Wednesday, February 23, 2011

U2 Comes to Cape Town

Last Friday, a couple of friends and I headed to a little concert frontlined by an Irish band that was playing at the Cape Town stadium. In typical Mother City fashion, there was a parade along the Fan Walk to welcome the guests, who hadn't played in Africa in twelve years, despite the lead singer's extracurricular activities...

You might recognize a few of the papier-mâché heads-on-stilts representations (hint: Bono far left, The Edge to the right with his little hat).

We watched from Jamie's balcony as several brass bands (a specialty of Cape Town for 2nd New Year, a tradition dating back the early slave days of the colony) marched by.

Then it was time for us to head to the stadium as well.

Unsurprisingly, the venue was packed--perhaps even more so than the World Cup (I can never say too many times how much I love this stadium).

The added bonus of nosebleed seats was that we had a glimpse of Table Mountain through the top of the stadium.

After an interminably long wait, U2 finally arrived!

And played a great set. Having been to my fair share of rock concerts, I felt pretty happy about (impressed by?) U2's ability to hold an entire stadium, most of whose spectators were sitting in crappy seats, totally engaged. It's a rare talent, and one that some of my most favorite artists (looking at you, Bobby D) aren't very good at.

It helped that they had "The Claw"--the weird stage set-up--and a moveable video screen. And that at one point, they brought out people carrying lanterns with the Amnesty International logo on them (as well as video clips of Mandela, Desmond Tutu, the Egypt protests, and other human rights-related current events and notable people). And a fog machine, obvi.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Safari Part 6: Last Photos

The remaining photos from my family's December trip to Kruger. I didn't exactly know how to classify them, but some are of the most exciting points of the trip. For more photos, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

I held out no hope for seeing hyenas--they're noctural and they're slippery little suckers. My sister, on her epic animal and anthropology trip in Southern Africa, barely saw any, and part of their project was to track them. But on the last morning, this pair (the other one is to the left behind the grass) were just sitting there. Our guide said that they like to hide their young in drainage pipes--these two were keeping guard. Leopards also like to hang out in drainage pipes. It was interesting to hear how animals have adapted to the man-made aspects of the park. Lions will chase giraffes onto the road so that they slip and fall--one of the only ways to successfully hunt such a large creature. Rhinos use the road as borders for their territory.

Terrible picture but couldn't resist--a mongoose in an abandoned termite mound. So adorable.

Pesky baboons. I see them often out in the Western Cape, where they wreak havoc in the 'burbs and the wineries (and on unwitting tourists to Cape Point).

Vervet monkeys. At first, we thought this momma vervet had killed something or was hurt. Then we saw the baby, which even our guide seemed to be excited about. As you can tell, it was just born.

We were also not thinking we'd see cheetahs. But we did! Due to the rain the night before (and morning dew), the cheetahs came out of the tall grass. They don't like to get wet, so this family group headed out to the dry, warm roads.

All was well and good until an ill-mannered car (not the one pictured) decided to drive by the cheetahs, which frightened them away. Disappointing human behavior (which was repeated time and again in the park).

I was secretly wishing the most to see wild dogs, which are extremely rare. We really, really lucked out.

As did several others.

One in their pack came out of the bushes (they all jumped to receive him/her), and they all took off in the direction of whatever game was nearby.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Safari Part 5: Some Herbivores and Omnivores

In December, I went to Kruger with my family. I've split up my posts for optimal viewing. For more photos, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

A steenbok (it means small antelope in Afrikaans). Not a great shot, but I love its giant cartoon eyes.

A klipspringer. As the name implies, they like rocks.

Warthogs--so ugly...

...but so freaking cute.

Wildebeest are one of the weirdest-looking animals ever.

It is rare to see the sensitive-skinned hippo out of water during the day (they came out to graze in the grass in front of our hotel restaurant all the time during dinner, however). We had great luck with the weather, which can be rainy and/or steaming hot in December. It was cool and only a bit drizzly, which created optimal weather conditions to see hippos (no sun), cheetahs (wanted to stay on the dry, dusty roads), and others.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Safari Part 4: Not Kruger

On our second of five days in the Kruger area (we were staying in Hazyview), we went on a guided road trip of the local sights. It threatened to storm the entire day, with lightning strike after lightning strike on the horizon. For more safari photos, see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The fam at God's Window. You can see why the area is called Hazyview. Below us are the last vestiges of what was once an expansive rainforest. It is now home to South Africa's largest tree farming area. At least there are trees, I guess.

Lisbon Falls. A number of fortune-seekers from Europe and America came to South Africa to farm and to prospect for gold.

The view from the top of Lisbon Falls.

Blyde River Canyon, the third-largest canyon in the world.

The Three Rondavels (which is the Afrikaans term for a traditional round house in South Africa).

Bourke's Luck Potholes, so named because Bourke found gold just sitting in them.

Cat and me at the potholes (Cat, please note that I put in the good picture of you and the weird picture of me).

But She Says She's 54...

The Grammys tend to be the bottom of the barrel in the awards show category in terms of crowd-pleasing sycophancy. But when they bring out Mumford & Sons (I'll admit I only recently discovered them, but I've been at least one hemisphere away for the last two and a half years), the Avett Brothers, and Robert Zimmerman, I feel like maybe things could one day be right in the world. And I love that Bob chose Maggie's Farm, which, from the moment he plugged in at Newport, has been the ultimate Cee-Lo Green.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Safari Part 3: Birds

In December, my family and I went to Kruger for safari. I decided to split up my posts because I am too indecisive to give you a top 10 best of. It also means that I get to subject my three readers to multiple photos of birds. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. Above, a vulture tree.

Gray heron. If I remember correctly, this is the watering hole where Battle at Kruger was filmed.

A European Roller. Not to be confused with...

...the lilac-breasted roller, the most-photographed bird in the Kruger National Park.

Weaver bird colony (mostly masked weavers, I think).

The yellow-billed hornbill

The southern ground hornbill, which is endangered. This is the kind of thing that gets me pretty excited. Even better...

...was the saddle-billed stork, which is also endangered and a bit more attractive than its horn-billed counterpart. It was one of those lucky moments where, after seeing a ridiculous amount of game throughout a ten-hour-plus drive, we happened upon this pair just inside the park gate.