Trip to South Africa, Part 6 – Storming

We woke up the next day still pretty high from the night before, and decided to calm down with tea and cricket. The highlights from the West Indies South Africa game was on and I used it as a teaching tool to try and explain the game to my American travel mates. Strangely enough they seemed to understand what was going on, and even looked interested… perhaps it is something in the air in America that makes it impossible to explain cricket, or perhaps it’s that I’ve never tried explaining it sober. Anyway, after the cultural lesson we took a stroll down to the Valley of the Waves, which is very difficult to describe, but I’ll give it a shot:

Imagine Walt Disney, the Discovery Channel and a Vegas casino decided to team up and build an African themed water park. This wouldn’t be so tough to imagine, but they really want to make it authentically African. The problem is that it actually has to be in Africa, so it has to be WAY more African than anything in Africa actually is. So we have giant elephant statues everywhere, and majestic waterfalls and beautifully crafted ancient looking temples and massive artificial tidal pools complete with white sand beaches and fast food joints. It truly is breathtakingly awful. It may be the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but the carefully constructed views are amazing and you can’t help but grab a martini (even thought the fucking bar has no fucking olives, not even a bloody cocktail onion) and sit on a deck chair over looking the entirely spectacular strangeness of it all. We ate ice cream and calamari burgers and felt like we’d walked onto the set of the next Monty Python film. The day of relaxing ended with getting take-out Nandos Chicken, going back to the apartment and drinking wine until we felt normal again. I went back up to the visitors center and worked for a few hours before falling happily into my bed. I felt almost relaxed enough to really enjoy the book I’m reading. Kurt Vonnegute’s Blue Beard.

Part of the plan had been to drive to Botswana, mainly at Rob’s insistence so that he could rack up another stamp in his passport to continue to prove that he was the most well travelled person in the known universe. It seems odd that a person with such an interest in the finer things (to which he boasts incessantly) is so pathological regarding travel to what he considers third world countries. He has no interest in Soccer, and very little interest in people living well. When you finally take him to a place where people are living in shacks and scraping by each day, he cheers up, only to follow with “I’ve seen worse.” I think part of it is his sense of humor, and part of it is that he is not a very outwardly emotional person, but it was starting to grind on me.

I refused to do the four hour drive into Botswana, but offered to take the car into the park for our own game drive. We all agreed and first hit up the liquor store and Spar to get all the essentials for a safari: beer, wine, cups, plates, knives, forks, Portuguese bread rolls, brie, and meat for the boys. The only thing that shook us up a little was the lack of availability of coolers for the beer, but as they say in Afrikaans, “n boer maak n plan”. So after we fashioned together a whiskey packing box with a Pep plastic bag, we had a perfect ice box for the Windhoek Largers and brie.

Considering our inferior Korean touring car, our lack of experience and levels of alcohol, we managed surprisingly well. Rob navigated, I drove and Andrew napped in the back. We found a nice hide over a lake and set up a gourmet buffet while we watched the hippo and bird life until some Germans arrived and we decided to move on. We saw zebra and buck of every kind, elephant, more rhino a ton of baboons, monkeys and wildebeest. Not bad for doing it on our own.

On the way back from the drive, I was starting to get pretty angry with Rob. I didn’t like his sense of humor and tensions finally flared when after a few drinks at the Shabeen. We’re both strong willed and stubborn people, but rather than fight to the death, I will invariably leave, which I did, and almost considered leaving his ass in Sun City. After working a bit and speaking to the girlfriend back home, I had calmed down enough to wait till the morning to sort things out.

Right now, I am sitting completely alone in the visitors center of Sun City. This is the only place where I can even get some sort of internet signal, and I have to pay $20 to sign on and I will only get 150 megs of traffic. I figure that’ll be enough to download my emails and maybe upload some of the work I’ve done.There is now an Italian in the Visitors center, at a quarter to one in the morning. Not only is the Internet connection very expensive, it is also fascinatingly flaky. It seems to somehow know when you are almost done uploading something extremely important before it disconnects you from the network. The Italian did not respond to my greeting other than with a nod. The reason I know he is Italian, other than the ridiculous shoes and the blue track jacket with “ITALY” all over the back, is that he just started throwing his arms up and down while yelling in Italian. It is clearly directed to God, or women in general, or someone other than me… And he hasn’t even take out his laptop… perhaps he can somehow taste the bad WiFi signal in the air… I guess I will call it a night and try to get this posted when the web gods smile upon me again.

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