Arrive in Johannesburg - South Africa

Trip Start Jul 21, 2005
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Trip End Jan 12, 2006


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Friday, July 22, 2005

Update 1: South Africa

South Africa hass been amzing so far... i wish i had a whole month to explore the place. so many things to see and do.
Well i arrived in Johannesburg around 7am on Fri 22nd july after having had a fantastic flight from Singapore - i was sitting in front of the wing and had 3 seats to myself! i stretched out and enjoyed the space!
I practically walked straight through passport control - they just stamped my passport, got my bags off the carousel, handed a declaration form to a security guard and pretty much walked straight out the airport. there was little to no customs what so ever... I actually walked out where people were waiting and thought i had done the wrong thing - nope its just security south african style.
i scanned the crowd for my friend Andrew who wasn't there as he was held up in traffic and so i got my first taste of a little culture. i was a little uneasy i must admit and i had about 10 blacks approach me at different times - you need a taxi? taxi, taxi? i had to learn how to say no pretty quickly... Andrew and his father eventally got there about 20 minutes later and we were off - well sort of - as we were leaving the carpark we had to switch our car off and then on again to prove we had the keys to the car or owned it in other words...
Driving out to andrews home took around an hour and a half and there were shanti towns on one side of the road and brand new suburbs on the other side of the road with loads of razor wire... yes this is the norm in south africa. we got to andrews around 10 or 11am where i was given a tour of the house and i decided to have a granpa nap for 2 hours which was well needed! well i got to go to wildlife (that is youthgroup for those who dont know what i am talking about) on fri night which andrew runs at his dads church - and that was great we did a sort of revelation thingy (a panel thing) and were playing up on australian culture and then on south african culture - where they tried to teach me some africans - they tried to get me to say 'die springbokke is die beste (the springbox is the best) and so i refues to learn it! yes. the wallabies lost the next day to the springbox so i didnt hear the end of it.

Saturday i had my first shopping experience at the local mall where i went to woolworths - but it is actually a clothing store with some organic foods for sale... amoungst other things of amuzement was being charged for a plastic bag - the equivalent of 3 aussie cents.
One of the biggest things that has impacted me the most is the 60% unemployment and that the minimum wage is less than 6 rand ($1.20)/hour which means that the people lucky enough to have a job are on around R1200/month or just AUD$240/month. yet everything over here costs almost hte same as in australia except for food which is probably around half. its hard to explain in a few sentences - i am still trying to get my head around it. there is also the 'affirmative action policy' which is completely opposite to our equal employemnt opportunity laws. it almost legislated racism saying that you must employ blacks first, then coloured, then indian, then whites and female first. this is great in theory and what it is trying to achieve by spreading the wealth proportionally to the make up of the population but it means you cant employ the right person for the right job. in many companies you are emplying a person for a high level management role who has no skill for that job and basically takes the role of a filing clerk whilst another person is also employed to do the job but doesnt have the title - so the company has to pay 2 massive salaries to get the job done.
later on the saturday, Andrew and I went up to a nearby reserve where we spent the afternoon and had a 'Braai' (Africaans for BBQ). As we were finishing lunch i spotted 4 waterbuck (grazing animals) on top of a nearby hill so we packed up and went for a walk and got within 100m before they ran off. We saw plenty more animals in the distance and on our way driving out of the park we were really lucky and spotted 3 zebras grazing on the hill - unfortunitely it was too dark to get a photo.

Sunday was a bit of a lazy day and i went to andrews church which was amazing and there was around 100 people. The word was great and very high quality - it is better than half the stuff on tv...

Monday was a very full day with many interesting suprises and Andrews parents came along, or rather we went with them. We headed into Pretoria - one of the two capitals in south africa where we drove past loftus stadium - where they play rugby - sat 30th australia is playing south africa but unfortunity we cant get to the game. After this we passed the US embassy where the guard (just a local employed as a guard) tried to take my camera cause i took a photo of the embassy but we drove off before he could. We then we passed the Australian high commission before we heading on to the union buildings (their equivalent of parliament house) and spent some time there.
From there we headed onto the VoorTrekker Monument - which was huge. it took 10 years to build and was built as a monument to God by the VoorTrekkers for their victory in the battle against the Boeres at Blood River in eighteen thirty something. It was full of history and we spent quite abit of time there.

Following this just next door there is an old fort which was great and then we headed onto Menlyn shopping centre for some lunch. The shopping centre was interesting with the waitress dropping a bottle of balsamic vinegar on me and then as we were checking out some shops - i had to take a photo of a really disgusting shirt and because you cant just take photos in shops we headed for some changerooms - now the stange thing was - there was no shop assistants there = very uncommon for south africa and so i opened the first changeroom door which was ajar to find some chick on the other side... enough said!

Language miscommunications are fast becoming a great source of amuzement on this trip - although more so to the locals i am with. whilst we were eating out andrew was being friendly to some waiter and said 'how is it' to which the waiter replied 'lekker bro' (pronounced 'laquer brew' and meands good bro) and he repeated it to me and all i heard was "how is it?" "like a baboon".... yes well anyway, later that evening we round at some family friends of andrews who were celebrating their 35th wedding anviersary and it came the time in the night for some to leave and i copyied what i thought andrew said 'lekker bius' but he had actually said "lekker vius" meaning goodbye and i was quite loudly saying "good cow! good cow!" we laughed over this for quite some time...
there are plenty more of where these came from but time prevents me from further embarassing myself.

Wednesday we headed to the Lion and Rhino park just north of Krugersdorp near Johannesburg which was cool seing the grazing animals so close yet the lions were a little dissapointing considering we didnt see any up close as we were supposed to as we drove through the enclosure. we did see some others in a separate pen which was great. later on we tried to find the area where they kept the lion cubs but we couldnt find it anywhere.
Well thursday took the cake as we went on a game drive in Pilansburg National Park. we got up at an ungodly hour and drove and hour or so to get there for our 2 1/2 hour trip leaving at 7am. our guides name was Sipho and we felt reather safe knowing he was carrying a .458 rifle. Well the ride started off and it was cold and i wrapped myself in 2 blankets suppplyed on the tour bus - and open air vehicle. we saw plenty of grazing animals straight away and our guide spotted a rhino or two through the trees. he kept on saying we'll get to see them closer - which was true - just around the next bend was a rhino family and as we were watching from like 100m away, another male rhino ran in for a territory challenge. it was awesome to watch and the whole thing lasted only a minute, but i could have left satisfied right then. the drive continued and we saw giraffes, more rhino, a few cheetahs on a rock on the mountain side, other grazing animals, hippos, crocs, monkeys, and elephants - unfortunately these were not close enough to view them well. After the game drive finished we headed onto a nearby lion park which was a million times better than the one the day before. This is where i got to hold a 3month old lion cub and play with 6 month old cubs. it was an amazing experience.

On friday i got up early and went for an hours walk along the fenceline to a nearby reserve and it was great to just be out in the fresh air, hearing all the birds doing there thing and i even got to see a small springbok grazing right near the fence.
later that day i was hanging out with some of andrews friends who roped me into doing some dnace with them for a thing they had the next day - thats right - nathan dancing... it was so funny and so much fun. it was just a really simple thing to I feel good by James brown as a part of a fund raising performance for some local group to put on stuff for young people.

Sunday i was ounce again in church and copping it from all the south africans - which was everybody - cause the Wallabies lost to the springboks in the rugby again yesterday. It was also cool praying for a young guy in the church - jp - and to see him get the baptism of the holy spirit and speaking in tongues. after church i bought lunch for andrews family at a local steakhouse - it was so nice and so cheap. i love the price of food here.

well that was pretty much my trip to south africa as monday i spent the day packing to leave.

hope all of you are doing well back home.
god bless you all.
nath
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