Christmas was great. I had dinner with a “colored” family in Cape Flats. Yes, we in America aren’t supposed to use that term and get quite uncomfortable when we hear it. But here in South Africa, Colored means more than mixed-race, it is a distinct group of people with a distinct culture and identity, and as, for example Cubans, “Coloreds” can range from blonde and blue-eyed to the darkest black. But just as Cubans, they have language, culture, geographic location, and history that make them distinct–personally and politically. I’ve learned a lot more on this trip, the kind of learning that can’t come from a book but from spending a lot of time with people, sitting at a dinner table with 35 people; asking sincere questions and then just listening. I want to circle back to this subject when I have more time because it is not simple–it’s complex and requires some effort to really start to get a sense of the social dynamics here.
I got my motorcycle yesterday — Thursday, Dec. 29. It is now officially licensed in my name, and I am also registered to drive in South Africa. The details of me getting licensed are a cross of being hilarious and scary. All you need is a passport and two photos–no proof that I am licensed elsewhere. South Africans complain that this system has allowed a lot of unlicensed (and basically bad drivers) from other parts of the world (mostly Africa) to get licensed in South Africa, and contribute to the nearly 1500 road deaths per month (yes, that is per month!). It’s so great to have a motorcycle! I took it to a local salsa lesson last night (all Puerto Rican salsa though — God, I wanted to hear just one timba tune).
On a completely unrelated subject, there is a store in some of the malls that is the “German store” where they sell only goods made in Germany. High-quality stuff, from candy to undergarments and socks, to games. It made me wonder, if there was a “USA store”, what would it be able to stock? Fancy pieces of paper representing mortgage-backed securities!?
I’m actually writing this at 12:10 am Cape Town time on Dec. 31st, but most of the people on my lists will read it on Dec. 30 which marks the birthday of my friend Jason Martin (1969-1997) with whom I made my first big motorcycle trip — from California to Tierra del Fuego (Ushuaia, Argentina). (Shout out her to David B. and Gary K.) Jason was a fantastic rider, riding companion, and person–oh, and he was Canadian 🙂
Amongst the many things I was trying to get done before I left, I managed to post both parts of a 20-minute video I made about Jason and our trip onto YouTube. Towards the end of the first one, you’ll see some street shots in Panama — this was 1996, pre-helmet cams, etc. I’m standing on the footpegs behind Jason holding a video camera while he weaves through traffic–it was scary!
P.S. I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to post many photos. I have some nice ones to post still.
The few photos I have put up thus far are here: