Sunday, March 11, 2018

Two Nights in Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa
Paul Cook's sabbatical places visited:
from July 1, 2017 - Mar. 11, 2018
I flew for 26 hours and waited at airports for 14 hours to get to South Africa; this included flying from Sao Paolo, Brazil to Washington DC, to Dakar, Senegal to Johannesburg, South Africa. So, it shouldn't be a surprise that when I arrived, that I was tired. I came at sunset, and the sun was an African red - like you see in the movies.

My host Ian let me stay at his place for two nights. I was disappointed his wife Maureen wasn't in. I met them in the Galapagos. I remember that trip well. We saw turtles and sharks and seals and boobies. Also, I was super tired to get on the boat and didn't talk to anyone that morning.

Well, how I met Ian was the same as I met him on the Galapagos. I was fatigued from traveling so much. He let me sleep in and that was nice of him. But because of the jet lag, I woke up several times through the night with lots of energy.

We chatted a lot about South Africa's history and problems and shared our personal stories. I learned about the different tribes and the occupation of Cape Town, first by the Boers then the English.

Apparently, South Africa produced two great leaders. Most of us know about Nelson Mandela, who recently passed away. But there was also Jan Smuts - an Afrikaner (Afrikaners are the Dutch people who settled in South Africa) who ended being an adviser to Winston Churchill.

I learned about the history of the suburb of Gauteng, which is where Johannesburg is located. It means gold mountain. Johannesburg is located on gold. It explained to me why a number of South Africans talked so much about gold. It's a big part of their history.

Originally, the English pushed the Dutch or Afrikaners out of the West Cape - which was near the ocean. The capital of West Cape is Cape Town. Hence, the English wanted the port for control of trade. So, the Boers moved west and thus inland to become farmers. But sadly for them, later, diamonds and gold were found on their land.

As a result, the Boers started battling for control. First, the farmers with their rifles were destroying the English in a shocking and unexpected upset. Can you imagine country folk killing an imperial and trained army?

The British actually thought it'd be a "Tea Time War" to defeat the Boers. Nope.

But of course, the British weren't stupid. They knew they could win by numbers. And after 200,000 - 500,000 troops (accounts differ) were sent in, the Boers knew the war was lost, and they surrendered their gold and diamonds to the English.

(When I worked in New Zealand we had three Afrikaners there and one eventually became my boss. Hearing the history, I imagined all Radley, Gavin, and Sussette in my head and how they would behave in such a war. Sussette is a nurse, and I imagined she would be taking care of the injured soldiers in the Boer War. It's an interesting history - to say the least.)

For lunch one day, I had some wonderful chicken livers. They were in some kind of hot and spicy cream sauce, and they were very tasty.

The second night I bought him Chinese food. We had fried rice and black beans with prawns. Although it was good, the Korean restaurant looked like it was more happening next door.

On the second day, Ian put an itinerary together for me in Cape Town. It was nice of him to spend a few hours on advising what I should see and do.

On the last day, Ian was going to take me to the train station, but I miscalculated the time I needed to be there. Since it was a weekend - the trains ran infrequently and I was going to miss my flight. I called Ian and he drove me directly to the airport. Story of my life: I barely made the flight on time. I thanked him and told him I'd be back.

The flight attendant told me in Korean: "Ahn young ha seh yo. (Hello)" I was shocked she knew I was Korean and more shocked she could greet me in the language.

On the plane, I realized I didn't do much in Cape Town and that was good. I needed a rest from the stress of the airport fiasco, the jet lag, and 40 hours of traveling.

On my flight, I had African beef and corn and greens for my lunch. It was very good. After a long journey, I finally made it to my planned destination: Cape Town. 

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