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The surprising Sin City


I am still trying to figure out where the 69-metre gap is in a canyon that is supposed to be 200m wide at its narrowest point

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IN MY YOUNG life I was always certain of two facts. First, I was absolutely sure that goebiegoeboes had to be the most delicious dessert on the planet, and the other bit of trivia that I had nailed down was the fact that American daredevil Evel Knievel jumped across the Grand Canyon on his motorcycle.

However, recently I was crushed to learn that I was wrong on both counts. Very wrong!

Casimir, the friendly orange dinosaur, loved goebiegoeboes, he’d always be scoffing down a bowlful. Casimir was initially a character on a French television series called “* ’Île aux enfants”, before the show was reproduced in SA in 1979.

The French Casimir’s treat was called “gloubi-boulga”; but the English translation of this word, as far as I could discover, is “gobbledygook, nonsense; meaningless”. So goebiegoeboes never existed – I was crushed.

I thought a trip to the Grand Canyon would console me, because here I could at least see the place that my childhood hero took his leap. But another shock awaited me.

According to our tour guide the canyon averages 16 kilometres in width, with its widest point stretching around 35km – that’s almost Kimberley to Barkly West. Its narrowest point is in Marble Canyon, where there is a 200-metre gap.

And then I learned that, though Evel Knievel always wanted to jump across the Grand Canyon on his motorcycle, it was his son Robbie who performed the stunt in 1999, soaring 69 meters across a narrow part of the canyon.

I am still trying to figure out where the 69-metre gap is in a canyon that is supposed to be 200m wide at its narrowest point.

However, with dreams shattered and a confused mind, I hopped back on to the tour bus that would take me back to Las Vegas. There I could forget my sorrow and confusion and do some crazy things, the record of which would, as they say, stay in Vegas.

But Las Vegas was yet another disappointment a rather refreshing “disappointment” I might add.

You see, Sin City is the town where wild party-goers from all over the world converge to live without rules. This place is famous for gambling, bachelor parties, gambling, girls’ weekends and of course gambling. Even the airport terminals in Las Vegas are lined with slot machines.

It’s the perfect place to go crazy and you’d expect mayhem, bedlam and their sister pandemonium to be running the show; and yet – though I admit that I only walked through the very touristy parts of the city – there is an uncanny order in Las Vegas.

The strangest thing about one of the world’s biggest playgrounds is that it runs like clockwork despite the thousands and thousands of revellers out to have a good time.

The streets are completely litter-free, but I never saw clean-up crews or garbage trucks. Hotel bars and restaurants are well stocked, but I didn’t see delivery trucks on the roads. There is law and order, and a sense of security though I never saw a single policeman or a patrol car and believe me, I looked.

The staff in casinos, restaurants and stores are efficient, competent and courteous – it’s almost as if they value the people visiting their city; it’s as if they know that if they do not treat people with respect and make them feel safe, their little city with all its jobs will cease to exist.

I’ve always heard that in order to combat crime you need “more visible policing” but after seeing the order in Vegas I wonder.

One thing I did notice, however, was that the security guards in the hotels and casinos were not merely enforcing the laws and rules they were following them too. Imagine that – an orderly society where those in charge of maintaining order value the rules that they enforce.

Wouldn’t that be a massive leap for our society, as well as the cherry on top of the goebiegoeboes?