On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

On The Road and In Your Backyard is a weekday feature spotlighting reader submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, please share your part of the world, whether you’re traveling or just in your locality. Share some photos and a narrative, let us see through your pictures and words. We’re so lucky each and every day to see and appreciate the world around us!

Submissions from commenters are welcome at tools.balloon-juice.com


As promised, a bigger drop of Le Comte’s marvelous Africa pictures. Also today marks history – Nancy Smash, part 2. I fear much about this year but have a lot of faith in her and how she marshals the nuances in the House, Senate, and Presidency to get things done. Let’s hope she can guide us away from ruin.

This memorable Thursday, we pick up this story where we left off on Tuesday, the Kalahari. True fact – I was born in South Africa because my parents lived in Kinshasa and the best medical care around was in Johannesburg. I’ve been there once since, during the height of Apartheid, and it was sobering. I hope to go back and see the land of my birth, hear the sounds my parents played for me as the regaled me with stories of my infancy. and see progress. It’s a different world there, and so much more complicated and brimming -bursting, really – with potential and desire.

We’ll continue with Le Comte’s odyssey next Tuesday. We’ve got something wonderful lined up for Friday, so have a wonderful day and enjoy the pictures!


Today, pictures from valued commenter Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes.

Further images from the Moonscape…

We rode after a short breakfast, so we could have a long breakfast at Camp Kalahari

Camp Kalahari

Meet George. He lives at Camp Kalahari and drinks from the swimming pool there.

He’s an exceptionally well-mannered elephant.


This was the only jackal we saw – he was very focused on going somewhere.


After so many adventures in the wild, we got to explore cosmopolitan, urbane Cape Town.

Located at the southern tip of the continent, Cape Town is close to the mixing point between the cold South Atlantic and warmer Indian Ocean. The climate is essentially Mediterranean, and because it is a port city, it always drew people of many nationalities.

Because of the rugged topography, it is fairly sprawling, with a population roughly equivalent to Pittsburgh. Apartheid’s legacy is still visually apparent in the shanty towns, which dot the cityscape like chicken pox.

I’ll discuss apartheid in some specific photos. All were taken 10/23 to 10/25, 2018

Cape Town

This was our view from our room on waking up.

District Six Museum, Cape Town

We went to the District Six museum, which brought home what apartheid did to people of color in South Africa. It is worth reading some detailed history to underatand the sort of regime that American evangelicals and the conservative movement were deeply into supporting in the early 1980s.

South Africa always had large pockets of extreme white supremacy among the population of Afrikaaners, but that wasn’t uniform. In some places (particularly Cape Town, with its major seaport culture), the races worked and cooperated and and did business and married and worshipped together.

The election of 1948 changed all that. The National Party came into power on a platform of racial separatism and white supremacy, all in a country where the voting white minority was quite small.

If a person were black or of mixed race, there were no voting rights, rigid public separation, a harshly retributive justice system, vastly unequal allocation of public resources, bars to all lucrative or professional employment, bars to public service employment, bars to some types of ownership, bars to mixed marriages, bars to everything that makes life worthwhile.

Cape Town presented a special problem, and enraged the thugs that ran the government. It was a resistant sort of place, what with its mishmash of people and cultures – whites, blacks, Arabs, Indians, Jews, gentiles all working together, playing together and getting along. At the heart of all that was District Six, a neighborhood of businesses and churches and houses where people got along, right in the middle of the city. F.W. DeKlerk took care of it in the mid 60s by order – the inhabitants were cleared out and the neighborhood razed, not for any actual purpose, but simply because it was there. Over 60,000 people lost their homes, most of their possessions, their livelihoods and their sense of community – the black residents were forcibly placed in a less pleasant area far outside the city. Our museum guide was an older gentleman who lived there, and described that of all the things lost, the end of those connections of community were the worst.

To object to or resist the actions of the government would bring accusations of communism on anyone so reckless as to do so in a way that grabbed the attention of the authorities. There was an extensive network of secret police and informants, ready to pounce and impose harsh sanction.

This was what our government and evangelical churches were supporting. In such an environment, why wouldn’t the oppressed fight back in every way possible, including turning to radical politics and allies?

This system left indelible marks on all who lived in it. Our tour director was a pleasant young Afrikaaner man in his mid 30s who was born and raised in a town a couple of hours’ drive north of Cape Town. He was knowledgeable and kind, but I determined has some internal struggles with his own attitudes on race. He shared a story with me alone, about how a black man had urinated at the side of his grandfather’s store. His grandfather commanded him, at age 5, to slap the black man for urinating. He refused. Incensed, the boy’s grandfather beat him severely for not slapping the black man.

This was apartheid – cruelty all the way down.

District Six Museum

Some of the signage of the times

District Six Museum

Even the cab stands…

Such a beautiful church and memorial…


Cape Town continued

Table Mountain from the V&A Waterfront

Cape of Good Hope

The views were great in the park leading to the southernmost point.

This is the tip of Africa.

The new lighthouse…

District Six Museum

When DeKlerk issued his order, they also eliminated the streets. A pylon was made memorializing that, with salvaged street signs added.

The museum is a very human place, and gathers items, signs, photos and recollections of life in the neighborhood.

Thank you so much Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


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15 replies
  1. 1
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    This was the only jackal we saw – he was very focused on going somewhere.

    Your wife however couldn’t shake the jackal that came with her, who followed her home and now she’s stuck with him.

  2. 2
    JPL says:

    Thank you for sharing pictures and commentary about your travels with us.

  3. 3
    p.a. says:

    Morally ‘blanke-rupt’ as it were.

  4. 4
    Mary G says:

    White people can really suck. I can see some Republicans doing that to California if thingś go very badly.

  5. 5
    JPL says:

    @Mary G: Brazil’s Bolsonaro is already moving in that direction.

  6. 6

    It’s a strange and special sort of loss when the streets themselves disappear.
    My second novel, Frankenstein’s World, which ought to be appearing online soon (really, it ought), is set mostly in Manhattan in the 1830s. Famous locations like Five Points (all five streets now vanished), Bayard Mount (now flattened) and the Collect Pond (the pond now replaced by Times Square) are mentioned. These were all done, not at random but like the destruction of District Six as exercises in social engineering: Five Points destroyed because it was a den of vice, the puny bump of Bayard Mount demolished to make travel easier, the Collect Pond filled in because it had become terribly polluted.
    One of the subtler bits is a scene taking place at an address which is now one of the two reflecting pools at the World Trade Center….

  7. 7
    Barry says:

    I would disagree with the past tense ‘supported’, when talking about the Evangelical Right in the USA. They still do.

  8. 8
    Jerry says:

    Isn’t there a big international cricket match happening in Cape Town right now? Pakistan is in town.

    Great pictures and all, but do you have any that has a rainbow on a dog’s paw?

  9. 9
    arrieve says:

    Wonderful pictures and commentary — thank you.

  10. 10
    J R in WV says:

    The contrasts between the view as you woke up, the lush tropical garden surrounded by new clean modern buildings. Beautiful locale, and then the shanty-towns and District Six Museum…

    Truly a land of deep contrasts and sharp divisions. Remnants of the gigantic sprawling wildlife struggling to survive bush meat hunters and poachers selling the parts valued to Asian markets.

    Wonderful pictures of an ancient and mysterious land. Just wow!

  11. 11
    Barbara says:

    I love these pictures. How is Cape Town faring now? Has the drought abated?

  12. 12
    J R in WV says:


    IIRC, the drought is affecting Johannesburg more than Cape Town…. IIRC, but I’m drifty, so don’t bet any money on it til we hear from someone who KNOWs about it.

  13. 13
    eclare says:

    Thank you for the pictures and history.

  14. 14
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    Monsieur le Comte – great pix! Were you by any chance there with a Road Scholar tour? My parents did 3 of those back to back in Africa in exactly the same timeframe you were there, including some of the same parks/locations you visited. You even seem to have been at the District 6 museum on the same day. Crazy! I never had much of a yen to do a safari tour until I saw their photos (and yours) – now it’s at the top of my list. Thanks for sharing.

  15. 15
    Dirk Reinecke says:

    The drought is over in Cape Town and the Western Cape Province (at least for a while) and is also over in Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng.

    In fact Gauteng (the province in which Johannesburg and Pretoria are located) has had near constant rain for the last week.

    It is still going on in the Limpopo and Northwest Provinces

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