Posted by: Larzizou | January 23, 2008

The Last Straw, South Africa

Five days to cover South Africa are too few and it goes without saying that I will have to come back.

Near the Namibian border, we stop at the (not) Orange River.

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Some people go kayaking, some take pictures as if anybody really cared. I don’t (go kayaking, care or take pictures). I am too busy sorting out my things and writing my memoires.

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Then we stop at the Fish River Canyon, allegedly the second largest canyon in the world. I am not sure whether I should believe in or be impressed by this feature : my Lonely Planet guide says the second deepest is in Bolivia. If there is a ranking for the largest, another for the deepest, highest, cool-est and whatever-est, being second in any category is hardly remarkable. Nevertheless, it is big.

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Big spaces drive me nuts !

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Dishonest Nic. Although he was the only one not to skydive, on top of the rock, he assumes the quintessential diving position.

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Total is one of the biggest French oil companies. Obviously, they care about the environment. Enough to sponsor and pay boards in the canyon advocating to “keep [it] clean”.

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But do they ? Let’s have a closer look (i.e. for you, click on the picture). “Chemicals are harmful to fish” (oh really?) is encircled; next, a written mention : “tu l’as dit Bouffi” (which approximately translates as “that’s right Barnabe”). The three colored stripes of the logo are engraved with other (unholy) scriptures such as “hypocrites”, “polueur” (sic, “polluter”), “enc*** Erika” (“sodomite Erika”, referring to a sunk tanker partially owned by Total which caused one of the biggest ecological disasters to ever happen; read here. Edit : Total has just been condemned.), “PD” (derogatory term for homosexual, maybe “fag” [thanks Ben S. for the inspiration]) and finally, below “TOTAL FOR CONSERVATION”, “pollutic” (?).

What does that tell us ?

(a) That Francophiles associate sex and the environment.

(b) That they are gross.

(c) Merely that they are environment-conscious.

(d) Nothing.

(e) Everything.

(f) b and c and not d

(g) Maybe I should stop such questions if I want to keep readers.

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I had the original idea of the “flying head”; not all original ideas are good ones though.

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This is the coolest tree I have ever seen in my entire life, perfectly symmetrical. Do any one of you, my numerous readers, know its name ?

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En route to Stellenbosch, where I took no picture : CONFIDENTIAL.

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However, I can tell you what happened in Cape Town : nothing. I only stayed there for 14h.

The slums outside Cape Town. My friend Wale partied there; check out his blog.

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Electricity, no reason to complain…

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Finally there ! After more than 8 500 km covered on the road in about 50 days through 8 countries ! Thanks to Paul, our excellent driver. For Nic and Leeann exiled since 2002, it’s home.

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Last picture dedicated to Rhiannon. After the restaurant the last night, half of us went to a bar, Mama Africa, and then a club in Long street. Rhiannon decided to walk back to the hostel alone at 3h30 am. We have not had any news ever since. I pray for her.

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Epilogue

This post closes my African Odyssey, through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It has been the opportunity for me, among other things, to discover a continent, meet new people, try new things (bungee jumping, gorge swinging, high-wiring, skydiving, Class-5-near-death-experience-rafting, helicoptering, flying in shabby unlicensed uninsured 4 seats air-crafts…) and expose my palate to new savors (oryx, kudu, springbok, crocodile, impala, and more broadly various African local food).

A well-known saying postulates that traveling is an excellent way to know oneself more deeply. I assume the rationale goes along the lines that only when one is exposed (alone?) to unusual, unexpected or unforeseeable situations, far from one home´s scrutiny, can one discover what he/she is made of. I do not believe I underwent such experience, would it only be for the herd behavior that can be caused by traveling as part of a group. Would I have skydived or bungee jumped traveling alone ? Hard to say. Freed from the pressure of the group I was certainly not.

What about discovering other people, cultures… ? The first leg of my trip might be a failure under this angle too.  It is hardly possible to have deep and prolonged personal interactions with locals when you skip eight countries in as many weeks (which doesn´t mean we didn´t have interactions at all). The trip undoubtedly gave me a taste of Africa and sparked in me the willingness to come back to the black continent. But I did not become an expert (neither intermediate or advanced) in Eastern and Southern African culture, geology, art or ethnology. In this respect, I can only recommend the excellent Africa : A Biography of the Continent, by John Reader, that I am currently reading.

I will have plenty of time to ponder about this and other things. Because I am about to… spend forty-eight hours in six different airports / thirty in five planes. I am flying from Cape Town to Johannesburg to Nairobi to London to Madrid to Buenos Aires.

 Talk about expanding my horizon !

 

 

 

 

 

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Responses

  1. The tree you were talking about is called the ‘quiver tree’ or its Afrikaans name is ‘Koker tree’

  2. Thnx Hungritch. Glad that you visit this amazing blog so frequently !


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