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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Things I Did Yesterday 07/02/10

Day four of our South Africa trip! But yesterday I:

- Sorted out access to the wireless here at Jane & Nick's house. Which reminds me, I should mention something about this place. The house is in a part of town called District 6, a sector that was bulldozed in the '60's during the process of forcibly moving all the non-whites out of central Cape Town into the Cape Flats townships. District 6 was a very diverse place, your classic dive part of town where people, both local and international, tended to wash up. Of course, this also made it something of a cultural hub, with a vibrant sense of community and culture. There was supposed to be redevelopment immediately after it all got leveled, but it never happened due to an international outcry over the action (this was of course before the height of SA's international pariah status). To this day, much of it is empty scrubland, still with the original rubble sticking up here and there where it hasn't been completely cleared. Unfortunately this is mainly down to bureaucratic bullshit, as various political interests want to get themselves involved, tying it all up dense red tape. So, very little development has gone on. A few terraces of houses have gone up as a part of a resettlement project, but that has been very stop-start over the last 20 years.

Jane & Nick's place is on one of the few terraces of houses that wasn't demolished, and sits on the bottom slopes of Table Mountain with a great view over the working harbour. It's a two-level place, with the master bedroom and office downstairs leading onto a small courtyard, and the upstairs containing guest a bedroom & bathroom, leading into a fantastic open-plan kitchen and living area which goes through to a sun-catching balcony that capitalises on the view. All very nice and airy, but with enough dark wood and features that it would still feel very cosy in the winter. Of course, like most places here, it's surrounded by walls that are topped with metal spikes. The walls are actually quite nice, done in a way that gives the whole thing an almost villa-like feel. The metal spikes? Not so much. Still, I do need to keep reminding myself that as much as the security measures are far more prevalent, there's still nothing here I wouldn't be seeing in places about London. Except for the security company signs on the houses promising Armed Response, of course. Anyway, on with the day!

- Alex abandoned me! She went off to her friend Jen's hen do while I with Jane & Nick to a masonic potjiekos competition. Basically a charity fundraiser where the various masonic lodges around Cape Town (one of which Nick is a member of) compete to cook the best potjiekos: a kind of layered stew that is slow-cooked in a cast-iron pot which is left in hot coals for a number of hours. It's a traditional Afrikaans thing, and the food is rather nice. Strange to be hanging with the masons, though. Mainly ex-pat Brits (and one German) who are effectively running the equivalent to the Lions or Rotary, only with more elaborate rituals. The whole thing just feels a little like a boys own adventure club, but they were all nice folks with good, charitable aims. I was asked by one if I was a mason. No, I replied, to which I was told "Not yet, anyway." At last, my dreams of holding the secret reigns to the world are drawing closer to fruition!

- Came home after taking a little too much sun (I lost the hat I was lent, which I can only assume was blown away when put it aside for a moment), and had a little mid-afternoon nap. I normally abhor losing any portion of the day, but hey, I'm on holiday. So I dozed for a little bit, then got up and did some writing. Settled down with a paper looking at the real estate sections (amazing what you can get for your money here, even with the weaker pound), then watched some of the right-wing revenge-wank that is Taken, which is actually a very well-made action thriller with Liam Neeson. Basically the morals are: don't trust anyone that isn't American; Europe is a hive of corruption and villany that wants to sell your daughters to dirty Arab-looking businessmen; I'm not paranoid about these things, you're just naive; and of course the US secret services are the best trained killing machines in the world, capable of mowing through the ranks of any number of lowlife foreign scum. Fun film.

- Alex arrived home and we went out to meet some old friends of hers, one of whom was just in town for the night. This involved going to some suburb I don't know by way of a slightly terrifyingly underlit motorway. Anyway, went to a pleasant restaurant which did great gourmet pizzas (steak, jalapeno & feta for me) and had a catch-up. Well, Alex had a catch-up, I had a meet'n'greet.

- Drove home (thanks to the magic of Tom Tom, for which we bought a South Africa map before we left the UK), sat on the balcony for a bit, having a drink while watching the city lights, then hit the sack.

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