DEAR DANIEL: I’M CRAVING MORE FROM AFRICA!
Greetings readers of The Conversationalist!
I’m tickled pink that you show up to my blog and spend your quality time tuning in to my adventure. Some of you spend more time here than others. For instance, Monique my editor and self-appointed “Top 5” fan is one of those frequent fliers on the Baylis-Airplane-to-Introspectionville. One of the things I love about Monique is that she has lovely formed opinions about the content that she wants to see and the frequency of posts. And she doesn’t hesitate to share her desires.
Here is her recent note to me:
“Sometimes I feel like it’s been foreveeerrrr since there has been new material on your blog. Though I can clearly see that you have posts dated May 10, 9, 8, 7 and 3… So I guess that means you’re doing a great job leaving me craving more! I want to be selfish and ask you to spend even more time writing, but that would be… selfish.”
That’s okay Monique, you are allowed to be selfish. Just as long as all these lovely readers still agree to buy the book – on shelves in 2012!
In fact, I’m pretty sure people like it when you field me questions. For instance, after last month’s very successful post – DEAR DANIEL: MY BIG FAT DEMANDS – my ol’ treeplanting (and currently VERY pregnant) friend Helene said, “I liked this post, Dan. Answers to questions I didn’t know I had!”
Monique, you are the every-person’s reporter, digging around to find the whole story! The people love you!
So without further ado, let’s get to some more “Monique” demands…
Poverty. You surely saw it in Peru. How does Cape Town compare?
You know, I have yet to reach a destination where there haven’t been clear economic discrepancies. Indications of poverty have been quite clear: beggars, unemployment, crime. We could take a step back and try to understand the larger social context of poverty. I was mugged here in Cape Town. And the fact that mugging is occurring, in my opinion, is a clear response to economic inequity. If we want to reduce crime, let’s talk about reducing economic disparities.
But I won’t go into any major socialist rants at the moment.
In Cape Town there is an area called “The Townships” where people live in tin houses and ten families, for example, might share a single water source. Moses has graciously invited to guide me through some of the areas, which would otherwise, as a white, western tourist, be quite foolish to attempt alone.
Stay tuned for my reflections on this experience.
World Cup. Any reflections from locals? The good, the bad and the ugly. Any images of kids playing soccer, etc.?
Last weekend, as I joined a group of locals at a sports bar to watch a rugby match, I was talking to a fellow named Tim who works in the hotel industry. He told me that they were waiting for the influx of travels to come after South Africa had been exposed during the World Cup of 2010.
“We’re still waiting,” Tim said.
I feel like the World Cup happened. It was fun. And the party’s over. Everyone just got out of bed the next day and reassumed their lives. My general impression is that it was a positive experience, in terms of unifying the nation, much like winning the Rugby World Cup back in 1995. And locals are most definitely passionate about sport; soccer, rugby and cricket reign supreme.
Also: I will, for your personal benefit, bring my camera to a field full of kids playing soccer, and proceed to be the creepy white dude taking photos of children. I hope this makes you happy.
Wine. Are you going to visit a winery? I imagine that South Africans mainly drink South African wine (?). But is wine the beverage of the average man, or is it an upper class thing?
Yes, I hope to make it to a winery, and that’s because my drug of choice is red wine. And because I like it when they give it to me for free.
As for what the average South Afrikaner is drinking, I have yet to make it out of Cape Town, so I can’t really speak to any experience in this domain. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that a traditional glass of umqombothi might be more popular than wine, when it comes to the indigenous South Africans.
Still, from what I understand, wine is becoming increasingly popular among middle class folks around the world. So I imagine that rings true here as well. Especially when great wine is so affordable.
* slams back some pinotage *
Music. Africans, as a gross generalization, are pictured as having great musical skills and great dancers. Got content about that? African choirs will consistently move me to tears…
Wow, Monique. I can just picture you, in all your loveliness, watching some amazing gospel choir, dancing all seizure-like, wishing you had the music inside of you. But alas, your un-rhythmic whiteness is the burden you must carry.
We are cut from the same cloth, my friend.
Last Friday night, Seventies80s hosted some live music. At one point there was a fellow playing guitar and another dude lyrically freestylin’ over the acoustic beat. I was moved to tears by lyrical content, buttery vocals and overall authenticity of the moment.
Embrace the gross generalization of musically skillful Africans, and then get yer arse to Africa and see if it’s true.
* * *
Note: Monique also asked me about “Race” in South Africa. I’ve decided to devote my entire “Letter Home” – available Sunday (May 15) – to this intricate subject.