Weekend wind down

Trip Start Feb 24, 2010
Trip End Mar 11, 2010

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Flag of South Africa  , Gauteng,
Sunday, February 28, 2010

4pm (tea time)Pretoria from Mel covering 2/27 and 2/28/10

We spent most of Saturday on an US Embassy arranged tour of Soweto….the area northwest of Johannesburg that was designated for blacks only by the South African government and center of the civil uprising that brought on the end of Apartheid.   The bus tour included a tour of the government provided housing and shanty towns where blacks were forced to live under extreme conditions.  There was no government supplied electricity, sewage or water and strict military style enforcement/punishment against any one that spoke out against the oppression.   Today the area is open to free trade and government provided services are being provided, but it still is an area of great poverty and racial segregation.

It was kind of creepy looking down on these small houses and occasional tent cities from the comfort of a tour bus, yet it was very moving to visit Nelson Mandela's house and the site the Children’s uprising, the 1976 peaceful gathering that resulted in the killing of over 500 children.  .  Lots to process, lots to think about.

Our trip ended with a stop at a spaza shop (lunch stand).  We were tempted with the local favorite of "lookarounds" or “runaways” (fried chicken heads or feet) but instead opted for another local fast food favorite…a hot dog (I think) and French fries all smashed into a very large piece of white bread.   At this particular meal, ketchup meant more to me than a fine South African wine.

Speaking of wine…so far so good…haven’t met a bottle I didn’t like yet.   Last night Terry and Marian provided a lovely spread of grilled tenderloin and veggies and we sat outside in candlelight enjoying the moon through the trees.

Today we slept in (thank you) and then travelled to Johannesburg to an African Market.  I was in charge of navigating (stress city-- since I didn’t know where we were and everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road).  Incredibly, with the help of GPS, maps, terrible road signs and everybody’s help looking for street names…we made it to our destination (via the scenic route).   Despite the stress, it was kind of a neat way to see the neighborhoods in and around Johannesburg.  The market was pretty good….I even shopped and bargained a bit.  The ride home was a piece of cake.  So here I am poolside enjoying a cup of tea and a lovely breeze, and looking forward to our next adventure.

8:30 P.M. Sunday evening Barbara (with glass of wine)

Africa is amazing – so much like California and yet not – beautiful blue skies and fluffy white clouds but there is a je ne sais quoi about the terrain and ambience that underscores its uniqueness.  Melody and Marian had a real trial finding the craft/market in Johannesburg today – I sat quietly in the back seat with Marian’s father Paddy taking in the scene – periodically I would offer a comment which would be responded to from Mel of “don’t speak” – you can imagine the challenge!  How I suffer!  In any case, we are having a great time – tomorrow we are thinking about going into caves  - cradle of mankind – and the really big news is that I wore shorts all day today – I forbid Melody from recording this for posterity (or you guys) as a public service – you can thank me later.
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Laura on

You two are amazing and I am so jealous. I saw a black Madonna outside of Barcelona. Very moving, even for a Lutheran.

Suzie on

Sounds like quite an adveture you two are having. Be safe!

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