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I'm off to sunny South Africa

I will be in sunny South Africa for most of February.

Yay. Sunshine, temperatures in the high twenties, long white deserted beaches, cheap fruit, friends, family, Afrikaans, earthy humour, crazy drivers, bad service, slow internet, chaos, crime and corruption! I can't wait!

I'm not being facetious. I think I've become way too complacent in Japan. You see, third-world countries …

Oh, I know I should be politically correct and refer to them as developing countries, but to hell with that. I need to practice blunt speech now that I'm going back. SA is a banana republic. It just happens to be exceptionally beautiful and relatively more efficient than other banana republics in Africa.

Anyway, you see, life in a banana republic has its own joys: energy, vitality, unpredictability, spontaneity, madness, laughter, creativity, warmth, no rules, no restrictions, no manners, danger, excitement, adrenaline.

SA is not a safety country, but it's my home, and it's good to be going back.

Beautiful Cape-Dutch architecture in Stellenbosch

I haven't been to SA for three years. I used to resent trips back home, mostly due to the expensive airline ticket and the hideously long journey: 26 hours of economy hell, a total of 36 hours from door to door. This time, though, I'm looking forward to it. I haven't enjoyed a summer in South African for many years.

I will stay in a small coastal town called Kleinmond, which is near a bigger town called Hermanus. That part of South Africa is called the Whale Coast. It's a breeding ground for the southern right whale, which makes it one of the best whale-viewing spots in the world.

You will understand why I don't tell random strangers in Kleinmond that I live in whale-hunting&munching Japan. (Let me state for the record: if a species isn't endangered, I see no reason why it can't be eaten. There's no moral distinction between killing a dumb cow, a cute bunny and a majestic whale. Personally I eat no seafood, and meat perhaps once a fortnight and only when dining out; but if you want to eat McDonalds or whale sashimi every day, どうぞ!)

Kleinmond is also famous for its fynbos. The so-called Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest of the world's six floral kingdoms, covers only 0.5% of the area of Africa but is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora.

Proteas in Kleinmond

So this time I'm taking my big camera with me. I want to take photos of our beaches, our flowers, our food. I won't be able to see whales – wrong season for that – but I might be able to snap a fairly huge human. There are plenty in SA.

I'm going to go offline this coming weekend. I won't access the web while I'm gone. Sometimes real life is more important than the virtual world, and anyway, the internet in SA is so slow that it turns me into a gibbering wreck within ten minutes. That's how long it takes for Google's home page to load.

I'm also going to disable comments before I leave, because I'm sick of the vile spam comments I've been getting.

Totsiens, almal. Goodbye, all. Stay warm, and talk to you again … I dunno when … I'm already on Africa time!

I don't have good photos of my home-home, because I've never lugged my big camera halfway around the world, but here goes:

The coastal road from Cape Town to Kleinmond

Kleinmond's beach, with Table Mountain far away in the distance

Table Mountain again, this time from the vineyards above Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch: blue sky, blue mountains

Also lots of vineyards and damn good wine!

University of Stellenbosch

Lanzerac, a Stellenbosch wine farm that was established in 1692

This map shows you where I grew up: the Western Cape of South Africa. I was born in Worcester, studied in Stellenbosch, worked in Cape Town, then lived in Johannesburg for several years and finally returned to Stellenbosch. After I moved to Japan, my oldest sister, her family and my mother moved to Kleinmond. That's where I will spend most of my holiday.


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