Monday, June 9, 2014

SA day 6: ultra marathons, french food, and the internets

Today dawned as rainy as the previous evening, so our plans to try to make it to Table Mountain (only open when it’s sunny), were thwarted yet again.  However, we did head out to breakfast today at a place called Mugg and Bean.  They have the most enormous muffins!  We each had one and could eat only half.  I greatly appreciate that baked goods here are far less sugary are much more like bread here than in the states. While there we watched the local sporting events on TV… Ultra Marathons.  Welcome to Africa my friends!  Not that I thought I was some kind of bad you-know-what runner before, but I was further humbled to watch two South Africans easily finish first and second in a DOUBLE marathon at nearly exactly the time it took me to run ONE.  And then die. That, my friends, is genetics, oh and training.

Following breakfast we decided to drive to a little French settlement called Franschoek that specializes in (you guessed it) WINE!  Eric loves this trip.  We drove an hour or so through the rain to get there.  You’ll have to excuse the photos, as we couldn’t really pull over to get out of the car, but at one point we were driving right up to a ridge, and it looked as if we would drive off of the end of the world right into a cloud (Like The Gods Must Be Crazy, but with fewer cliffs).

 Upon our arrival the weather was dismal, so we chose to eat at a delightful restaurant wth aan even more delightful view, Roca at Dieu Donna.  The menu is what I would describe as Frrench South African fusion, like springbok risotto, and duck flavored with local spices.

Eric and I shared a meat and tapas platter...

I ordered the besk chicken of my life: Boursin stuffed de-boned chicken on a bed of wild mushroom risotto with sautéed fresh vegetables.

A few of my table mates ordered the prime rib.  AN ENTIRE KILOGRAM OF PRIME RIB.  Not good with conversions?  That’s 2.2 lbs of STEAK!  And they both finished it.  #mancard #winning

After our delicious dinner, those of us who did not eat our weight in meat had room for dessert, and lucky thing we did.  The crème brulee was espresso flavored (I think it’s in my DNA), and it was the best crème brulee I’ve ever had in my life.  It was gone in roughly 37 seconds.  Not really, but it was close to that.

Not only was the food amazing, but the location and views were equally stunning! 

No making fun of my preggo belly! Only 12 weeks to go!

We tried to take our party brandy tasting, but the tasting room was closed.  Just as well, since we opted to take a different scenic route home.  This was the first night that we haven’t had an organized dinner (everyone was still stuffed from our lunch), so the boys took it as an opportunity to tackle the problem of the internet.

Brief aside:  This place is amazing.  It is cosmopolitan, modern, and forward thinking.  But… this is still AFRICA. Laws, infrastructure, social norms… these are just a few of the things that we Americans take for granted that are not so reliable here.  Laws are enforced… kind of.  Infrastructure is there… in a way. And society is still trying to figure itself out after the collapse of the apartheid in the 70s.  Our internet situation is a fantastic example of that.  When we arrived, our hosts had just picked up a router for their wifi (yay!).  Upon plugging it in, there was still no service (boo).  So a new router was purchased, a different kind (yay!), still no signal (boo). We discovered you have to pre-pay for data, so we bought some (yay!), but our speeds were roughly around .01MPS (double boo).  This left them with one real option – buy a giant antenna, and attach it to the house.  Oh yeah, and it needed to be gale-force wind proof.  In a matter of two days this was done (yay!).  We had internet – glorious fast internet for all of… ten minutes (boo). Realizing that fast internet shot the usage through the roof, our hosts will now be paying an exorbitant amount (by American standards) to have enough data to run their business. 

All this to say that this is still a strange place, Africa.  And while I think of this continent as the most ancient of them all (I know that makes ZERO sense, but I’m the math teacher, OK? Not science or history), in so many ways the nations here are just babies, trying to raise themselves without many of the tools they need.  So many people want to swoop in and “fix” the problems here, be it social or economic.  But the fact is, like most things, these issue are vast, and complex and they involve a lot more actual humans than the statistics suggest.

That entire aside is to explain to you why I am 4 days behind on this blog, but am now ultra-grateful, yet again, to have been born into the family and nation that I was.  We have our problems, but all the way from Africa, I’m going to give a big old, “God bless the USA!”

Tune in tomorrow to hear about our breakfast at Woolworths, and how I cooked boerewors (beef sausage stuff) for South Africans and they even ate it. 

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