Hot Oregon Summer – Berlin Next

Gendarmenmarkt Berlin – depositphotos.com

Gardening and Wildfires

It’s been a restful, contemplative summer in Oregon working in my garden with deer, wild turkeys, annoying yellow jackets, and a stray Gothic-looking black cat. Sadly, dry and windy conditions combined with record-breaking heat resulted in raging wildfires all around us.

Garden Visitor

Cute Stray Cat

The massive Carr Fire near the California / Oregon border created terrifying “fire tornadoes“. They occur when a fire acquires “vertical vorticity and forms a whirl”. Fire tornadoes can “grow to gargantuan size with winds of over 90 mph”.

Fire Tornado – zmescience.com

Carr Fire Chopper – The Mercury News Bay Area

The Carr Fire ignited in late July. A month later, after “torching more than 200,000 acres,” it’s about 90 percent contained!  Smoke from fires in Oregon, California, Washington, and nearby Colorado and Canada creates a surreal aura, bringing an eerie atmospheric haze, poor air quality, and vivid sunrises and sunsets.

Wildfire Sunset San Francisco Bay – Fstoppers.com

Wildfire Smoke at Sunrise – Jonathan Hayward Canadian Press

Brave Wildfire Fighter – Charlie Nash Photography

Next Long Trip

I’ve started getting into the specifics of my next travel adventure. No matter what, this time I’m traveling with one piece of luggage!

Berlin Boroughs and Districts

Like in 2017, I’ll begin in Europe and eventually make my way back to South Africa. I decided to start in Berlin – a new city for me. I’ve studied Berlin’s East and West boroughs and have a few leads for rental apartments in well-located areas near attractions and transportation – Mitte, Charlottenburg-WilmersdorfFriedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and Neukölln. Rents are reasonable, and the apartments look comfortable.

Museum Island River Spree – Stock Photo

Return to South Africa

I’m apprehensive about violence in many parts of Africa – Congo, Mali, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, et al. Although I’ve never experienced violence during my travels in Africa, six cities in South Africa – Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Pietermaritzburg, Rustenburg, and Johannesburg – made the top ten list of the most dangerous cities on the African continent. Xenophobic related violence in South Africa is disturbing. Here in the US, we clearly have our own problems and brand of political tension, civil unrest, violence, and a vast chasm between “left versus right” ideologies…

Berlin Cathedral – Wikimedia.org 

Thankfully Day Zero in Cape Town’s drought is now pushed out beyond 2019, but the government’s move toward land expropriation without compensation is a concern. More than two decades after the end of apartheid, land ownership remains a “highly emotive” subject for South Africans – that may be an understatement. According to the ruling ANC government, white people own 72 percent of private land, black people 4 percent, and other ethnic groups 24 percent.

Berlin Cathedral at Museum Island – 123RF.com

Land expropriation is said to be “the most pressing social issue in the country”. However, some think high crime, corruption, and the “triple-time-bomb of poverty, unemployment, and inequality” are the issues keeping South Africans awake at night.

Kayelitsha Township Outside Cape Town – Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Julius Malema Leader Economic Freedem Fighters (EFF) -blouinnews

Julius Sello Malema Leader Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – blouinnews.com

The ANC-led government and members of the militant, aggressive Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party differ in their approach to land expropriation. The EFF – founded in 2013 and led by outspoken Julius Sello Malema – is a self-proclaimed “radical leftist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist movement that draws inspiration from the broad Marxist-Leninist tradition.

Mmusi Maimane – Leader Democratic Alliance

The Democratic Alliance (DA) – the ANC’s official opposition and second largest political party – accuses both the ANC and EFF of “misleading the public on land expropriation”. They claim to have the best land-reform plan. DA leader Mmusi Maimane says, “there can be no new dawn for South Africa until the ANC is out of power“.

My extended South African visa expires in 2020 – a regular entry (tourist) visa issued at the airport is good for 90 days. I haven’t decided whether to pursue the rigorous renewal process. The “retirement visa” has allowed me to make long trips (up to five years) to explore and better understand South Africa. I especially enjoy the Western Cape, hiking Table Mountain, volunteer work with young children, and vibrant Cape Town – a special and dear place to me. South Africa is a strikingly beautiful but complex and sometimes difficult country that can’t possibly be understood without spending extended time there.

Unter den Linden by Night – 123RF.com

During this period of rapid change, the National Development Plan (NDP) is the country’s detailed proposal addressing key issues for uniting South Africans.The lofty NDP goals to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality are to be implemented by 2030. What little I know of the NDP, it seems overwhelming, but I’m digressing – back to Berlin

Clouds Over Table Mountain from Signal Hill Cape Town – Erik Pronske Getty Images

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The NDP’s goal is to “unite South Africans, unleash the energies of its citizens, grow an inclusive economy, build capabilities, and enable the state and leaders to work together to solve complex problems”…

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Staatsoper Unter den Linden

Berlin State Opera Staatsoper Unter den Linden – Wikipedia

Berlin This Fall

I plan to arrive in Berlin in September. Their fall weather is much like Oregon’s with cool but mild temperatures. When winter comes and it starts getting really cold, I’ll move south – not sure where yet. I’m considering exploring new places versus returning to more familiar areas. New countries of interest include Romania and Albania, but Italy and Spain also have moderate winter climates.

Berlin Brandenburg Gate at Dusk – pond5.com

I’m looking for a three-month rental apartment in the Berlin-Mitte borough, the central section of former East Berlin. “Before the war and division of the city, Mitte was the center of Berlin. It’s regained its former pre-eminence to such an extent that many visitors never see the western side of the city.”

Bode Museum Mitte – Wikimedia.org

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Mitte is the oldest and most historic part of Berlin with many cultural attractions and “ever-expanding restaurant, club, and arts scenes”.

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Strandbar at Bode Museum Mitte

Mitte begins at Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate on the east side of Tiergarten Park. The grand boulevard, Unter den Linden, is lined with 18th- and 19th-century palaces and monuments.

Mitte – VanDam StreetSmart Maps

Tiergarten Park – berlijn-blog.nl

Komische Opera House Berlin – operawire.com

I’m excited to attend theater performances and the Berlin opera! Berlin is teeming with performing arts theaters, cabarets, and clubs. The Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin’s main opera house, and the Komische Oper, the third largest, are both in Mitte. Berlin’s Philharmonic Season begins in late September. Other major attractions in the area include Gendarmenmarkt, a neoclassical square, Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral), and Museumsinsel (Museum Island) with five major museums. Frivolous activities that top my list are – mingling with locals, hanging out in cafés, overnight side trips, and exploring less-traveled backstreets.

Christmas Berlin – efcollegebreak.com 

Germany’s festive Christmas Markets are legendary. These are the top five:

  1. Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt
  2. Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus
  3. Wintertraum am Alexa
  4. Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz
  5. Weihnachtsmarkt am Gedächtniskirche

Christmas Markets Berlin – classictic.com

I don’t speak German but am learning key phrases and pronunciation rules hoping I don’t butcher the language too much. During past travels in Germany, English was spoken everywhere. Mehr später…

Monbijou Park Embankment River Spree

West Side Story Artscape Theatre

In March after popular demand, producer and human rights activist Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre’s production of West Side Story returned to the Artscape. The American musical has been performed in Cape Town before and audiences raved about the brilliant actors, singers, dancers, music, and sets!

Jerome Robbins – Choreographer

Grant van Stern – Choreographer

Artscape Theatre

Artscape is one of my favorite performing arts venues in Cape Town. The theatre opened in 1971 as the Nico Malan Theatre Centre. It was renamed in 2001 and now belongs to the Western Cape Government.

Officer Krupke and Detective Schrank

The spectacular opera house has an exciting ambiance, including gardens, rehearsal rooms, and a stylish foyer. Over the years, I’ve joined friends there for memorable opera, ballet, musical, and comedy performances! Last night’s brilliant performance didn’t disappoint!

Eric Abraham – Film, Television, Theatre Producer

Stephen Sondheim – Songwriter

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“West Side Story is a musical about cultural differences, racism, forbidden love, revenge, and death.”
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Arthur Laurents – Screenwriter

Plot

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story’s timeless plot is set on the “harsh streets of New York City’s Upper West Side in the 1950s”.

Rival street gangs, the Puerto Rican Sharks and Caucasian Jets, battle in a turf-war to gain control of the neighborhood. Tensions rise when Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, leader of the rival Sharks.

Production

American choreographer Jerome Robbins conceived the story in 1957, and playwright and screenwriter Arthur Laurents wrote the West Side Story book. Renowned composer Leonard Bernstein created the musical score with lyrics written by songwriter Stephen Sondheim.

Michael Brenner – Producer

The 1961 film version of West Side Story “won 11 Academy Awards, including best picture, best supporting actor and actress, best director, and best cinematographer”. The film also won a Grammy for best soundtrack. It’s undoubtedly one of the best musicals ever written.

Louisa Talbot – Choreographer

South Africa’s Matthew Wild directs the Artscape production with Charl Johan Lingenfelder as musical director and conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Louisa Talbot choreographed the production with Grant van Ster as resident choreographer and dance captain.

Charl Johan Lingenfelder – Musical Director and Conductor

In 2018, West Side Story is once again “sweeping Capetonians off their feet”! How could it not with the fabulous Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra performing in the pit and an outstanding cast of forty exceptional performers?

Cast of Characters

Lynelle Kenned plays the role of Maria, a hopeless romantic who falls in love with Tony and finds herself at the center of a violent conflict between the Jets and Sharks. Kenned won the Fleur du Cap Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance. Among her many talents Kenned is a soprano opera singer with a marvelous voice!

The main character Tony – former Jets leader – is torn between his gang friends and love for Maria. The part is played by talented US actor Kevin Hack who has performed the role almost 400 times. Hack recently completed an international tour playing in the 60th anniversary international tour of German producer Michael Brenner’s production of West Side Story.

Matthew Wild – Director

Singer, pianist, violinist, dancer, and actress Bianca Le Grange plays Anita, Maria’s friend and Bernardo’s girlfriend. Daniel Mpilo Richards plays Bernardo, proud leader or the Sharks.

Leonard Bernstein – Composer and Conductor

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“The choreography exudes vibrant waves of emotion from act to act leaving its audience’s heart thumping!”

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Artscape Foyer

Artscape Theatre Centre Cape Town

Artscape Foyer Upper Level Lounge

Sculptures Artscape Entrance

The actors are multi-talented with impressive accomplishments and careers. The beautiful, strong dancers were magnificent!!! Main characters include:

  1. Lynelle Kenned – Maria, Bernardo’s sister in love with Tony
  2. Kevin Hack – Tony, former Jets leader in love with Maria
  3. Bianca Le Grange – Anita, Jet, Bernardo’s girlfriend, Maria’s friend
  4. Daniel Mpilo Richards – Bernardo, Shark leader, Maria’s brother, Anita’s boyfriend
  5. Stephen Jubber – Riff, quick-­tempered Jets leader
  6. Sven-Eric Muller – Diesel, Jets second-in-­command
  7. Craig Urbani – Schrank, police detective
  8. Richard Lothian – Officer Krupke, beat cop
  9. James Borthwick – Doc, owner of the store where the Jets hang out
  10. Clint Lesch – Chino, Jet, Maria’s suitor, and friend of Bernardo
  11. Logan Timbre – Action, quick-­‐tempered member of the Jets

West Side Story Artscape Willem Law Photographer

It was an interesting, eclectic crowd attending the performance – an evening of entertainment by extraordinarily talented young artists! Many more than mentioned here helped with production of the musical.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Next weekend Artscape hosts the 19th Cape Town International Jazz Festival. The exciting lineup includes Alistair Izobell, Amanda Black, GrazRoots Project, Blinky Bill, Claire Phillips, Miles Mosley, Nduduzo Makhathini, Mabuta, Louis Moholo, and many more outstanding artists!

Kirstenbosch and Claremont

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places on earth. It touches me every time I visit. Fog is back in the Cape, mysteriously draping itself over Table Mountain – yesterday was a great day to see the garden.

It’s hard to say which Kirstenbosch delight is best – fragrant gardens with pristine fynbos, forested areas, dramatic mountain views, gourmet restaurant, exotic birds, stone sculpting, or the gallery of South African artists. It’s a big dose of beautiful!!

James Yates – Namaqualand in Bloom

I visited the art gallery and especially liked the landscapes of James Yates. The current exhibition – Professional Cape Artists – features paintings, ceramics, and wooden sculpture of popular local masters. The exhibition is on display between 16th February and 11th March.

Cape Dutch Manor House

Dutch Colonial House

Southey Cottage Claremont

Cape Dutch Manor House

Cape Dutch Manor House

Other favorite artists include Bill McGill, Mieke Teijema, Lionel Smit, and Tony Butler. It was too much trying to sort names with each piece. I took the curator’s card.

James Yates

I hiked a close-in trail, had lunch, and enjoyed the spectacular stone sculptures perfectly placed throughout the grounds. Families were relaxing and picnicking on a lush carpet of grass.

Bill McGill

Kirstenbosch’s water shortage isn’t as dire as Cape Town’s. Its irrigation flows from a different source – surface runoff and streams in Window Gorge and Nursery Ravine.

Gorges, Buttresses, Ravines Table Mt.

Nelson Mandela by Tony Butler

Chemicals aren’t used in Kirstenbosch’s drinking water. It’s “extracted from boreholes that tap deep into the Table Mountain Aquifer 200 ft. below ground level”. The drinking water from the aquifer is of “such high quality it could be bottled”!

Everyone is taking the drought very seriously. It was nice drinking fresh spring water, washing my hands, and flushing the toilet without feeling guilty. Most public toilets in Cape Town have hand sanitizer dispensers. Sink water is turned off.

James Yates

James Yates

James Yates

This trip I’m exploring Claremont – a leafy suburban neighborhood 6 miles south of Cape Town. Although nothing beats the energy and excitement of Cape Town, I wanted to experience  a new area.

Lionel Smit

My B&B is between Claremont and Rondebosch, both are growing suburban areas surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and Cape Dutch architecture. The University of Cape Town is nearby. It’s quite a change from the daily city chaos in Maputo!

Cape Town – MOCAA and Magic Club

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

I drove from Hermanus to Cape Town Monday to run errands before exploring the Garden Route later this month. The scenery along the way is wonderful, but driving over Sir Lowry’s Pass isn’t my favorite. Drivers are erratic and aggressive, and most of the N2 is not divided, so there’s no median strip to separate opposing lanes. It gets to me every time, especially when it’s windy.

Zeitz Interior

Zeitz Hotel

Zeitz Interior

Zeitz Exterior

Zeitz Exterior

Cape Town is one of my favorite places (no surprise to anyone), not only because of its exceptional beauty, but also its special charm, energy, and friendly vibe of the people. It was nice to see Table Mountain, visit friends I haven’t seen for a while, and eat at favorite restaurants. The two days were fun but hectic, and I stayed overnight at a B&B.

Garden at Sea Point B&B

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

The only disappointment was not being able to visit the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) which opened on September 22. The museum is closed on Tuesday and free to the public on Wednesday. I peered through the windows, walked around the exterior, took a few photos, and hope to visit the MOCAA soon!

Cape Town Waterfront Silo District

The unique museum has a five-star hotel and features African artists like Nandipha Mntambo and Nicholas Hlobo. The Silo District is Cape Town’s newest art, culture, and design area. It sounds like the opening event was quite a soirée!

“The Zeitz-Mocaa building is in a converted grain silo overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The area was regenerated 30 years ago for retail, real estate, and tourism. Development was on the remnants of two dilapidated 19th-century harbour basins (Victoria and Alfred). The silos were built over coal sheds that once supplied steamships. They were part-funded by capital from slave compensation received after slavery abolition in Cape Colony.”

Elgin

Elgin

Elgin Cafe

Elgin Landscape

Cape Town Magic Club

Since I was in town Monday night, when many performing arts venues are closed, I decided to attend a Cape Town Magic Club performance. The show is in the “original basement bank vault of the 5-star luxury Taj Cape Town”. The small creative theater has a back entrance and is especially set up for each magic performance. The venue allows the audience to sit close to the magicians and interact with them.

Three magicians performed, and it was clear that they loved what they were doing and put their heart and soul into it. The show included two young, talented magicians:

The third seasoned magician / mentalist was impressive Larry Soffer. His magic and synergy with randomly selected members of the audience was mind-boggling!

Zeitz Exhibit

Zeitz Exhibit

Zeitz Exhibit

“Larry Soffer is one of the most influential names in magic across South Africa. As his brand grows, he’s fast earning an exceptional name abroad. Larry has performed for royalty, celebrities, politicians, and sports stars. His popular live show and corporate event performances inspire his audiences to ‘Believe to See’ instead of ‘Seeing to Believe.’ In so doing, he truly opens their minds to new possibilities by believing in the impossible and thereby creating their own dreams.”

Magic Show Crowd

Magic Show Crowd

Taj Cape Town

Back Entrance Taj Cape Townb

Back Entrance Taj Cape Town

Taj Back Entrance to Magic Show

I sat next to a fun woman – Portia – and her husband. It was their first time at the Magic Show. Portia’s husband interacted on stage with magician Josue Musenge. The exceptional magic delighted the audience and blew us all away!

Nandipha Mntambo Artist

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“The Zeitz-Mocaa is in a converted grain silo overlooking the Atlantic on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront……”

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Table Mountain Backdrop to Silo District

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Boats Silo District

Garden Route and Durban

On the way back to Hermanus I took a break in the lush Elgin Valley. Found out about a four-day slackpacking trip along Green Mountain Trail in the Kogelberg Biosphere.

Nicholas Hlobo Artist

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Larry Soffer inspires his audiences to ‘Believe to See’ instead of ‘Seeing to Believe’.

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I’m anticipating a slackpacking adventure somewhere along the Garden Route, if I can find an affordable one. Slackpacking is “enjoying the benefits of a multi-day hike, beautiful scenery, and fresh air – without carrying a heavy backpack”.  Sounds great – but some of the trips are pricey.

Back in Hermanus, I’m concentrating on planning the solo Garden Route drive beginning October 25th. Decided to take the N2 coastal route with a few inland side trips. I’m booked to arrive in Durban November 1, leaving 7 days to explore!

A Steady Rain – Fugard Theatre

Actors Brent Palmer and Nicholas Pauling

The Fugard Theatre’s powerful production A Steady Rain doesn’t disappoint. I attended the pre-opening of playwright Keith Huff’s award-winning Broadway hit last night and was transfixed by the high-quality performance! Before the Fugard run, actors Brent Palmer and Nicholas Pauling performed the two-man play for sold-out audiences at the Alexander Bar, Café & Theatre.

Palmer and Pauling are brilliant in the “gritty, rich, and entirely gripping noir tale of two morally compromised Chicago police officers whose inner need to serve and protect consumes them and rips them apart”. The play takes place with two actors and a simple set of three props (two chairs and a table) highlighted by excellent lighting. The scenes alternate between “separate monologues and present-moment dialogues” requiring the actors to memorize an incredible amount of text. They slay the Chicago accent!

Nicholas Pauling and Brent Palmer

Nicholas Pauling and Brent Palmer

After years as a successful actor, including a role in the television series Black Sails filmed in Cape Town, Adrian Collins makes his début directing the production. Collins and Palmer were Fleur du Cap award nominees this year for Best New Director and Best Actor.

A Steady Rain takes the audience on a “riveting, relentless journey”. Huff uses “razor-sharp story-telling” to portray the tormented lives of two Chicago police officers, Joey and Denny, who are longtime beat partners and childhood friends.

Director Adrian Collins

Director and Actor Adrian Collins

“Joey and Denny have serious problems. Joey struggles with alcohol while he secretly obsesses over Denny’s wife. Denny is resentful, aggressive, and a racist cheater. During the course of the compelling and devastating narrative, the audience is kept white-knuckled right until the moment the lights go down”.

Nicholas Pauling and Brent Palmer

Joey and Denny

The plot recounts a real-life event involving infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s encounter with the Chicago Police. It focuses on the policemen who “unknowingly return a Vietnamese boy to the cannibalistic serial killer who claims to be the child’s uncle”. When the boy becomes Dahmer’s latest victim the two partners are pressured to take responsibility for their gross negligence in assessing the situation. As the play unravels it reaches a critical point threatening their friendship.

Bret Palmer - Denny

Brent Palmer – Denny

Writer, director, and actor, Brent Palmer is a native of the Western Cape. He grew up in Grassy Park, a suburb of Cape Town in Cape Flats. He trained to be an actor in London. Palmer has appeared in TV and film and stared in theater productions at the Baxter, Artscape, Fugard, Maynardville, and University of Cape Town’s Little Theatre.

Nicholas Pauling-Joey

Nicholas Pauling – Joey

Palmer has written four plays. Two of his plays – Bench and Witness – won Fleur Du Cap awards. The multi-talented Palmer is also a stand-up comedian. He appears at local theatres and has directed and co-written shows for other comedians.

Produced in Chicago in 2007, the acclaimed play won multiple awards. It made its Broadway début in September 2009 starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig.

In a compelling and right-on-the money review of the play Steven Oxman of Variety (magazine) observed, “Keith Huff’s cracker jack two-hander … turns out to be less like the perpetual drizzle of its title and more like a snowball that builds to an avalanche. While Huff starts with a couple of familiar characters — good cop/bad cop Chicago patrolmen with alcohol and racism issues — he deepens them into complex figures, compellingly human even at their most despicable. The adroit character development combines with a billowing narrative to deliver some rattling emotional crescendos…. While he could maybe pull back on a contrivance or two, the playwright smartly sticks to his conceit of piling one worse complication on top of another, effectively investing A Steady Rain with genuine dramatic power and a sense of true outrage.”

Loose strands of the spellbinding plot draw together in the play’s masterful finale. It wasn’t light entertainment but gripping, well-performed drama at its very best. Cape Town has provided an incredibly rich live-theatre experience during this visit!

South Africa’s Wildflowers

Geissorhiza Radians

Depending on unpredictable spring weather, the best time to see South Africa’s West Coast Wildflowers is from mid-August to mid-September. Viewing them on a sunny day is essential. In the past, between the weather and commitments there was always a reason to delay wildflower outings. This year it happened!

Waiting until mid-September was risky but rewarding. I found fields of colorful blossoms with an extra-added benefit – smaller crowds of tourists. My new favorite wildflower is the South African gem Geissorhiza Radians, also known as “Wine Cup”. Winecups are hearty drought-tolerant perennials. Varieties are found in parts of the United States.

The drive north via Route 27 has several points of interest and stunning panoramas of the Atlantic Ocean. Mamre, a town established by Moravian missionaries in the 1800s, was a post for the Dutch East India Company.

pink

I felt a bit emotional when driving by Koeberg Nuclear Power Station where I was a consultant in the late 1980s. Koeberg is the only nuclear power plant in Africa.

Back then, I lived on Beach Road in Sea Point and every morning carpooled with other consultants along the coast passing the coastal communities of Table View, Boulbergstrand, and Melkbosstrand. Politically, the 1980s in South Africa were volatile, so getting to the plant was often fraught with stress and multiple security checks.

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“The resistance of the mid-1980s destroyed utterly the ‘total strategy’ tactics of the Botha government. The campaign to win hearts and minds was in tatters, with thousands in detention and an occupying army in the townships …”

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The final approach involved walking a half mile over sand dunes patrolled by Eskom’s machine-gun-carrying security guards with German Shepard police dogs. I haven’t forgotten those tense times. The daily Koeberg “drill” was many things – never blasé!

Beyond Koeberg sprawled out over the hills there were breathtaking fields of pollen-laden wildflowers thick with blossoms frequented by busy bumblebees. In the midst of heavy buzzing, human hay fever sneezes were also audible. One photographer wearing shorts complained about his bee stings.

South Africa’s dreamlike wildflower fields are popular with photographers and there were some photo shoots in process. One photographer was taking pictures of a semi-naked model seductively draped in front of a cluster of vivid blossoms.

Sweet floral fragrances filled the spring air creating an intoxicating atmosphere more alluring than any perfume! I spent a few hours wandering through the flower fields and then drove to nearby town of Darling for lunch and their annual Wildflower Show.

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Everything about sleepy Darling happens slowly.

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The rough backroad leading to the town is being transformed into a paved two-lane highway. Construction resulted in one-lane traffic for most of the drive. At points along the way flaggers waved drivers to a stop where they waited patiently for 5 to 10 minutes while a long line of traffic passed in the other direction.

cape-dutch-mamre

Rob Millenaar Cape Dutch in Mamre

I stopped for a long, lingering lunch at a cafè and charcuterie called The Flying Pig. In addition to their popular pork dishes they served a variety of delicious sandwiches, pastries, coffee, and yummy homemade juices. I sat outside lazing in the sun enjoying the garden.

table-mt-from-table-view1

Table Mountain from Table View

I decided to skip the crowded Darling Flower Show since it seemed more interesting to people buying plants. I found a good jazz station on the radio and settled in for a slow scenic drive back to Cape Town.

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station

Beyond road construction but before the coastal turnoff for Cape Town, there was a traffic bottleneck. I wondered if there was an accident. Closer to the source of the delay 6 or 7 police vehicles were parked near cars pulled to the roadside. I had flashbacks about some of the bizarre police chases we saw during an African safari when policemen pursued suspects along the roadside. It wasn’t like that.

Darling Vineyard

Darling Vineyard

As I passed to the front and an Afrikaner policeman approached with a small object in his hand. He asked me to breathe into it so he could check for alcohol. There are several craft breweries and wineries along the wildflower route, so the area must be a popular checkpoint for police, especially on weekends. After passing the breathalyzer test, I was allowed to continue. It was my first breathalyzer!

Darling Backroad

Darling Backroad

Along the coast, the silhouette of my atomic friend, Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, hulked in the distance. For old times’ sake I decided to stop and take a photo. Security made getting close a challenge. I pulled off the road some distance from the plant and snapped a shot – wondering if hidden security cameras were monitoring the area.

Later back at Mouille Point there was another spectacular ocean sunset. I watched in a mild state of euphoria and reflected on another interesting day in Africa.

bumblebee

Buzz Buzz Buzz

field-geissorhiza-radians-kelkiewyn

Field of Wine Cups

The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek – Fugard Theatre Cape Town

Fugard Theatre Cape Town

Yesterday I saw Athol Fugard’s play The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek performed at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. The short play is touching and emotional and one of the best I’ve seen! Before opening in South Africa, it débuted at Pershing Square Signature Center in New York City performed by the Signature Theatre Company. Fugard’s play was also performed in Los Angeles at the renowned Fountain Theatre.

Nukain-Mabuza and His Stone Garden

Nukain Mabuza’s Stone Garden

Mr. Fugard has written over forty plays. Many of them were made into films.  Tsotsi, a moving film based on a novel he wrote in the 1960s, won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Tsotsi is set in the 1950s in a squalid township outside Johannesburg destroyed by the white community.

Tshamano Sebe and Siya Jantjie

Tshamano Sebe and Siya Jantjie

“Throughout his long and distinguished career, Fugard has been anatomizing the evils of apartheid and the troubling legacies it left behind. His new play considers both the brutal injustices of apartheid and the violence that roiled South Africa after its dismantling. His work spans the period of apartheid in South Africa through the first democratic elections and Nelson Mandela’s presidency into present day post-apartheid South Africa.”

Nukain Mabuza Stone Garden

Nukain Mabuza Stone Garden

Inspired by the life of outsider artist Nukain Mabuza, there are three characters in Fugard’s play – Nukain, Bokkie, and Elmarie. Scene One opens with Nukain speaking to young Bokkie about the culture of apartheid and the “moral blindness” it embraced.

Nukain Mabusa Rocks

Nukain Mabuza Painted Rocks

The first act takes place on a Sunday morning when the old farm worker performs his chore of painting bright colors on the rocks that dot the dry South African landscape. “The creation of these ‘flowers’ as Nukain calls them, was a task he began years before, and which has become a weekly pleasure he shares with young Bokkie, the 11-year-old boy in his charge.”

Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe

Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe

“They got eyes but they do not see us”, says the gentle old man to the boy. “Both are black South Africans, and the man’s observation refers to the white farmers for whom he works.”

Bokkie, Elmarie, Nukain

Bokkie, Elmarie, Nukain

Much to the “consternation of young Bokkie who is eager to watch him work,” Nukain cannot seem to get started painting the one sizable rock remaining. “Taller than Nukain and a good six feet wide, the rock is a looming final challenge that he shies away from for reasons he cannot quite understand. While he considers the prospects, the energetic young Bokkie tries to cajole and coax him into beginning, and Nukain finds himself reflecting on his life.”

Siya Jantjie

Siya Jantjie

The arrival of Elmarie, the wife of the white farmer who owns the land, “dampens the excitement both Nukain and Bokkie have taken in their work”. Elmarie comments about the colorful design Nukain has painted on the big rock, and casually “insists that he paint over it next week in his more decorative, innocuous style — a suggestion, or rather a demand, that Bokkie angrily rejects.”

Tsotsi

Tsotsi

“Nukain accepts Elmarie’s demand with the reflexive humility born of a steady diet of privation, dependency, and racism. Bokkie is left with only the wistful thought that in some future day Elmarie and her husband will open their eyes and then see us.”

Nukain Mabuza Rocks

Nukain Mabuza Rocks

Tshamano Sebe (Nukain) was born in the Johannesburg suburb of Soweto. He moved to Berlin and became a founding member of the Soyikwa African Theatre group. Sebe returned to South Africa in 1993 where he starred in the SABC hit television series Stokvel and won many awards for his performances in local and international films.

Athol Fugard

Athol Fugard

Siya Jantjie (Bokkie) is 11 years old and goes to school in the Cape Town suburb of Rondebosch where he enjoys soccer, playing the piano and marimba, and singing in the choir. Siya also attends the Waterfront Theatre School where he studies tap dancing, modern dancing, drama, and musical theatre. The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek is talented Siya’s first professional performance. He clearly has a bright future ahead of him.

Tshamano Sebe

Tshamano Sebe

Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe (Elmarie Kleynhans) is “an award-winning bilingual (English and Afrikaans) actress, best known for her leading roles in local television series.”  She has starred in many films and theatre productions.