Sunday, September 3, 2017

African Odyssey Genesis*

We arrived in Johannesburg Wednesday evening, August 23rd, and made our way to the Mercure hotel, across from the Eastgate Mall, well east of the enormous city. It was dark by 7PM, and temps were dropping into the 40s. No sign of Jungle Jim or Tarzan. 

Just for the record, the flight from Atlanta to Joburg is the second longest of all non-stop commercial flights, 13,582 miles; but it is the longest, #1, in terms of time, 15 hours, 55 minutes. The time zone of Joburg is the same as Barcelona, but, conjoined with the flight from San Francisco to Atlanta, 5 hours or so, we were tired puppies. More like tired zombies. It's Friday evening as I write, August 25th, and we are still moving very slowly. We summoned enough energy to see the Apartheid Museum this afternoon, and have visited the mall twice, but that's about it, apart from unpacking and trying to sleep. Tomorrow we pick up our camper. (Camper? you ask).

I had always wanted to visit Africa, especially if we could be back home in time for cocktails. We did precisely this in 2010 or so, taking the fast ferry from Tarifa, Spain, to Tangier, Morocco, returning to Tarifa by 5PM and a snifter of Soberano. I was pleased to cross off another continent, but cognizant I had not had the fullest of African experiences. Vicki had visited Egypt in the early 80s and certainly was ahead of me, but not by that much. Imagine our intrigue, however, when, in 2016, at a British RV show, we learned that the UK's Camping and Caravaning Club (the friendly one), of which we were members, conducts guided RV tours of southern Africa (as well as many other places). This through the firm of Worldwide Motorhome Holidays. They rent you an RV, provide a wagon-master/mistress, and, in the company of other RVers, you are off on a 4 or 5 week road tour of the southern bit of the continent. There is a set itinerary, and you camp together in the evenings, but you are otherwise independent. We were intrigued; the intrigue led to inquiries, which led to real interest, which led to a deposit...and now, 13 months later, here we are, in Joburg, moving into our RV tomorrow morning, ready to begin our African odyssey. So much by way of explanation.
August 22nd bon voyage with Penelope, who can pronounce
"bon voyage" properly

Over the Bay, The City to the left

Over the Sierras

Landing at Atlanta

On approach to Johannesburg

At the Apartheid Museum in Joburg; if you have any moral
sense, this is the one place in Joburg you have to visit

Entrance to the museum; so much of this happened during our a philosophy student, I remembered the murder of
Stephen Biko...and so much else; as a citizen of the US, whose
record is so appallingly much worse, it is difficult to be
critical...justice still has an appallingly high price in most of
the world...

The museum is extensive, graphic, sparing
little, and recounts the experiences of so many
people still alive; no photography is permitted;

Downtown Joburg from the museum
The most popular family restaurant in Joburg, and in what we
have seen already of South Africa, is Spur...Spur Steak Ranches;
good and reasonably-priced food, but an exercise in cognitive
dissonance...the name is cowboy, the decor is Native American
...who didn't use spurs so much, nor eat steak, nor have
anything to do with Africa; but it was here I discovered peri peri

Climbing wall in the Spur kiddie room

Exploring the Eastgate Mall and the impressive
Checkers supermercado; South Africa is a big-
time wine producer, but we'll get into that toward
the end of the trip

*Nice Hellenistic/Hebraic allusion, right? African Genesis is the title of the seminal work by Robert Ardrey, which I read c. 1963, and which was life-changing. Dogmatic slumbers, etc. Thank you, again, Mrs. Henry, my high school Latin teacher, who taught much else in addition to Latin. The Odyssey, by Team Homer, is another story, but still among the favorites for a multitude of reasons.

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