30 May 2007

San Miguel Island

Spent a few more days on San Miguel Island this weekend. Saw elephant seals and whales but no island foxes, walked for miles, got chased by pirates; pretty much what you'd expect from a weekend in the Channel Islands. Some pictures over here.

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20 May 2007

South Africa Gallery: Soshanguve

The first gallery from the Africa trip. These are from Soshanguve, a township where I spent some time. It's an interesting place, nearly 100% black South African, growing like crazy, and since my visit a couple years ago, has begun to resolve into its own upper and lower class areas. Good to see growth. Sad to see the layers beginning to appear.

Soshanguve is a township situated about 45 km north of Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa. It was established in 1974 on land scheduled to be incorporated into a bantustan (tribal reserve for black inhabitants as part of the racial segregation policies of apartheid) for Sotho, Shangaan, Nguni and Venda people (thus the name) who were resettled from Atteridgeville and Mamelodi. It later became part of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municpality, and was the scene of riots related to poor service delivery in January 2006.

- from Wikipedia

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06 May 2007

At Home, Confused

I should say here that I've made it back home, just in case anybody's concerned. Nairobi was a unique (to me) mixture of exhaust fumes, rich tropical green on red soil, and people everywhere -- black Kenyans busy and always on their way somewhere, white earnest-looking foreigners in the coffeeshop talking about refugees and funding.

I left Kenya after midnight early on a Tuesday morning, landed in London, did my laundry, flew off again, was eating tapas at a street corner cafe in Seville by the time it got dark. That may be my most disorienting travel day ever. And, added to that, all of my environmentalist, small footprint credibility is gone out the window. I promise to drink fair trade coffee and ride my bike for the next eight years to make up for the last three weeks of jet travel. Or at least reuse my plastic grocery bags whenever I think of it. Life would be easier without a conscience. There are so many contradictions and complications.

A side note about the jet travel: I'm going to predict that the Ryanair phenomenon of flying all over the place for almost no money is not going to work out long term. I'd expect that within a few years, maybe 10 or 15, the cost of fuel and the environmental impact of all those planes in the air will have relegated this period to something like the 90's internet boom. It can't be sustainable, which is fine by me. It feels like a kind of gluttony to move yourself around like that. You can only take in so much. But we had good time in Seville and also in Portugal later in the week before flying back to London again. I feel fortunate. See how everything contradicts?

Now I'm back. I woke in the middle of the first night disoriented and crawled around my bed on my hands and knees trying to figure out where I was. The room looked strange, like something I'd dreamed about once. Finally the dog, asleep on the floor in the 3am darkness, brought me back to reality. I'm still sorting out what happened on the trip. Africa moved me, challenged me, and scared me. I suppose it's not an unusual reaction. It happens to everyone, right? So what am I going to do about it, that's what I'd like to know.