Snail Races

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Carl and Annie to South Africa

with the Maasai Posted by Hello

here is the latest from the gregarious Grindstaffs...

KENYA, CAPETOWN AND OFF TO BRAZIL (March 22 to April 1, 2005)

Dear Family and Friends—We sailed for six days from Mombasa, Kenya to Capetown, South Africa. The days went by pretty easily, with smooth sailing until reaching near the
Cape where the seas were a bit rough but feeling fine. Teaching is regular and somewhat hectic at sea, but I like the classes and students so no major chore—just busy all of the time. Had a couple of classes on AIDS issues, and some on ethnic minorities as we close in on South Africa. Annie has been taking some classes and doing some choir work—they sang for us one evening, doing African type songs and it was wonderful. There is always lots of music and lectures going on around the ship—not enough time for everything interesting. A full moon on Good Friday, getting close to port on Easter Sunday morning. We do lose track of the days here—just an “A” day and a “B” day for teaching purposes. I have three classes everyday two days at sea, and lots of preparation and grading—students write port reports which are fun to read but time consuming. Some of the student living decks (they are named after seas, Atlantic, Pacific, etc) have a party that is located in the faculty/staff lounge, and Annie and I try to get to them so that we can meet lots of the students, plus a glass of wine or two which we seldom turn down.

And then, we found ourselves in Capetown. What with the apartheid regime, we thought we would never make this journey. But, when the freely elected govt came in in 1994, it more or less opened everything to tourism. What an upscale town, the waterfront reminds us very much of False Creek in Vancouver, but more activity and excitement, with a vibrant night life of music and restaurants. At this location, black and white mix together easily, more white than black. We went on a city tour just to get our bearings, and saw some of the “underside” of the city and country—the poor townships where literally millions of black folks live without many amenities. The harsh underside of a pretty thriving place. It is Fall here and fairly cool, but we had a drink outside in the evening and listened to some jazz music, very civilized indeed.

The next day we took a bus to the wine country, about an hour away from here. Then had some bikes and rode around the lovely countryside—like Napa many years ago. Some good wines, and we had quite a few samples. Back home via some townships, a pretty rough slum living area. But the new government is making improvements and it will be interesting to see what will happen in the next few years. Some major progress around race relations that has happened in the past 10-15 years. Dressed for a wonderful theatre night at Capetown University, nearly 200 of us attended from the ship. A play about the personal tragedies of apartheid called The Syringa Tree. Touching, sad, hopeful. A one woman show, she was marvelous. The next day we were up early for a two day field trip to an area called Kagga Kamma where we had a couple of “game” drives, pretty tame after Maasai Mara.. Did see a few grazing animals, but mainly it was nice to be is the countryside. Spectacular rock formations—reminds us some of Bryce Canyon in Utah. It is high desert country, and there has been a drought lately so it is really dry. Main attractions are rock paintings which were done by the San people, locally called Bushman. The paintings have been here for several thousand years and have survived all of the rain, wind and erosion. Annie and I stayed literally in a cave that had a room built around it. Totally a tourist experience, but mucho funo. I did manage to get in an outdoor run which was soul cleansing. We also had a night drive where the sky is so clear that you feel like the stars are there for the picking. Southern sky is quite a bit different, but we could see Orion, the Southern Cross, Gemini. Good food, a nice experience of just sitting back and taking it all in. We drove home via an old Afrikaner village, sort of like the pioneer village in London, only more elaborate. All of those folks scratched out a pretty meager living in a very difficult environment We are smuggling wine on board the ship—rules do not allow faculty to bring alcohol. Corruption of students or some such thing. Anyway, we managed to sneak a couple of bottles of the good South African red to fortify our dwindling cellar.

Our last day in port, very windy and the sea is rough. That delayed us until the following morning, but no major problems doing this in that we have some time to spare. They take weather into account a bit in planning the itinerary. Some last minute shopping in this affluent ocean side community—Annie was frugal and I bought a nice walking stick. We try to get a good music CD at each port—this time Ladysmith Black Mambazo. They have that wonderful choral sound. We were off while I was teaching my “A” day 8 am class, and we had a bit of a roller coaster day at sea, but both of us feeling fine. An eight day trip across the Atlantic to Brazil—will write to you from there after a few days in Salvador. The adventure is going fine, we are healthy and enjoying being around all of these young folks. I am sure they think of us as their grandparents, and that is fine—we miss our kids so much so it is a little substitute. Finished in less than four weeks, hard to imagine all of the wonderful experiences we have had as we make our way around the globe. Love and aloha, Carl and Annie.


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