Roughin' It

A view from the field area down over the Amanda Rabie vineyards - She's the farmer and vintner and quite a cool lady. There is an invasive plant removal project going on in the river (Australian Acacia - as far as I can see it's the same one that's all over Nor Cal with the yellow pollen). She has a zebra which has become alpha-male in her donkey herd. Seems all the donkeys think they're zebras now. And that's pronounced zeh-bra with a short E, not like Zeebra. Also the letter is called "zed" instead of "zee". I am having to switch over to all these words but I really don't want to be that jerk American who comes home from somewhere with a suddenly new pronounciation! baaaaasalt comes to mind.

You call this field work? We stayed in a converted wine cellar at Conradie Vineyards. It is a long room with little closets on each side which had bunks built into them - kind of like sleeping cabins on a train or something. They rented us the whole thing and the lawn and firepit outside - enabling nightly braais and quite a bit of wine drinking and beer drinking and for some reason the Afrikaaners are nuts over brandy and coke, it's like the manly drink or something. Why not when beers at the bar ar R7 (less than a dollar) and decent wine is R30/bottle (about $4.25). And they made hot breakfast everymorning - spiced scrambled eggs with sage or something, and you guessed it, boerewors, and mealies (kind of a crumbly polenta - but everything made of corn is called mealies or mealie meal).

Outside the window there were weaver birds nests with little yellow weaverbirds darting in and out of them.

There were a bunch of little dogs there. They were all named after characters on an Afrikaans soapie (soap opera) and this one is called Jan Patrick or something like that. But we all called him "crazydog" because he would go absolutely crazy over this rock. He would lick it all afternoon and get more and more excited until he was shaking all over and out of breath. He'd start whining and squeeking and pushing it around with his nose and then freak out and rip up a bunch of grass or something. It was quite a performance. He also had figured out a fake limp - when new people came or when people were eating, he would pick up his right paw as if he was injured. But he'd run around fine when he thought nobody had any food. Quite a little character.

Ah the old BRAAI. You can see the Karoo lamb chops on the back of the grill, the 2nd round of boerewors on the front of the grill, and underneath are the foil-wrapped potatoes, butternut and gem squash. Standard fare. The coals were made on old grape vine, very hard and hot.

And finally, Mom is complaining that I have no pictures of people. This is sort of sad because I am in the NEW SOUTH AFRICA, the RAINBOW NATION! Well here is a picture of some of the 3rd year class around the Braii. Karoo lamb chops, boerewors, foil-wrapped potatoes and squash. The guy on the left holding a knife to a student's throat is, predictably, the TA, Tim. Three of those white guys are "Afrikaans-speaking" but they came to UCT anyway. Only a few "English-speaking" whites go to Stellenbosch, where classes are taught in either language, but it's more common for Afrikaaners to come to UCT, which is all English. Anyway they are a pretty jolly bunch, I had a great time with them. Since everyone keeps asking - UCT is about 40% white South Africans now, the rest made up of black ZA (18%), colored ZA (14%) and the rest are from other countries - mostly black Sesotho and Botswanans and Namibians as far as I can see. A sprinkling of white Europeans. The geology students seem to reflect the general population except that we have more black Africans from mining countries probably.

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