Last night I was able to go to Carnival with some fellow expats. I went into it expecting something similar to what I’ve heard Carnival in Brazil is like. Cape Town didn’t disappoint. The weather was beautiful and since the parade was at night we weren’t standing in the hot African sun. Everyone was in a very happy and joyous mood. The floats and dancers were beautiful. The rhythm of the drum beats and chants made it pretty easy to get in the spirit and dance along. In short we all had an amazing time and would gladly do it all again. This should be on your “must see” list.
Check out my Instagram profile for more pictures.
As you can see the floats were beautiful and clearly a lot of effort had gone into their construction
The crowd size never got to crazy and we able to easily walk around to find food and drink vendors.
Wisconsin has cows, Cape Town has rhinos
And finally, It’s not Beyonce but a queen B showed up and was just as stunning.
Unlike the US, South Africa has more than two major political parties. There are actually 13 parties in parliament. Can you imagine having to pick between 13 people for every political position? It seems a bit daunting. But on the flip side, I would be happy with more choices on a US ballot. It would eliminate the “picking the lessor of two evils” so many American’s bitch about. But I’m sure political apathy would still keep turnout low.
Of the 13 parties these are the 3 largest, and the ones that are in the news the most.
The ANC (African National Congress). This party has been in power since Nelson Mandela was elected president when apartheid ended. I’ve tried to determine exactly what the party platform is, but it seems a bit muddled. They claim to be a “social democratic party”. Under Jacob Zuma there were numerous charges of corruption.
The DA (Democratic Alliance) This is the governing party of the Western Cape province ( where Cape Town is). They are the main opposition to the ANC. The DA is considered centrist.
The EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) These guys have a very interesting reputation. They all wear red and have been known to walk out of parliament if things they don’t agree with are being discussed. They are a socialist party, and attack the ANC and DA for being too pro-business. They have also been accused of racism for various inflammatory statements.
There is a lot of hope that with Jacob Zuma gone and Cyril Ramaphosa now the president that t everything will improve. I’ll be curious to see what steps Ramaphosa takes to address corruption that is pretty rampant in the government.
Water Crisis tie in for bonus points: There are reports that the DA requested funding from the national government (the ANC) several years ago to get some alternate water sources up and running that would have avoided the steps we are taking. The charges are that the ANC stalled in an effort to punish the DA, so the voters would side with the ANC in the next election. The counter claim is that the DA created the crisis by mismanaging the water resources.. Other claims are that the DA over stated how critical the water issue was to get some press in an effort to put pressure on the ANC. There are some folks that feel that the water crisis is fake, I assume they are also members of the flat earth society.
Recently Day Zero ( the day the City of Cape Town shuts off water to all but essential services) was pushed back to July 15, this was shortly followed by reports that it may not happen in 2018. When we first landed it was April 15th. There are multiple factors that went into the date being pushed back, but it is mostly due to decreased demand from the agriculture industry, and a little bit of political football (more on South African politics here). While this great news, we are still doing our part to use less than 50 litters per day.
Since we don’t want our water to be shut off we are taking this pretty seriously. I will admit that coming from Wisconsin where fresh water is an abundance this has been a big shift and a wake up. No more 15 – 20 minute showers, no more flushing the toilet every time, no more watering the lawn, no more cleaning the car.
So what exactly are we doing? I’ll try to break it down.
In the bathroom in addition to shutting off the water while we soap up, we stand in a large tub to collect all water while showering. This water then goes into a bucket to fill the toilet cistern. We don’t let the water run to allow it to get warm either… One thing about cold showers is that you tend to move a little quicker. There are some folks touting health benefits of cold showers, but I call bullshit. We are doing standard stuff as well: Yellow let it mellow, shutting off water when brushing teeth and lathering hands, etc
In the kitchen we turn water off while soaping dishes, and rinse with just a trickle of water. We are also mostly drinking bottled water. Thankfully we can buy this in 5 litter bottles. So we try to keep a few on hand.
In the laundry room we collect the rinse water and use that to augment toilet water. I was surprised at how much water the washing machine uses.
I hope you see a general theme here. Don’t waste clean water to flush the toilet, and don’t leave the faucet running if you aren’t actively doing something with the water. I’m sure there is more we can do, but we can only use so much grey water.
What tips do you have for us? Have you survived a severe drought what did you do?
This week a few things fell into place.
After going back and forth on what car we wanted versus what was available from rental car companies and was within budget. What we agreed on was we wanted something we couldn’t get in the states. We wanted options like ABS, Air con, etc., because apparently those aren’t standard over here. We were hoping for getting a Renault Clio or a VW polo, (I really wanted a Sandero) because they wouldn’t scream ” Hey everybody I’m a foreigner, please take advantage of me”. In the end we ended up with a silver Audi A3 hatch back. It’s missing somethings we really liked on our cars in states like a GPS, but we can use our phones, or buy a Garmin.
We also moved into our permanent place this week. This will provide us with a sense of “home” that the apartment in the hotel never could. We are now in a less touristy neighborhood, and closer to the city center. One of our first todos is to find a local coffee shop for our Saturday morning tradition, the awesome part about this neighborhood is that we will have multiple choices of local small shops.
The most astonishing thing is that our shipment from the states is scheduled to arrive on Friday. I had read on other blogs and websites that this could take anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months due to the slow pace of South African customs. A few folks had said their shipping container arrived well before their air shipment. Since we only had an air shipment, I was fully resigned to the fact that I would only be able to wear what was in my suitcase for awhile longer, because it would take at least a month maybe longer for our meager 16 boxes to clear customs. In all it only took 8 days from the time the shipment left the US.
To bastardize a quote from a friend ” Everything is coming up Bruler”. I don’t know what we did to earn this trifecta, but I’m well beyond elated. Oh, and the view doesn’t suck either.