Sunday, 6 September 2009

cape town in spring time

you would never guess it from the photos i am about to share, but in july i was honored with the opportunity to represent my office at the annual African Religious Health Assets Programme Annual Conference. it was awesome to be able to learn from a wide field of researchers working to map health assets in a way that defragments our health systems (the NGO and the government run ones) and changes the paradigm of communities from identifying deficiencies to identifying assets, and aligning those assets so that synergies can be created.

i am ever sure what to take photos of at meetings, but i am bummed that i didn't take photos of the people. i met lots of awesome people, and got to catch up with some awesome friends. i met rande and john who felt like long lost friends, got to brainstorm with gary and mimi and figure out how to save the world from the flu, and learned a whole heck of alot from the presenters.

katherine marshall captured the ethos of the meeting in an when she shared a snipit of the meeting in the washingtonpost:

A story. In 1854, a baby girl was very sick with diarrhea. Her mother washed the diapers and threw the waste water into a cesspit under a house in their Soho neighborhood. Within weeks a cholera epidemic had killed some 700 people in the neighborhood. Thousands more were sick.

A doctor, John Snow, and an Anglican priest, Henry Whitefield, refused to believe the prevailing theory: that disease was spread by a "miasma" or "bad air." The men tracked down everyone who was sick and painstakingly mapped where they lived. Snow was a scientist, and he began to link the illness to one well in the neighborhood. Whitehead knew the people and had their trust, so they cooperated with the inquiry.

When the men realized that a single well -- the now notorious Broad Street well -- was linked to nearly all the cases, they removed the handle of the pump and closed it. The epidemic quickly subsided.

The detective work that helped to link disease to the contamination of a water source is an important part of medical history. The role of the scientist is well known. The pastor's is not.

Steve de Guchy, a minister and theology professor at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa, told this story to hammer in the central message of a conference last week in Capetown. Its title was "When Religion and Health Align: Mobilizing Religious Health Assets for Transformation," and it brought together the kind of motley gathering that does give transformation a chance: ministers, medical doctors, theologians, epidemiologists from all over Africa and the United States,

The contemporary objective is the same as that of the 19th century seekers - to stop millions of preventable deaths. And again the core idea is to link the strengths of medicine and public health with those of the "religious health assets." "Mapping" the assets- taking careful stock of what is there and analyzing it-is a vital first step.

We have vastly more knowledge today than Snow and Whitefield had in 1854. Science has made huge strides and the killers of the past - diarrhea, malaria, respiratory illnesses, all most lethal to small children - should be history. They are not. World leaders, including Barack Obama, have made poignant statements in recent weeks about the imperative to act on these large global health challenges.

But many in scientific and public health circles seem to be wearing blinkers when it comes to the role that religious health assets could play, both locally and globally, in mounting more effective programs.

Part of the problem is that the assets are so complex and diverse - a galaxy, as a Catholic cardinal once described them to me. Large and tiny, formal hospitals and clinics and informal mothers' groups, traditions (good and bad) linked to health, pulpits and platforms where messages can be spread. And above all, a will, where there is knowledge, to contribute and deal with the suffering that falls most heavily on poor people.

Another problem is a common assumption that modern science has banished the role of religion in health, so huge in the past, to the distant margins. And the well-touted negative health experiences tied to religion (Christian faith healing denying care to children, imams claiming that mosquito nets are designed to cause infertility, just as examples) don't help.

But the fact is that there are huge religious health assets. Hospitals and clinics, hundreds of thousands, for a start. Nurses and doctors. A passionate commitment to caring for those who suffer. Most religious traditions see health, often broadly defined so that it links physical health, stress, and spiritual health in seamless ways, as part of their core missions.

But beyond health care itself, what may perhaps be as valuable today as it was in 1854, is the knowledge of communities and networks of people with religious links. What better way to spread the most vital advice to fight the H1N1 virus-to wash your hands?

Most health care happens outside hospitals, in families and communities. Messages are vitally important. So the alliance for transformation that Dr, Snow and Father Whitehead formed long ago is the kind of creative and open model of partnership we need today. The thousands of ideas and insights hatched in Capetown at the African Religious Health Assets Program conference last week can be an inspiration.

i had the pleasure of sharing a few dinner with professor de guchy, he himself is an inspiration. he was the preacher in a "colored" church pre-apartied and eventually left the church when he found out that his membership voted against the ANC (Mandela's party). he has harrowing stories of fighting for equality in south africa, a fight that seems to have no end.

at anyrate... here are some silly photos that have little to do with what i was there for, and alot to do with what i did in the 1.5 days i had to just goof off.

the view from my room
it was really hard to pack because it was wicked hot
middle of summer dc
and really cold middle of winter cape town
it is funny how you forget how to dress when the season changes over night

the view after days of rain ended

the last day of the conference ended at lunch time
so i left with
rande, john, and mimi to go to the top of table mount
the view of capetown with a warning about snakes

cape town from the base of table mt

turns out visa has somehow worked it so it "owns" the mountain.
thankfully it is a national park, but still,
kinda lame to see all the visa stuff everywhere
no offense darrin howell

here is some exciting video from the trip to the top of the mountain

we got to the top of the mountain and my traveling buddies were convinced that the swirlling in the ocean was a whale.
it was actually just a sand/rock bar

we did see dassies

supposedly, these funky rodent looking things are the
closest living relative to the elephant
can you see it?

me either

coming down off the mount

our crazy taxi driver then drove us around to see some of the
sights a bit further south of cape town

we had a yummy dinner but apparently the taxi driver got wasted while we were eating
i was in the very back of the minivan thing, so i didn't know
had i known, i would have wigged out

i decided just to rent a car for the rest of the time
i had a day and a half to myself and talked mimi into going to
cape point with me

along the way we stopped to see the . . .

they are awesome to watch

because it was early early spring there were little baby penguins just hatching from their eggs
it was so awesome to see
there were way more eggs than baby penguins
but the little guys were just too cute

after the stress of remembering how to drive on the other side of the road
and having gone too long without food
mimi and i decided to eat at the restaurant at cape point:
two oceans
aptly named because, if you haven't guessed it
it is here that the indian and the atlantic oceans meet
if you click on this link, you can see our table
right there in the very front of the camera

i had THE MOST AMAZING caesar salad
it had mussles, scallops, and prawns
somehow pan fried in this yummy lemon sauce
with the most amazing greens and eggs and . . . YUMMMM
you can see my bottle
it is always nice to know where that is!

refreshed with some food we were ready for our hike
if you want to call it that
but this is definitely the furthest south i have ever been

have you been further south?
i think you'd have to be in tasmania, chile, antartica or argentina?
i just google mapped and chile and argentina go WAY down there
and some of australia might be further south, i can't tell

this is the cape of good hope
don't be confused to think this is where the oceans meet
that the cape of good hope is where you start heading towards india
nope this cape is just psychologically important
because if you are sailing the coast of western africa in search of a all water route to india
this is where you begin to travel more eastward than southward.
so when bartholemeu dias passed it, he had really done something!
(you can read this sign for more info)

he was SO stoked he built this thing
(get it?)

and the other cool this is:
vasco de gama was kinda everywhere
he built one of those things too, but i didn't take a photo of it
because they really just looked alike
but here is some more info if you really must know

and thus began the spice trade, colonialism of africa,
and a host of other horrible and wonderous things

here is am looking like one of those things the explores erect
at least my shadow does

cest moi
cape point is behind me

that's mimi
she is super cool
super smart
and see's a big picture
as evidenced by this stance

this is a discovery i have been longing to make
only much closer to home
elaine, the whole time i was in south africa
i was walking over seaweed
i seriously considered getting an additional suitcase
but figured i'd never make it through customs
seaweed makes some AMAZING compost
but i can't find any around here!!!

if you know where to get some, lemeno!! :)

this is cape point from a helicopter
i didn't take this phot
but that little white spot
is the light house
i think?

i was surprised to see this
on my way up to the lighthouse
at cape point

i was super fascinated by the fact that nothing pointed south on this pole.
i was also weirded out
and i am not sure i believe
that new delhi and new york are really just that far away from each other . . .
doesn't that seem kinda off
like some teenager messed with the signs?

can you hear my astonishment??
i am obviously dumbfounded

then we had to make haste back to capetown
the roads were ├╝ber windy
and i was kinda worried about driving on the opposite side of the road

you know you are somewhere awesome when you see this sign

mimi wasn't feeling good and she started to feel worse
so my traveling buddy had to sit out our last partial day of fun
i was in a real quandary
it was nelson mandela's birthday and i hadn't been to robben island
but i also had wanted to drive out to the kloovenburg winery
my friend praya had raved about the olive oil she got there years ago
and admonished me to go get some

i loved the idea of driving on the open road, just me and the opposite side of the road
but then there was the whole momentous thing about being in cape town
and at robben island on mandela's b-day
the whole country was celebrating
by doing service and stuff

so i choose to go to robben island

the famous clock tower

the gateway
i bought my $24 ticket
and got in a really long que to get on the boat
i was kinda antsy because there were heaps of people
mostly teenagers
iPoding and txting etc
but the stuff in the museum on the way to the boat was interesting
and i just tried to stay focused on the awesomeness of being able to be there
i figured i could just sit on the top of the boat and ride to the island and mill around
well, you have to stay with your group on the "tour"
and when i got to the boat (i was pretty much in the back of the que)
all the seats on the top were taken
so i sat on the inside, and tried to stay focused on being spiritual and marking important history
and then all the sudden i realized that the boat was like an airplane
and that i was going to be on an airplane for about 20 hours
and just before they closed the door to pull away from the dock
i ran out of the boat

it was a good call
i went back to my room
grabbed my running shoes
and went on a run along the coast

this is just a random awesome engineering mishap in the middle of cape town
this was supposed to connect to another freeway
but they realized, much to late
that it really just went no where
so they stopped building it
and now it is just there

seriously in the middle of cape town

so this is my run
i took my camera, but only took a few photos
i ran for about 5 miles
and it was awesome
i never felt more free

i showered packed all my stuff into the car
gave mimi one more chance to join me
and then took off for kloovenburg

the open south african road
the only thing i regretted was that i wasn't on my bike
some day i want to bike through south africa
it would be awesome

spring was making all sorts of awesome greens and yellows

the signs say:
"please no hooting (honking your horn)
ostriches are getting laid"
so seriously south african


the tasting room

the town of Riebeek Kasteel

the view from my lunch setting
the barn
highly recommend!
i pigged out on delish mezza and had a tea for $5 total

to my right from my table

back on the road

table mountain in the distance

just think
all these driving photos were taken by me
when i was driving
on the opposite side of the road

i turned the car in and they tried to tell me i had dented the car, but that got taken care of

as we got close to the US there was this amazing storm
the sun was rising and there was lightening pounding through those clouds
it was amazing to watch. i couldn't capture it on film
but seeing lightening happen from that perspective was
mind blowing
and kinda scary

1 comment:

Annie said...

Wow! Those pictures are beautiful!! And that ostrich sign is seriously the coolest sign EVER! Have you ever read "The Covenant"? It is a historical fiction book about the history of S.A. Seriously long, but really good.