Welcome to South Africa

Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
Trip End Oct 01, 2008

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Monday, January 28, 2008

It's hot!  REALLY hot!!!  I land in Johannesburg and feel a wave of heat as soon as I get off the plane.  It's early in the morning and the 9 hour flight leaves me out of sorts when I realize I'm in Africa again!    The cab ride (if you can call the 1982 nissan a cab) is very interesting in that we drive through what looks like the slums and then are in the middle of huge gated estates in a matter of a few blocks.  Less than a mile separates the absolute worst living conditions I've ever seen (townships - which consist of tin huts) and some of the best.  We get to the hotel, which is nice but not too close to anything. 

I head to a African craft market in the Rosebank area which could easily be in any U.S. city (reminded me of Atlanta). Each vendor tells me that I'm the first customer of the day and that, for me, they will give me a special price.    One guy tries to sell me a cool statue of a Zulu man, but I quickly see that something is wrong with his belly button and realize that its actually a big pipe!  I see tons of worthy souvenirs but wind up leaving empty handed. 

Back at the hotel, Jen shows up on schedule and it's nice to see her as well as a familiar face in such a foreign place!  Her smile is wide as ever and I know right away that we're going to have a blast.  We relax and catch up for a bit, as she's just finished a 40-hour trip, before heading to a traditional African restaurant called Moyo.  The food, ambiance and experience is perfect!  We sit outside by a fire in the middle of a beautiful square.  A lady paints our faces while a band walks around and plays tunes on local instruments I've never seen before.  The food is phenomenal and Jen and I are back to talking like we have seen each other every day since college. 
We find another "cab to take us home after a decadent dessert and I negotiate the fare before getting into the car this time as I realize that everything is a negotiating opportunity here.  Dinner is just about the same price as the taxi ride, which is odd considering we had a great meal (apps, drinks, steaks, dessert) and the cab takes all of about 10 minutes.  Back at the hotel we crash to get ready for our trek to the bush of Kruger Park!
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Surtrek (www.surtrek.com) on

great post. i love to read it. keep it up.

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