Compound Living

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
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Trip End Dec 19, 2012


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Flag of South Africa  , Gauteng,
Thursday, September 20, 2012

This week has been full of practical stuff to prep for this longer African stay, things I couldn't get done in the Balkans, which doesn’t make for compelling reading. Got shots and was sick as a dog, bought new hiking sandals, set up some appointments for other mundane things.

I’m still having problems with the walls and electrified fences. A week ago, in the Balkans, I barely even locked my door. When I told someone here that in Serbia I used to leave the door to my first floor balcony open at night, they actually gasped. The bars on the windows and doors feel like a cage, and the walls and fences make me feel paranoid. And it’s strange, because I’ve been out walking a couple of mornings, and everything is so normal. People are friendly and helpful, buildings are in good repair and streets are clean, there are an awful lot of expensive cars driving around. I don’t understand where these people come from who commit the supposed daily armed robberies, smashing windows and grabbing bags off seats, and sometimes kidnapping children. Are gangs coming in at night, or are the residents of the neighborhood afflicted with some Jekyll and Hyde syndrome specific to Johannesburg?

The photo here is outside the particular compound I’m staying in. Inside the compounds are nice, from what I can see through the gates, lots of plants and flowers, and interesting birds in the trees above the walls. Someone told me you get used to living with the walls and fences, and I can sort of see how that could happen. I’m not sure I want to get used to it, though.

Anyway, I won’t be able to do much for the next week at least, because my credit card number has already been stolen and the account cleared out, and it’ll take at least a week to get it resolved. So much for going to see lions and tigers this weekend.

I guess it’s best to get the robbery out of the way at the beginning of the trip, and when it’s relatively easy to fix. I’m not stranded somewhere remote, my accommodation here has already been paid for, and considering that armed robbery is said to be so common, I got off easy in never being physically confronted. It’s a strange feeling, being robbed electronically. Nothing appears to change, but poof, everything is gone.

I’m not exactly falling in love with Johannesburg.
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