Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuck's visit to south africa, including marathon update

This is a blog entry from my cell phone, so the formatting is bound to be horrific. This is my disclaimer. Tuck arrived to o r tambo airport, safe and sound on march 24th, with only a little harassment from airport security. We rested a bit before taking the intercape bus to nelspruit, the capital city of mmpumalanga province. They are growing avocados, mangoes and the like there. Then we took a local taxi up the mountain passes to sabie, where we left the next day to run the big marathon in longtom pass. I made a nice supper of pap with tomato, onion and pilchard gravy, then off to bed and up at four am to board the bus and travel to the starting line. On the bus, as we kept climbing higher and higher in the early morning fog, the bus was full of excited, chattering runners and a few supporters. Some stretched, some drank water, some continued chatting until the start of the race. Tuck somehow got to ride with a referee, because i was about 3-4 k into the race, getting into my groove, when all of the sudden i hear, "sixkiller!" and i turn to see a camera clicking pics. It was a nice, if funny, surprise. After about k 10, i am going up a really steep hill and think there is a rock in my shoe, so i stop to quickly dump it, only to discover it is instead a giant blister. I knew i should have gotten new shoes, but then it was too late. I press on. The mountain roads were majorly sloped, which was also difficult. I hobbled for about half a k, trying to find the inner strength to keep going, because by then i was really hurting. My foot was sprained from all the issues, and by then i could see a water station. Not sure how i did it, but i kept on and kept on and finished at 2:33:02 for 21k. Tuck was waiting at the finish line, snapping pics and with cold liquids. I've never experienced anything quite like it, pushing so hard through pain but knowing your greater goal is worth more than temporary feelings. I was elated, even though i was limping for about three days. Two days later, we boarded the intercape for capetown. We left nelspruit at ten am, and arrived capetown two pm the following day, non stop. It was epic. But i managed to book us a room at the backpackers, plan to meet my friend trevor, who lives there, and tuck and i got a ton of time to talk. We arrive capetown and the wind is blowing our hats and hair around like crazy. You can get four seasons in one day there! We stop for some spicy, healthy chow at nando's and check our map and hoof it to the backpackers. These are like hostels, but nicer, all over southern africa. I negotiated a peace corps discount, we got settled in, washed some clothes and i think we cooked there that night, just trying to get accustomed to the time. By the way, it is not advisable to eat a ripe camembert on a bus, as people complain and you can smell it for a long time after you finish eating. Next day we pack a picnic lunch and head to table mountain. The weather looked good and it is a capetown must-see. Myself, i have now seen it twice. About an hour after we arrived at the top via cable car, clouds began descending and it got very cold. The hooter sounded, to let us know to queue for descent. We must have stood in line for forty five minutes, positively shivering. It was beautiful, though. After hiking back down to town, we went for caipirhinia cocktail and a fabulous seafood dinner. Giant tiger prawns, langostinos, calamari and portuguese sardines, all grilled to perfection, accompanied by a chilly, local sauvignon blanc. Next day was find good espresso then picnic in the company gardens day. The national library is at one end, which we visited, and several museums on another. The squirrels were vying for our seeds, and the children for the squirrels. Then we hit the waterfront, which is on the northeast end of town. I was told we should rent a car to really enjoy capetown, but we decided to walk. That way, you don't miss anything and really get the feel for a place. So we did, discovering a brewery (not in our guidebook) and one that was. We marveled at the different boats and ships, and the beautiful atlantic ocean, as well as a slave of garlicky mussels. Our way back was around quittin time, so we dodged traffic and walked down long street. This is "the" happening place in capetown, tons of bars, lodging, travel companies and just about everything else you can imagine. A nice detour, but we had to look presentable for dinner with trevor, so we didn't dally too long. Trevor took us for asian fusion cuisine, which was nice. I was happy to order amarula for us, since tuck had not yet tried it. The morula trees grow only here in south africa, and when the fruits ripen and fall, the elephants like to eat them to get drunk. They look like litchis. Anyway, a liquor is made from them, and it is kind of like baileys irish creme. Nice for dessert, and in south african car bombs. As you can imagine :)

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