Saturday, December 26, 2009

South Africa - FINALLY.

in July 2009, i traveled to my seventh and final continent - Africa. more specifically, South Africa. and the pictures never came. that changes today:

such a delay in the pictures this was quite the contrast to when i returned from Antarctica & Argentina (or any of my Asian travels, India & China pics still pending). i returned from the bottom of the world just before the Thanksgiving 2009, so all the photo-sorting, blog-posting, and picture-posting were immediate. not quite the case with the S.Africa pics - all you, my loyal readers, got was a bit of a [weak] teaser.

upon returning from Africa, we moved apartments, i repaired/sold a house, Beatles Rockband came out, and life just got crazy. fast forward to this holiday break, and every effort was made to to provide you, valued Ramancoke reader, with a delayed Christmas present. if you didn't already click the mosaic above, here's a robust listing of our trip to South Africa (with an added Amsterdam bonus) - once there - be sure to click the SLIDESHOW link in the upper-right corner:
overall reflections? for the trip: amazing, on so many levels. it was the right amount of cultural immersion (understanding the lasting, and evolving, socioeconomic effects from years of apartheid rule), amazing nature (safari and hiking), and much-needed relaxation (french winelands). AND i got to drive on the other side of the road!

for the country intself: it is a fractured country that is determined to move forward, despite more than it's fair amount of justified baggage. they are a nation still emerging from decades of racial injustice. for (relative) perspective, in the US (post Emancipation Proclamation, pre-Civil Rights movement) the majority of the American population had been oppressing a minority of black Americans (originally brought in against their will), and the government, when not directly involved (the South, Jim Crowe laws, etc), simply looked the other way. in S.Africa, the minority of the white population was oppressing a MAJORITY of the black (native) population, and racism/segregation was ENFORCED government policy.

if you've seen the film District 9 (the title paying homage to Capetown's District 6, though much of it was filmed in the slums of Johannesburg's Soweto township, the director is S.African), it is more telling/disturbing when you realize the portrayal of the film's fictional characters is pretty close to what was actually (and to some degree, still) happening 20 years ago.

thankfully, this is not the case today, but the effects are still felt. despite the fall of apartheid (the sentinel event of which being the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990), there is still much to be done. the country has so much momentum, but despite all of the modern infrastructure in place (something lacking in much of the developing world, the African continent especially), these very western interventions are what sowed the seeds of the inertia holding the country back.

this was our core takeaway of the trip - all the nature/relaxation was simply icing on a very bittersweet cake. don't get me wrong - the wildlife was AMAZING (esp being in their natural habitat, and often coming dangerously close). would i go again? in a heartbeat (sadly, time and money allowing). but with South Africa, we were just scratching the surface of the broader continent (where plans are being baked to travel top to bottom).

enjoy the pics, but please takeaway the context.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, and a Ka-wazy Kwanza from the entire team here at

[now press play and enjoy our seasonal greetings already]:

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