September 13, 1998

South Africa: British Airways Flight 058, Cape Town-London

The "what a long strange trip it's been" entry.

(And I'm not even a Grateful Dead fan.)

Sarah McLachlan on the in-flight: cool.

I feel...I don't know _what_ I feel. Other than turbulence (several kinds, he echoed). Flattened affect.

Maybe Africa forces serenity as a survival mechanism.

I have no dramatic philosophical conclusions to draw from the last six months. I'd hate to cheapen them to a few scrawled lines even if I could.

Let's just say: I'm more who I want to be than I was when I began.

Suppose I should fill in the details of the last few days. They will be sparse: a kind of cumulative literary exhaustion has set in.

And I'm tired, too.

A long, lazy nothing day in Windhoek, that was Thursday the 3rd.

Friday, off to Cape Town, a gleaming blue luxury double-decker Intercape bus through raw wild Namibia. Chilled and sleep-stupid at the border crossing. Woke to green plains and jagged escarpments of South Africa. Shane & Maggie got on at Keetmanshoop, and saw Jason & Liz at the bus station: the Fabulous Five reunited.

Checked in to the originally named Backpack Lodge and wandered town. Cape Town _is_ San Francisco: hills & highlands, chilly sea, winelands, prison island, small walkable downtown, etc. Ate, drank, farewell'd with Jason & Liz.

Sunday, further wanders - circumnavigated Signal Hill and Lion's Head - and ate, drank, farewell'd with Shane & Maggie (at _Nando's_, of all places.)

Monday, finally checked in with my Cape Town connection, the Wichts. With my usual stunning timing, I showed up on the eve of Caroline's father's birthday party. David's brother-in-law Richard drove me to the Wichts' palatial mansion: ate, drank, swapped philosophy w/David, slept in my luxurious room.

Tuesday, an epic climb up not-very-epic Signal Hill, and more films. (Major movie fix in CT: hence few activities the first few days.)

Wednesday, and grand tour off Cape Point: a seal visit, the Chapman's Peak drive, biking down the coastal road and into the nature reserve, a v.g. picnic, hike from Cape Point to the Cape of Good Hope - both of which very much feel like the End of the Earth.

Thursday, aimless roving and fab THE BIG LEBOWSKI. Minibus taxis cramped, but not like Ghana's tro-tro's.

Friday, went hiking up Table Mountain with fine fellow named Gavin. Violent Arctic winds had closed the cable car, so the mountaintop was ours nearly alone. A good hike. Descended through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Saturday - yesterday - a winelands tour. Drank considerable quantities of very good wine, another picnic, and then an afternoon visit to the Cape Flats Nyanga township and a few beers in a shebeen. Followed by dinner with the same crowd - crocodile, ostrich, springbok & boerowors, coffee, drinking, all on Long St.

Today, gift-shopping, packing, and exodus.

South Africa: beautiful, prosperous, but very very uncertain. All the whites who can are thinking of leaving...

Here endeth the manuscript found in a Moroccan corner shop.



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