The Vuvuzela Blows No Longer For The Red, White, and Blue

USA – Ghana Recap (1-2 AET)

Woke up at 6 AM because Alex forgot it was Saturday and had factored in an extra hour for Joburg traffic. Leaving at 7AM to Kroonstad the roads were perfectly clear and Alex could actually go the speed limit of 120 Km. In addition, we were able to see the beautiful sunrise over the city.

We arrived at the KFC in Kroonstad just after 9 AM, expecting to wait an hour for the English to arrive, but just as we started to take out muffins and yogurt for breakfast the two young English guys from Hodge Podge Lodge pull up. Alex and I were both surprised to see them thinking it was quite a coincidence that they should pull into the same KFC as us, but since we have had a few of those by chance meetings with people on this trip it wasn’t too weird. When we saw them get out of the car with tickets in hand that is when we realized that this was England Alex. The last few days Alex and I had it in our head that England Alex was the older gentleman that we met at Moonlight Backpackers! Continue reading

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This City Should Get Lost

Power has been our biggest issue up here in Hartsbeesport. With a MacBook Pro, iPad (GPS), 2 cameras, 2 cellphones and a video camera we need several outlets to keep our electronics powered up, so we are ready to capture and share our experiences. Unfortunately power is one thing Moonlight Backpackers is lacking. It is the cleanest, most well put together backpackers we have ever been in except that the only power outlets are in the kitchen and they do not charge worth anything. So today we are off to Mug&Bean to juice up and enjoy an hour of Wifi. Continue reading

Underwhelming ticket sales? Not when it comes to finding Accommodation

Finally had time to start booking accommodation today. I immediately regretted taking nearly two months to start looking. I was definitely not expecting such long term planning by those who had partaken in the ticket process. For months, I had heard anecdotes of people who had turned back tickets or who did not know how they would get to South Africa. This definitely lulled me into false sense of having no urgency in booking places to stay.

That sense was reset today as Alisa and I went down the list of backpackers and hostels and Bed & Breakfasts in the areas located near in the host cities (Rustenburg, Joburg, Bloemfontein, and Pretoria). Granted it was only one day, and I have been able to map out our first 10 days, it is no where near as affordable as we had once thought. I had figured 50 USD per day including food, but we are looking are more like R450 (60 bucks) only on lodging. This is going to significantly impact our budge, but seeing as its only a 16 day stretch that we need to be near match locations, hopefully we can balance it out by staying at some lower end places later on our trip. Many of the more affordable places were predicably already booked, so we’re having to go more midrange, but even that doesn’t help considering most places are raising their rates by 400%. I knew rates would be higher than when we were there in 2007, but this is quite the extreme. We can only hope that rates will come back down once the world leaves ZA in mid July.

In more uplifting news, we got a great rate on a car for a 15 day period between the 10th and the 25th. We went through Tempest Car Hire, who far and away had the best rates. Seeing as Alisa, nor I, have much experience driving with an automatic (our ‘privileged’ upbringing playing a part), we decided to simply stick with an automatic, and we were able to secure a Toyota Corrolla (or like model) for less than 1,000 USD for that period (R6300 to be exact). A significant amount of coin, but this is the most critical period for getting around, and not making it to a match because of transportation delays would simply make any money we saved worthless in the end. If you’re looking for a car hire in South Africa, definitely check those guys out. We looked at Avis, Thrifty, Aroundabout, Budget (who require international drivers licences), Imperial/Europcar, Kenning, Kulula, and 1First. Europcar was the closest by R500.

We’ll be sure to let you know the service and support that they offer for their discounted rates.

Hopefully tomorrow will see finalizations on the lodging part as Alisa and I are waiting for South Africans to wake up right about now and start writing us back….

Could Green Be the Color of the Future for Africa?

Special Report – Business of Green – Leading Africans to Responsible Recycling – NYTimes.com

This interesting article should be seen as the way forward to many African economies. I think its quite odd that African industry should be expected to develop in the same way as European and American industry came of age during the Industrial Revolution. African economics need to find areas of the market that North America and Europe have either no desire or no substantial lead in those sectors and to exploit it to their advantage.

I’m sure the image of using Africa as the dumping ground for computer and electronics parts is not one that African tourism industries want to promote. But what if Africa became the worldwide leader in recycling electronics? The continent would be able to carve out a niche in the global market that is in high demand. Obviously, countries like South Africa and Nigeria have a leg up on the competition due to their substantial infrastructure, and they should put the pedal down and encourage more high potential growth industries to establish hubs in their country. Again the image of black Africans managing and working in a recycling plant that takes the West’s junk and turns it back around and ships it back might not be an image that is welcome. But it would provide jobs, would provide a endless stream of products, and has a solid long-term future. Can anyone imagine a world without electronics, or their rubbish? Someone will have to be willing to collect and destroy or recycle the parts, why not Africa?

The way out of poverty for the continent is each country to exploit markets that are currently considered small, but necessary. Matthew McConaughey’s movie Sahara, where the villans are running a disposal plant in Mali that can vaporize toxic/nuclear waste by harnessing solar power immediately springs to mind. The problem in the movie is that while storing the toxins as they wait for disposal there has been leakage into the underground water system. But the concept of a waste disposal system is ingenious. And while no one might necessarily set out to tell all the toxic waste producers in the world to ship them their barrels of sludge, think about how profitable a recycling/disposal plant like that would be. Factor in the shipping costs, the taxes payed on the profits, the high-tech/green jobs that would be created and you would have an industry that could be highly profitable for the private corporation and the country. Granted the investment in such technology would not be local, and the highly trained scientists might not be originally local, but that shouldn’t be a reason for dismissing the concept. Importing overseas talent would be a temporary measure as the nation’s government can then make an investment (through the tax proceeds of the new industry) in their country’s technical institutions to produce the scientists and technical hands to replace the expatriates that start out working at the plant. 

Thomas Friedman is one of the loudest voices pushing for a green revolution, and if he is to be believed ‘green’ industry is the next big thing. Hydroelectric power from the Congo, solar power from the Sahara, recycling plants in South Africa could be all part of an industry that could be led by those on the African continent. Creating that monopoly on green industry could inspire a new century of growth that would see the continent become an equal of the industrial north. The symbiotic relationship that could be created would be sustainable for both north and south economies, and just as important, for the planet.