Last night I found myself in the back of a taxi — a legit South African minibus, minus the filth and missing floor panels. The taxi driver’s name was Shadrack. I nodded to the rap tunes blasting from the sound system beneath my feet as we hurtled out of Joburg and toward the Cradle of Humankind.
It was dark. I couldn’t make out the faces of the seven other taxi passengers, which didn’t really matter because I’d never met any of them before (except one, who I’d met once several months ago). I didn’t even know anyone’s name yet. It was difficult to talk above the sound of the stereo.
I wasn’t worried though. We would get to know each other soon enough. Shadrack’s taxi was transporting us on a journey back in time. Continue Reading
Jozi dogs have been finding their way in front of my camera lens lately.
Last weekend, in addition to photographing a friend’s dogs on the Melville Koppies, I also met a very special guard dog at a café in Northcliff.
Amiga, guard dog at the Indulgence Café.
I hate using clichés. But the Indulgence Café epitomizes the term “hidden gem”. It’s a quirky establishment in one of a long row of nondescript strip malls along Beyers Naude. (It’s actually one strip mall over from the famous Thunder Gun!) Continue Reading
South Africa and America have a lot in common. Both countries are large and diverse. Both countries are “new” by European standards, and both are former British colonies. Both countries have fought bloody wars over racial oppression.
Both countries have a love affair with steak. Especially steak served in massive quantities, in grimy roadside strip malls.
Thunder Gun! The pickup (bakkie) parked in front is so appropriate. Continue Reading
Yesterday I joined the Joburg Photowalkers on an architectural tour of two towns on the outskirts of Johannesburg: Benoni and Springs.
Benoni and Springs — east of Joburg in an area called ‘the East Rand’ — are to Joburg what Frederick and Manassas are to Washington D.C., or what Hackensack is to New York City. They are small towns outside of big towns — places where people tend to live out of necessity, convenience, or habit, rather than for the culture or nightlife. In America we call these towns the outer suburbs, or more simply, the ‘burbs.
Due to the influx of gold-mining money in the East Rand during the 1930s, Benoni and Springs boast an unusually large number of art-deco-style buildings. Art deco was the main focus of this tour, and the buildings we visited were beautiful and interesting. But I was just as interested in the glimpses I got of what life is like in small-town South Africa. Continue Reading
January 23 was the first day of the Chinese New Year. 2012 is the Year of the Dragon.
I had never celebrated the Chinese New Year before. But it seems to be a big deal in South Africa and I’m all about new beginnings these days. So I decided to attend my first-ever Chinese New Year celebration at the Nan Hua Buddhist Temple in Bronkhorstspriut, a small town about an hour northeast of Joburg.
The Nan Hua Buddhist Temple in Bronkhorstspruit. I dare you to say that three-times-fast.
I know I said I was going to look forward, not back, from now on. But I lied. There is one more day in 2011 that I want to write about.
Two and a half weeks ago I spent an afternoon in Chinatown with the blog girls — Martina, Karen, and Namrata. It was my first visit to Joburg’s ‘new’ Chinatown, which is in a suburb called Cyrildene. (‘New’ Chinatown in Cyrildene is not to be confused with ‘old’ Chinatown in the Joburg city centre. You may remember that I visited the old Chinatown a few months ago.)
My friends took me to Chinatown because I needed some cheering up, and I was also in dire need of a haircut. Karen knows a ridiculously cheap hair salon in Chinatown, and a Chinatown haircut is a great excuse to gorge on cheap, delicious Chinatown food. Continue Reading
When I was eight years old, my dad took me to see the movie Gandhi. I suppose Dad thought it would be an educational experience. Unfortunately I don’t remember anything about the movie except that it was long (there was an intermission!), Gandhi always seemed to be dying, and the bloody riot scenes made me cry.
Before I moved to Joburg, I didn’t know that Gandhi once lived in South Africa. In fact, he lived here for 20 years. Gandhi’s passive resistance movement wasn’t born in India, but across the ocean in South Africa. Continue Reading
Part 3 of a 3-part series about the Cederberg Heritage Route. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
When I left off, my travel companions and I had spent a magical evening in the village of Hugel-Bugel (a.k.a. Heuningvlei). We awoke early the next morning for the final installment of our Cederberg adventure: a hike across Krakadouw Pass.
Our guide for the day was Abraham, an ageless, salt-of-the-earth kind of man. Abraham has lived in Heuningvlei all his life. He has worked tirelessly to encourage conservation and responsible tourism in the Cederberg.
The week I met Shelly, a faithful 2Summers reader who is in the middle of an epic trip around Southern Africa. (By the way, this is the coolest thing about blogging. I have fans!)
Shelly is awesome — she brought me tons of cool stuff from the States, including my favorite breakfast cereal, American baking chocolate, and birthday presents from my parents. She decided to spend some extra time in Jozi specifically because of my blog. So Joe and I wanted to show her some local places and treat her to a nice dinner.
Turns out Shelly introduced us to a new great place in our own home town. Continue Reading
I recently visited Alexandra Township for the first time since moving to Joburg, to attend a kids’ baseball tournament. At the end of my post about the tournament, I said I was looking forward to spending more time in Alex in the near future. Turns out my next visit was nearer than I thought — two days later I received an invitation to attend a tour of Alex, sponsored by Joburg Tourism and the Alex Tourism Route-Open Africa Cooperative (ATROAC).
Alex needs more love. It’s just as interesting historically as Soweto, where 99% of tourists go when they want to visit a Joburg township. Alex has its own Gautrain station (Marlboro) and is across the road from Sandton, where most of Joburg’s visitors and business travelers stay. But Alex hasn’t been discovered by the big tour companies yet. Go now, before that changes.
Alex in the foreground. Sandton in the background. [Joe deserves special credit for editing this photo. It didn't look half this good when I shot it.]