Tuesday, September 25, 2018

lost in soweto

Oh wait, before that I got lost in Nyanga.
Well, my Uber driver swore he was not lost but the multi-car pile-up in the middle of a 4-way intersection rapidly filling up with buses, kids, goats and pedestrians peeling out of cars to take their chances on foot felt a lot like lost.
Nyanga is the 'murder capital' of South Africa. My Uber driver kept asking me if I was okay and when I promised him I was (I really was, everyone in the situation - except maybe the goats - were intent on only one thing, getting out of the situation, and nothing felt threatening at all), he chuckled and said if he had tourists in the car they'd be crying by now ha ha.
I made him promise to never get into that situation with tourists, even if it was (usually) the quickest route to the airport.

I got to the airport in time for my pre-Joburg oh-seven-hundred manicure and got to Joburg in time to pick up my hired car and set off for Soweto. My little Renault Kwid (Quip?) had sat nav and a nice jolly English man periodically told me what to do.
Joburg freeways have only two speeds: crawling suicidal depression speed, and terrifying homicidal death wish. I alternated between the two.

Everything was going fine, my exit coming up on the left, when Jolly English Sat Nav man instructed me to stay going straight. 5km later I decided he was talking bollocks and while attempting to change direction via complex spaghetti junctions I loaded Google Maps with Laconic American Lady to see what her opinion was.
She and English man argued for a while - Him: You have gone off course, turn back now. Her: Continue straight - until I managed to turn his volume down, and Laconic American Lady boldly directed me straight into the heart of Soweto and a blocked off, non-existent road.

Soweto is massive, like a city on its own, but not the kind of place you dither around in looking lost. Staying cool, I followed a line of other cars diverting around the blocked off road. I followed those cars down a dirt track, through the heart of a very poor settlement, round a bend, through a field, over an embankment, a ramp over the pavement and viola! arrived at my destination.

Thank goodness Soweto is fairly flat, and from a distance I could see the iconic Orlando Towers - an old coal-fired power station - the University of Joburg campus I was headed to was just nearby...

Later that day my Kwid wouldn't start ... no idea why not ... but I got a new car delivered (sans hubcaps when they realised I was staying in Soweto ha ha) and made my way with Laconic American Lady to the Soweto Hotel.
Again she took me off course (in her defense she took me to the pin, which was off course) and this time, with the light fading and the exertions of the day taking their toll, I wasn't feeling nearly as adventurous and brave. And instead resigned myself to driving around in circles swearing outrageously at her, Google Maps, the architects of apartheid, the necessity of work, being self-employed, night time, the universe in general, hired cars and just fucking everything. Until I stumbled upon the hotel quite by accident - a massive concrete block on Walter Sisulu Square - and stood for a moment enjoying the light from my balcony and marveling at the wonder of this country of ours.

It's a pretty weird and wonderful place when you're able to stay still long enough to absorb it.

Monday, September 10, 2018

camera roll: August


Crayfish curry - a taste of summer in the depths of winter.

Always with the rainbows.

Sunny, but icy cold.

My other kind of therapy. 

Crazy eyes found on my phone.

Hidden Cape Town spaces.

Weird Cape Town spaces.

A little bit of nature I left in the bustle of OR Tambo International Airport.
This made me happy.