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Go to the past | Go to the future

On my second last day in the cape area I set out driving to Summerset West to visit Werner, a long time colleague of my Melbourne supervisors, using the only direct route: the N2, the road from Cape Town along the coast to Durbin. Just after the first off-ramp, outbound traffic came to a standstill and stayed that way for the painful distance to the second exit, at which point the police were directing the three lanes of traffic through the one lane off-ramp. After following the car in front at the copper’s behest, getting abjectly lost and finally getting directions at a servo, I discovered the N2 had been closed by rioters from the townships that flank this highway for many kilometres into town. Threatened with relocation, they set up burning barricades and threw stones at police, only to be put down by rubber bullets. The words of the servo attendant, Werner and the Head of Physics at Rhodes still ring in my ears: Welcome to South Africa.

The next two days were spent visiting vineyards with Werner, one of the finest nuclear structure theorists on the planet who has in retirement reinvented as a wine guide, and visiting iThemba LABs with a contingent from Rhodes. Good times, but not the makings of gripping copy. On the final night the skies make good on their week long threat and opened up and it had been these dark clouds sitting on Table Mountain that kept me from scaling said landmark. Thus, there is call to return. The drive back to Port Elizabeth the next day was uneventful, save nearly running out of petrol 35 kilometres from the destination due to piss-poor management and then driving through rural back roads after dark, panicking to find an open servo. At this point, my repeat passenger and missionary Joshua started begging God for a blessing and he, as I was in Assisi with the sacred cola, was answered. Holy intervention or standard town planning; I leave it to you to decide. Then began the ordeal of airport transit, which brings me back here, to the end of this penultimate post. Check back soon for the round-up of this stunning nine-month saga.

This lunar cycle

April 2015
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