The San Francisco Giants and Zimbabwe: An Unlikely Connection

On 9 July 2010, the San Francisco Giants were 45-41, but 5 games back of the NL West leading San Diego Padres and were 9th overall in the National League. They had just lost to Steven Strasburg and the Washinton Nationals in DC, with Matt Cain giving up 8 runs, 7 earned in just 6 innings to the Nationals that would eventually finish 69-93, 28 games out of first place.

Also on that day, I was disembarking a train in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe accidently leaving my one and only San Francisco Giants hat on that train, losing it to the continent of Africa for good. Because my head rarely fits baseball caps well, the perfect fit that this one provided made me quite disheartened over the loss. This was accenutated by the significant history this cap hat witnessed in its lifetime. But in the end, perhaps it ended the drought of my hometown ball club.

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Derailment Slows Shosholoza, But Not Our Enjoyment

26 July

We woke to the sound of someone yelling “TEA, COFFEE” early this morning on the Shosholoza Train. I thought it was insanely early for tea or coffee, and when we had a knock on our compartment’s door I pulled myself out of the cocoon of my sleeping bag which I had slept in on the bench with my backpack as my pillow. This would have been a fine set up, except that I had tried to sleep on my side and destroyed both of my shoulders. I find this out as I rise and move to unlatch the door. I find the Train’s conductor standing there, the same stout woman who was kind enough to upgrade us to the 4 person compartment yesterday. She calmly tells me that we are on the Orange River and that there has been a derailment ahead of us Continue reading

Shosholoza: The Train to Joburg

25 July

At 8AM we awoke to the buzzing of my cellphone alarm. I greatly enjoyed naturally waking up the last several days, but today we were on a schedule. The overnight Shosholoza train to Joburg departed at 12:30 PM, but we needed to pack, grocery shop, check out of our room and be at the station an hour before departure.

over the past four days we had taken full advantage of the space in our room by spreading the contents of our backpacks all about. As a result I expected it to take us some time to pack, but it went rather quick and we managed to fit all our souvenirs into our backpacks, except for my kelp art.

Finished with packing we walked around the corner to Woolworth’s Food on Long Street to get snacks and lunch/dinner for our trip because we did not know if there was a dining car on the Shosholoza train. We thought it would be logical for them to have a dining car since it was the sleeper train, but we have learned when traveling in the 3rd world to never fully rely on what we consider logical. With sandwiches, fruit, water and chocolate in hand Alex and I strolled back to our backpackers to check out.

Believing that check out for Cape Town Backpackers was 10AM, we were ready to leave before having breakfast. However, upon further investigation we discovered that check out was an hour later at 11AM, so we were able to eat. Alex was tired of traditional ZA breakfast so he chose to eat a donut on our patio before going upstairs with me to the cafe where I had eggs and toast.

Just before 11 we gathered up all our bags. Alex carried the big blue backpack on his back with the Timbuk2 electronics bag over his shoulder. I carried my daypack on my back, Alex’s daypack on my front, the food bag in one hand and my kelp art in the other. Good thing we were only walking upstairs to checkout and catch a cab because I would not have wanted to walk to the train station like that.

Upon arrival at the train station we observed that the Shosholoza ticket offices were closed and wondered where we needed to go in order to get our car and coup assignment. Continue reading