Johannesburg to Jozi

That’s the title of a book edited by my host at the Melville House B&B where I stayed in Jozi. What she did, was to ask a whole raft of folks who had left SA during the hard times and who had come back, to write something about their experience. There are poems, short stories, essays – about 30 all together.

The premise of the book is that Johannesburg was this stuffy provincial frontier town, and that it is morphing into “Jozi”, the still wild frontier town, but one that is thriving and happening and catches your spirit and won’t let go. One of the quotes on the cover of the book summarised what I felt when I was there. It went something like: All you people think we’re demented, coming back to this decadent city in this dying country, but you know what? Where you live is just too boring!

That’s Johannnesburg – or Jozi. It grabs you somehow – it’s like being at the centre of a volcano, with lava swirling all around you. Hard to explain, but the sense of life and energy pulsing through the air is palpable. Stuff is happening here, you can feel it. It can take 20 minutes to drive through an intersection in some places, because absolutely no one seems to realise that there are traffic lights. Everyone, from all directions just keeps inching forward in the mad and snail-like game of chicken, until they get across. It would have been much quicker to just go by the lights, but that would be no fun at all, I guess.

The B&B was great, clean and comfortable, and Heidi was very nice. The folks staying there seemed to be mostly travellers for NGOs and the like, so lots of conversation about interesting stuff.

The beautiful scenery on the drive from Durban to Tembe is breathtaking. I know I promised lots of photos, and that may yet come true, but so far I have just been watching with my mouth open, and forgetting my camera even exists.

I’m in a small log cabin in the research area, with the other volunteers – who are all about 19 and spend the evenings drinking, so I may have some good computer time to write more than I had thought.

The trip today included going through territories of more than one tribe, and seeing hippo crossing signs on the road. But I think I smell meat cooking on the campfire, so I’ll go and eat now, and try and get my thoughts in order for tomorrow, and my first day at the school.

Open-bottomed bird’s nest - how do the babies stay in????

My little cabin - two *small* single beds and a smaller closet . . .

Communal kitchen, living room and braai (BBQ) - and the water stand-pipe.

They’ve fenced me in . . .

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1 Comment »

  1. mary said

    Hi: I am going to show your ‘My Heart is Breaking’ segment to my International Business class. Good to hear that you are having a great time.
    Mary.

    Wow!! I’m honoured. I’ll have to go back and see what it was I wrote that has to do with business.

    I am having a great time, and even better now that I’m cruising in African time again. The most frequently heard phrase here? There’s always enough time in Africa. The second most heard phrase is when you ask someone when something is happening and they say “Right now” or “Any time from now”, both of which mean anytime between now and the next ice age
    ttyl

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