You will be glad to read I managed to get the monster of a sleeping bag washed, dried, and stuffed back into its too tiny case. The washing and drying due to my amazing laundromat though. I also managed to pack my dufflebag and stay within my baggage allowance. All that after I had managed to get myself a last minute stomach bug following a night out with friends and what I thought the next morning far too much Alphabetical. Luckily the pharmacist eased my conciousness and told me a virus was going around. That made me feel much better, because to get so violently sick by red wine would have just made me very sad and probably spoiled my reputation too.
24 hours later I still don't feel like wine or anything but pasta with salt and butter, but I can report much better health and mood as I am sitting on a delayed and shaky plane to Jo'burg. Yay for me.
Jo'burg hates me. That is my first impression after landing. We are stuck in the parking garage at the airport and the exit queue is not moving. After 25 minutes we are told the booms won't move and we must turn and go to the second floor exit. I'm quite impressed with all cars in line turning at once and reversing without a single scratch and off we are to exit 2. A shorter wait there and then we are told to go to the fourth floor as there is no line further up. We oblige and make our way up only to find an even longer queue than downstairs to begin with. Ruth ignores me when I ask for the second time whether we have wine in the car. After another 20 minutes we are told by the very uninterested parking attendants that the booms don't open and we should go down to exit 1. At this point I think Ruth and I both scream. So in fact Jo’burg doesn't hate me, but the airport parking loves me so much that it keeps me hostage for an hour before we are on hour way.
A quick pizza at a 24 hour pizza joint, the only place still serving food besides Mc Donald's by the time we are out, and then I am off to sleep like a stone.
The next day I discover to my surprise that except for the dryness, which gets to my skin immediately, I like this city: The sun is out, everything looks pretty, everybody seems friendly, and even the taxis are cleaner than back home.
We start the day at the Neighborgood Market with Eggs Benedict and bubbly (hurrah for a happy stomach!) and explore stalls and shops all around. I like what I see. Somehow everything is a bit cooler than in Cape Town and at the same time less pretentious. No hipsters in sight and no one cares that I have to take a picture of the best cappuccino I ever had in my life.
On my suggestion we spend the afternoon at the Apartheid Museum which we enter by separate entrances according to our tickets which say 'white' and 'non-white'. A simple, but effective way to remind us what it must have been like not so long ago. Ruth and I would have not entered buildings by the same entrance, not even to mention dining together, shopping together, sharing lives as we do now. The museum is beautifully done and laid out with a permanent exhibit that you follow from the beginnings of apartheid to the end as well as special room guiding through Mandela's life. Architecture comes together with art as a visually striking background for the historic story told throughout. Even pictures and exhibit pieces with shock value are set up almost beautifully and neutrally as to allow the visitor to make up their own mind about everything. We are told a story, but allowed to judge and think for ourselves.
After seeing the tiny isolation cells for political prisoners though things start to get to me. I calculate I would be able to do most part of the Bikram series in there, but still scary thoughts come to my mind and I am quite relieved when we move towards the end of the exhibit, showing happier things like video footage of the De Klerk's declaration of the end of apartheid.
After all the history lessons we feel that we deserve a treat and it comes in form of a sushi snack, wine, and a beautiful rooftop view. As you can tell by food choices my stomach is much better and it actually makes me a bit sad that I had cancelled fancy dinner at Cube, but as we later end the day with a pasta dinner, my little world is still all good.
Old and new.
The bestest cappuccino.
Freedom column at the Apartheid Museum.
Neighborgood Market entrance.