a problem. In South Africa, we’re talking about it; we know people are racist, and I think it’s helping us move ahead.”

There are fewer black students at Stellenbosch than international students.  —> This breaks my heart. I had goose bumps and tears in my eyes when she made this comment. In a country where blacks and coloreds outnumber whites 78% to 12%, (possibly more by now), the fact that there is such an unevent representation at the University level shows the negative impact of apartheid on the colored/native communities. Education, especially at the University level, is marked so much by wealth and privilege, and the fact that that is STILL a trademark of a WHITE population… is upsetting. When is the SA government, the US government going to try to really rectify these problems? Balance these numbers? Make education something that is accessible to EVERY individual and not just the privileged ones?

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And on a fun note….

“Don’t drink, but enjoy the wine.”
-Sisesko, the director of housing (I think that’s his title)

“You will find at Stellenbosch that Wednesday is a practice round for Saturday.”
-House Warden for Academia/Concordia (where I live)
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Life is amazing. It’s beautiful here. i’m getting tanned. We did a tour of Cape Town and it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.

I’ve taken over 500 pictures, and they’re coming your way soon!!

Thanks for tuning in, and I love the responses/questions. Keep ’em coming!

Peace,
Cyndi

Published in: on January 29, 2008 at 10:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

it’s getting hot in here

and i did not pack for it.

it’s 104 degrees today. at least that’s word on the street.

boys here are gorgeous.

…and sweaty. (because it’s 104 degrees).

i’ll have internet in my room in *hopefully* about a week. things here take about… oh, FOREVER. my computer has to be taken in to be configured for it, then it takes a while to actually be on the server or something.

so south africans know how to party. i’ve gone out every ngiht since i’ve been here. i also have taken like naps every day that i’ve been here. i walk at least 3 miles a day… and that’s probably under-exaggerating. it’s probably something like 4 or 5. it’s a mile walk from my flat to the international building, whre all the orientation sessions are… and going to town is even further. it’s AWESOME. i love being outside, love walking around. it’s exhausting though. i still haven’t copmeltely gotten rid of the jet lag… i had no idea how bad that could be, but it has really worn me out. i’m sure the uh drinking hasn’t helped any either haha

so braais are very popular here. they’re african barbeques. we’ve had one basically every ngiht… and there are bars pretty mucho n campus. it’s crazy. last night a bunch of the american girls put on an american barbeque to show them how we roll. it was a lot of fun. someone actually brought the balls to play beer pong. we did it up right. we taught them american drinking games… and cooked out american style… roasted marshmellows…

they still brought their wine. we didnt complain. they win on that front.

i’ve never liked wine, but i’ve decided if i’m going to be in stellenbosch, which is like the capital of wine country here in… wine country… haha then i need to embrace a healthy appreciation for it. i’ve tried a few sips of a couple different ones, and it’s sort of growing on me.

everything is also decliously cheap here. it’s awesome. i got a phone yetserday wiht a charger and sim card and everything i need for it — brand new… for $35’ish. and you dont need contracts or anything. it’s awesome. a meal that we’d pay about $6-9 for… so pretty cheap place.. runs about $2.50 here. sweeeeet.

i am so excited to put up pictures and do FUN things with this blog, but i still don’t have my electrical situation figured out… AND i have to wait for my computer to have internet. so hopefully soon!

aks questions. anything. this place is fun. i’m still getting used to it. my roommate is amazing.

i’ts so NOT what i expected. but i’ll talk more about htat later. it’s so ridiculously… i mean SO ridiculously white. it’s a little saddening. i keep forgetting i’m in africa.

but then i meet a native zimbabwe’an(?) or someone from kwazulu-natal (where the oprah school is! haha) and i remember that um… this place is AMAZING.

the accents… wow. i love it. 🙂

peace
-C

Published in: on January 25, 2008 at 10:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

ella fitzgerald says it best

“At last.”

I’m here. In Africa. Actually in Africa. Seriously – Africa. I’m not sure I actually believe it, and I’m seeing it.

I made it safe. I’m so exhausted I can barely stand it. I can’t keep my eyes open, and I’ve never seen such hideous, dark dark dark circles under ANYONE’s eyes before. It’s bad news. I also haven’t showered since the day I left, and my body has no idea when that was.

I think I figured out that I’m 7 hours ahead of Atlanta, 8 ahead of Nebraska and 10 ahead of LA.

It’s gorgeous here.

Oh, I also found out I WILL have internet in my room. Yay.

Pictures and other good stuff to come soon… once I’ve had some sleep and some non-airplane food.

Peace
-Cyndi

What I’ve learned on Day 1, after 10 minutes in Africa: I am so American…

Published in: on January 23, 2008 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Got Big?

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I got off the subway in London… at the stop where I was sure I would step out of the train thing and immediately be immersed into a world of Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and all the other greats

…. and I saw this. And after over 24 hours of no sleep and a lot of jet lag… I giggled myself silly, and I kept saying (I think maybe, embrassingly outloud), “GOT BEN?!” and then kept answering myself with “nope… but I got BIG… ” haha

and then I actually walked out of the subway station… and saw this…

real-ben.jpg

Real Ben stopped my giggling and made my jaw drop. Now THAT is a sign of a real man! 🙂

Published in: on January 22, 2008 at 10:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Got Ben?

Part 1: (written in plane while waiting to disembark…or whatever that’s called)

I’m sitting at London Gatwick Airport…still in the plane (I guess the preface wasn’t necessary). I can feel this city already seeping into me, consuming my senses with newness, with diffrence. With any luck, I’ll have 4 hours to explore this lace i’ve dreamt of for so long. I can feel the culture differences already; it’s one thing to learn about our differences and another to catch y breath in my throat as I think an accident’s about to happen, only to remember with relief that they’re supposed to be on that side of the road.

Part 2: (written after exhaustion due to traveling, stressing, time zone changes, walking endlessly, getting lost on trains, oh, and not sleeping hit)

It’s so cold here. Like, really cold. And the captain on the plane this morning said it was unusually warm for this time of year. As much time as these people spend walking and on trains, I don’t know how they handle that.

There are pigeon-like birds… or perhaps just…pigeons…walking around the subway station, and they get terrifyingly close, except of course when I try to photograph them. As I was eating a sandwich in St. John’s (Joseph’s? I’m a horrible tourist…or a really good one…) park, I watched a squirrel eat a bread crumb or some sort of food out of this man’s hand. It was endearing and so..unnatural all at the same time. The animals around here have been very conditioned to not mind humans. The ducks even just walk right by me as if I’m just one of them, quaking and nodding, saying hello, wishing me a pleasant afternoon, I’m sure. Don’t worry — I nod back.

Piccadilly –> District –> Victoria/Westminster –> Heathrow Terminal 4

…so I remember how to get back. I missed 2 of the trains I needed earlier… I watched them go by, thinking I needed another one.

Personal bubbles don’t seem to exist here, and everyone reads. And appreciates the arts. And it’s so QUIET… everywhere. There’s never really that hum of chatter on the train or anywhere really.. .that I’m accustomed to. For a chatterbox like myself, it’s surprising me that I don’t mind it.

Really, so far London is everything I thought it would be. It hasn’t surprised me, except in how much it fits the mental image I had of it.

…and they say television and the internet don’t tell us the truth about things!

Published in: on January 22, 2008 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

T – … oh wait, I’m on the plane.

“World Traveler” my ticket reads… with an extra “L” I think. I can’t believe I’m on this plane. It’s bigger than any place I’ve been on… Three columns of seats, and 38 rows of seats. The plane is divided into three sections. It’s strangely (for me) calm. I like the peace. The friendliness. It’s not a friendliness that expresses itself in congenial, vocal hospitality like I’ve experienced in the south or a friendliness marked by quiet gestures of kindness like I’ve experienced in the Midwest. It’s friendly in conversation. Everyone is talking around me. Their conversations seem familiar, like they’ve had them before, even though they seem to have never met. They talk about the weather like it’s not the standard small talk topic like in America; they talk about it like it’s a baseball game they just won… or lost; laughing and wondering, questioning. They’re almost all British, the people on my flight. The stewardess that’s walking closest to where I’m sitting is so pretty; actually, all the flight attendants are attractive. Surprisngly attractive. Quite unlike the flight attendants on my many flights back and forth from Nebraska to Georgia or Georgia/Nebraska to Los Angeles. There’s just a different air about this flight, as if they know that these individuals flying on their airline are their neighbors, unknown friends that may live only a mile or 10 away in London. I’ve heard London isn’t the friendliest city, but it’s representation in the states begs to differ. There’s a baby crying. Loudly. But unlike other flights I’ve been on, no one seems to mind… or even notice. Their accents hit my ears like…like… like the first time V-Sko and I ate that brownie/ice cream dessert at Applebees. It’s that warm and good and different and new and rich and amazing. And only I would compare a brand new adventure with eating. ☺

I’m watching the emergency video.

“high heels must be taken off as they may tear the evacuation slide”

There’s an evacuation slide?!?! Sweet.

The demo girl in the video… is this spunky, hot red head. Her husband/seat partner is this tall, black, gorgeous man. Their kid is a nice dark brown that looks like a perfect mixture of the two. I like the diversity already.

Everyone always said The Outside (that is, outside America) would be so different and so open and ‘liberal’ and different. I’m feeling the giddy excitement of a liberal southern girl entering her utopia…. And I’m only on the plane.

I can’t wait to see what awaits. I’ll find out in about 7 hours when my plane lands in London.

I can’t believe I’m finally going. I’ve dreamt of this for so many years. I can feel something inside of me getting ready, gearing itself up, preparing itself. My body and my heart are both telling me that this is going to be a new era – that these next six months are going to change me in ways I can’t even imagine or dream of now. I can’t wait to see who I am when I come back.

Published in: on January 22, 2008 at 10:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

T – 6.4 hours

Today. My flight takes off today. I’m going to do my best to blog throughout the day… it probably won’t work as I’m the most unorganized person in the world and am not ready at ALL to leave.

The current time is 11:54am, and i need to be at the airport by 3:30 or 4 at the latest. Here is my current to-do list:

Fill out/sign paperwork for school
Get copies of passport/visa
GET A CAMERA
Pay storage unit bill
Get out cash
Finish packing
Get food item(s)
Get one of those carrying passport/ticket/etc around the neck things
Call Verizon and put phone on vacation – pay off bill
Call Gap and figure out how to pay online/pay off entire bill (one or the other will do)
Call Student Legal Services at school and see how vital the power of attourney is
Give mom account information for bank account at Bank of America
Meet Ashley for lunch/Dee at some point
Get at least one converter/power strip (?) sounds like a good idea
Fill out housing paperwork/sign and fax back to the university in stellenbosch
Call Bank of the West and Bank of America –let know I’m going to be out of the country
Have lunch with Ashley
Cry with Mom saying goodbye. Promise her I won’t die.
Make sure mom knows if I do die, I was happy with/dreaming about my African prince
Avoid going insane
Do all the things I’m forgetting to put on this list.
Don.t Freak. Out.

I have completed all of… one of these things. I had lunch with Ashley.

…and my mom says I don’t have my priorities straight. HA.

…and the day begins.

Published in: on January 21, 2008 at 10:29 pm  Leave a Comment