“I think the killer birth story has to run on page one.”
And so my quarter-long work at a South African newspaper begins with a discussion of which stories will head the next day’s news: information about this week’s elections in Zimbabwe, statistics on rising crime in the Western Cape province, and the story of an American woman who gave birth in her minivan with her two small children in the back seat only to have police think she had hijijacked the car (because of feet propped on the steering wheel?) and ordered her and the minutes-old infant out by gunpoint.
I hopefully will be working on health stories of the non-vehicle variety while I’m in Cape Town. The city is fantastic, the weather is gorgeous, and I’m living in a great area that’s a few blocks from Parliament. My neighborhood favorites: Cool Runnings, a Jamacian dance club with wooden paths and sandy floors (where we almost saw two girls from Semester at Sea fall off the second floor mezzanine the other night after a few too many Savannah Drys); Cafe Mojito, with fantastic vegetarian curry and the most mint I’ve ever seen squeezed in one glass; the closest gym, ZONE!, with all neon lighting–a perfect place for me to look like a cool kid when putting what I thought 50 lbs. on a leg machine then falling over when it was actually kilos; and Jo-burg, a club that’s on our block with Shakespeare quotes for decoration (the perfect combination of remixed Beastie Boys from ’94 and “To Thine Own Self Be True” in cursive day-glo).
Before starting at the newsroom on Monday, we’ve met with leaders from the top three political parties this week: Patricia DeLille of the newest party, the Independent Democrats; the top two seat-holders from the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance; and President Thabo Mbeki’s spokesman, Bheki, from the ANC. It’s been a great way to understand how the seats and offices work and especially interesting to hear them discuss each other: a lot to the tune of “I think he/she is great personally, but politically don’t know why they’re still in the game.”
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Climbing Table Mountain today, Robben Island and getting together with a family friend from the University of Cape Town tomorrow, dinner at Mama Africa on Monday after our first day, going to see a South African jazz quartet at the Waterfront on Wednesday, and trying to get involved with Mothers to Mothers to Be, a support program for HIV+ expectant mothers, on Friday. To be continued…