Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1985: A good year.

After all of the excitement of the city life in Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria it was nice to go back to a more relaxed Cape Town. It was a bitter sweet return to the Grundlingh family, however. I knew it would be the last time that I got to see them for some time. Our last few days were spent walking around Stellenbosch, trying to go on a rainy hike, and a celebration.

I was woken up on the morning of August 7, 2010 with a cake made of oranges, shells and rat shaped sugar candies that had two huge candles: one was a 2, the other a 5. This is how my quarter century birthday celebration began. Marizanne and I then spent the morning in the Mbekweni township to attend a women's day soccer tournement that her organization SCORE (http://www.score.org.za/) put on. The simply constructed soccer stadium in the middle of the township was filled with dancing, music, singing and soccer. Even though the volunteers or the locals hadn't ever met me before, I was encouraged by many of them to dance and sing, even though I dance like a white girl....really. One boy sat practically on top of me in order to give me the rythm of the song/cheer that the group of teenagers behind us was singing. It was quite an experience.

After leaving there the Grundlingh's along with a couple of other friends I have met since being in South Africa all dressed up and began with Champagne cocktails. That was followed by an excellent dinner at the Spier vineyard restaurant called Moyo (http://www.spier.co.za/index.php/what_to_do_at_spier/moyo_at_spier/). I was brought onto stage and made of an example of as a man dressed up like a Xhosa tribe leader sang to me in Xhosa. Thanks Mama Grundlingh! My last night in South Africa couldn't have been better. I miss it a lot already.

I have now been in Spain for over a week and have not written one update about anything. Nor do I have access to put pictures up. Stay tuned for those.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Durban July

Ever been to the Kentucky Durby?
Me neither. But I imagine that Durban July is on the same scale. On Friday morning Michelle and I wake up in Durban and hear everywhere, on the radio, the news, the street posts, about this Durban July. By chance, we are here on that very weekend!! Here's a webiste you can browse to find out more information on the event: http://www.vodacomdurbanjuly.co.za/.
Lady luck was with us! We ran to the mall to find shiny bright outfits and high heels to wear to this event. It turns out that the rest of the Gautang Province was in the same situation. Gautang Province is where Michelle and the rest of the big-city-lifers reside. Durban is their holiday getaway. The Mall was packed with Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW cars with GP on them. Despite the competition however, I think Michelle and I rocked up to those horse races looking like royalty. The only thing we were missing were the huge hats.
Bold Silvano trained by Mike de Kock (For real, that's his name) won the main race. Michelle and I continued to socialize with people of all kinds. Some interesting ones were the locals who approached her asking if she was a swimmer simply by looking at her shoulders. Another is a Spanish and Chilean guy that I stopped in their tracks to talk to because I overheard them speaking spanish. This is rare in South Africa.
The horse races were exhilerating. First you here the thunder of their hooves on the grass, then in an instant you watch these huge animals fly by with teeny tiny very very tiny riders on their backs. What fun!
My favorite part, however, had to be the very last and very unique race. As Michelle and I started to wander away from the course we hear loud cheers from the crowd. I looked up to see where they were all looking then realized there were about 25 guys walking onto the racing track in their underwear. Suddenly, the underwear was off!...then they were off!!...racing, Mustang Style, down the track commando. Stay tuned for pics of that one. ;)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Durban Beaches

The Surf in Durban was considerably differnt than Cape Town or the Eastern Cape. We woke up late the second day of our trip due to some intense restaurane/bar touring and the weather was not so nice. It was also very windy. The craving to surf was very strong, however, so I did the desperate: I surfed a fake wave...in a MALL! What?! It's very different than the real thing.

If you notice by my kook-like positioning on the wave it was very difficult to balance.

We did catch some sun and surf on day two. Michelle and I drove a total of 50 km that day down south from the Bluff up north to Ballito. By the time I had found a board to rent and a spot to surf, the nice offshore winds had turned onshore. Shame.

The final day we were scheduled to leave early in the morning. The weather was so nice, however, that we decided to stay for a few hours more and enjoy some sun and body surfing. Durben is a very nice beachy city. But it's a city that doesn't feel like Africa very much...until a monkey jumps onto the balcony of your hotel room.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mama Africa

Upon my arrival to Johannesburg it was as if I was entering back into some fond memories of mine. Lets go back to new years of 07-08. Marizanne, Sami, Maki, Mpho and I were dancing with fireworks, wine and Brenda Fassie into the new year. Here we are again:

Michelle is my host on this leg of the trip.

She lives in Pretoria now. We will be driving to the coast to see Durban; the city remains summer all year long in South Africa. However, before we go, I get to reunite with the Mtongana family. They are Xhosa by origin living now in Pretoria. Marizanne first inrododuced me to the Motongana family 2 and 1/2 years ago. We spent new years with them and it was she who introduced me to Brenda Fassie. This family is something really special. Sami and Maki are the two youngest and are full of life and it's contagious.

Mpho, the mother, is full of love and wisdom. It's people like these that make me eager to travel back to South Africa.