Johannesburg: Our Return to Western Culture

After spending 2.5 weeks in Tanzania, Phi and I were ready to spend a month in Southern Africa.   We started by spending 5 days in Johannesburg. Johannesburg has a notorious reputation for crime; however, I am pleased to report that we encountered a wonderful city and had no safety issues.

In regards to safety, we stayed in an AirBnb cottage that was attached to another home. The property was a gated entrance. The home was surrounded with a 10-foot wall with an electric fence on top. Our cottage also had a 10-foot gate and a door with 2 locks. Additionally, there was a security system on property. This seemed to be the norm everywhere in Jo’burg. With that said, we LOVED this AirBnb. Our host was wonderful and our place was so quaint. There was an outdoor shower, which was our favorite feature.

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Our Air bnb

Additionally, we only walked during the daytime and took UBER basically everywhere we went. We did have one scary situation in UBER where a metered taxi driver chased after us. Apparently, metered taxi drivers will vandalize and damage UBER drivers cars for taking their business.

Johannesburg is a city filled with a lot of history. Unfortunately, most of the history is sad and involves apartheid. We spent our first day in Johannesburg at the Apartheid Museum. It was an incredibly informative, but very sobering and eye opening day. While we both knew of apartheid and I had learned a lot about it through my graduate school program; neither of us fully understood how cruel and inhumane it was. Additionally, there was a wonderful exhibit on Nelson Mandela. He is easily one of the most inspiring, powerful and strongest men to have lived. The visit to the museum encouraged Phi and I to get more involved when we return to the U.S. Sadly, there is still evidence of apartheid in Johannesburg and lots of racial and gender inequality at home.

On a totally separate end of the spectrum, we spent a full day replacing all of my gear that was lost 3 weeks prior on my flight to Tanzania. Thankfully, there were a couple of stores somewhat similar to REI that I was able to get basically everything I need.   Neither of us is looking forward to the insurance struggle, as they have not been as helpful as we had hoped. Ironically, we just found out 4 days into our self-drive in Namibia that they have located the bag. The plan is for them to send the bag back to Seattle since I have already replaced everything and there is really no way for Precision Air to get the bag to us. We won’t be back near an airport until the end of February.

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The other big highlight in Johannesburg was the food! We had our first burger since leaving the U.S. in October and it was delicious! We also had 2 delicious Asian meals (Chinese and Korean) to bring in the lunar New Year. And to close it out, we had our first real pizza since the leaving home as well. Phi got a chicken curry pizza and I got sausage, ham and bacon pizza. Everything we had in Jo’burg was delicious!

We did a tour of the SAB history of beer. It included basically 3 free beers apiece after paying for the tour. This was also a great and relaxing way to spend the afternoon. It was pretty informative talking mostly about European and African history of beer. Of course, we got our choice of SAB beers as well.

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From here, we departed for our 3-week self-drive in Namibia. We are incredibly excited as Namibia is always in the top 5 prettiest countries in the world and ranks 5th lowest in population density in the world. It’s a great place to see wildlife, but also some incredible scenery. Namibia ended up being one of our favorite stops (and probably most photographed of the trip).  So, stay tuned for these blog posts…hopefully in the next couple of days!

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