Wednesday, 6 May 2009

South Africa Day 7

Day 7, Joburg, 8:00am

Awoke to a face outside our door which turned out to be the gardener, I'm sure glad he didn't come around last night otherwise he may have been beaten to death with a brush. Haueter received another text from Melissa who asked if we had survived the night. Do you know what? I think we did.

With everything packed up we set off early to again take in some sights on our way back to the international airport in Johannesburg which is not called Johannesburg International Airport any more but O.R. Tambo International Airport under the new regime of renaming everything.

As we started to get into the more built up areas there were more and more adverts for FIFA Football World Cup 2010, everything about it has disaster written all over it. If South Africa could get any more dangerous the World Cup could well be the catalyst; the football supporters spill out of the airport to find transport a major problem, the buses are unreliable, the train system has a poor reputation, the minibus taxis are dangerous with the 'turf wars' still raging which has even seen shoot outs on the roads between rival drivers and the taxi ranks are a hot bed for petty criminals.

If you are thinking of getting around on foot, make sure you have up to date everything otherwise you will end up screwed with all the name changes of the roads. The last thing you want is to wander into a tourist 'no go' area such as Joubet Park or Hillbrow. Maybe there will be safety in numbers but imagine all the nationally proud football supporters combined with cheap and plentiful booze in one of the most violent cities on earth where the majority of locals are armed, some with automatic weapons and violent crime is a way of life for some.

Let's hope everything works out ok because the authorities are putting a lot of effort into this sporting event that will have the eyes of the world on it and from what I have seen, the nee stadia look awesome.

We arrive at the airport, say our farewells to Morne, who has been a great host and head straight to Nandos. Whilst waiting in the queue, a big local guy walks to the front of the queue where the manager comes flying out to greet him and starts making a fuss of him. Not being in the country very long I wasn't sure but it looked a lot like Jacob Zuma, SA's Deputy (but soon to be) President, he was in Joburg to see charges of bribery, corruption and more against him dropped. He had probably followed us to the airport to make sure Haueter left the country!

After a bizarre experience with a guy asking us how tall we thought he was, Chris took off to get a massage (what an airport) whilst I wandered around aimlessly killing time which led me to food again. After being served by a local African girl I tipped her 10 rand and saw her face light up as though she had just won the lottery, it equates to about 70p so you realise how cheap life is over there.

We landed back in Heathrow and saw the 'Welcome To Britain' sign so I knew I was home, reinforcing this was the obscene amount I had to pay for breakfast, I was home indeed.

Maybe I can get to go back one day and do the things I missed this time, going to one of the many safari parks, swim with the sharks, visit Table Mountain, the usual tourist stuff, it really is a beautiful place but unfortunately I can see it getting worse before it gets better.

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