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Archive for September, 2007

Chance are when you think ‘tent’ you aren’t thinking of the tents at this fantastic camp in South Africa’s Krüger National Park. Run by CCAfrica (‘Conservation Corporation Africa’), Ngala is typical of the firm’s high-end safari facilities. (more…)

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When you need to tool around South Africa’s larger distances, say, en route to or from one of the country’s stunning national parks, you’re likely to end up on Federal Air. Young, sunburnt pilots also load the bags, provide sack lunches, and give the security talk. They remind one of Israel, where teenagers and those barely above that age seem to run all the essential services, at least on the visible end.

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It’s not Singapore Airlines, but South Africa’s emergence in its democratic period as the muscular economic strongman of Africa has led to improvements in its flag carrier as well. There are plenty of routes to Europe, North America, and of course across Africa.

Although the experience could not be mistaken for five-star, I’ve always received good service from SAA.

South Africa being a beguiling country, one does run into that odd situation where people’s bags are loaded but then they fail to board the plane. I don’t know where such people go. It’s always been something of a mystery to me. When they do show up, they should be roundly boo-ed. Our forefathers would have had them caned.

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Costa Rica has a public-private dual system of health care. As in most countries that employ this model, you do not want to get caught as a visitor in the public system when you’re ill. (more…)

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You heard it here first.

The quiet little secret at the heart of the ‘special relationship’ that binds together the UK and the USA to the consternation of the rest of the world is not what you think. It actually comes down to this: clean bathrooms (a.k.a. ‘loos’). (more…)

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The first time you tell your traveling companion that you’ll be staying ‘at the Y in Hong Kong’, you’ll have to defend yourself against the assumption that you’ll be sleeping under a bench in a locker room that smells like someone’s sweat.

Believe me, this is not your father’s YMCA. (more…)

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The American Express lounge is a small ray of light in the otherwise death-mongering suffocation that is GRU at night, when you may be unfortunate enough to have your plane arrive. All the more reason for frequent travelers to get that American Express Platinum card or a PriorityPass membership.

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The best thing about Buena Vista Social Club and its musicians is that they are representative. A large, active Cuban musical tradition, of which BVSC is one example, thrives in the hotels and halls of Havana, Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba, and the like.

What has happened here is a marketing coup that ought to be celebrated rather than derided, for it has brought the richness of Cuban son to our ears. If it had not come in the picturesque and personality-rich form of Ibrahim, Compay, and their pals, it would have happened via some other coterie of sonistas who looked and sounded much like them. They are everywhere. (more…)

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The most startling aspect of this gripping account of the 101st Airborne’s assault on Hill 937 is that this was not even the bloodiest battle fought by the 101st in Vietnam. That one took place at Dat To and produced more than five times the U.S. casualties, occasioning the throw-away parenthesis of one of Hill’s actors, ‘that was a hill ….’. (more…)

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Were Paul the misanthropic curmudgeon he is often taken for, we would not have lines like this:

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

People bogged down in what is wrong—or will be if so-and-so is left to run things—do not make statements like this. These words and the lines that surround them are full to bursting with hope for those whom ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ has called. Indeed they speak about placing hope in Christ so that Paul and the Ephesians might grow into the rather large stature that it is their vocation to realize. (more…)

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