We made to the Continent of Africa for the first time for all of us. Based on our travel plans/costs I chose a flight with a 2 night stopover in Johannesburg. When planning I was naïve on most of Africa and thought, ‘I’ve heard of Johannesburg a lot, it must have things to see and visit, let’s stay there between our long flight from Croatia and quick flight to Zambia which is where we go to see Victoria Falls’. Well, as planning kept moving, poor Africa did not get priority planning and when we would mention Johannesburg to people we almost always received the same response; don’t go anywhere without security; you can’t walk during the day or night; you can’t trust the cabbie’s and most people have high walls and electric wires around their homes as well as a guard for security. After this information I found a hotel that would pick us up from the airport – it is the most expensive place we have stayed. WOW! It’s gorgeous. Friendly security guards are everywhere, with a wall and electrical fence lining the hotel. The staff (which is 3 to each hotel guest) has told us that Oprah stayed here with many famous actors like Chris Rock and Will Smith – they really liked Will Smith. Just a note, we are here in the off-season, so prices are slightly better. The question is; has what we have been told about Johannesburg true – it’s so hard to say. We came from Croatia where the entire country had a population of about 4.5 million. The city of Johannesburg has a population of 8 -9 million, many of which are refugees from other nearby countries. It’s been such a sad lesson to teach – the power struggle and war in every area we have gone to. The big wars in Germany, the battles in Croatia and now the countries at war in Africa. The other war we see here very clearly is the wealthy vs. the poor. There are two extremes here and that causes violence and paranoia and is such an unhealthy way to live. The people that we have met all have jobs and are extremely helpful and happy toward us. The kindness glows in their eyes. On the way to the hotel there was an accident on the freeway so we got off and took the city roads, at a stop sign we saw some police filling their van with people, beating them with a stick to get them in, about 2 feet from our window. You could see the sadness and embarrassment in our driver’s eyes. Steffi, who we visited in Berlin spent time here last year doing volunteer work and told us “don’t stay locked up in your hotel, there are beautiful places to see, just travel smart”. We did take a trip to a mall square and saw a new statue of Nelson Mandela. Being there you would believe you were in New York or Chicago – (it’s winter here). There were so many high-end shops. It was packed with people shopping and buying. Everyone was dressed beautifully – name brand everything and cool boots for the ladies. Kendal and I loved checking out the fashion. We will go back to Joburg (as they call it) for two more nights after we leave Zambia and the Victoria Falls area. We plan to see the apartheid museum and other sites. I am sad for those that live here and that it has such a bad reputation. It is such a beautiful place. Years of turmoil have made it what it is and I guess it just becomes your way of life.
August 11, 2011 at 7:51 am
South Africa as well as many other places in the Serengeti Plain are on my list of places to see some day. It is unfortunate that there is so much difference between the haves and have nots in many places of Africa. The concept of the middle class does not exist yet there is so much talent to invest in the people with micro markets…….ENJOY Victoria Falls. I can’t wait to see more pictures of Africa!!!