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15.9.10

BH.net: Durban, South Africa from the journal of Alex Park

A typical travel journalist will get into a cab, board a plane, (potentially a boat, too), arrive at a destination, scribble notes, ask some questions, and then try to condense said notes, answers, memories, impressions and experiences into one solid chunk of writing, somewhere between 500-5,000 words.

Here at Border Hopping we allow for a more casual approach to the locations our contributors write about. In addition to the genre of "journalesque" - as informal as it gets - we often publish a series of related but distinct pieces of writing on the same location, often originating from the authors' blogs.

Such is the work of Alex Park, whose stay in Durban inspired many words, a few of which we are privileged to house.

1. The future as I see it (the political commentary):
I never wanted to do humanitarian work. Plenty of people parachute to Africa from another part of the world, arrange for someone else's food to be airlifted into this war zone or the next, and leave. They'll never admit it to your face, but they like the thrill of the work more than the place that they do it in. The worse the conditions, the luckier they think they are. The more ridiculous and more tragic the premise for whatever crisis they're up against, the more reason to go.
Read "The future as I see it" >>


2. Pointillism (the environmental, historical and architectural musings):
The architecture was probably one good reason I had been told to stay away. It could have been Kinshasa, or Luanda or any other port city in some far more derelict and bankrupt country than the one I was walking through, and for moments at a time I imagined it was. There were old, towering colonial buildings, all falling apart as they decayed from the inside out.
Read "Pointillism" >>


3. An angry mob (the personal story):
Through a crack in the door I could see the group, all dressed in their Sunday best, pacing the room and bobbing their heads to their own private rhythms. The only word I could make out was the loudest of them all, "Jesus," repeated again and again with the emphasis on the first syllable between words of fervent praise. Around the corner, trying for a better glimpse inside, I imagined a minister holding a bible and standing on a table in the middle as the others circled him.
Read "An angry mob" >>

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