So far we are exhausted from the 15 hour flight, and have hardly glimpsed South Africa. But there are a few initial impressions: coming here reminds me of going to India and to Israel — very long plane trips, but there is also a kind of magic. However endless the ride, you walk on near your home, and walk off somewhere that once seemed so distant. It is as if the world now has magic doors and you can just pass through to elsewhere. One aspect of the elsewhereness of South Africa is that it is a black majority nation. You only begin to sense that as the airport and hotel are significantly white and Asian, but you do. And that puts me in mind of something Marina — who grew up in the very international setting of Parkway Village, Queens — often says — the great value of getting away from the US is realizing how different other places are — that our life is not a given, not a universal, just the result of a particular history in a particular place. And even just landing here you begin to sense that — the talk radio we heard on the way from the airport about urging people to vote, but some here are refusing to vote if they have no water. The high rises look familiar, but the challenges are different.
I rented a 3G card for this laptop in the hope that we will actually be able to skype from the fossil site tomorrow, more as I know more.