“where have you been? “

I’m sure some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting at all for a while. The combination being back at school and having much more limited access to the internet has made posting harder. That certainly doesn’t mean things aren’t happening!

We just had out spring break (or as I’ve been calling it Spring Break 2005, TAKE TWO!). And I went to Johannesburg with my friend Stephanie. We took the train up there (a 26 hour ride), which was really fun. Met some crazy people on the train. After doing some of the touristy stuff in Johannesburg (which for me included going to visit the Market Theatre!) we decided to get out of the city to try and go to a national park to see all those African animals I’ve been told I’m supposed to see. We found a hostel that was “near” the national part (Pilannesberg) that we wanted to go to. Its a small national park in an extinct volcano. We took the bus out to Rustenburg, a town which exists because of the platinum mine nearby. When we go off the bus at a gas station at the corner of Mandela Road and Pres. Mbeki Drive, it was abundantly clear that tourists don’t hang out in Rustenburg very often. I have never been stared at so much. Eventually our ride showed up, and turned out to be a pickup truck (called a baakie in Afrikaans). So Stephanie and I piled into the back of the pickup truck for what we thought would be a short ride. When I just said I had never been stared at so much in my life, that moment now gets second prize to the stares we got in the back of the truck. Apparently white girls don’t ride in the back of baakies. All the black people we passed laughed at us, and all the white people looked horrified. Then, 45 minutes later down the gravel roads, we arrive at the hostel, where we were the only people besides the family. It was wonderful!

The next day we managed to get to the park (a whole adventure on how we go there, but I can tell that some other time).

giraffe

The whole experience I kept thinking it felt like I was in the Lion King. I just finished writing a paper about Disney and they’re portrayal of other cultures, so I mean this with all the implications. This is Africa with no people, only animals and beautiful views. No conflict, on the comfy seats of your own car. I had a great time, and the animals and land was amazing, but it was a little surreal to realize that this is what so many people mean by seeing the “real Africa.” But all that self-reflective academic-ness out of the way, it was a great time. All together, the side trip to Rustenburg was my favorite part of the week.

One Response to ““where have you been? “”

  1. mimi k says:

    so good to see a new post! You could link to your flickr pictures. Interesting thoughts about Disney, culture and Africa.

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