Ugh, I'm in a sour mood. Just spent all morning and part of the afternoon trying to upload some really cool photos and download Skype and pretty much failed at both. The internet here is so touchy, and now I've wasted a lot of money and MBs only to get a failed connection at the 90% mark for both my Facebook photo upload and my Skype download. Really frustrating...
And I'm not sure what to do with the rest of the afternoon... Stuff closes awfully early around here, especially on Sundays, so I already missed Greenpoint Market and the departure of several intern groups to various places. I wanted to go rock climbing at a nearby gym with some of my housemates, but they left without me. It's fine though -- I guess I should continue letting my foot heal... It's just getting difficult to be so stationary. I'm practically jumping out of my skin to start with Scuba lessons, but that's so far off! It was hard to go to the dive festival and just stand around, feeling in the way as all the certified diver got to go out and do their thing.
One thing I've noticed while I'm here is how willing people are, whether they live here or are just visiting, to making sweeping generalizations. Apartheid is in the past, but the tension is still there in a lot of ways. The train, for example, is just half a block down from my house and stops at the same bus mall that the minibus go to. As far as I can tell, it's no more or less dodgy and cramped than the minibus, yet few interns or white South Africans take it. No one can seem to come up with any actual reasons or experiences to warrant the avoidance, especially when the train is busy; the best I've heard is, "... But you're white!" The race issue is an elephant in the room, if I've ever seen one, and it's weird to see how dragged into it some of the interns get. In a discussion about "Saved by the Bell" last night, I brought up that my favorite female character was Lisa. My Spanish roommate wasn't sure which actress I was referring to. "Really pretty," I reminded him. "Black?"
The Californian to my left sighed with enlightened disdain. "Don't say black," she scolded me. "She's COLORED." Colored is an accepted term here for anyone not actually black (or who doesn't look black) -- i.e., Indians, Middle-Easterners, whatever. But we were all Americans there, and "colored" is not a term that's likely to fly back home. Still, black is black in South Africa, and white is white -- that much I can be sure of.
"But she's not 'colored,'" I responded, baffled by the attack. "I mean, the actress' name in real life is Lark Voorhies, so maybe she has like, Dutch relatives, but I'm pretty sure black would still be right. That's like saying Barack Obama is 'colored' because his mother is white; no one says that."
"No," someone agreed doubtfully "Obama's definitely black." The Californian gave me a withering glare. The conversation ended, and I was left confused and unsure.
But race conversations and frustrations aside, I've been having a pretty great week. I don't start my job until tomorrow morning, so I've been wandering around a lot, going to shops, whatever. I made friends with Warwick, a waiter at Mimi's Cafe down the street (Mimi is his mom), which led to meeting many of Warwick's mates -- Matt from Britain/Cape Town, Tobias from Austria, Kim from Jo'burg. So on Friday, film intern Kristen and I jammed into a car with our new friends and made the hour-plus drive down to the Cape of Good Hope. Along the way, we stopped in Simon's Town to see the penguins at Boulder Beach (adorable!) and along the side of the road in Muizenberg to see groups of whales breaching and playing right along the water barrier. Cape Point cost R55, which seemed a bit ridiculous, but we paid and drove through the park to the base of a hill. From there, we made a short hike straight uphill to the lighthouse -- and a beautiful view of the wild blue yonder. Cape Point is the very bottom tip of Africa; we were standing at the end of the peopled world, looking on toward Antarctica.
The views were just breathtaking, and the experience was pretty once-in-alifetime -- even the native South Africans were amazed. Not many people were around, maybe because it was the end of the day and nearing sunset, and we had the view from the top all to ourselves. Eventually, we headed back down the incline to our car. On our way driving out of the park, we saw two families of baboons, wandering the road just feet from our car. I was the only one with a camera, which was incredibly lucky -- you don't see wild primates everyday! I think that very last wildlife sighting, along with the beautiful sunset over the Indian Ocean, definitely made the R55 entrance fee worth it. We were quiet for much of the ride home; there just wasn't much left to say.