Thursday, May 17, 2018

Icy JoeBerg, Now Heading to Kruger

Johannesburg Skyline
When I came to JoeBerg, I was in a bad mood from not sleeping enough and having a number of things go wrong. Two days into being there, an icy wind that came off the top of the mountains blasted through the city. I woke up in the middle of the night, because my head got so cold. I put my hoodie back on and went back to bed. Man, it reminded me of the Antarctic winds that blew through Wellington. The icy air would get into your blood and bones and chill the life out of you.

Where I stayed wasn't very interesting and inconveniencing. The hostel Rottweiler tore a hole in my luggage; thus, I demanded the owner repair it. He did, but not without putting up an argument for his dog's bad behavior.

The dog also made a hole in my shirt, and I demanded a discount. The manager wasn't happy I demanded another discount. He was a naughty dog, because the manager didn't discipline him.

Then there was also this misbehaved kid, around age 10, that stayed in a hostel. I was trying to figure out the lady and the kid's story. Were they being smuggled from Mozambique? Was she really married? Why was staying in the room with her "tour guide", if she was married? (He didn't seem like a tour guide to me.) If they were married, wouldn't the kid go back to his father and tell her about mommy and the tour guide?

They all claimed they were Angolans, who speak Portuguese. But they speak Portuguese too in Mozambique. Why were they in JoeBerg? The "tour guide" was also a Jehovah's Witness. It was all so strange.

I told the kid to stop once. He grabbed an American girl's scarf and started choking her by it. Then he stole food from some other guests. And he started begging from me. When he kept pestering me, I told his mother that she needed to control her child.

Was there any good staying there?

Well, on one of the days, I talked awhile to an American university student. That was nice. I got to know him, and he told me he was a double major in public policy and journalism. I advised him to change his major to religious studies instead of public policy, since he really enjoyed learning and studying cults, like Scientology. I told him he could write his honor's thesis on cults; he liked the idea. He said he didn't fit in with his group that were a bunch of "social justice warriors". I started laughing and told him that line was going in my book or screenplay one day.

And on another day, I met with my friend - who is also a client now. I'm doing some consulting work for him.

We ate at the mall. We had a swanky meal, where the people came and went and watched us eat. I wonder what they were thinking, while watching us. Obviously, we were having fun chatting.

I had two cappuccinos and a fried chicken burger and we shared some flap jacks. My friend had tea and bacon and eggs.

It was good catching up with him. I told him about my time from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. For some reason, I felt really accomplished to take my time and finish the Garden Route from Cape Town to PE by bus and hitchhiking and getting lifts from hostel guests.

My friend was like an uncle to me, guiding me on the spots to see and what to do. So, it was nice sharing what happened, the bad and the good and my impressions of the country. I told him though, there's one thing I have to admit about South Africans on the whole, and that is there incredible and amazing hospitality towards me and their sense of duty to protect me.

On my final day at the hostel, I found out more of the unfriendly manager's story - the one who had the naughty Rottweiler. Apparently, he was disowned by his Swiss family for being gay ages ago. He's probably now in his 60's. We figure he's desperate for money, because he may have a fetish for black call boys.

His last lover was a married black man, who also needed money, and hence entered into an affair. One witness believed he was pocketing money from the guests, not reporting it on the books, and keeping the cash.

I don't know how I figure out all this stuff. Don't ask.

Oh, how right and sad was T.S. Eliot when he wrote The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: "Time to turn back and descend the stair, With a bald spot in the middle of my hair — (They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)" The lines reflect a middle aged man, who is growing older by the day, and will never find love or have glory. A sad story indeed.

After eating at the best Chinese restaurant in JoeBerg (a little hole in the wall), I packed my stuff and headed off to the Kruger National Park. On my ride there - I kept wondering how this kind of stuff keeps happening to me, and how is it that I'm figuring out what's really going on with people.

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