Thursday, June 24, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Located about 400 kilometers outside of Cape Town in (quite literally) a remote desert, Afrika Burn is the ‘African regional’ festival for the Nevada based Burning Man. Although less than 250 miles away from Cape Town, our voyage lasted over four hours, as over 100 kilometers took place on unpaved roads, consequently leaving us with a popped tire. Thankfully, Matty and I have gotten quite efficient at changing a tire (as our last road trip landed us with three popped/flat tires); however, it made the rest of the driving horribly nerve wrecking as we would have found ourselves stranded without an extra spare if anything else happened to our tires.
Burn, baby burn... This was a giant pirate ship earlier in the day
Afrika Burn is an art festival in every sense. Shaped as a giant clock watch, each time (1 o clock, 2 o clock, etc.) has a theme, often including art, music, and activities taking place through out the day. We parked our dirrrty car behind the themed tent ‘The Succulents,’ an octopus themed group that a few of our friends helped set up for the weekend. In side the giant clock, were several giant sculptures and statues that were to be burned on Sunday after sunset. The entire festival is non-commercial, once again placing me in an environment where money is worthless and bartering skills are essential. Besides the large quantity of students attending the festival, other participants seemed to fit into two categories, peace loving hippies or absolute freaks. People of all ages were seen dressed (or undressed) in the most bizarre outfits floundering from each themed tent. Besides ‘The Succulents,’ I loved ‘The Desert Rose,’ a cowboy bar and an Intimacy themed camp that gave out relationship advice and offered a variety of activities including palm readings and dating services. The dating service acted as an Afrika Burns e-harmony, seeking to match you with your ‘true love.’ After filling out a questionnaire, one received a sticker and if you found your matching sticker by the end of the festival, you had found your one and only true love. God, hippies freak me out.
I traveled along side my roommate Lina, Matty, Robin (a neighbor), and Chelsea (a neighbor and fellow U of M student). Lina and I packed a weak selection of food for the weekend including, peanut butter, bread, apples, and muffins. Thankfully, the people at the festival were extraordinarily generous (those damn hippies). We basically showed up to the festival not knowing what to think and to be honest, I would never have expected what I saw. Essentially acting as a giant festival during the day and techno rave at night, it was just a weird environment. I had a ton of fun, but I wouldn’t exactly call it my scene. By the end of the first night, my hair had literally begun to dreadlock from all the sand being blown around. After 2 nights of no showering, my hair had become unrecognizable.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Great day. And I was able to do another thing that Lake Michigan couldn’t offer… Catch a great wave on an awesome beach.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Botswana is an interesting place. Even driving on the highways offered a new and exciting experience as both cows and elephants would just chill on the side of the road… How cool! Random fact: Botswana gained its independence in 1966 as one of the first to be liberated in Southern Africa. And their currency is the pula, which is stronger than the South African rand. Actually, Botswana is considered a wealthier country that South Africa because of their discovery of both gold and diamonds following independence. But to me it seemed like the wealth was not evenly distributed (go figure). But nonetheless, I like Botswana.
We traveled to Maun before arriving at the Okavango Delta (the world's largest inland delta) for a two-night stay on an island pretty much in the middle of a swamp (killer mosquitoes). We were met at the base of the river/swamp/delta by 20 polers who took us by mokoro (hallowed out trees) to our camp base, which ended up being a beautiful 2 hour ride through the delta. These twenty individuals became our daily guides as we woke up to the rising sun and ventured through a bush to search for animals.
The last night in the Delta, our polers took us on a sunset ride through the delta to a giant opening among the reeds. It was beautiful. We sat there for a few hours just sharing stories about our lives (and the differences). A poler, nicknamed Zero, was telling me how it was his dream to have two wives, because any more than that would be overwhelming. It was wild to here about how different their dreams were from mine. This may sound weird, but polygomy doesn't seem that incredibly odd anymore. I guess what ever makes you happy, right. (It's defiantly not for me though...) That night beside the fire, we had a bit of a sing-a-long. The polers sang and danced, as well as told us stories about Botswana. We had been trying to think of songs to sing all week that represented the "American way," which ended up being ironic as we sang "Let it Be" by the Beatles. Hurray for British music. Our finale song was the Hokey Pokey, which was probably the funniest thing to see (20 Botswanians and 25 Americans dancing the Hokey Pokey around a fire in the middle of a Delta).
Being in the Delta was truly exhilarating. Never had I felt so not at home (and so bug bitten).
So the past 2 ½ weeks have been absolutely insane. Not only was I able to spend a week with my family experiencing the very best of Cape Town (the Waterfront, Cape of Good Hope, Shark diving, winery tours, hiking, and eating!!), but I have also been fortunate enough to travel to Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe over my semester break. AND I TURNED 21! I have been going non-stop and my body and mind are starting to feel the consequences of having a ridiculously awesome life. How does Anthony Bourdaine keep this up? I am quite envious. Whereas he would have already rebounded from his trip and on the way to another exhilarating country, I have been wrapped in a fetal position comatose for the past two days. Hopefully by today (day 3 of recovery), I can get my act together and start living like a human again.
So where to begin? Having Lee and my mom here was incredible. I have been living, breathing Cape Town for the past 3 months and finally they were able to do the same. I think they were surprised to see how “un-African” Cape Town proved to be. Cape Town (to me) is sort of like a Mecca of international cultures. It is not unexpected to have an Indian (Cape Malay) restaurant next to a sushi next to an Irish pub. Granted Cape Town is the pivotal point on the globe that the West used to travel East; therefore, this fusion of culture would represent a much more international feeling than just that of an African one.
ANYWAYS, while they were here, we truly tried to get the most out of Cape Town. We managed to hit up the beach for a day, hike throughout Kirstenbosch (the original botanical gardens), go to Stellenbosch for a full day of biking from winery to winery. Life was great. I loved being reunited with Lee and sharing glasses of wine with my mom. And don't forget about Diane, she proved to be an incredible travel companion. Four women adventuring Cape Town like it was our job, it should be a t.v. show. By the time they dropped me back at my flat at 10pm I was pooped. That is until I realized I had to pack for a 10-day trip leaving at 4AM the next morning. Needless to say, I didn’t truly know what I had packed until the first day out.
Kirstenbosch a.k.a. Jurassic Park
Overall, I wouldn't trade the week my family was here for anything. Cape Town offers a truly surreal version of life that everyone should experience. Time is truly pretty much irrelevant and at the end of the day all that matters is that you are enjoying yourself. I will be the first to admit that I am a bit too up-tight (all the time), but here its like I am on Provac all the time, only better. And having my family here just made that high -on-life feeling I have been having exponentially better. I only wish my dad and brother also were able to experience South Africa.... But maybe there is a chance for a family return trip?