Preamble and Introduction

Chicago Travel Blog

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The Preamble:

Ladies and Gents. Boyz and Girlz. And everyone caught in between...As a lot of you know or should know -- if i know you that is, or you stalk me -- I have just arrived in South Afrika for what promises to be an arduous, yet equally rewarding, journey to glorious post-grad self-rediscovery. Well, that is my aim anyway. As this is intended to be an adventure whose purpose extends beyond just getting pissed and having fun with locals and other amazing internationally displaced persons (aka Hong Kong), I do plan to document as much as I can. I apologize to the poor souls who followed my short, but definitely sweet, Hong Kong     'WEEE' Blog. That was soitenly the most fun I've had since the day before I solved my first math problem and somehow became destined to study engineering. I had so much fun that I just didn't care about the blog; I guess you can say I forgot about my friends and family (i kid! i kid!). Well this is different! I invite any of you who are interested to check my blog 're-made in Africa' out, as I try to update it at least once a week. I just ask you to remember that this is being written for myself just as much as it is for you. Lastly, I want to welcome everyone (wirklich, wilkommen!) to please post comments and ask questions if you don't fall asleep before the end of the entry or even just want to pretend to care! Even if you don't read, post something random for me to think about. Only a handful actually did so last time -- Thanks Doug for the mini-econ debate! -- and well, I think I will appreciate something to think about much more on those upcoming nights of solitude in the Afrikaan bush. I welcome any dirty jokes that distort my words. THAT, I expect from friends.

Here we go: 'Prep-work for those interested'
This is just about what I did to prepare for the trip, in a nutshell. If you're not interested, I'll start writing about my South Africa adventures either tomorrow or the next day!

Ok! So my trip will follow an estimated track that may include some, if not all, of the following countries: S.A. -- Namibia -- Botswana -- Zambia -- Tanzania -- Malawi -- Rwanda -- Uganda -- Ethiopia. Starting in Namibia, the only purpose for stopping in any major urban cities will be to scavenge for sweet in the support an NGO that I linked up with in Chicago. I am helping Causation Galleries, which promotes fair-trade opportunities for up-and-coming talent to earn good money while giving back to a charity of their choice. In short, everyone wins! If you don't believe me, click that link and do your homework; buy some prints in bulk while you're at it. Besides that, I plan to focus mainly on rural Africa. The kind with Pumbas farting around and Zulu tribesman using Coca Cola bottles as instruments.

 In preparation, I bought a backbreaking amount of gear and a new lens for my new Canon 40D woot woot. I now have telephoto capabilities; I am invincible! I do have to admit that I am initially very pleased with my Tamron 28-300 mm VR lens. While the f-stop is not tip-top, and the large focal range may make top level photographers cringe inside, it seems to be holding up quite well and is a welcome addition to my beautiful Canon L-series pan lens. The VR, Tamron's response to Canon's IS, seems to rock as well. Thanks mom and dad! My boy Dru-pac let me borrow his sleeping bag, and I overloaded my body with vaccinations that left my arms numb and scarred. I have a bunch of multi-vitamins in a ziplock bag and a bottle of Mefloquine for use in battle against the hordes of malaria rich female mosquitoes I plan to encounter as I travel farther north. The stuff they tell you about lucid dreams is true... apart from the occasional restlessness, I can't wait to fall asleep to see what my drug-induced circulatory system can coax my brain into upchucking. Past that, I have only a few changes of clothing, my tent, poncho, and various small gadgets.

All of that fits in the bag that I bought the morning my flight left Chicago. It was essentially an 85L version of the 65L one I bought earlier, and returned. Even with maternal assistance, I ended up having more hope than space with the 65L 'weekend pack'. The REI pack I ended with seems to be rockin' so I don't expect to have any hiccups in the next few months. After a rushed jam and cram session with mom, I sat down at the piano and recorded my shit! For the past 2 months I kept telling myself I was gonna do it, but always got sidetracked or just felt like playing freely. I blame Pac. So I ended up with 18 hastily recorded tracks (in 1.5 hrs) that I now hope to never forget! On the way to the airport I realized I had at least 4-5 more that I forgot, and I already forgot which ones they were!!! That'll drive me insane!

I'm just going to quickly summarize my transit thru Germany:

I flew business class dirt cheap thanks to my friend DUDA, and was therefore able to freely load up on a mix of Beck's, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. This alternative to my usual in-flight Ginger Ale put me right to sleep, but did result in a hangover 5 hours later! I also didn't have any Radiohead penetrating my skull, which is another one of my night-flight traditions. The sacrifices! After awaking, I landed in Frankfurt at 4:30 in the morning.  The original plan was to go immediately to Dortmund to visit my stunning and equally intelligent friends Jovana and Carolin. Unfortunately inflated costs, and German higher education got in the way. I then decided to pop into Stuttgart to surprise Adam. After communications were restored -- Ace basically lives in the stone age -- I finally met up with him at the Marbach train station. Going off no sleep, we went to the grocery store. annnndddd bougghhhtt beeerrr. Long story short: got obliterated with his cousins and cousins' friends in Stuttgart and Freiborg 2 nights in a row, which combined with jet lag resulted in no sleep and suicidal bodily pleas. A few highlights were the perfekt bar ('schlappen' = meaning old slippers/shoes) with great music, das boots, absinthe, augustiner, beer flutes, dancing, and wildness in a KU style pub setting and later on a bunch of drunk, naked guys running around at 6 in the morning. Then I went to Munchen where I slept the whole first day. Second day did the city tour and went to a really huge Mark Rothkowitz (Rothko) exhibit which was really neat. At that point I was just waiting for Afrika. I finally left on the 16th and got here the morning of the 17th.

Tomorrow I may get to see Nelson Mandela speak and I may meet with LEAP school's director! More on that later! Cape Town ROCKS!

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photo by: mahoney