"The master in the ART of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion" -- James Michener

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Social Advance Gauntlet that is Cape Town

Race and gender relations in South Africa is something that I will not even pretend to understand but I think I can safely say that its a force affects all of the girls that I live with. Capetonian men of all races and classes tend to be pretty forward and us GRS women have definitely felt the heat in our short stay here. As if wearing matching bright yellow T-shirts with the GRS logo isn’t enough, walking in a large gaggle of, if I may say so myself, attractive girls, brings about a lot of attention, especially if you are wearing shorts or skirts (which by the way is completely acceptable and normal dress for many locals, not the case in many more rural places around Africa) and especially if you are American. This has somewhat forced us to develop a sense of humor about these encounters because, quite frankly, many of them are absolutely ridiculous. Below is a list of the relatively PG rated advances that we as a group have endured.

  • “Excuse me, excuse me! Thank you for your beautiful legs.”
  • “Ive seen you before, and I like you.”
  • Standing in nothing but his tighty whitie underpants “Can I take a picture with you?”
  • Wasted bum: “I louf you, we would make a great Top Deck” (chocolate bar that is layered with both milk and white chocolate, sometimes used to describe mixed race couples)
  • Chasing us out of a gas station at 2am “Excuse me, you are really beautiful…(questioning looks from our side)…. thought I would give it a try!”
  • Drive by “I love you!”
  • Toothless car guard serenading us with “I want to know what love is!”
  • “Ladies! Ladies! Would you like a haircut?…. Can I have a ride?… I’ll buy you beer, Black Label!” To Talia and I in our car, stopped at a light.
  • “You have the legs of an African!”

These are just the ones that stand out from the usual "hello sisi," "hey ladies," kissy noises and generally suggestive looks. Can’t blame them for trying a multitude of different approaches. More to come as incidents occur.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Kidney Bean Couches

Traveling always poses an array of challenges and experiences. We all have our stories but this one I found particularly amusing for some reason. Apparently amusing enough to take pictures. Mike and I traveled back from Boston to London Heathrow together, from there we were traveling to our respective GRS sites. Were were sleep deprived jumping on the plane from Boston and were only more so when we arrived at Heathrow. After a meal, a game of Scrabble and many games of Connect 4, we realized that staying awake was a miserable prospect. Walking into the main terminal of Heathrow we see five of the largest couches we have ever seen. They are red leather and shaped like concave kidney beans. All of them were occupied so we sat down nearby to wait for one to become vacant. After about ten minutes of dozing in chairs a lady stands up and I promptly sprinted over to the kidney bean couch, realizing midd run that I was apparently racing a 10 year old boy and had beat him to our destination. I felt bad, but desperate times call for desperate measures. He could fall asleep on his mom, I was going to fall asleep on that couch. Mike and I passed out for abut 4 hours in the busiest terminal of Heathrow. Wrapping our heads in sweatshirts, we tried to create the illusion we were anywhere but there, yet it ended up being one of the most rejuvenating and needed sleeps I have had in a while. Oh, the places you'll go.

Forgive our faces, we were tired.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


So I am finally back in Cape Town and through the dark throws of jetlag. After almost a month back at home in the good ol’ USofA I, admittedly, had a hard time adjusting this week. Apparently, it is really tough to get used to copious amounts of sunshine, warmth and the general wonderfulness that is the Capetonian
summer. I have big plans this weekend to catch back up on my tan, read a good book and really get some good sleep in.

On my first grocery trip back I was SO tired that all I could bring myself to buy was oatmeal, yoghurt and MANGOES, which are the most heavenly fruit when they are the real deal. Granted we have to trade Avocado season for mango season but in my eyes it is a timely switch. My roommate witnessed me have my first go at eating a whole mango. I started out with complete civility pealing the skin with a knife then systematically cutting the flesh off around the pit. Yet, the trouble is, after the knife cant go any further, there is still so much mango left. SO I did as I saw my African babies do in Malawi, which was bite right into the pit and scrape the extra meat off. I ended up with juice up to my elbows, all over my face and running down my legs. Quite the scene. Good to be back.