Tales of a 21st Century Gypsy

February 11. Leaving Cape Town.


Drinking cappuccino at the airport. Not much like leaving Maputo. This airport is modern, sleek, hermetically sealed, expensive shops, trendy coffees. The high point of being here Ė literally Ė was the top of Table Mountain in furious winds, sunny, hot and cold at the same time, scrambling up trails and across rocks, Sharon and I reminding each other that Paul should have been here. Four years later, that still makes my eyes tear.

The high point figuratively was dinner last night with an economist whom I met a few years ago at an accounting workshop outside Pretoria. I hadnít seen him since, we had scarcely been in touch, but we turned out to have much to talk about. Or he did? Heís a chatterbox. I pumped him with questions about South Africa, Zimbabwe, his students, racism, inequity, all the things I wonder about being here. The answers arenít clear, they never are. I suppose

that if anyone offered clear answers they would be too simplistic. It's wonderful to talk to people who are smart, think about issues, have ideas, and know what I'm talking about.

He seems impatient with peopleís fears, with charges of racism, with affirmative action. He says any black who wanted to succeed in South Africa in the past could, people should stop whining and take the opportunities that are there. Yet in the same conversation he said that if he hadnít grown up surrounded by books and encouraged to intellectual pursuits, he probably would be a plumber instead of a professor. He knows he has opportunity thrown his way because of the family he was born to, English and Polish Jews living in Zimbabwe. And he does see the inconsistency between those two points of view.

I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him, and listening to him. And Todd was great to talk to. So on this trip I guess I've met two people whom I really found interesting to know. Yet I donít know that Iíll ever see either of them again. I guess I have to try to stay in touch Ė and not forget my belief that just because something is ephemeral doesnít mean it wasnít worthwhile.

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