Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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In the picture, see how most of the lines have a pretty little green "Boarding" message? How friendly and cute. Sadly, those lines are not mine. I was stuck with a four hour delay at the airport, combined with my arriving at the airport two hours early, to make for quite a bit of time on my hands. After reclaiming my sales tax at the airport, I was left with exactly 70 Rand (the currency of South Africa) in my pocket. As I wandered a bit looking for a good spot to hunker down, I noticed the VIP lounges up on the second floor. I walk into one and ask how much it costs to enter: 70R. Wow. I empty my wallet onto the counter and walk into the most comfortable, relaxing environment I could have hoped for. There's a fully-stocked, open bar where you can mix your own drinks (I fixed a mean martini and gin-and-tonic), bottles of wine, food, Internet access, juices, snacks, TV, music - all intermingled with comfortable chairs and couches and a nice view of the peasants below. Between liquor and fatigue, I managed to bang out some coding on my laptop and the time just flew by. Also, due to the delay, I was given a meal voucher at a nearby cafeteria, filling me to the brim with food before boarding my flight to Cairo.

One of the best things about traveling is learning about peoples' perceptions of America. First, I've learned that despite everyone calling it America, some people (notably Mexicans) prefer that it's called the United States, as technically Mexico and all of the western hemisphere is "America" (North and South). Likewise, I've learned that the most dangerous and feared gang in the "townships" around Cape Town is named after the most notorious force known to man: the Americans. That, and every once in a while I stumble into the most absurd representations of American (excuse me, United Stateian) life, with Yanky's Restaurant being no exception. My favorite part of Yanky's (I didn't try the food) is the uber-American mechanized statue out front: he's what you get if you stick Woody from Toy Story, Uncle Sam, and an American flag in a blender. Don't try this at home, kids.
Our last night out on the town in Pretoria we are led by Max, who forever tainted my respect for Lonely Planet guides, to the absolute worst, most abysmal bastardization of karaoke that I've ever had the misfortune of witnessing. We thought it was merely a nice restaurant with live local music, but it turned out that we were inflicted with immeasurable pain at the lungs of a sadistic husband/wife team as they attempted to belt out, damn, who knows: Laurence Welk? Liberace? I cannot imagine what inspired them to get on stage. But it's one thing to just listen to bad singing. To make matters worse, they event tried to perform a bit. See those Dixie-time hats off to the left? That's right: with those and a couple canes they tried their best rag-time imitations, and between songs they attempt what I'm guessing is supposed to be humor. At the moment this picture was taken, she's doing a little side-step dance while the guy just wanders aimlessly about the stage looking (and sounding) as if he was whac... [more]

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