Green

Been back home for over a week now and settling back into life. One thing I immediately noticed when we returned is just how green it is around here. Not that things aren’t green in Cape Town, but you don’t really have the forests or trees everywhere. Perhaps it’s the different types of trees, city life or just me, but definitely seems very green.

My Ode to Cape Town

NEF_1952
image-1403

The end is in sight and we’re enjoying our last full day in the city that has been our home for the past 3 months. Lists are my specialty so I’ll share a bit about things we loved in no particular order:

– The seafood
– Table Mountain to wake up to
– Sunsets and Sunrises
– Lion’s Head Hikes
– The markets (thank you hout bay and old biscuit mill)
– The breezy days
– Car guards
– Queuing methods at grocery stores and movie theaters
– At your own risk
– Shark diving
– A different culture to learn from
– the startups/friends at 88mph
– The Woodstock Exchange
– Savanna Dry Cider
– Stellenbosch (wine country)
– The dog’s bollocks (burgers)
– Rooftop movie watching
– Guesthouses
– Road trips
– Running at Sea Point
– Tjing Tjing cocktails
– Biking to work
– Camps Bay and Clifton beaches
– Milk tarts and custard pastries
– Jason Bakery
– Clouds creeping over table mountain
– Fog walls over the water
– oysters and champagne
– Our home away from home
– No TV
– Experiencing SA rugby and having no idea what’s going on
– Braai evenings
– New coffee shops to explore
– Mangoes
– Concerts in the Kirstenbosch
– Old Man Goldfish (our mini)
– Beach peddlers (at your service, don’t be nervous)

Africa According to Americans

Great image that I pulled from http://idread.co.uk/ . What are your thoughts about Africa? Click to see the full size.

AfricabyAmericans
image-1338

Cape Town Wind

I’ve talked about it before, but on March 30th we had some serious wind in Cape Town. It hit 70km/h gusts. The wind was so strong it was blowing water from the tops of the white peaks in open water. We traveled to Hout Bay this day and sand was being blown across the road. The following video is a quick visualization of that day:

Here’s a pic of me being blown away at Hout Bay. Not sure on wind speeds here, but it’s the strongest wind I’ve ever been in.

DSC01311
image-1266

Things are Pretty Inexpensive in Cape Town

I speak of course in a relative manner, but we’ve found it quite affordable to live here.

1. Parking

DSC01592
image-1177

Parking in the city is pretty much nothing. You can park in a paid lot for about a dollar an hour no matter what kind of event is going on. No more $20 Cincinnati event parking.

2. Wine

NEF_8910
image-1178

Go to dinner and you’ll be hard pressed to find a bottle of wine over R250. That’s about $30 for a really good bottle of wine at dinner. The average is closer to around $15. It’s pretty nice.

3. Food

NEF_9129
image-1179

Not only is the food delicious here, it’s inexpensive. Shan and I shared this huge plate of seafood and it as only $50. Sure, that’s fairly pricey, but for the seafood we got you can’t beat it.

Pedestrians Beware in Cape Town

This is not a friendly city for those wishing to cross the streets. ‘Walk’ signals should be translated as ‘Better not unless you’re sure there aren’t any cars coming, even if you can’t see them at the moment.’

We’ve had our fair share of close calls so consider yourself warned when visiting Cape Town.

Cape Town is Africa Light

DSC00503
image-971

I’ve drawn a comparison between African cities/nations and beers. This has nothing to do with skin color mind you. This has everything to do with the development, grittiness and level of chaos.

You see, Cape Town is Africa Light. Probably a Bud Light or maybe even something lighter.

Kenya I would say is a straight up Ale. Just Africa. The right amount of flavor and moments of taking you to the deep end.

Egypt varies but when I went, it was a lager. Now, it’s probably into the realms of an IPA.

I haven’t been, but I’d say the Congo is probably on the level of the darkest and hoppiest stout you’d ever have in your life. Perhaps something even stronger because I’m not that knowledgable of beer types.

Despite this comparison. I’d say that I love them all. It all depends on the mood. Just like my taste for beer.

Great Quote that Shannon Sent Me

“If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon; our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days. This is why we travel.”

-S. Ward Harrison

Kenya’s First Highway

The Chinese have been building Kenya a nice new highway.  I’ve been told that people are having to relearn how to drive in a place where such high speeds are possible.  Given the current driving habits of most Kenyans I fear that highways are more of a curse than a blessing.

image-710

Kenyan Road Safety

Things I Miss

In case you’re considering moving to Nairobi, Kenya here are some things I find I’m missing most. It’s not a long list.

Shannon is at the top of this list.

In no particular order:

  • Fast Internet (think back to dial-up days)
  • Driving
  • Good hamburgers
  • Ordering a beer/coke and expecting that it’s cold
  • Drinking water from the tap (and not getting you know what)
  • The absence of malaria – to be fair, there is no malaria in Nairobi, but if you travel outside then you’re on your meds for the next month.

Friends and family are also obvious so have left them off the list. Walvis, you are in there too.

Sad Elephant Story

I came across a blog post from last year from the Elephant Watch Camp.  It’s a sad story, but highlights a reality that still exists in Kenya.  Not sure how/when/if this is going to stop.  I spoke with a local my first week here that didn’t seem to think poaching is an issue.  Seems like some local indifference is the real issue.  WARNING: IMAGES ARE GRAPHIC.

Link: http://www.elephantwatchsafaris.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=21&Itemid=32

Nairobi Sidewalks

Life in Nairobi: For 2 Days

Would it be bad if I said that I miss the Opuwo-style Africa?

I really can’t complain.  I have a pretty nice place (pictures will come soon), there is a pool outside, I have hot water, electricity is fairly consistent, work is right next door, wifi is at home and at work and there is a giant mall about 500 yards down the road.

I went shopping for the essentials today at Nakumatt and they had everything I could ask for and more.

I guess I figured it out.  I kind of miss the experience where THE store would run out of produce after one day. The simplicity that comes with living away from a large city.

I can’t really say I’m upset or unthrilled with my current situation; I really do like it a lot.  I guess I’m just being nostalgic.

 

Coming Back…My Impressions…Clothing

I thought I’d take some time and convey my feelings about coming back to the U.S. Tell some things I like and things I don’t. Just generally how I feel. So, without further ado, first topic is clothes as I happen to have some on today.

I can’t believe how soft my clothes are after I wash and dry them with machines. It’s like I’ve rediscovered soft. Hanging the clothes on the line was no big deal and they dried instantly in the dry air of Opuwo, but they always ended up being kind of crusty. It’s nice having them soft again. Time savings are obvious. Just throw them in and push a button. No more sore back from using my hands to wash my clothes one by one. Sure, it was kind of a relaxing activity, but it took a while. I would have to rinse them a dozen times to get the soap out…and that still didn’t quite do it.

So clothes. Much easier here.

You Know You’re a Tourist When…Part 5: Souvenirs

So you go on vacation and really like that tshirt, hat, whatever with the name of the place you’re visiting on it. You want to show everyone where you’ve been and what you’ve seen. It can also be a good conversation starter. What really kills me though is when the person doesn’t wait to get home to wear it. You love N.Y. so you show it by immediately donning the shirt and wearing it as you tour the city. Cracks me up.

Segube Passes

For the past 4 months I’ve been teaching a friend of mine, Segube, within the ministry how to use computers. It’s been a test on both parts, but I can honestly say he’s on the right track…a long track…but the right track. My patience has been stretched to it’s limits. I have enjoyed it though and it’s great to see him grasp a concept and remember it. He’s looking to continue his education more formally in Oshakati or other areas so that’s great to hear. I made a test for him and despite it’s difficulty he managed a 67% on the test. I’m more than thrilled with this score and has warranted a certificate for his efforts. I wish the best for Segube and hope that he continues his studies in computers.

Public Urination

Gotta pee? Just go man…just go. In Opuwo it’s fine to just stop on the side of the road and go for it….in the middle of town. This may not be legal but there certainly isn’t any enforcement.

image-380
Fun little fact.

You Know You’re A Tourist When…Part 4: Secret Money Pack

Buy a distinct khaki purse to put your money in. They are to be used only when on vacation in strange and exotic, though potentially dangerous, locales around the globe. Instructions: Put all of your most valuable possessions in this magic bag and your worries will disappear. Features: the bag makes you and your giant camera, fanny pack, international mobile phone, mp3 player and clean sneakers blend into the local surroundings…you’re practically invisible. But wait there’s more, it tricks thieves through the art of reverse psychology because who could be stupid enough to put all of their money in one, clearly identifiable bag?

I believe these bags were actually designed and created by thieves. It’s genius. It’s always around your target’s neck. It’s a prominent color, khaki. It’s big enough that everyone puts their passport, credit cards and cash in it. It’s a perfect Win, Lose.

Seriously though, if you’re robbed it’s almost always because you were being careless…sometimes just bad luck. You went down the dark alley at night. You flashed your cash and someone saw. You were wearing really nice things and someone wanted them. You left your valuables sitting out in the open in your rental car. My advice is really just to think when you’re traveling. Be aware of common scams, know the bad areas of town, don’t take out more cash than you need that night, don’t be flashy. If you’re white in Africa you’re a likely target, it’s just the reality where I’ve been. Crooks are opportunists so don’t give them the opportunity. And please, don’t buy a special bag to hold your money. Put your money and cards in your front pocket and don’t have too much on you. The companies that make those bags are opportunists…think about it.

Everything Must Go

I put some of my items on sale this week and I can honestly say that the people around the office are talking to me at much greater length than ever before. People are literally fighting over what I’m selling. I’m not selling anything great: iron, sleeping bag, mattress, etc….must be my unbelievable, unbeatable prices. Seriously though, any future volunteer, I recommend you have a steady supply of items that you sell the entire time you are here and you’ll get more done.