The last few days I’ve had the opportunity to do some exploring in Cape Town, South Africa as we prep to depart on the first leg of the World Marathon Challenge. I’ve got a few reflections:
Your strange and exciting is someone else’s pain in the ass
On one drive outside of Cape Town, the road was blocked by a troop of baboons. Being from the US, my friend and I were giddy with excitement. OMG! Frickin baboons….just sitting there doing baboon shit in the middle of the road. Babooning it up! With babies! And red butts!
Our driver, noting our reaction, took a moment to explain that baboons were generally represented as the dumbest of animal in South African literature and referred to as ‘Grandpa’. I’m not sure what the association between intelligence and paternity is….wait….yes I am. Further, you could accidentally move into a community only to find out it is infested with baboons. Like cockroaches. Pests.
There is nothing like travel to do an end-up on your world view. What you see as special, or magical even, may be commonplace and irritating to someone around the world or in the town next door. Our individual perspective is narrow, rarely fully informed, and biased no matter what we believe. Get outside yourself, listen and learn.
Greed, power and politics ruin everything
Cape Town and the entire Western Cape of Africa is currently suffering from a massive, 100 year drought. There are signs everywhere reminding you that ‘Day Zero’ (when they literally run out of water) is April 12. Citizens already have to spend an hour in line at the spring to get drinking water. And…..well…..fires….
Every local I’ve talked to shares a story that includes:
- Head shaking about climate change, and how inexplicable it is that the current administration in the US is acting so recklessly about it. I know the science is complex, but this is just one example of how even slight changes can affect and displace millions of people. We are one planet. Our local actions matter on a global scale.
- The recognition that warnings over the coming drought began 15+ years ago, but because of politics nothing has been done. I am sure the real issues are massively complex, including the reality that major infrastructure investments are difficult in the best of times. But the ‘man on the street’ feels like the finger pointing and politics of money, control and power between the African National Congress (who is in control) and the Democratic Alliance (who is the opposition party centralized in Cape Town / Western Cape) are the root cause. Something ‘could’ have been done, but nothing ‘was’ done. Political retribution? Sounds a bit like how certain states in the US (NY, CA) feel the changes in tax code, especially around SALT deductions, are playing out. It would be nice if humanity could rise above this paralyzing and never-ending cycle of suspicion, identity politics and ‘I’m gonna get mine’ ism…..but given its universality, I don’t have a significant amount of hope outside of an alien invasion.
There are sharks!
Nothing to say about this. There are sharks. In the water. Right next to the beach. Don’t go in the water.