Happy Derby Day

Normally, I do at least a little revising and editing for blog entries.  In honor of the special day, I’m blogging stream of consciousness…

I watched “the rugby” from Scrumpy Jack’s last night.  In an exciting match, the hometown Stormers won by a landslide.  I think I acted the part of rugby fan pretty well, convincing two blue and white striped fans behind that I was knowledgable enough to sit in their section.

The university semester is fast coming to an end.  I’m over the hump of regularly scheduled class work, with “only” final research papers and a Thesis proposal to finish in the next two weeks.  Once these are finished, my mind is dialed in to the World Cup and a two month circuit through southern Africa.

I’m excited and ready to expand my knowledge of South (and southern) Africa beyond Cape Town.  It can be difficult to really get out.  Yesterday morning, I took the train to the center of town with the intent of catching the next bus to anywhere.  It turns out that the next bus left 6 hours later and arrived “anywhere” at two in the morning.  Cape Town is effectively excluded from the rest of South Africa, excepting the Garden Route and the Cape Peninsula, both beautiful, but lacking any perceptive difference.

I’ve recently become addicted to “How I Met Your Mother.”  My housemate, Jimmy, has the first four seasons on his hard drive.  Lacking a television, I’ve taken to watching an episode to wind down after class.  “An episode” has turned into 3 or 4 at a time.  That Ted and Robyn really crack me up…

Ultimate Frisbee Nationals are this weekend.  Due to my mandatory attendance at Rotary meetings, I haven’t been able to play on the national team, but I went to watch the UCT matches today.  My ultimate involvement has been a recent development (last 5 years of my life?) and I am constantly amazed at how much fun frisbee people are…

I constantly fail at setting the alarm correctly at my house in Observatory (granted, not the safest area of town).  My housemates, after laughing and making fun of me, ask me, “well, how do you set the alarm in your country?”  Chagrined, I reply, “well, we don’t really do alarms in most places.”  The culture of security is one of the strongest distinctions between here and home.  An example: I drove through “horse country” a few weekends ago.  There were rolling hills, solitary trees, barns surveying luscious green and a particularly South African trait.  Outside the picturesque and paradigmatic white picket fences were larger metal gates with razor wire at the top.

Today is one of the days I’m most homesick to be away from Louisville.  I love the excitement of the

Kentucky Derby, the buildup and the climax, the pageantry, the parties, the beer and the betting and most of all the beauty of the whole event.  So here it is, if you’ve survived this far, Kevin’s Derby winner from halfway across the world….drum

roll…wait for it…. Conveyance Super Saver! But don’t hold it against me if you lose any money, I spent about 45 seconds making that pick… (not to mention, I’ll probably erase and change it once the race is finished!)

Enjoy your friends, family, taco dip, and mint juleps.  “And down the stretch they come…!!


The J & B Metropolitan

Saturday, January 30 was the 36th running of the J & B Met at Kenilworth Race Course.  Theoretically, the biggest event in Cape Town and the biggest horse race in South Africa, I felt right at home.  Armed with two tickets from my host counselor, I hailed a cab with 12 of my roommates and headed into the Southern Suburbs to experience South African horse racing.

Kenilworth was a carnival of outfits, entertainment, and excitement.  I was expecting the same rat cage and filth of the Kentucky Derby infield, but was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere and amenities.   There was plenty of room to move around, seats and shade to be found, and the concessions were reasonably priced.  The degree of enthusiasm for fancy hats began to approach (though not overtake) the women at Churchill Downs.

The racing card was deceptive in all its familiarity.  I could make out the easy stuff: trainers, jockeys, studs (and, of course, recognized none of them), but the rest of the numbers and figures were presented in such I way that it may as well have been in Xhosa.  I had none of the important information I needed to bet, and probably did better because of it.

There were some other interesting differences from Churchill Downs.  The race was on turf instead of dirt.  The track consisted of three paths including two intersecting ovals and a straight route through the middle like a “prohibited” sign.  The infield held the V.I.P seating with tents full of food and drink, as opposed to the muddy, shirtless rabble in Kentucky.

The betting had a slightly different set-up.  There was no “Show” bet, only a “Place” bet that consisted of 2nd, 3rd, and, if there were 16 horses or more, 4th place.  There was also a “Swinger” bet in which you could choose two horses that you thought would finish in any combination in the top 3.